Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stephanie on the Pro Podium

Stephanie raced the Prot GRT/Eastern States Cup this past weekend at Plattekill.  Battleing the shale with her trusty Morewood Izimu and iXS helmet the infamous Red Izimu Bandit had this to say:
"Awesome weather and a crazy fun course at the Eastern States Cup and PRO GRT at Plattekill last weekend! My Little Red Izimu felt great over the roots and loose shale, sticking the berms. I'm really excited about a 4th place first pro podium! Off to Attitash in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire this weekend, one of my favorite courses from last year! Wheeeee!!!!"
Photo Nicolas Barry
Check out all Matt's photos on VitalMTB.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Man Camp V2.0

You may remember a post about Ned and his Morewood Makulu "Man Camp". Man Camp will be receiving green Spank rims and some various other custom bits before it is finished.  Enjoy Ned's work thus far.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Stephanie and her Little Red Izimu

Stephanie Levesque Sowles attended the Pro GRT#2 and ESC#1 at Mountain Creek Bike Park in NJ this weekend aboard her Morewood Izimu.  Not the results she was looking for but she displays the best attitude on the mountain.  Good luck at the next race Stephanie!

"Not one of my most stellar race runs. I wrecked twice in a short stretch. Dead last. Someone has to be last so I guess I'm honored to take my turn in that spot! But another bonus of the's light! Less weight crashing on top of me! hehee"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ashland: Spring Thaw Classic

Morewood Kalula:

Grammo wheels
Deity cockpit
MRP Crank/Chain Ring/Chain Guide
SRAM Drive train

Winning run for Austin Lancaster at Ashland Spring Thaw in 4:50

Monday, May 7, 2012

Jared Hobbs at the NW Cup#2/PRO GRT/MTB GP/UnderWorld Cup

Jared Hobbs at the NW Cup#2/PRO GRT/MTB GP/UnderWorld Cup

     Downhill Mountain Bike Racing...  It's challenging, frustrating, dangerous and expensive. But It's all worth it when we get to ride a track as good as the one in Port Angeles Washington. A sprint out of the gate into high-speed slick turns, deep braking bumps years in the making, roots, rocks, ruts and tight narrow berms in the trees, it has it all. And then there is a new section of trail I haven't ridden before, Chunder Dome/Ninja Falls, it's wide, steep and raw. This place is called Dry Hill partly because no matter how much it rains, you just don't seem to need mud tires. The combination of the hard packed dirt with slick-rock mix and those narrow berms at almost every turn keep everyone on their dry tires. Thankfully the rains held off which makes the whole weekend nicer too. No one really wants to sit around a campfire in the rain. A thick fog eventually rolled in on Sunday morning just to keep things mysterious.

Photo by Grey Tubbs 
    When I get to any race venue my plan is the same. Walk the track and memorize it. Get up to race pace then stay there. Full runs top to bottom, trying to squeeze out any problems or mistakes from my run. This system works well for me, using limited practice time to build speed, confidence and consistency. And on Friday a problem did arise! Somewhere in the Chunder Dome I went too far to the left and rode right over this large-slick-parallel-stump-thing. Causing me to really hit the next turn wrong, and sent me off the drop-to-flat all over the front of the bike. It was obvious I was going over the bars and proceed to cartwheel down the steep chute. The whole time hoping my Morewood Makulu didn't crash on top of me. Another one of those 'Did my Leatt Brace save me?' I'll never know...later the shuttle truck slid off the road and for a second we thought we were going to roll down the hill. My next pass down the trail I hit all my lines, feeling quick and in control, time to call it a day.

    Saturday was spent fine tuning the track as a whole in preparation for that afternoons' seeding runs. Trying some alternate lines and pushing my comfort level in a few key spots. Remembering where to down shift and where to to pedal hard out of the turns. Getting the Cane Creek Double Barrel Shock tweaked just right and testing the boundaries of tire pressure. All Racers have their own strategy for qualifying/seeding runs, but the way I look at it is, I'm on the clock and I want to see what I can do. Maybe not 100% but somewhere in the 90% range. That said, my run was solid, not perfect but no major mistakes. Everything just kind of fell in place, one section after another, and it was over before I knew it. I think I ended up 40th-ish out of over 100. Considering the level of competition, with about 20 World Cup Riders and almost all of the best racers from America and Canada, mid-pack here isn't too disappointing. Knowing I had some more speed for tomorrow, I went back to my campsite for dinner and fireside track meditation.

Photo by Grey Tubbs 
    It's Race Day, time to get down to business. A thick fog hung in the air Sunday morning, making me wonder if it will rain for finals? After waiting-out the crazy-long lift line for the mornings practice run, I caught one of the last trucks up and was suprised by how saturated the dirt was. The top half of the track seemed slick, so I started out easy just going with the flow. We battled with soft dirt, big holes and deep ruts all weekend. This heavy fog was going to slow down the track for sure. Later I ran back up the hill to see some of my friends in the Cat 1 race, and to watch the trail conditions evolve... everything was looking good. The riders and spectators were definitely enjoying the day. The next few hours back at the Team iXS Unique pits were occupied with preping the bikes, eating some food and staying relaxed yet focused. Talking about the track,seeding runs and bike set-up with my teammates Mikey Haderer, Dante & Jackie Harmony, kept our heads in the game. It was great to have the Unique Sports crew at this race, and thank you for all of your support!  After some spinning on the trainer and more visualization, I took one last pass down the old 4x track to loosen up, I was ready. Now up on the start ramp I hear a few short beeps, and I attack. Hitting turns faster than in practice, throwing in extra pedal strokes, staying low and riding aggressive. I have to admit, the top half of my run was very good. Then after skipping over the moto-whoops I get to a flat root filled left turn and lose some speed. Momentum I really needed for the next kind of flat, rolling section. But I get on the gas and try to recover.  Then the next big right, I swing wide getting close to the trees and have to fight to get back on line. All at a spot I should have been pedaling and that caused me to drop into the real steep gnarly section a little slow. Maybe that let me compose myself because the hardest part of the track I ride smooth and precise. Sprinting hard every chance I get, I slam a couple more berms and cross the line. 2:48.46 Slightly slower than my seeding run which is frustrating, but with track being a bit slower that Saturday afternoon, I guess it's not too far off my pace. Race runs are rarely perfect and those three mistakes in my run were pretty minor. 53rd place was where I ended up, but in a field this big every little thing counts. Five seconds faster and I would have been 30th. There were 18 riders within +/- 1 second of my time. And Top 30 of the Americans at a big national level race sounds pretty good to me. That's one of the best parts about Downhill Racing, there is always a way to go faster and chasing after that elusive, perfect run is what brings me back year after year.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Mad Haderer takes Port Angeles

Sea Otter was over and it was a quick trip home to stop by work then off to meet up with the Harmonys and the boys up at Unique in Oregon so Steve and I jumped in the van and headed up to Central Point. Got in right around breakfast time and rearranged some seats and bikes and we caravan-ed with the DeathStar North towards Port Angeles. A whole bunch of the big guns from Sea Otter decided to come up to the venue as well. The Syndicate, Brendan, Steve Smith, Team Yeti, Norco, KHS, DRD Intense, Mick Hannah, and Trek World Racing were all on the same road as us to ride the first real DH of the year. Long day of driving and a camp out in the local Walmart parking lot and we were at the venue ready for a course walk.

Steve the Official Pit Wolf.
Track was a good mix of everything the northwest had to offer. Some highspeed slick rock and turns up top with some rooty rutted turns in the middle that we have raced on before going on to a whole new wooded section with lots of fresh loam and BIG holes. They finished up the track with another new steep and loose section nicknamed the  "Chunder Dome" and with waist high braking and suspension bumps the name fit quite well. the team had just bolted up some of our new rear shocks from Cane Creek so it was time to do some tuning and testing on the first day of muddy practice. Put on the fresh new IXS Pants and hopped in the first shuttle truck for afternoon practice. The track rode fairly slow with the early morning rain so it was going to be a struggle to keep speed up. After a few practice runs it was time for some good old fashion BBQ for dinner. The motley crew headed out to the Blue Flame BBQ joint in town and was fed entirely too much dead animal. Back to the deathstar for the nights rest going into seeding day on Saturday.

Saturday morning woke to some light showers overnight which actually helped keep the track from getting to sticky but made it a bit slick. We all decided to go with dry tires and the Hutchinson Barracuda was the tire of choice for the weekend. A few clicks and turns on the Double Barrels and the bikes felt great. Now it was just time to keep speed up and try to stay out of the holes that were growing bigger every run. I hoped in the truck to grab one last practice run before seeding when near the top the truck started to shake and move and before we all knew it the Uhaul van started to roll. Being inside of the box we really had to reference to what was going on other than the floor was now at nearly a 45 degree angle I felt as though i was going to flip over and land on top of Mick Hannah who was now below me. After the were finally let out of the truck we could tell that the driver must have been facebooking while driving and slid us off the side of the raised shuttle road and had it not been for all the logging recently done on Dry Hill we might have kept rolling down the side of the mountain. After this little incident the track didnt seem at all scary anymore. Seeding runs came around and lets just say I did my best impression of a full motion Sunny Bono and smacked right into a tree coming to a stop. Ran a time somewhere in the top half but knew I had a LOT more to take off for finals the next day.

Finals day. Woke up early to find the whole hill Socked in completely with fog as well as a fair amount of rain which turned the already scary fast top section into a small stream and extremely slick at speed. We are allowed one practice run on race day with nearly 500 racers going off that day it became a day of HURRY up and WAIT. Sitting around the pits for about 5 hours before finals really took a bit of a toll on me and i dont think i was really ready for my race run. Finally it was time to ride and headed up the hill just in time to roll into the gate. Set off on my run and just couldn't quite get my rhythm in the first few turns. I tried to get things back under control but after about half the run I was still struggling to ride smooth. Overbraking in turns and having some very interesting encounters with roots it was probably my worst race run in memory without coming off the bike. Finished in the same second and my qualifier with a whole lot of disappointment on my mind.  All and all it was a good learning race for me and gave me some new fire to spend alot more time just on my DH bike. On to the next one. Stay tuned for some new bike news!

Read the Harmony's Race Reports HERE.
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