Hello all! You may have noticed there hasn’t been much activity going on here recently, and that is not my intention. I am committed to posting at least one blog/review/update per week but unfortunately about a month ago, my laptop died. While I’m on the hunt for a new one, I’m still writing posts and they will be posted once I find a replacement computer. I’ll also be editing and uploading a lot more video, so stay tuned!
Last year, I competed in a few BC Enduro Series Races. They seemed to be decently well run, no event will be perfect for everybody. Other than a few little complaints and the issue of the extreme cost (compared to a DH race), I didn’t have a reason not to race a few of them to learn more about Enduro to see if this is what I wanted to focus more on in the following years.
This morning I read a Pinkbike article about how the BC Enduro Series in 2018 will be run. I was pretty disappointed to say the least. No overall points, no hard trails, no pro categories, and no awards are a few of the things that are being changed for 2018. Sounds a lot like a toonie race, doesn’t it? Their reasoning is to create a less competitive atmosphere so that more people will want to get into mountain biking. Which is never a bad thing, but when they want to change a provincial race series into a competitive “ride”, that should be a whole different series. Sure, they’re probably going to get some more newer less experience riders to go to those events, but I know that a lot of more competitive riders probably won’t be traveling 4-6 hours for a out of town toonie race (that will still cost $60-$80).
Yes, there still is the National Series, but there are only 3 of those races in BC. I’m not going to travel to Ontario or Quebec for just a national event, and it shouldn’t be expected that a young up and coming racer will do that either. There are higher level enduro races in the Sea to Sky area, but not being able to add “BC Enduro Series Overall Champion” on a racing resume will a big downside.
If there’s one of these races in North Vancouver, I’ll probably do it. Mostly because I know a lot of my friends and the people I ride with will most likely do it and we can compete against eachother. As for the rest of the series, I don’t think I’ll be traveling, then spending $60-$80 for a race that won’t be as challenging or won’t add to my racing resume.
Again, I’m glad they want to encourage newer riders to get into competitive mountain biking, but I don’t understand why they need to take away compitition from the higher level riders for this to happen. Isn’t this what the Short Courses are for on the sign up sheet?
Over this past weekend, all employees of Endless Biking were invited to a year end ride/celebration. We loaded up the vehicles and headed up to Seymour for 3 awesome laps! I don’t think I had ever ridden the North Shore with that many people. I believe there were 18 people in total all ripping down some of our favourite trails.
Here is a short video of the last lap we did. Good times!
After the riding was done, we headed back to HQ for some food and to hang out. We watched a slideshow of some of the photos taken over the year and had a good laugh. As it got later, people started to leave, but the rest of us jumped on some electric cruiser bikes and motored around North Vancouver enjoying the views and the extremely fast bikes!
It was a day to remember and I’m glad I work with such awesome people who share my love for riding bikes!
I am fortunate to work at Endless biking, a mountain bike tour, lesson, and rental shop, that has a lot of different kind of bikes. The owners have allowed me to test those bikes to determine what I will be riding next year.
I have been a riding/racing a Rocky Mountain Slayer this year, and have really enjoyed it. It has 27.5 inch wheels, a 170mm travel fork and 165mm of travel in the rear. I can ride it anywhere, even in the bike park. It’s a pretty big bike with slack angles compared to some other Enduro race bikes, but it pedals pretty well and I have had some good results racing the BC Enduro Series this year.
What was sitting in front of me while I was thinking of this? Six Altitudes that I had recently built, two of which were my size and weren’t rented that day. So at 6:00, after I closed up the shop and asked permission, I got to work putting my 170mm fork from my Slayer onto the altitude, as well as my wheels so I didn’t potentially damage the almost new wheels that were already on the bike. I rode the bike with my fork around the parking lot and it instantly felt like a whole different bike than the one with the 160mm fork, which I rode back to back just bouncing around behind the shop.
That night, I took to the trails and after a couple warm up laps, I did some freelap timing, 5 Laps on a 1 minute trail. The bike felt amazing. It was so playful and light and seemed to accelerate a lot quicker than my Slayer when it was time to put the power down. Now I knew why the EWS guys had chosen it.
The next day, I did more freelap timing with my Slayer on the exact trail. The results were a bit shocking. I was 2-4 seconds quicker on a 1 minute trail on the altitude than I was on the Slayer, which I had been riding all year and felt extremely comfortable on.
What were the differences? As i mentioned before, the Altitude accelerates very quickly and is easy to throw around on the trail. The Slayer felt a lot closer to a DH bike bike. What was strange was, while testing the Slayer, I felt as if I couldn’t go any faster than my fastest time. I was relatively comfortable going that speed, but I felt like I had reached the limit of how much I could push it before sliding out in corners or crashing. With the altitude, I felt like I was more “on the edge”, but I felt like I could keep pushing and go faster if I did more laps.
Considering I’ve only spent a couple hour total with the Altitude and it’s already faster even without it being setup exactly as it would if it were mine, I was very impressed with the bike and I am seriously considering it for next year!
There’s an app called Strava that many mountain bikers used. It tracks your rides and shows you stats like distance, time, and elevation. It can also tell where and what trails you’ve been riding and has a leaderboard that tells you how fast you completed the trail compared to other people who use the app. If you are the fastest person to ride a certain trail, you are considered to have a KOM (king of the mountain) on that trail.
Racing Enduro this year, I’ve learned that there is a lot more than just downhill speed on the bike involved to be able to win. After racing my first one this year, and getting beat by a 15 and a 50 year old, I was baffled on what I was doing wrong. I realized you didn’t have to be good at just going downhill, there were also uphill or flat sections that you had to power your way through. My downhill speed wasn’t enough to make up for all the time on the technical climbs or tight awkward sections which I wasn’t used to.
Obviously fitness is a big part of it, and that’s something I need to work on. DH racing involves a lot of sprinting and recovering, which Is what I train for. Enduro requires a lot more endurance and being able to pedal for a much longer time, as well as sprint and recover. With all the snow this year, I wasn’t able to get out on long road rides. Sure, there’s the stationary bike at the gym, but I found it hard to find motivation to sit inside on a spin bike for 90 minutes watching other people lift weights. I didn’t think I needed to. But boy was I wrong…
With Strava, I am able to compare my times with the fastest local riders and it motivates me to put in effort on flatter or uphill sections of trail where I would usually relax or use as a transition to the next technical decent. If I want to put in good times on strava, I have to be fast everywhere, not just the downhill, just like enduro racing. Enduro racing is pretty much over for this year, but I hope to race a few more next year and after a winter of more endurance training, I’m hoping to see a huge improvement on my times.
To do well at a downhill race, it requires a lot of things. The one I have been thinking about and one I think I really improved upon recently is the strategy in which I approach practice.
I realized in Sun Peaks, the longest track of the year, that I needed to do something different from most other tracks. Usually I broke the tracks down into 2 or 3 different sections and worked on them all on the same run, stopping and pushing back up on bits that I was struggling with. In Sun Peaks, because of the length and roughness of the course, I broke it down into more smaller sections, and only focused on 1 or 2 each run and just cruised through the ones I wasn’t focusing on that particular lap. On the way up the chairlift, I planned out which sections I would focus on and either talk to myself like a crazy person on what I would do, or make my brother listen to my rambling when he rode up the chair with me.
The result was I took much fewer laps that I usually would have, which saved energy, and was still able to put everything together into one run. The whole weekend I was riding I did only 3 full laps without stopping. One practice lap, one seeding run, and obviously my race run. This was extremely helpful especially on such a long course because I actually had a lot of energy on race day and was able to sprint where others were sitting down and resting their legs.
In the end, unfortunately I had a crash in my race run. My front wheel went over a blown out berm and I had to get myself back up to speed on one of the only flat/uphill sections of the course. I did loose a bit of time, but still managed to get 10th, beating a few people who usually are more than 5 seconds faster than me.
Even though I crashed, I still consider it my best race weekend yet. I look forward to using this strategy on the rest of the races this year!
Last week when my brother and I were taking pictures/videos in the Whistler Bike Park, I noticed a few things that were quite scary. While waiting for my brother to push up and ride by on the most famous trail in the world, A-Line, a lot of other riders were riding by. Of course, we weren’t taking pictures on the boring parts, we were on the exciting jumps/high speed sections. I watched closely at the other people riding and I was cringing at almost all of the people hitting the jumps. Most of the people either didn’t know how to jump and it seemed were coming very close to crashing, or were going so slow that they could barley make it up the lip of the jump without having to pedal/get off and push up the lip. This goes back to my post last year, (What Happened to The Whistler Bike Park)? where I talked about the black trails and features getting “easier” so everybody could ride them.
On our first trip to Whistler this year, I noticed the Warning Feature at the top of A-Line, a 3-4 foot drop or so, had a roll down option on it, allowing people to ride it slowly, rolling down the drop instead of having enough speed/skill to drop off of it. At the bottom I asked the guy at the chairlift what was going on. He said that last year, when it was a drop without the roll down option, somebody tried to roll off of it, thinking it was a roll down, and broke his neck. While it is completely understandable that the bike park managers don’t want people getting hurt, is making a Black Dimond rated trail available to ride for pretty much anybody really a good idea? Isn’t the whole point of that new built up drop to warn people that if they can’t do that feature properly, they won’t be able to ride the rest of the trail safely?
In the first two days of riding there, I noticed a lot more people riding A-Line who definitely shouldn’t have been riding A-Line. I’m not trying to be mean and think that anybody that’s slower than me shouldn’t be riding A-Line, but if you can barely make it up a lip of a jump without having to pedal, maybe you should build some confidence on an easier trail and progress your skill/speed.
I also saw a lot more people on the side of the trail who had crashed. On my warm up lap (A-Line) I came across someone who crashed on the second jump, right under the chairlift. I know we all have those moments and take a good spill, but this was another example of what happens when people bite off more than they can chew. Fortunately he was ok, but it’s still scary to see people crash on a jump trail. The speeds are much faster than on a technical trail, and you can’t really even feel that you’re going that fast until things go wrong.
The GLC Drop is gone this year. Not that it was really that impressive the past few years, but it was still an iconic feature. What the bike park replaced it with is a rather large blind jump that sends you pretty high. On the first day, I saw three people who crashed and were sitting/laying off to the side with their buddies around them making sure they were ok. I noticed that the jump was a bit more difficult to ride than most of the other jumps on A-Line. Unless you actually knew how to pop off the lip instead of just using speed to carry you to the landing, you would land nose heavy. I was guilty of this the first time I hit it, and it seemed like a few others were too.
I haven’t been happy the way the Whistler Bike Park has been changing the past few years. Don’t get me wrong, It’s awesome that they want to get newer or less experienced riders out on the trails and are building more green/blue trails, but there are some trails that beginner or intermediate riders shouldn’t be on. I think encouraging people or allowing them to be able to roll over or walk down the first “test” feature on an advanced trail is dangerous. Sometimes we need to let go of our egos and use progress our skills instead.
A few months ago, I started a low carb high fat diet. It took a few weeks for my body to get used to using fat for fuel instead of carbs, but now that I’m “fat adapted”, it’s working as it should. The idea was to be able to ride or do activity longer without running out of energy (food). Basically having to eat less during a long day practicing or racing. It’s working well, I’m finding that I don’t need to eat as much as often and If I have a big meal and the beginning of the day, I don’t have to eat as much throughout practice. There is obviously a lot of science and research that has gone into diets like these and I won’t go into that much, but a lot of athletes are using these diets to improve their performance.
Over the past few years of hard training and riding, I have found that if I take a break from the gym or riding for a week at times throughout the season, I come back much stronger than before.
Sometimes it takes longer than a day or two of not hitting the gym to come back in full force. I recently just took a week out of the gym to teach spring break camps and when I came back, I noticed I was way stronger and had a lot more energy than the couple weeks before I took the break.
The same is somewhat true when riding, sometimes a shorter break like a couple days off the bike can make me more motivated to go out and progress. I find that in mid-late summer when I’m on my bike almost every day, I didn’t see much progression. I found that some of my best riding and most the progression in my riding came in the spring.
Maybe it was because I was on the bike so much that I just wanted to have fun? Maybe I felt like I was already into the race season and didn’t need to push myself?
Over the past couple weeks, my brother and I have been working on making videos on Youtube, and we also created a new Instagram page. The name we’re calling them is Livin’ Large. It tells our story and shows what we get up to on the wild west coast. There will be bikes, cars, trucks, and all the other crazy and exciting things we get up to!
Check out our first video!