Checking in on the Bonelli course

I got the chance this past weekend to get out and pre-ride the course with designer Scott Tedro, Sam Schultz, Keegan Swenson and mechanic Paul.  The racing coming up at Bonelli park this weekend (3/15) is going to be huge as it is (i believe) the first time the US has hosted an HC event.  There are a good bit of Euros that have managed to cross the pond to join us which just makes it that much more special.  Check out Sho-airs’ press release… http://uscup.net/up/file/Bonelli_Prerace_Press.pdf

The course is even a little tougher than last year, which is going to be even more brutal coupled with the pace and the heat.  There is a little more technical climbing thrown in, and a new technical section with an ‘A’ line and a ‘B’ line.  This area is sure to cause some chaos, and considering its placement in terms of the finish line may actually be a deciding factor for the winner.

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Looking back down at the ‘A” line

After the technical section of the ‘A’ line there is an off-cambered log section, that looks super sketchy!  The photo below doesn’t really do it justice, and considering the first person to ride it that day (no names mentioned 😉 ) racked themselves when they came unclipped from their pedal, made it seem even more treacherous.

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Dont mess up here, cameras will be watching!

This section is tricky, and comes at a very inconvenient time

Little techy DH section, trickier than it looks.

After getting in some warmup laps we decided to go at one race pace, and holy crap was it brutal.  The course is just relentless, there is no hiding out there anywhere.  The course is fast, coupled with some super steep climbing, and descents that are always keeping you on your toes I think its perfect for this coming weekend.  Lets just hope the temperatures are under 90*!

Scott the snake wrangler

Scott the snake wrangler

Big thanks again to Scott for letting me get in some runs and listening to my feedback.  I have never met anyone so stoked on mountain biking as him and think that in the coming years there is going to be a resurgence of off-road riding.  Also Keegan and Sam were killing out there, hoping for a good race for all of us!

Watch live streaming here…

Women start at 11:15 PST, and Men at 1:45

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Stop #1 – Mellow Johnnys Classic

This was my first time actually traveling a longer distance to go race bikes so there was a lot of potential unknown situations that could have occurred, which left me a little more stressed than normal.  For the most part everything went pretty smoothly though.  Gareth Feldstein, aka G-Money or is it G$?, and myself split a car and a hotel room and everything went off without any major glitches.

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Minivan FTW!

We got in Thursday night, ate a bunch of BBQ and got our bikes built.  The next day we cruised out to the race venue after some breakfast, registered and attended the riders meeting.  We were able to get a tour of the course with Rich Weis, which turned out to be super helpful.  He had been out there a day or so before and already had all the good lines nailed down which he was kind enough to show us.   We rode the course a few more times going over different lines on all the technical sections.

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Texas, yea there are rocks!

After the pre-ride I knew I was gonna be in for some major pain the next day, as the course was so bumpy and littered with loose rocks that a hardtail at race pace out there is just crazy.

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Post ride food, yes a bored out Baguette filled in with honey. It. Was. Awesome.

After another large breakfast, along with some harmony bars as snacks, race day morning, we picked up Gareth’s sister who was in town visiting a friend.  This worked out great as she was able to hand us water bottles (and did so perfectly, thanks!)  I downed one of Skratch labs hyper hydration packets about an hour before the start of my race and went through three bottles of pineapple during the race and managed to stay decently hydrated for how hot and dry (but still humid, it was weird) the Texas sun made it.

My call up was around 42nd out of the 70 person field, which I guess could have been worse.  There was a one mile start loop before entering the course for the first lap which had two seperate sections that went from a wide fire-road to singletrack.  I knew these were going to be major bottlenecks for my starting position, and can pretty much make or break your race.

Sure enough at the first singletrack entrance people were stacked up completely stopped!  I managed to ride a little off trail and pass a handful of people instead of stopping to wait around.  Then at the top of the second climb after everyone went 110% up it for positioning there was another backup, this one a lot worse.  There really wasn’t a good way around this one.  I hoped off my bike and ducked around some trees, and managed to take a dead branch to the face and split my lip a little.

Soon enough we were back on our way and entering the course.  I had no idea where I was at this point, but knew I needed to move up.  At this point I’m sure the leaders already had a good 2 minutes on the rest of the field because of the bottlenecks.  I was able to put in some hard efforts on the climbs and get around some more people.  I didn’t want to dig too deep this early because five laps of this course could completely wreck you if you are a little off.

I managed to get in with a good group for the second and third or so lap with Menso de Jong, Keck Baker, Cole Oberman, and Miguel Valdez.  But the last bit of climbing on the third lap was starting to wear on me.  The guys that had dual suspension bikes were just able to transfer a little more power to the ground and not get as beat up.  I had no problem hanging with them on the descents but the super bumpy flats and punchy climbs put a hurting on me.

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Crazy I finished 31st and had 31 as my number. Maybe next time they’ll give me 15!

 

I managed to finish 31st overall, which considering the field isn’t too bad.  I also took about 5 minutes off my time behind the race leaders from last year.  I know Ive got the fitness to start mixing it up with everyone, I just need to slowly start working on getting better callups(along with the 300 other pros in the country, ha!)

Considering how unforgiving and bumpy the course was the Tuned by Velo Hangar Focus Raven performed great.  I pushed that bike to its limits for the entire 1:40 on the most technical course of the season.   Like I mean I hammered the crap out of that bike and it handled everything with no problems. My two-year old ENVE wheels also got ridden as hard as I could push em with still no problems.  Also glad that I put on tires with more sidewall protection because I saw about 4 people flat yesterday, there were probably more!

That night we cruised over to Mellow Johnnys bike shop for some free grub while they replayed the race.  Then cruised around on 6th street in downtown Austin and scoped out the hundreds of bars and restaurants.  Austin is definitely a pretty rad little city, and with the bike race being so fun I will for sure try to make it again in the years to come.   Big thanks to Scott Tedro, Sho-Air, and all the volunteers and race organizers from TMBRA.

And an even bigger thanks to all my friends, family and sponsors for the support couldn’t do it without you guys!

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Cruising around 6th street, just a unicorn no big deal.

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Riding around some trails that skirt along the Colorado river.

 

Mellowing your Johnny…

Making the final preparations for my trip down to Austin, Texas for the opening round of the pro XCT this morning and we are getting some much needed rain here in San Diego.  Ive found the most appropriate song for this am is Texas Flood by SRV.  I can’t believe that I am actually getting the opportunity to do this and am super stoked.  There no way I would be able to make it without the awesome support from family and friends, and sponsors too!

I know everyones gonna be chomping at the bit for the first race of the year, myself included.  But no need to get all worked up cause it is a longish season, and I am really not looking for any result.  I just wanna go down there have some fun race my bike, eat massive amounts of BBQ and listen to some live music!

Thats it, thanks again to everyone!  Get out there and do what you love peeps…

Stoked!

Team Kits are available

Kits

Most of you have probably seen on other social media sites that I’m making some team kits for the upcoming season.  Just wanted to make sure everyone knows that they are available to purchase here…  http://elliot.ridesquadra.com then click on the quote on the left.

We are doing this to help raise some money for the race season which will help cover entry fees, travel, lodging etc… my goal is to compete in the entire pro XCT tour.  I am super stoked to be representing all the sponsors that are on the jerseys, they are all brands I truly believe in and would be using even if their logos weren’t on the jersey.  Focus Bikes, Velo Hangar, Enve, Giro, Telesot Fins

Two great brands that were left off are skratch labs and harmony bars, which help keep me hydrated and fed!  Im sure everyones heard of skratch labs great hydration mixes (they can be used for adult beverages too) and harmony bars is made by local chef/pro cyclist Jess Cerra, they are super tasty!

So order as many kits as you like, the store closes early next week around 2/11 or so!  Get out there and ride your bike, or something else active!

 

Time to get ready to rumble!

Or race actually.  The season is fast approaching with a bunch of local races here on out until the first XCT race near Austin Texas that takes place the first weekend of March.  There there are two more big races at the end of March Bonelli, which is a UCI HC classification, and Fontana the weekend after.

Im nervous, but relaxed.  I have put in a lot of time training the last few months and feel more confidence in my fitness than I ever have, at the same time these races are very f*cking hard!  With two world cup races in North America this year my goal is to qualify to be able to race in one or both of them, but we will see, its good to dream big right?!

Down here in Southern California we are fortunate to have mountain bike racing year round.  Robert from Racers and Chasers has a pretty fun winter series with multiple events at different venues so far weve raced at Balboa Park and Black Mountain.  Then there is Southridges series at Fontana, which is great because it is normally a pretty similar course to the XCT event the end of March.  Victor, aka Slasher, puts on a fun series as well called the quick ‘n dirty.  He’s organized a race at the end of February and plans on having a mid-week summer series as well.

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Photo by PBcreativephoto.com

A weekend of information

I was fortunate enough to be part of the first round of coaches to be considered for the BC2 coaching (braveheart coaching squared) program.  It was put on my Lesley Patterson and Dr. Simon Marshall down in San Diego, CA.  The coaching camp featured coaches from all around the country with diverse backgrounds who were interested in becoming part of braveheart coaching platform.

Needless to say there was a lot of information to take in, and I am still processing most of it this monday morning.  One of the more unique things we learned about which most (probably none actually) coaching platforms don’t cover is brain coaching or training.  This is one thing that I have gone through tremendously in the past on my own, it can be the difference between a bad race/great race, and even effect your mood at work and your home life.  I don’t want to spill too many beans, but this is something for everyone to check out in the future.

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Look at all that learning!

So after two days of short trainer rides crammed in between the long hours of learning Im gonna head out on my bike and work on training my brain and work on certain coaching platforms for the future.  Big thanks to Lesley and Simon for putting this workshop on, it was exactly what I was looking for as a new coach entering the market!

Racing bikes with friends

Check out that awesome kit and bike! Photo: PB Creative

A few weeks ago I had my first cyclocross race of the season, Udo Cross,  out at Lake Hodges in San Marcos.  It was renamed from Spyclocross to Udo Cross after the passing of a friend, Udo Heinz, who was struck and killed by a bus while out riding at Camp Pendleton recently.  Udo was a great ambassador of the cycling community and the cyclocross race every year at lake hodges was always one of the best thanks to all of his hard work.

It was great to see everyone from the cyclocross scene as well as all the friends and spectators that came out to heckle.  Especially all my friends at the bottom of the fast descent you guys were awesome!

The course was pretty similar to last year, which in my opinion, is on of the better courses on the Socal cross circuit.  The laps are a little longer and it has more straightaways rather than just a bunch of turns on the grass.  After some whining and complaining about water being added into the mud pits the race finally got started, only about 45 minutes late.

I wasn’t sure how it was gonna go as I’ve been logging a lot of miles, while everyone else is 6 or 8 races into the season.  About halfway through the first lap the Gritters brothers, Jason Siegle and myself had a small gap on the rest of the field.  The three of them definitely had more pop, and power than I did, but I was able to stay on wheels through the technical sections and turns.

It was pretty fun sitting in with everyone watching Brandon and Kyle gang up on Siegle, I could tell it was going to be a fun race.  No one really had any concern with me as I don’t have any points for the series so I was thinking I could maybe sneak a move in near the end of the race for at least a top three.  But that thought ended early when I went down on the fast corner/descent on the second lap, right in front of all of my friends.

I didn’t go down hard, just kinda slid out on some loose sand, but my chain fell off to the outside of the chainrings, and my shoe unbuckled.  By the time I got the chain on and my buckle re-clipped I was probably 45-60 seconds off the lead group of three.  At this point I was pretty much thinking about which part of the course I was gonna leave so I could go drink a beer with all my friends.  Then I thought of Udo and how much he had cheered for me the year before while racing and decided I had to stick it out.

Brent Prenzlow, who suffered from a flat in the first minute of the race, was closing in on me fast.  I thought it would be good if he caught me and that we might be able to work together to try and catch the lead group.  But after riding a lap or so together Brent was obviously way stronger and eventually dropped me in the sand.

I managed to hang in for a 5th place finish which all in all isn’t too bad for my first race of the season.  I had a blast riding around in circles on bikes with everyone out there, I forgot how fun CX is.  The Gritters’ ended up taking first and second again, while Siegle ended up third with Brent on his heels.

Apparently someone has a video of me biffing it and I will definitely post that up here if I get the clip in the future.

Yeah, about that Blogging thing…

Man to say I slacked on the blog the past few months would be an understatement.  There has been much to share, but not so much time.

Well all is well here on the home front.  Its tough trying to balance working, starting your own business and wanting to do well racing bikes next year.  There is way to much to say so Ill just do some bullet points, thats all anyone wants to read anyway…

  • Velo Hangar is an awesome shop down in Solona beach and if you haven’t been there yet, well what the heck are you waiting for get in there!
  • Sanding surfboards for 5 hours before riding your bike for 5 hours is tiring, then making fins when you get home in your spare time….yeah you get the idea
  • Im working on getting my own kits made with all my sponsors for next season, stay tuned!
  • If you need help learning to ride a bike let me know (if I can’t help you Ill point you in the right direction!)
  • I havent raced any CX yet because Im putting in a lot of base miles for the Pro XCT next year (if it happens, thanks USCycling)
  • I have my first meeting this Sunday to be a San Dieguito river park Mountain bike patrol ranger
  • The Blue Moonies are an awesome local band
  • My wife to be Ellen is awesome and beautiful
  • Everyone at Focus Bikes is top notch, and luckily they have some of the best bikes around
  • I almost always, need more coffee…especially right now
  • I miss the Angry Single Speeder
  • If you need bamboo or Marine Ply glass-ons for your next surfboard and you are reading this, you have better buy them from me! www.teleostfins.com
  • I recently won a mountain bike race on a cross bike
  • …have you gone to the Velo Hangar yet?
  • The new Time MTB pedals have been great (and no I didn’t get them for free)
  • Whats a blog post without pictures, check out my new Focus Izalco team SL
  • Stay on the lookout for Jess Cerra’s new Harmony Bars (they’re freaking tasty)
  • Follow me on twitter @eboogie101 or @teleostfins
  • I think thats enough for now
Thanks to everyone in and around my life!

US Cup Triple Crown Finale

I spent the last weekend up in Santa Ynez (Los Olivos actually) for the season finale of the US Cups triple crown event.  Seemed like it was gonna be a good weekend of racing with Short Track and Super D on Saturday, and XC on Sunday.

I left early Saturday morning and made it up there with plenty of time to spare even after hitting some traffic just before Carpinteria.  I paid the ridiculous registration fee (thanks to Velo Hangar for some help there) for the triple crown series and setoff to warm up pre riding the Super D course.  Then toed the line for the Short Track race.

The Short Track format is 15 minutes plus one lap, seems easy enough right?  There was one short climb that occurred after a long straightaway into a head wind, then another straight away to a quick down then a couple turns, a lap takes about 3-4 minutes.  I had a good start and sat third or so wheel for the first couple of laps.  Because of the headwind the group stayed together for most of the race.

There were a few position changes as the race went on, then when I thought we had two and a half laps left I decided to test the field a little and start mixing it up.  I jumped to the front on the short climb and attacked.  Thanks to the insane power transfer of the Focus’ seat stays I had a small gap at the top climb, albeit only a couple seconds but thats all I wanted to know for now.  I knew that doing this would have me pulling the group into the wind the next go around which is why I wanted to do it with two to go then sit in and attack and hopefully hold for the win on the last lap.

As I was pulling the group through the start/finish we got the last lap signal, plan foiled!  No one was coming around to put their nose in the wind either.  So I kept it fairly mellow then started to string it out a little bit before the climb this time to try and prevent anyone using my own plan against me.  I was able to hold off the attack of Ryan and Cody up the climb, but they both snaked by me on the straightaway afterwards.  I was pretty gassed from my effort and they got a few seconds on me which is all they needed.

We had broken away from the main group and I was able to solo in for third.  Thanks to my season of CX racing for sharpening my race tactics!  I spun around for a few more minutes then went back to the car and stuffed my face with as much pasta and food as I could and relaxed a little before the Super D start.

I did a lot of time killin in the sun up there

The Super D course was one of the longer ones this season, and had a good bit of climbing in it.  It wasn’t technical in a super rocky sense but in a loose dirt, high speed off camber turns kinda thing.  I managed to put a decent run together with a couple small mistakes and sneaked by with a 4th place, and from what I could tell was the only one competing on my XC hardtail too.

Sunday was finally time for the real fun to begin, with the field twice as big as saturday and a lot of fresh legs, I knew I was in for some pain.  Right away once I started warming up I could tell that I wasn’t totally feeling it or into racing that much.  I got to the line with about 4 minutes until start time and was pretty disappointed to find that some racers who never faired too well were hogging the front line since there weren’t any call ups today.  Thats fine and all just don’t loose the wheel of the person in front of you when it starts to get real and we begin to ascend towards the skyline.

But of course, when we hit the first climb there was an almost immediate split of Siegel and Taberlay.  Well, ok then, there were still a couple strong riders in the lot remaining, I was in about 9th, then 3rd and 4th started pulling away from what could barely be called a group anymore.  It took a lot of effort to get by these guys and finally managed to get away from everyone else in 6th on the wheel of 5th.  Unfortunately neither one of us were feeling spectacular and couldn’t gain too much ground on Cody and Ryan in the 3rd and 4th position as they were working pretty good together.

So on the start of the second lap I attacked on the first climb and managed to get a little gap and expand it to a minute for a 5th place finish.  At one point I had almost reeled in the next two riders but just didn’t have the legs from all the racing the previous day.

This is right when I started to close the gap a little on 3rd and 4th, see how close they are!

I ended up 3rd in the triple crown for that weekend, and second for the overall series triple crown.  I was stoked there was actually a payout for once at a US Cup, and that was for the overalls!  Or so thats what I thought, unfortunately we were told they would not be cutting us checks as some criteria wasnt met or something, I get it I guess.  But warn us of that criteria ahead of time otherwise I probably wouldn’t have wasted my time and money to drive up there for some more generic medals and tin trophies.  But all in all it was a fun weekend of racing with good people and some fun trails.

The highlight of my trip would probably actually be running into Kurt, who was riding his bike from San Diego to Monterey, just outside of Los Olivos on the side of the 154.  How random, I was stoked to see him and offered him a nutella and jelly french toast sandwich which he somehow managed to choke down as we talked about our plans for Sea Otter.  Good shit.

Kurt chowin’ down

Pro XC tour #2 in the books

No excuses this time, I was off of the antibiotics and had my first ‘real’ pro race under my belt, having another crappy showing was unacceptable.  I pre-rode the course the weekend before and knew what to expect.  It was a very technical course with some longer descents which suited me well.  I should have done some warming up on the course though, especially after being warned by Gareth and B. Gritters beforehand that the course was getting super chewed up from the Cat 1’s racing it.  Turns out the course rode completely different than the previous weekend.  

At the start I was lined up behind Miguel Valdez, which I thought was gonna be a nice wheel to follow through the crowd. For some reason at the whistle he hesitated and rolled out at a ‘not very fast’ pace and I was swarmed by riders from the rows behind me.  The course went from a pretty narrow fire road to some single track not too long after the start, and positioning was of the utmost importance.  I was pretty far back and had to put in some solid efforts when the trail would open up on the climbs before going back into single track.  There was so much traffic caused by the 50+ riders that we were all strung out within inches of the wheel in front of you in your easiest gear just soft pedaling, there was nothing else you could do.  
Excuse me I’d like to get by now
Near the end of the first lap (of 4), on the last descent, after moving up some spots and in a good place I ran out of talent and slid into a patch of some kinda small nettle plant thing to break my fall.  All was good but the line that I rode on the course three times the weekend before that I really liked was all of a sudden gone and replaced with loose sand.  So I lost a bunch of spots there and was pretty content to throw in the towel now with a valid excuse.  The tip of my saddle was also now pointed up to about the 11 o’clock position which was no bueno, so about a mile from the start I had to pull over and hit it down with my hand to make it level again, ohh yeah and losing more hard earned spots.  
Post crash, I had leaves in my ear after the race
Still wanting to quit, again, I just kept riding hoping I would change my mind.  Which I did, again.  Thanks to Tom Obrien and the nationwide team for the support and handing me bottles every lap, I kept pushing on.  I just rode the climbs as steady as I could, and would start to reel in riders on the descents and would pick em off one by one as the race went on.  Ended up in 20th, which is a lot better than Bonelli, but considering where I was before I slid out and everything I went through again to get going I could have done better.  But at this level you don’t really get a second chance, you barely ever get a chance at all, which is why it is so intriguing to keep racing at this level.
After almost falling asleep at the top waiting for the super D start, needless to say I had a pitiful performance.  I basically forgot how to ride a bike after laying on a rock in the sun for 45 minutes!  I was unable to clip in immediately at the start, then made some bad line choices and braking decisions.  Bummed because I feel its a course I could have done good on, ohh well, ended up 13th in that.
Time to start thinking about Sea Otter and what I may do the rest of this season.  In the meantime I’m taking in my Focus to clean it up at the Velo Hangar and drink some coffee, ohh I guess my employer will want me to come to work too.