Ryan Steers Team Giant BT Epic Missouri Ride 100

BT Epic 2017

Ryan Steers Team Giant BT Epic Missouri Ride 100

Once again I made the trek to Missouri for the always enjoyable BT Epic. Chris Hon picked me up Thursday night and we spent Friday morning on the local single track near his house, which is a hoot. One thing that always impresses me is the amount of trail work Missouri mountain bikers undertake. Every year I come out there’s miles of new singletrack. Chris explained that the trail creation process is as simple as flagging a route, consulting with the parks and making sure the planned trail doesn’t intersect any ancient Native American burial grounds, and then finding volunteers to help with trail nights. It’s amazing the community and organization they get into the woods on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings. We were lucky to hit a new trail right as they were taking the caution tape down. We hooted and hollered as we shot through the rock gaps on fresh dirt. “You’re the second and third riders ever come down this!” the trail workers yelled as they pulled up the flags. “The first just came through a few minutes ago.” And thus a trail is born.

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We hit the road and made our way down to Bass River Resort, however knowing my fascination with caves Chris had scheduled a stop at Merimac Caverns on the way. We shuffled into the gift shop and got our tickets for the eighty minute tour.  While I’m a fan of a keeping nature natural I tried to appreciate the multi colored lights and “God Bless America” slideshow on the stalactites. I suppose they have to make people feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. The cave system is impressive with over twenty-five miles of underground labyrinth, some of it still unexplored. The tour hardly scratches the surface, sending visitors only a half-a-mile in but it’s enough to get a feel for the grandeur. Back onto the road and into Bass River.

I felt a little pressure to win this year with a close second place finish the year before and a huge improvement over 11th place in 2015. I brought out my own bike this year and had opted for the 27.5” Anthem. But what tires? I pulled off the Rocket Rons and threw on the 2.35” Nobby Nics. Berryman/Ozark Trail is chunky, damp, loose, and usually covered in wet leaves. I needed all the help I could get.

Bass River Resort BT Epic 2017

Sunset

The morning of the race was worm. Almost hot. At sixty-five degrees it was about thirty degrees above the previous years starts. I went out hard. There’s a cash prime for being the first rider into the woods, which means you have to hammer four miles of a gravel road climb with a frothing peloton of 500 riders chasing.

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It also means you have the trail to yourself when you get there. I broke again this year. It worked. A train of four riders latched on to my wheel and chased. But, this being a race of awesome midwest MTB dudes and not agro LA roadies, no-one tried to pick me at the finish, although they should have. “You deserved it dude, you put down a huge effort” was the response I got after thanking a chaser. Wow. I love this place. This is what riding should be.

Once we entered the woods things got strung out. Aaron and I were off the front. Way off the front. By the time we hit checkpoint one at ten miles in we had a two minute lead. It was clear he wasn’t going anywhere. Every move was countered and we rode together through the forest alone until mile 26, when, out of nowhere we were over taken by Bryan Foley who blasted around and disappeared into the foliage ahead. We’d reel him in on the climbs and he would loose us on the descents. And suddenly he was gone.

As usual by mile 35 and the long gravel section I was suffering. Aaron who had dropped back to seal a puncture caught back on and chased up the Three Sisters and back into Bass River, where he passed me on the paved climb. I was cross-eyed trying to keep the pace but eventually had to relax and let him slip ahead if I was going to make it seven more miles. The last portion of the BT Epic is the hardest, in my opinion. After rolling past the finish line you still have close to forty five minutes left including the biggest climb of the day.  You’re so excited to finish you become convinced the next descent will bring you to the finish, until you find yourself hitting another kicker, a step up, another road crossing, and there it is. The tight turns into the campground.

BT Epic Missouri Berryman Trail 2017

Time to party

The afterparty is legendary. On Friday evening Chris and I helped unload ten kegs so I know there were at least that many in the beer truck. There’s all you can drink beer, all you can eat BBQ, live music, and, after the awards…a hayride that fits somewhere in-between Burning Man and Deliverance.

Berryman Trail 2017 BT Epic Podium

Podium!

 

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Kenda Cup #1 EnduranceVail Lake 2017

Not exactly how I wanted my day to end…

The alarm went off at 4:30 am in Oak Park and it was pouring rain and 42 degrees. Awesome. Almost hit the snooze and went back to bed but made the coffee and loaded the car. On the road at 5:15 and poured rain the entire way to Temecula and the temperature never got above 46 degrees. I was having deja vu of the Vail Lake race 2 years ago but something magical happened about a mile from the venue. The skies lightened, the rain became a drizzle and there was even a little sun peeking through the clouds. By the time we lined up there was a rainbow. “This is going to be an awesome day” I told myself.

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We lined up. All the usual suspects were there: Tinker, Stephane Roch, Stuart Gonzalez… we all lined up. I’ve only beaten on technicalities but I was ready to hang with him today. Immediately the field separated. The pace was quick and relaxed. I asked Tinker if he wanted to lead into the singletrack but he told me to go ahead. We were followed by Stephane and then a gap opened.

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Ryan Steers Giant Tinker Juarez Vail Lake Kenda Cup Endurance

Lap after lap we rode a few seconds apart and I pulled and set the pace. Finally on lap 5 Roch popped. Now it was just Tinker and I. The legs felt amazing. Topical Edge? I kept waiting for his attack but it never came…until 3/4 mile from the finish line, right after the last climb and into the last flat and descent. He took off and I chased on his wheel for a few hundred yards before…crunch, stars, searing pain. I still don’t know what happened but suddenly I was upside down in dirt. I jumped back up, adrenaline pumping, and hopped on the bike. The bars were crooked- no problem, been there before, but I went to pedal and my crank wouldn’t turn. Crap.

broken chainring

I put my hands on the bar and my left arm collapsed and searing pain shot from my shoulder to my neck. I’m totally screwed.  I clipped in one foot, held the bars with my right hand and kicked down the hill to the finish stretch. So close. I hopped off and jogged the last hundred yards and collapsed at the line. “Medic!” Still nabbed second.

endurance podium vail lake 2017 kenda cup ryan steers giant cofactory tinker juarez

As the adrenaline wore off the pain set in. My collarbone was toast and my back was raw and helmet destroyed. In all the years of racing this was the worst crash, I’ve been lucky. Suddenly I was surrounded by staff and friends offering to bandage, drive, medicate. It was amazing. Eboz gave me ibuprofen and cleaned my wounds while the Zubicks dressed and iced me. Shannon drove my car all the way back to the ER in Woodland Hills. I felt so lucky.

Ryan Steers Giant Kenda Cup Vail Lake broken collarbone finish

broken collarbone surgery kaiser

X-rays confirmed what I already knew and Kaiser was able to get me into surgery the next day. Now one day post op I’m recovering, researching fancy trainers and dying to get back on the bike. Four weeks and I’ll see you back out there!

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Floyd's of Leadville UCI stripe kit jersey Dave Zabriskie Cannondale Scalpel SI Sugarloaf mountain

Leadville Trail 100 MTB 2016

Ryan Steers Leadville Trail 100 MTB Pedalers Fork Cannondale FSI

I’m so excited that I got to get back to Leadville again this year. It’s such a cool town and amazing vibe watching a city come to life around a bike race. I don’t even know where to begin…

I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to come back after the multi-flat debacle and race abandonment of last year but after qualifying in Tahoe and Dave deciding to go and having a lodging offer at Floyd’s I just couldn’t resist.

Floyd's of Leadville

Unboxing and building at Casa Floyd

The past two years this race has been close to a one week ordeal. The thinking being that if I get in Sunday or Monday then I’d be acclimated and better off for the following Saturday, however, I don’t think that’s the case. Seems like it’s about a month to acclimate and the longer you’re at 10k feet the more your body breaks down. A Thursday arrival was perfect and I had no side effects this year other than a little trouble sleeping. Maybe it was the 4 races over 7k feet in July that got me prepped (Crusher, Mammoth, Tahoe, and Big Bear) or maybe it was just all the water I kept pounding. Either way I think Thursday is the best arrival day.

Floyd's of Leadville Dave Zabriskie Leadville 100

Floyd’s of Leadville International HQ

Dave and I got in on Thursday afternoon and after taking a shuttle to the wrong Enterprise car rental location we had to cram DZ’s bike in the back of an Uber Black and find the hotel where the car was waiting. After that it was more waiting as we had to stalk the UPS truck in Aurora for the shipment of Floyd’s of Leadville Castelli kits that we had to pick up and deliver to Leadville. Totally worth it. They look amazing. By the time we rolled into Leadville it was close to 8 and we hit La Resistance for dinner and trivia night with Landis and the Floyd’s of Leadville entourage.

Friday brought the usual routine of registration and pre-ride. We headed out toward Turquoise lake and did the Sugarloaf climb and power line descent to check on the conditions. Really it’s the only part of the course that needs a preview just so you can gauge the line down power line and not lose time getting stuck in the ruts on race day. The rest of the day went fast. Too fast. There was a nap, bottle prep, food prep, and some logistics and then it was time for bed.

Floyd's of Leadville UCI stripe kit jersey Dave Zabriskie Cannondale Scalpel SI Sugarloaf mountain

Looking like a world champ.

4:50 am came quickly. The best part of the gold corral is not needing to line up at 4am to get a good spot. It’s freezing, dark, and the race is long enough that you don’t want to spend hours standing around beforehand. We hit the line about 6:10 for the 6:30 start and stripped our outer layers and waited for the gun….I peed my pants a little. Could’t help it.

The gun went off and Wells, Bishop and Dombrowski and Morton took off from the start. By the time we hit the descent at mile 2 they were disappearing up the road. The peloton charged along covering the first 3 miles in just over 6 minutes. We were moving. I love the first climb up St Kevins but you’ve got to start to position right before. Riders start to blow up here and you don’t want to get stuck behind someone. I hit the gas and found myself with Ted King, Alex Howes, Ben Sonntag and a few other guys. It’s important to get over the top and hit the pavement with a group or you’ll find yourself going backwards on the pavement. We hit the pavement and pace lined to the bottom of Sugarloaf getting caught by DZ and a few other guys and Mortan came charging along after fixing a flat. Someone’s wheel blew up. Bummer.

Leadville singletrack Ryan Steers Pedalers Fork

Flow

Sugarloaf felt great. We cruised up and hit the power line descent. It was hilarious. I’m not a descender but being behind the GC road guys made me feel pretty quick and it was probably the first time I haven’t gotten dropped on a fast descent, which meant we were all together hitting the pavement on the way to pipeline. The pace was relaxed, too relaxed. DZ, Whitman and a few other guys caught back on and we rolled along the road. “Those guys up there will pop, we can get them” Howes said. I shook my head. They were gone. Wells and Bishop don’t pop at Leadville. They were gone. Bryan Dillon of Topeak/Ergon did most the work at the front not seeming to mind everyone hitching a free ride. I was sitting behind his wheel in 5th when we rolled through pipeline. It was an incredible feeling. We kept charging and things got a little strung out on the single track but regrouped on the dirt roads to Twin Lakes. Morton threw in a big attack and we chased but in a horrible twist of fate someone was having an open house and had put up red arrows right before the turn to Twin Lakes. Morton and two other guys followed the wrong signs and ended up a few hundred yards in the wrong direction before we were able to shout them back on track.

power line climb Leadville 100 Ryan Steers Cannondale FSI

Powerline will crush your soul

Columbine was a blur. It’s an hour of gravel switchbacks in the aspens that is a dead ringer for the first climb in the Crusher that then turn into a narrow, rocky, riverbed of kickers at the top. Guys were falling off quickly. Whitman popped, then King. We kept climbing. I lost touch with Howes’ group at the top, right about the time the three leaders came screaming down back at us. They were about 10 minutes ahead. The descent is one of the scariest moments of the race as you travel at 40mph on loose rocks only inches from a thousand riders climbing at you in the opposite direction. It’s amazing anyone survives. T

The nutrition was dialed. Hydration was spot on. Legs felt great. Ryan Petri and I worked together a bit but he started to pull away before pipeline. Timmothy Beardall came charging by and linked us back together for the road, taking long pulls at front and yelling encouragement in a crazed Australian accent. He popped on power line but Ryan took off and I lost touch of him down Sugarloaf. By that point I was 8th and only 17 miles to the finish. On top of the world. Nate Whitman came sailing by on the pavement climb back to St Kevins and disappeared as we hit the forest. 9th. Still top 10.

I made it through the checkpoint and though the flats and hit the descent on the backside of Kevins. Mile 90. Pshhhhhhh. The rear tire went flat immediately. I pulled over. After last year I’ve been running Specialized Controls for a year without a single flat. The Renegade just couldn’t keep the knife point of the rock at bay and it punched right through. Staying calm I hit it with CO2. The leak sealed for a second and then pshhhhhhht, an fountain of Orange Seal shot into the dirt. Stay calm. I took out the tube, mounted the tire and hit it again with CO2. Pshhhhhh. Air escaped around the valve stem. This wasn’t happening. Riders were starting to fly by. I took the tube back out and there was a small defective spot. I got out the patch kit but the tube was so slimy that nothing would stick. Blindly I tried the hand pump. Nothing but a flaccid tube dangling in my hand. More riders flew by. “Help, help. Please. Tube? CO2?” Nothing. Finally someone heard my please. It was Ten Dam. “Thanks so much man, I hope this doesn’t slow you down.” “Oh this isn’t slowing me down, my legs are slowing me down. I’m dead. I’ve got nothing left” he groaned. He tossed me a tube and disappeared. Saved! I started to inflate it in preparation for the install but right away air began to leak from pin holes. Another bum tube. Now I was panicking. “Help, please!” Bryan Dillon stopped and tossed me his tube and CO2. What a nice dude. He disappeared. I installed it and started to hit it with CO2. It cross threaded and exploded icy vapor on my hands. I started to pump. It was a road tube. This was going to take a lot of pressure. After 5 minutes of pumping it felt like a hard garden hose inside the tire. This wasn’t working. Cameron Piper rode by and tossed a CO2. Finally. Inflation. Rock hard but safe.

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I packed up my trailside mess and started to pedal. When I flatted my Garmin was at 6:12. It now read 6:47. 35 minutes had passed and almost two dozen riders had sped passed. I was just happy to be rolling again. There was a moment when I thought I’d be stuck on the mountain for the rest of the day. To say it was disappointing is an understatement but that’s the allure of Leadville. It’s a long race and there’s a lot that can go wrong. In the end my time was identical to two years ago but instead of the elation I felt last time I was filled with disappointment. All that work to shave 30 minutes off the race only to lose it standing on the side of the trail. Next year. Maybe DH tires?

Leadville trail 100 MTB belt buckle

Tastes like gold

Floyd's of Leadville party PB Brewing Floyd Landis jersey

Afterparty!

Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE podium Men's Open Pro 100k 2016 Tinker Juarez

Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE 2016

Cannondale FSI Team

Plate’s on, ready to race.

This is one of my favorite races of the year and one of the best course you can ride in SoCal. To race here you have to be able to do everything well. Long, scorching, brutal fireroad climb? Radford. Check. Elevation? Most of the race is at 6500-8k feet. Check. Technical single track?About 40 miles of it: Cabin Trail, Skyline, Santa Anna River Trail, Plumbers Trail. Check. Ridiculous loose descent with massive exposure? Seven Oaks. Check. Pavement? A few miles but still a check. To win this race you’ve got to be able to climb, descend, flow, spin, climb some more, shred it, and hammer….and ride a singlespeed?

Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE Course route

The Course

We lined up at 6:45 for a 7am start. It was already getting warm in the sun, which was worrisome. The start was quick- you have a few hundred yards of gradual uphill pavement on Pineknot and then you hit 2N08 and the race is on. It’s only a few miles long and just shy of 1000 feet of climbing so it gets the heart pumping. The peloton blew apart quickly. I was in the front with Tinker, Steven Mills, Taylor Lideen, Stefano Barberi, Cameron Brenneman and Alfred Pacheco. I noticed Steven was on a single speed and thought to myself, “wow this guys is going to blow up.” Boy was I wrong. After the climb you roll on the fire road a bit and the hit the singletrack and it’s right on to the Seven Oaks Descent: 2 miles and 1600 feet of descending a super narrow, exposed, sandy rut. No room for error. Every year I’ve been behind someone that’s taken a tumble- nothing serious but it’s easy to do some barrel rolling. Last year Munoz took a few spills and this year Barberi went toppled over. I always play it a little too safe and it costs me a minute or two. Most the guys were out of sight by the time we were halfway down but Barberi and I were together and Alan Laframboise caught us so I let him by. Barberi and I hit the fire road at the bottom and played chase with poor single speed Alan spinning out on the rollers. I pulled ahead and caught sight of the leaders (after watching Tinker add some air to his tire and then speed away again). SART trail is always a blast and seems longer every year. They’ve done some work to it so there are no more walking sections and it’s all ridable. It’s a hard trail to rail because there are so many sweeping turns with exposure but you can get some speed. Lots of sharp rocks (I flatted here twice 2 years ago) so I don’t run Schwalbes any more.

Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE course profile

After the Santa Anna River Trail the real work begins. You roll along Seven Oaks road for a bit and then start to head up up up. Bit of advice- make sure you get aid here. Don’t hit Radford without full bottles. Sure there’s an aid station 3/4 of the way up but if you stop there you’ll have a really hard time moving again. My plan all along was to chill the first 30 miles and then give Radford a good push. I saved the segment in my Garmin and judged my effort against my time last year. On the way up I was able to pass Pacheco and Brenneman and catch sight of Tinker, and Tayler ahead. I also saw Steven throw the hammer down and take the lead. On a single speed! At the top of Radford! What a beast. This guy was not going to pop. I shaved over two minutes off my climb from last year but it wasn’t enough to catch the leaders.

The joy of Plumbers is immense. After a hot and brutal fire road you are rewarded with two miles of blissful single track….until you hit 2N10 and have to climb all the way back up to Skyline. Ouch. From there it’s about seven miles of rolling skyline but you’ve got to stay on top of your nutrition or it’s super easy to bonk or cramp here. You’re flowing and rolling along and suddenly you forget to drink and you’re out of water with 20 miles left to race. Miles of single track roll by. I caught a glimpse of Barberi about two minutes behind me and kept the speed up. I kept getting time checks that Tinker was two minutes up but I was never able to spot him. Cabin trail is a blast but the climb back out to the fire road is brutal. Punchy and steep and your legs will be screaming. However, once you get back to 2N08 it’s easy street. The race ends with 4 miles of rollers and descending. Don’t crash. The descent into town (the same as the starting climb) is steep, fast, and loose. You probably won’t catch anyone but you can end your day in sight of the finish.

Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE podium Men's Open Pro 100k 2016 Tinker Juarez

Men’s Open 100k Podium (left to right): Alfred Pacheco, Myself, Taylor Lideen, Steven Mills, Tinker Juarez and Stefano Barberi

Derek does an amazing job with this race. Big Bear is so much fun this time of year and every year we’ve been treated to a thunderstorm at the finish. The course is amazing and the talent is exceptional. I’m 3 for 3 on this race and I’ll be back again next year. So excited to finish 4th this year and win a little cash. Shooting for top 3 next year!

Tinker Juarez Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE

Hanging out post race

Open Air Big Bear Grizzly 100 NUE

Rocking Out

 

SoCal Endurance 6 Hours of Temecula

Jason puts on some of the most fun races in SoCal. The vibe is chill yet competitive, friendly and fast; it’s a dichotomy rarely seen at other events. You can be riding balls to the wall and get a flat and the dude behind you will stop and throw you a tube and a tool, even if you’re competitors. The January race is always a great proving ground for the season and I chose to opt for the 6 hour solo just to get my feet wet. I hadn’t been putting in the miles for the 12 hour race, nor did I want to blow my legs for half a season.

Ali’s very pregnant and about to pop so I was a little nervous about traveling a few hours away and not having cell phone reception.

Ryan Steers SoCal Endurance Temecula Pedalers Fork 10 Speed Coffee Moots RSL

If you measure from the top of my head I’m catching some big air for an XC guy.

The race started quick. I was near the front but the teams Nick Beechan and a few other super fast dudes formed some teams so it was full on XC race pace. I tried to take it slower but maybe started a little too slow. I didn’t even realize that I was racing against Tinker and he got out quick. I spent the first 4 hours thinking I was in the lead…and then I bonked hard. My toughest adversary is nutrition. Seems like every race I ride into a hole and convince myself that it would be faster to skip a feed and keep on truckin’ than to spend a few seconds plowing through some fuel. Race brain. I turn into an idiot. After a few more hours of suffering it was 3rd place and a podium photo next to Tinker. Always such a nice guy.

Tinker Juarez SoCal Endurance Temecula Ryan Steers Podium

Racing the legend. Still fast.

 

 

 

BT Epic 10/24/2015

Santa Cruz Highball 2015

Matchy matchy

For years my buddy Christian has been singing the praises of Missouri singletrack and the Berryman Trail Epic that’s held yearly in the Mark Twain National Forest. We’d ride together in LA and I’d listen to him tell tales of epic trails and forests. I’d nod, feeling sorry for him, and his “great riding” in a fly-over state that I assumed was flat and boring. I pictured trails through cornfields and a few climbs of 1-2 feet. Poor guy. Boy was I wrong. Missouri please accept my apology for doubting you. By the end of the weekend I was just about ready to move. The riding was that good.

Missouri Singletrack

Missouri Singletrack

50 miles of un-repeating singletrack, that’s how the BT Epic is billed and it lives up to expectations. The race starts at Bass Lake campground and while the drive in features vistas of blown up meth trailers we also saw Bald Eagles eating a dead armadillo on the road. America!

BT Epic registration 2015

More deer heads than people.

We stayed at a cabin about a 1/2 mile from the start- these apparently fill up very quickly since there is nowhere nearby to sleep. The closest nearby town is Bourbon, which seemed to lack booze, and St. Louis is about an hour and a half away- which makes for a bit of a drive to hit the 8:30 start.

The conditions were more than perfect. It was overcast and 68 when we lined up and by the time we finished it was 65 and cloudy. Perfect. There were a fair amount of leaves still on the trees but the ground was covered, making it very difficult to see the trail in places, the local boys sure had an advantage.

Christin Hon, Ryan Steers, Pedalers Fork 10 Speed Coffee

Teammates!

BT Epic Start 2015

Starting Line

The start was quick, about 430 riders lined up and hit the fire road climb and the field immediately separated into about 10-15 riders by the time we hit the singletrack at mile 4 and all the usual suspects were there: Steve Tilford, Garet Steinmetz, and Bryan Fawley just to name a few. I was trying to hang with these boys as we started to fly through the woods. I was a bit out of my element. As we hit checkpoint 1 Tilford pulled over to fix his bike. I didn’t think we’d see him again but sure enough he came flying back at mile 18.

Ryan Steers BT Epic 2015 Missouri Mountain Bike Pedalers Fork Ryan Steers Pedalers Fork Moots BT Epic 2015

I borrowed Christian’s Santa Cruz Highball with his fancy pants DI2 but managed to bend my chain in two places at mile 17 so it was 33 miles of ghost shifts and dropped chains. First came anger, then frustration, followed by acceptance. Every time I pulled over to fix my drivetrain another few riders flew past, it’s a terrible feeling.

There’s just over 5000 feet of climbing but it’s the toughest 5000 you’ll ever do. There’s 100 up 100 down, 200 up 200 down, and it’s all steep and punchy. There’s no sitting and spinning. By mile 30 I was cooked and looking for a second wind that managed to come around the “three bitches” at mile 39. I made up a few places on the paved climb through the last aid station but got caught by Hunter Henry on his single speed 20+ at mile 49 and dropped to 11th overall, just out of reach of getting my name on the shirt. At least he’s an awesome dude. There were so many times during the race that I wished I was back on my single speed. Technology can be a bitch.

BT Epic post race party bbq beer

They do it right in the midwest.

Berryman Train Epic

Party tent!

SBC Brewing truck, BT beer truck, Springfield Brewing

Beer me!

The party afterwards was some of the most post race fun I’ve ever had. In CA I’m used to getting one, maybe two beer tickets and a coupon for discounted foot. At BT they pull up a keg truck and it’s all you can drink beer and BBQ, they’re really on to something in the midwest.  Overall, the best race trails I’ve ever ridden. It’s like the Shenandoah 100 but without the pavement, fire roads and brutal climbs…and half the distance. I’ll be back again for sure, I can’t rest until I get my name on the shirt.

BT Epic 30-39 podium

Podium!

California State XC Championships Big Bear 10/10/15

I think this used to be the Endurance Championships a few years ago and it was always a fun race so I was excited that it they finally brought back an October race in Big Bear- it’s the perfect time of year to race up there. It was also held in conjunction with the Crafts and Cranks beer festival, and… the return of down hill racing at Snow Summit. Kind of a big deal. Shannon and I drove up early Saturday morning and parked amidst the hundreds of downhill racers in the Snow Summit parking lot, in spandex, clearly we were in the minority.

We lined up as usual on 2N10. It was a smaller field so they started every category and group together:one mass start, which, is fine because the climb is so steep and long off the start that the field immediately separates, and separate it did. Nick Beechan and I immediately took off and put a minute or two on the field by the time we hit the new Pirates singletrack. We sped along together until we hit Skyline, I was leading him out and felt a little bad because the twisty, sandy turns of Skyline aren’t my strong suit. I offered him the chance to pass but he declined. This was going to be fun. Back on 2N10 we hit the rolling fire road climbs and each time we started to ascend we’d punch it, testing the waters. Finally about halfway in at mile 10 I could feel my legs not responding as quickly. We’d been putting out 400-500 watts for the last 45 minutes and they were a little toasted. Nick began to slip away. I kept him in sight for a while until he disappeared on another section of Skyline. I saw him on a section of Wet Dream and clocked him at about a minute up at mile 16 so I kept on the gas but couldn’t reel him back before the downhill finish into Snow Summit and he got me by about a minute and a half in just over an hour of racing.

After all these endurance races the XC was such a welcome thrill. I could actually walk afterwards, was coherent, and was ready to spin again. It was the most fun I’d had racing all season. Shannon and I went for a little ride up Fern Trail and spun around until we settled down for some cold margaritas back in town. Pretty much the perfect day of racing. Oh, winning would have been more fun I suppose. Watch out Nick, there’s more to come. Can’t wait to do it again.

California state XC championships big bear 2015 Pro Men Ryan Steers

Podium!