Saturday, December 14, 2013

Getting back to a routine

I am now back on my bike after breaking my collarbone two months ago. It was a bit of a set back in my training, but with the amount I ride my bike I am bound to have an unlucky spill once and a while.   I just had to make the best use of my down time putting together a training plan and setting some goals for next season. 

I couldn't be happier with my situation this winter.   I've got two jobs currently, working at the Spin Cycles bike shop and at SideStix Ventures.  I am lucky enough to have two boss's that understand my goals and training schedule, so they are helping me out a huge amount by giving me flexible hours so  I can ride, go to the gym and work all in one day.  

Sluggers Family gym is also a local company that is helping me out a ton.  They are sponsoring me with a membership this year and therefore give me access to all the equipment I need for my training.   I'll be spending a lot of my time there this winter.

I am almost done finalizing my sponsors for 2014.   It's incredible the amount of support I've been receiving.  Most of my current sponsors are stepping up and continuing with me for next season.

I am very happy to announce a few new supporters of my racing.   The first is Maxxis Tires!!  I've been riding Maxxis tires by choice for the past several years, and now I have got a real deal with one of the largest mountain bike tire company's.  I will be trying out a lot of tires throughout the winter.  I am also on the testing team, so I will be able to give feedback and test new products.

Second is Genuine Health.   They are a nutrition company that make a variety of supplements from greens powders to pre and post workout drinks.  I've already noticed faster recovery times after my hard workout and rides.  They've even got me up on their brand ambassador page

I've finally upgraded to a full on crf250r moto bike for training this winter.  It's a lot of fun ripping around the local track!  It's good speed training and helps with upper body strength and conditioning. 

I am trying to post as much content as I can on my Facebook athlete page and instagram account.  A follow or a share would be very much appreciated.

Go to the gym, ride, work, eat, sleep and repeat. That pretty much sums up my days for the next few months.   I feel very confident that I've got a good training plan together this off season and I'm excited to get back to racing in 2014!!



Friday, November 1, 2013

Wheel size facts Part 3... Contact Patch and Tire Factors.

In this post, I'm continuing with the wheel size theme, but looking at tire related factors such as contact patch, tire pressure and tread. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this mini series for some other wheel/tire things to consider. In Part 1, small wheels beat big wheels, but in Part 2 big wheels fought back... so which, if either, is going to come out top for you?

Here, I  discuss contact patch and related factors across the 3 common wheel sizes. Once again I will be taking the wheels and tires from Part 1 for consistency.

Contact patch:

What is the contact patch, and how does it effect grip and rolling resistance?

Fig.1 Contact patch on simplified tire represented in blue
The contact patch (shown in fig.1 in blue) is essentially the footprint of the tire that is making contact with the ground at any instant in time. For any given tire, it will change with tire pressure, as Pressure=Force/Area. So the lower the pressure, the more your tire will deform to the contours you are riding over.

A larger tire contact patch area represents more rubber on the ground, which increases friction and therefore grip (good). However, the larger the contact patch area the greater the rolling resistance (bad). So, as with most things, there is always a compromise, and you just have to pick the right balance between grip and rolling resistance to suit your needs.

Shape and area:

For this section on contact patch shape, let's look at a basic representation of each wheel size (no tread, and no tire stiffness) each with 2.3" width , based on 50kg of weight (assuming 50:50 weight distribution, and bikes + rider = 100kg), and 2Bar (about 29PSI or 200,000 N/m²) of a perfect gas on a flat surface for all wheel sizes. Since the pressure is the same in each tire, the contact patch area will be the same for this scenario as Pressure=Force/Area. This is not very realistic as pressures will change a bit with wheel size (I will go into that later), so this is just to give an idea of patch shape.

Fig. 2 Contact patch shapes for same tire pressure.
In Fig .2 you can see the 3 wheel size contact patches overlapped for the same tire pressure and loads: the bigger the wheel size, the longer and narrower the contact patch. But the variation in shape is probably much smaller than you'd expect, or have been made to believe. So let's look at this slightly differently...

One way of measuring optimal tire pressure is actually as 'tire drop', which is a percentage of original tire height (a little like suspension sag) as seen in Fig.3.
Fig.3 Explanation of tire drop
If for each wheel size we have a 6% tire drop when riding along a flat surface on a slick tire, then this will tell us a lot about required tire pressure, as well as contact patch shape and area for each wheel size.

As you can see in Fig.4, the contact patch area and lengths change as tire pressure changes, but the width remains the same due to same tire carcass width and cross sectional shape. So for the same tire drop of 6% the 29" wheel has a 2.7% bigger contact patch than 650b, which in turn is 1.85% larger than 26". The difference in contact patch area and shape is far less than most marketing would have you believe, but it is present.
Fig.4 Contact patch dimensions for 6% tire drop, and tire pressure for each wheel size
This also shows that the larger the diameter wheel, the less tire pressure is required to achieve the same tire drop. Therefore you can get away with running lower tire pressure on bigger wheels if you wish. That said, the volume of the tire is the more significant factor, so the width of the tire will have a more significant impact on required tire pressure than wheel size.

These factors are the reason that mountain bike tires are wider than road bike tires. For road cycling, traction is less important than minimising rolling resistance (and weight) and so they run narrow low volume tires at high pressure. Mountain bikes run lower pressure, larger volume tires to increase traction as well as shock absorption. It's a case of picking the best tool for the job, by optimising what you want, and compromising on factors that are not as important to you.

Tire tread and compound:
All this marketing chat about contact patch actually ignores the most important factor. Tread patterns are massively relevant, because in reality, none of us ride around on fully slick tires. So when talking about contact patch, we really should be considering actual contact patch of the top of the treads on the surface, and also considering the extra grip provided by the edge of the treads biting into soft ground. Tread pattern and rubber compounds make a bigger difference than contact patch area.

The tread pattern changes the contact area far more than wheel size will!

So when thinking about grip, rather than think too much about wheel size and exact tire pressures, you'd be better off spending that time and effort picking the best tire tread pattern and compound for the riding conditions and experimenting with different tire pressures.

A softer rubber compound (lower durometer) will not only deform more to 'grip' the ground, but will also help damp the ride by compressing more easily under impacts. If you use a new soft compound tire you will be able to brake later, accelerate faster, and corner harder because the tread will bite into the ground with nice sharp edges, and the soft compound will have a higher coefficient of friction, and absorb the shock to stay in contact with the ground better.

For you to consider:

From all the information above, you can see that a bigger wheel will offer a slightly larger contact patch area due to the fact that you can run a slightly lower tire pressure. Therefore, a larger wheel will offer a bit more grip than a smaller wheel with same tire drop, but the increase in theoretical traction of larger wheels is probably less you were expecting.

With the larger tire contact patch comes more rolling friction, and efficiency is reduced. So smaller wheels are more efficient than larger wheels in this area for same tire drop. On a perfectly flat surface with a slick tire, smaller wheels with equal tire drop will lose less energy when rolling along than bigger wheels.

But let's be real... mountain biking isn't about just rolling along flat surfaces and we certainly don't use slick tires! It's about carrying speed through rough sections, cornering hard on the edges of tires, finding traction when climbing steeps and many, many more fun things. For most of these things, tire tread pattern and tire rubber compound are FAR more important than wheel size when it comes to grip. So my advice to you is not to get too lost in these wheel size numbers, instead pick a good tire choice and just enjoy riding your bike!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wheel size facts Part 2.... Rollover factors.

Here is some more independant wheel info to help you decide which wheel size is for you. I will be taking the same dimensions as discussed in Part 1 to perform these calculations. These theoretical calculations do NOT take into account tire deformation... which I will talk a bit about later. This week, get ready to deal with everyone's school subject fav - some trigonometry! So belt up, and let's rollover some wheel-based maths (oh dear....!)


You'll almost definitely have heard 29er riders saying just how much better their bikes roll over obstacles on the trail. "I carried so much more speed through that rough section!", or something similar. This is probably the key reason that riders and manfacturers give for having a bigger wheel size... But what does this mean, and just how much better do they perform this action?

The diagram below (Fig. 1) shows the height of a square-edge obstacle, and the angle of attack vis-à-vis the wheel:

Fig. 1
When a wheel makes contact with a square-edge obstacle (for example, the curb of a pavement - that's British speak for 'sidewalk'), the angle of attack = the angle of the tangent of the wheel at point of contact with the square edge obsticle and the horizontal as shown above.

Fig. 2
Fig. 2 how each wheel size's angle of attack varies with obstacle height across a range of square-edge obstacle heights. Of course these values are all perfect and theoretical (not taking into account tire deformation, tire pressure or bike lean angles etc.)

The angle of attack itself doesn't really tell you much without applying basic trigonometrical functions to to break it down into horizontal and vertical force vectors. In a simplified form without friction or deformation, if a wheel runs into a vertical obstacle higher than the axle height, it will stop you instantly (horizontal force / vertical force = infinity). Conversely, if an obstacle has zero height it will not slow you down at all (horizontal force / vertical force = 0). On Fig. 3, you can see how the force vector varies as obstacle height increases for each wheel size (the higher the Tan (Angle of Attack), the more it will slow you down):

Fig. 3
Fig. 4 shows how the force vectors vary as a % relative to the 650b wheel. A positive number represents a higher horizontal resistance (effectively, this means it slows you down more). So, you can see that 26" wheels will slow down more than 650b wheels which in turn will slow down more than 29".

This graph clearly shows that the relative efficiency is not consistent across all obstacle heights. The larger the obstacle, the larger the effect the wheel size will have. So it is impossible to say that one wheel is x% more efficient over square-edged hits than any other size without saying the size of obstacle, tire size, and tire pressure etc etc.
Fig. 4
It should also be said that not only are big wheels more efficient at rolling over square-edge hits, but they also result in a smoother ride. This is because, for any given speed, the larger the diameter of the wheel the longer it is in contact with the obstacle (i.e. it hits it sooner and leaves it later). Therefore it has longer to react to the obstacle. Plus, the bigger the wheel the less of it is going to drop into holes (think braking bumps), hence 29ers feel like they smooth the trail out.

Once again I want to make it very clear that these numbers are based on wheels that do not deform at all, and that are rolling over perfectly square-edged obstacles, which is obviously not realistic. So let's have a quick look at some real world factors that significantly complicate the situation.

Tire deformation helps to absorb the impact of hitting a square-edge obsticle. This not only reduces the shock that is transferred to the frame and rider, but also makes the wheel roll more efficiently over an obstacle by effectively reducing the angle of attack when it absorbs it. The more the tire absorbs the obstacle the better, so actually lower pressure tires roll over obstacles like this more efficiently (unless you get a snake bite!).

Tire size is an important factor... for example you could realistically have a larger outside diameter running a very high volume tire on 26" wheels than a small volume tire on a 650b wheel. In this situation the 26" wheel would roll over things better than 650b, so tire height should be considered if analysing options.

We have indeed confirmed that big wheels roll over obstacles better than small wheels, and help maintain momentum as a result. But frame geometry and axle path also play a factor if the frame has suspension, as the suspension can help absorption of obstacles and make the bike roll over them better. The slacker the head angle or more rearward the axle path, the better a bike will roll over an obstacle if all other factors are equal.

Plus there is one very very significant factor that none of these numbers take into account...We can bunny hop over things! This is why you should never listen to arguments taken from automotive industry as the car can't be thrown around independently of the driver.

If this second installment of wheel physics hasn't boggled you even more than the first part, the third blog post will tackle contact area and grip. Woop!

Friday, October 11, 2013

IXS EDC Maribor 2013 //Matej Charvat

It was back in 2010 - first round of a World cup, when I last time raced in Maribor. It was also my first ever World cup back in 2002, when I started as a fore-runner. Yeah, I always liked that place and I was really excited to come back and ride.

The track had some new features, grass drift turns, new jumps etc. I really appreciate the effort of the trail builders here in Maribor, as the track was prepared as it should be.

The hardest part of  racing here - vision issues. It was almost not possible to ride.

Training was so much fun for me. I enjoyed every part of the track, every turn, root, jump. The best track of the year for me, for sure. The weather wasn't the worst at the time of training and I hoped it's going to stay like that. The surface on the track was so nice. A lot of drifts, but still dry on some places with a good grip. I was really confident and I was looking forward to Sunday.

Photo credit:

The race day was a bit different, tho. It started raining at night and it never stopped. The track changed a lot, but I was still having fun. It just came to my mind, that I finished 42nd here last time on a WC with two crashes, haha.

I tried to push hard, but I simply felt, that I'm already a bit tired of the season and my two injuries which I had in last months. I wasn't able to push myself to the race-mode. I did a nice run, but it wasn't my race pace. I finished 15th, which is not what I wanted, but still not the worst. I'm really happy about my young team mate Stan, who finished 8th. Pretty nice to see that he learned something from me in last two years.
I'm already looking forward to 2014, we've got some nice venues on IXS calendar.
See you there guys and enjoy my short video edit:

And again – Please don‘t forget to stay connected to my social networks:

Thanks for support to all my sponsors:
Banshee Bikes –
Spank –
Raceface –
Cane Creek –
HT –
E*13 –
Maxxis –
GO! Dresy – -
Five.Ten –
SportGroupCZ – / ION –
Koolstop –
Simple Green -

Monday, October 7, 2013

Wheel size facts Part 1.... Dimensions, Weight and Strength.

You may have read certain online and printed marketing strategies which talk about wheelsize with a significant bias towards one size. The size they promote will always be either the only size that the source company produces, or the size that they want to push. Intentional marketing spiels are often very misleading and can skew the purchaser's judgement.

I feel it is my duty to set the record straight by writing a series of blog posts that kick off with this one, which addresses two key components of wheel size: weight and dimensions (and little bit of strength thrown in for good measure!). I plan to give unbiased information that you may find useful when deciding what size hoops you want your next purchase to be.

I can offer nonpartisan information (actual facts, rather than marketing blurb) as here at Banshee we offer all 3 mountain bike wheel sizes. We let the customer decide what they want rather than force it upon them, so have no reason to promote one over any other.

Every wheel size has its pros and cons, so picking the best wheelsize for you really comes down to personal preference. The main things to consider when picking wheel size are your riding style, riding purpose (style or speed), the terrain you ride, and rider height, but there are also many other factors. I'll try my best to cover the main ones.

So read on if you want some real numbers... 

The following comparisons for this whole series are based on using Maxxis High Roller II 2.3" tires on each wheel size with same rim width for all sizes.

Any comparison I do will be relative to 650b wheels since they are the middle wheel size and so it makes the % change figures clear and constant.

Dimensions: (Outer tire dimensions taken from official Maxxis 3D files)

Straight away this table is likely to cause some confusion... because as you can see, none of the rims or tires match up to their name sake. You can find out why this is the case by reading from a master of bike knowledge Sheldon Brown.

However, one point to notice is that while 650b is marketed as 27.5", it is only 1" larger diameter than 26", and 1.5" smaller than 29", so it is significantly closer to 26" than 29.  The 650b tire (often marketed as the 27.5") does not actually fall equally between the 26" and the 29" tires, so the characteristics of the 650b are far more similar to 26" than 29" wheels.


Static weight

Obviously, tire and wheel build weights can vary significantly for all wheel sizes. So I'm sticking with 2.3" wide High roller II 3C/EXO/TR. For the wheels, I will use Stan's ZTR Flow EX wheels for each size.

Static weight (the weight of an un-rotating wheel) is often emphasised by marketing teams. But it only really matters when you lift the bike on and off a rack or carry it on your back. However, static weight does have an effect on the...

Moment of Inertia

Moment of inertia is resistance to angular velocity change about an axis of rotation. Basically, the higher the moment of inertia of a wheel the harder it is to accelerate (and decelerate). This is far more significant than static weight when riding a bike.

Moment of inertia is related to both radius and mass, as Moment of Inertia (I) = Mass x Radius². A low moment of inertia results in a fast accelerating wheel (easy to start spinning). The flip side of this is that a high moment of inertia is harder to decelerate (harder to stop spinning), and so the wheel will carry the speed better once rolling if all other factors are equal.

The below table shows approximate moments of inertia by using the BSD as the effective rotational radius for all wheel sizes. 

What these numbers illustrate is that if you ride flowy trails that do not require lots of braking and accelerating back up to speed, then a larger wheel might be a better choice. However, if the trail demands regular braking and pedaling up to speed again then a smaller wheel might be better suited.

If using the same effective components, then as the wheel size increases the weight and inertia increase accordingly (as you would expect)... but because inertia increases at a rate that is proportional to the radius squared, it goes up more steeply than weight as the wheel size increases.

What does this really mean?

Lets take these numbers and do some simple calculations to look at how much kinetic energy is theoretically required (ignoring rolling resistance etc) to accelerate each pair of wheels up to 10m/s along a flat surface.

The above table shows the following:

-Rotational kinetic energy (energy of a stationary spinning wheels with external velocity of 10m/s).
-Center of Mass (CoM) kinetic energy (energy of static mass traveling at 10m/s)
-Total kinetic energy (adding together rotational and center of mass values)

The kinetic energy contained in each wheelset rolling at 10m/s is then compared to that of the 650b wheel value.

What this shows is that these 26" wheels require 4.87% less energy to accelerate up to 10M/s than 650b, and that 29" wheels require 6.71% more energy than 650b.

On the flip side, once traveling at 10m/s each wheel requires the same amount of energy to come to a complete stop... so if we consider rolling and wind resistance forces equal for all wheel sizes, then the 29" wheel will continue to roll 6.71% further than the 650b wheel which rolls 4.87% further than the 26" wheel. This is due to the 29er wheels having the most momentum for any given speed.


A factor that is strangely often overlooked by marketing teams is that of the strength and stiffness of the wheel. I find this particularly strange as wheels cost a lot of money, and are subject to a lot of abuse, and personally the lifespan of a wheel is a significant factor to me when choosing what set to invest in.

If comparing like to like wheel builds (same rims, hubs etc), smaller wheels will always inherently be stronger than larger wheels. This is due to wider gaps between spoke eyelets and poorer spoke triangulation etc. So strength to weight ratio is something that will always be won by smaller wheels.

It is however easy enough to compensate for this by getting stronger and stiffer wheels, but they do generally either weigh, or cost more. So something has to give.

It doesn't stop there....

Weight, dimensions and strength are obviously very important factors to take into account when considering what wheel size to choose. But... there are other factors too! And if this mini-blast of physics chat hasn't put you off too much, stay tuned for future blog posts about topics where bigger wheels have the advantage.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Checking off goals

    I wish I could have posted more updates here on the blog, but it's been a hectic and unreal past few weeks.   I have had two days sleep in my own bed at home in the past month.   With placing top 35 in my first World Cup finals, securing 2nd overall in the Canada Cup series, and representing Canada at World Championships it's been a crazy and awesome end to my 2013 race season!

Mont Sainte Anne World Cup, Quebec:

     My biggest goal coming into this season was to qualify for a World Cup finals.  Mont Sainte Anne was definitely the perfect place to do just that.   I had some experience on the track from Nationals being held there the year before, so memorizing and learning the track was a lot easier.  I took practice very seriously as I  had only one full day before my qualifying run.  When my qualifying run came around I had everything dialed and memorized.  I took it a little cautiously as I didn't want to throw it away.  I ended up just squeaking into finals at 74th.  I was beyond stoked to be able to compete on Sunday.   I kept hitting my same lines and was feeling very confident on the track.  I had nothing to lose on Sunday so I gave it everything and didn't hold back.  I really had no idea where I would place with a good run like I had, so when I crossed the line I was just so happy I had put together a solid run.  It didn't feel insanely fast because I had every line and pedal section so dialed in practice that it was like a roller coaster and I didn't have to think about the small details I just "got out of my own way" and let myself ride, not over thinking.  I came down and went into the 2nd spot on the hot seat behind Andrew Neethling. I stayed there for quite a while until I got bumped to 3rd and then eventually off the hot seat when the top 40 guys started coming down.  To end up 33rd was crazy and exceeded my goals of a top 60 by a lot.

Crankworx Canadian Open/Canada Cup #3, Whistler:

     Next was Crankworx in Whistler.   The Canadian Open track is the most fun track in BC for me.  I had a lot of fun riding in practice!   My race run was a little scattered but I put down a solid run and ended up 15th, accomplishing my goal of top fifteen.  I was very happy with how it turned out and was relieved that I was in good health for World Champs, which I had to fly out for two days after Crankworx.   My placing that weekend secured me into 2nd overall in the Canada Cup series!!  I was very stoked on this and I ticked off another goal on my list.

World Championships, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa:

    Just to be invited to compete at World Championships this year was amazing.  Being my first year as an elite,  I wasn't sure if I would be selected.   The Canadian National team wanted us there a week early to get adjusted to the time zone and country, so I left a few days after Crankworx.  The first day of practice was a week after we had arrived. The hardest thing to get used to was the dirt, which was either hard packed or loose sand.   The track in Pietermaritzburg is a lot of fun to practice with the big jumps and drifty flat corners.  Racing it is a bit of a different story though.  With a minute flat pedaling section in the middle, it really tests your mental and physical strength.  I was scrambling a little in the first days of practice and didn't really feel comfortable on the track until Sunday morning.   I had a good clean race run and pedaled the hardest I ever have.  My body felt like it just shut down as I crossed the line. Even with all the sprints and training I did throughout the winter, I've never felt that exhausted in my life.  I was .04 of a second behind my fellow Canadian Sid Slotegraaf.   I had decided before I dropped in for my run that if I leave everything on the track and push it as far as I can that would be a win for me.  I did that and finished 45th which I was not super excited about but definitely satisfied with.  It was a very cool experience to travel to South Africa, thanks to my awesome teammates it was a great trip!  Thanks as well to the the National team staff and mechanics for another amazing World Champs!!

Got featured in a Pinkbike article "35 bikes from World Champs"

Thanks for the amazing 2013 season!!

     I know I've used the words awesome, fun and amazing a lot in this blog post but it really sums up my season.   I had a couple bad races and crashes this season but I learned from those mistakes and finished the season a more experienced and faster racer.    Having the chance to race in Scotland, Italy, South Africa, Quebec and BC in one summer was an incredible experience.  I have never had the confidence in my riding that I have now.   Accomplishing my goals, and exceeding them in some cases, is a pretty cool feeling.

I didn't have the budget to attend the last two rounds of the World Cup this year which I was a little disappointed about but it just makes me more motivated to acquire the support to race a full World Cup season in 2014.  I feel that I have a lot to work off of this winter, I know what I need to improve and I have a pretty good idea how to do it.  I will try and take a few weeks off from my bike and training in September, but when I was coming home on the plane from SA I already started thinking about how I wanted to train this off season and where I wanted to be for next season. 

Cheers to my family, friends and sponsors who have supported me this season!!  I can't thank you enough for giving me this opportunity to travel, race and just generally have good times riding bikes!!



Follow me on my Facebook page at
Or on Instagram at ForrestRiescoDH

Friday, September 6, 2013

Team Geronimo - Dreaming of Durango

Brian racing out of the gate and into thin air at close to 12,000 on Kennebec Pass. Photo  Nick Ontiveros//
Stage 1 - Kennebec Pass
Still in a slight Whistler Enduro World Series hangover, I made my way down to Durango for the fourth round of the Big Mountain Enduro. After two days of pre-riding the 4 different race stages Michael, Jess and I were aboard the Fun Bus early Saturday morning on route to the base of Kennebec Pass situated in the La Plata mountain range. After a brutal 6 mile uphill grind we were rewarded with amazing views and a long sketchy descent down some of the most high speed, high alpine single track along the famed Colorado Trail. With my POC Trebec buckled tightly I prepared for one tough effort ahead. Shortly after I departed the start line situated at 11,700 feet, I nailed a rock and quickly started hearing things. I couldn't stand not knowing anymore whether or not I had a slow leak so I pulled off the trail for a hot second just to clear my conscience, 35 PSI still remained which allowed me to hold the throttle wide open the rest of the way without worry. After successfully dodging and weaving backpackers I checked my heart rate and noticed I was near the red at 180BPM, so I backed it off a few BPM's and continued to ride as reckless into blind corners as I could. The trail morphs from the high Alpine, to thick pine forest where it runs parallel to the topographical lines, bench cut into the side of the hill. There is no room for error on this particular stage, with steep drops around every corner I was encouraged to ride conservatively until finally being spit out into the drainage thousands of feet below point A. Multiple river crossings greeted me, each with a different approach to cleanly crossover and just when I thought I was on the home stretch I overcooked the very last crossing, ran it wide and OTB'd into the cold river stones below. Once I finished minutes after getting wet and after a short recovery, it was time to start the hour long ascent out of the gully to the beginning of Stage 2. 
Brian having a laugh with friends before the start of stage 1. Photo Daniel Dunn// 
Two small mistakes and never finding overdrive left me sitting in 15th after Stage 1. 
Racers look on as Brian drops the clutch and presses the gas pedal to the floor. Photo Daniel Dunn//
Jess lives a short distance away and has utilized his close proximity to the venue to practice multiple times and was rewarded with a strong 13th place finish, even after a major crash early in the stage. 
Michael rode a strong race and rounded out the team with a nice 20th place finish out of 50 racers total.

Stage 2 - Dry Fork
After a long slog up to the start of Stage 2 keeping the heart rate at no higher than 140BPM, we all enjoyed the view for a few minutes and then prepared once again to attack the long sustained, flat and peddle driven sections leading down to the Dry Fork split. The pace picks up and rocks strew the double track creating a tricky track. Chain suck and a few blown corners were the only misfortunes I suffered, but the toughest test of the stage was outlasting the countless twists and turns through the shrub brush before finally being spit out at the finish line 20 plus minutes after departing. 
Jess pushing his 27.5 wheels hard on the Dry Fork Trail.  Photo Nick Ontiveros//
I dug deep and tried to conserve energy throughout to finish strong in 11th place. 
Brian eyeing the finish line on stage 2. Photo Holly Turner
Jess got over-amped once again and high sided his way to another competitive 13th place. 
Michael eying the photographer near the finish, focus Michael, focus!  Photo Holly Turner
Michael used too much energy too early suffering the consequences and fell back to 37th on the stage
Michael and Brian soaking in the Animas, can you guess who recently spent a week on a lake? Photo Holly Turner
Stage 3 - Raider Ridge
The Animas River was our salvation as we took advantage of the cool and calming waters to help our muscles recover. The fallowing days stages were going to take place in Horse Gulch just outside of town and with Stage 3 starting up on the Extended Raider Ridge Trail overlooking Fort Lewis College. After our pre-ride on the trail, we all had our doubts about racing it due to its extremely technical nature. After riding it just once, I knew I was in for a bit of a cycle cross experience as many of the uphills had to be ridden just right, otherwise I was running up the many red stone slab staircase climbs. The fallowing morning we were at the start just after 9am on a beautiful blue sky day. The chatter between racers at the start was about race strategy and how we were all going to approach this run. Me, I was going to look ahead with a goal to keep forward momentum on this glorified trials course. After the familiar beeps I was off and found a rhythm riding well but once I approached the first uphill I knew I wasn't going to clean the climb, so I ended up dismounting and running. This trend continued for another 10 minutes and then the trail finally dropped off the ridge and made way downhill. My mouth was agape and I was most definitely slobbering on myself as I approached the final stretch full of rough, rocky descents and a full on double track chalked with bowling ball sized rocks that brought us to the finish line. Compared to what I thought before, the race went a little better than I had imagined, however local knowledge and racers that could afford to focus days on this track leading up to the race won out as times were drastically different. Once we had our wits about us again, it was southbound up the Telegraph Trail to the fourth and final stage starting miles away on the other side of Horse Gulch. 

Brian tightrope riding the Ridge while trying his hardest.  Photo Daniel Walker// 
It was a journey, however it was not a clean run as I made two passes, missed a turn and ended up dismounting and falling backwards into another 15th place finish.
Jess utilizing his newfound wheel size for all its worth.  Photo Daniel Dunn// 
Jess utilized some of his local knowledge to navigate to a solid 12th place finish upon the Ridge that overlooks his alma mature.
Michael sprinting hard up the final climb before descending down to the finish.  Photo Holly Turner
Michael rocks and rolls his way across the line and into a 30th place finish.
Brian doing his best to give the encouraging spectators a good show on a climb.  Photo Holly Turner
Riding into the gut of Horse Gulch on the Telegraph Trail transfer between stages.  Photo Holly Turner
Stage 4 - Carbon Junction
The 4th and final stage of the day couldn't me more different than the previous stage as Crites Trail to Carbon Junction is a steady downhill grade of marbly, slick singletrack to the HWY 550/3 junction. The long weekend was starting to take its toll as I approached the starting line and the sun beat down. This being the last stage of the weekend I planned on giving it my all and crossing the line leaving nothing out on the trail. Once I was on course I started to find a state of flow, but as soon as I got comfortable I managed to go off track and do some serious bushwhacking through the forest, once I found my way back to the trail I had a sense of urgency, but my rhythm was interrupted and I struggled to push the rest of the way home. In the end I felt beat and needed to seek shelter from the sun and cool off while watching racers cross the finish. 
The Kelty cooler keeping food cold and spirits high after a grueling weekend.  Photo Holly Turner
Long stretches of flat out sprinting pushed me to the limit towards the end and I was unable to finish as strong as I would like and into 16th place. 
Brian running on fumes but pushing hard all the way to the line.  Photo Holly Turner
Jess rounded out a consistent weekend with a few mistakes that proved to put him off the back and into 27th place in a tightly contested stage.
Michael kept the wheels turning into 37th, not what had in mind, but with his wedding weekend upon him he had other things on his mind. 
Michael putting the hammer down and putting the nail in the coffin on another burly weekend of enduro racin.  Photo Holy Turner 
Stage 4 Results:

Jess had his best result of the season with an 11th place overall finishing a total of 15 seconds in front of me in 12th after well over an hour of total race time. I had a mixed weekend but kept it consistent and rubber side down for the most part. Michael fresh off of his victory in Winter Park put in a top 25 effort finishing 23rd.
Over Race Results:
The 5th and final round of the BME will take place in Moab at the end of the month. Jess and I will be there to represent as we tackle the EPIC 25 mile Whole Enchilada Trail that encapsulates some of the best and well known trails in the area. Thank you so much for your continued support of the Team Geronimo, I look forward to seeing you all at Interbike.

Ride On! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Brian Buell's Whistler enduro race report

Into The Wild Whistler
Brian racing deep into the heart of the Whistler wilderness.  Photo Brandon Turman//
It was an amazing week in Whistler as Brian took to the 5th stop of the Enduro World Series. Hear it straight from the horses mouth about why it was the toughest, but most satisfying race of the season. Images by Brandon Turman//
Brian stoked and on Top Of The World.  Photo Brandon Turman//
I made sure to sign up for this race but at the time was unsure if I was going to be able to attend, however the dominoes fell my way and I was off to Whistler again for another Crankworx, but this time it would be spent on the small bike. 
Bags are packed, Whistler awaits!!! - Brian Buell

Dirt TV Intro Video:
Boarding the prop plane from Seattle to Vancouver. - Brian Buell
Travel was a breeze and before I knew it I was in Whistler getting my Whistler Season's Pass picture taken and soon thereafter was on my way up the Peak chairlift to the Top Of The World trail 4000 feet above the Whistler base village. 
Heading up the Peak chair and taking in the incredible views. - Brian Buell

Brandon hard at work making buzz! - Brian Buell
Whistler's news source, The Question's Enduro Race Recap Video
I've never been up there before and was jittery to get going, so I wrangled Team Geronimo alum and frontman Brandon Turman and hit the high elevation tundra. There is something special about riding above tree line, the terrain is rocky and rough with massive views abound. First run we analyzed the terrain, took some pictures of marmots and tried hard to remember some key turns and sections that didn't leave much room for error. 
Epic view are everywhere no matter what angle you look at it from.  Photo Brandon Turman//

Turn around and another epic view takes shape on the tundra.  Photo Brandon Turman//
Its a good thing Brian likes downhill, only 4000ft to go!  Photo Brandon Turman//
The first two days of practice, August 7-8 were spent practicing Stage 5 and stages 1-4 would be opened August 9th with the race taking place on August 11th, so there was plenty of time to practice and get to all of the tracks. 
Turman and I cranking out some runs on the gondola. - Brian Buell
A screen shot off my phone looking at the Stage 5 map. - Brian Buell
Rocks on rocks on rocks heavily armored this track.  Photo Brandon Turman// 
Stage 5 is going to be a kick in the pants come race day as its a 23 plus minute continuous downhill run on some of the roughest, fastest and most varied terrain the mountain has to offer. Due to its intense nature, I only took 4 practice runs in total to help not only preserve my body, but most importantly the bike. With two successful days of practice in the books I was extremely anxious to see what stages 1-4 would be like. 
Utilized this screen shot to help me navigate the 51km loop. - Brian Buell
This happened to more people than just Turman on Stage 5. - Brian Buell
Tough to sleep not knowing exactly what the day would hold, but I knew it would be a long day so I packed accordingly and headed out to the 8am riders meeting. I was like many whom were kitted up and ready to rock, but there were plenty who attended the meeting pajama clad with coffee in hand who were not as stoked on getting an early start. The organizers highlighted some keys points, riders high five'd and by 9am I was off to stage 4 with Queenstown shredder Pang and Scotsman Gary Forrest. After a 45 minute brute of a climb to the top with an amazing view, I dropped in Go Pro rolling and tried to let it ride. One punchy 30 second climb split up one of the most fun, rough and steep tracks I've ever ridden. Come Sunday it was going to get loose on this one!
Chris Ball addresses the crowd of racers enjoying muffins and coffee at the GLC.  - Brian Buell
Atop Stage 4 overlooking Blackcomb and the valley from the parasailing launch. - Brian Buell
10 miles in and we were back at the Gondola and on our way up to the Top Of The World trail and the start of Stage 1 on a natural trail called Khyber that would drop us down the shoulder of Whistler and into the Wild of Whistler. Half way down my day was extended by snapping a brake lever and hiking back up into the park to get it fixed. 3 hours later I was back where I left off riding solo and continued smoothly through the forest, down the 15 minute transfer fire road and to Stage 2 called business time. 
Back up the Peak chair for another scenic go around. - Brian Buell
It was all business as there were some serious pitchy climbs that mixed up a twisty track through the tight trees that would open up at the bottom with some steep drops. 
This trail is designated to a fallen friend Duncan. - Brian Buell
A quick peddle across the highway through Function Junction and up another very demanding 50 minute hill climb to Stage 3 trail called Pura Vida. This valley trail opposite to Whistler was tight, chalked full of tough turns, no room for mistakes here with a large drop off riders left. Unfortunately the track was shortened due to property boundary issues, instead, one of the transitions brings us down probably the most tech trail of the day AC/DC. Overall, it was an amazing loop with over 51km of peddling and 19km of timed stages. It was a big day as the clock struck 7:30pm and my chamois were still on!
A big day calls for a big 3 egg and ham salad! - Brian Buell
I spent the fallowing practice day in a cold tub trying to recover, tuning up the bike and dialing things in before race day!
What's cooler than cool? ICE COLD! Worked like a charm. - Brian Buell
Another tough nights rest, a stressful morning double checking and triple checking, a quick selfie with the MC and OG hucker Brett Tippie and I was off front wheel manualing down the large start ramp towards the gondola. Lightning postponed my ride up the Peak chair and I was late to my start time and had to be slotted into the lineup within 15 second intervals which would create mayhem down the track filled with crashes and passes. I rode well, but the crash left me tight and wasn't the best start to the day.
Racing fuel to help me sustain throughout the day. - Brian Buell
Who needs coffee when you have Brett Tippie yelling at ya! - Brian Buell
Trevor Burke fuels his hunger with iced coffee and a lemon bar while we wait out the lightning. - Brian Buell
The view from the start of Top Of The World Trail overlooking Mount Garibaldi. - Brain Buell
Dirt TV's Rob Parkin catches me climbing my guts out on Stage 1. - Brian Buell
Dirt TV Recap Video:
An over the bars crash left me with a lot of work to do after Stage 1. - Brian Buell
A mechanical on the transition stage left me pressing for time and when I got to the start of stage 2 I was tossed immediately in the lineup without a break which made finding the flow more difficult and those climbs tougher. The crowd was amazing and helped me finish strong, it wasn't my best stage but at least it was clean. I kept my BPM under 140 while on the transition stages to keep my energy level high, so it was slow going but was the perfect pace to get me to the rest of the stages on time. 
Starring down the barrel of Stage 2. - Brian Buell
After getting thrown into the gate I had a hard time adjusting and the climbs killed. - Brian Buell
The true spirit of Enduro, lounge chairs half way up the transition between stages 2 and 3. - Brian Buell
Stage 3 started great, I was having a great run going but ended up snapping a derailleur cable and jamming by chain in the process. I kicked and pumped my way the rest of the way to the finish.
A broken derailleur cable and a jammed chain left me out the back. - Brian Buell
Motivated to make stage 4 my best yet I loosened up and let it run big time making multiple passes down this brilliant trail and just as I reached the bottom third of track I blew my chainring in two and was once again subjugated to coasting to the finish without rear suspension due to the ring jamming in-between my linkage and cranks. Disappointed as I was on such a good run I flintstoned a few miles back into the village where I would fix up the bike and ready myself for a daunting stage 5. 
Fellow racers gear up prior to Stage 4 while overlooking the valley below. - Brian Buell
Stage 4 starting line and a 30 second sprint before dropping fast down the fall line. - Brian Buell
A major mechanical, breaking my chainring in two once again destroyed my chances of a strong finish. - Brian Buell
An amazing venue, Stage 5 started so high up and far away from the finish that it was tough to grasp the distance between the two. Instead of riding all out like in the first 4 stages, I paced myself during stage 5 trying to keep a good pace and when the going got tough I started hunting the horizon for the bright colors of fellow racers polyester. My friend arm pump found me a few times but I was able to shake it off and finish the 10.5km track strong, well under 24 minutes, my best stage of the day. 
Brian off and about 23 minutes from the finish.  Photo Brandon Turman//
Plenty of opportunity to get loose on Stage 5's dry and dusty drops.  Photo - Brandon Turman//
Still plenty of opportunity for some airtime as Brian takes flight over one of many small doubles.  Photo Brandon Turman//
Did I mention it was a very long way to the valley floor?  Photo Brandon Turman//
Now thats an Enduro finish arena properly equipped with a huck into the finish line. - Brian Buell
I finally put down a run I was proud of and was slotted well inside the top 20 where I think I belong on Stage 5. - Brian Buell
Enduro to me is a roller coaster of emotions, and this race was no exception. I had so many high points fallowed up with the lowest of lows but was able to keep things together for a top 30 finish. Not exactly happy with how it all went down, I'm constantly searching to become more consistent so I can avoid this roller coaster effect and just ride high above the mayhem, however bumps in the road are inevitable. The race organizers did such an amazing job once again, everyone from the timing crew to the race volunteers were incredibly supportive and it was awesome watching the traveling spectators with their cowbells navigate from stage to stage. It was truly an adventure and the most fun I'd had racing all year. I was however disappointed with the representation of my USA brethren, I feel like we as a nation have a long way to go to be competitive on these more demanding tracks and that we need to start replicating what the EWS is doing in Whistler and overseas in Europe. This will happen over time and I'm excited to be apart of it. 
One of my most trying weekends and I'm still in the thick of things and 3rd American if that means anything. - Brian Buell
A cookie and Flat White were much appreciated the morning after! - Brian Buell
With the race over its time to frienduro in Squamish with Pang, Baller, Irish Pete and Seb Kemp. - Brian Buell
The best trail treasure I've ever found! - Brian Buell
Thank you to all of my family, sponsors and everyone that supports my mountain bike addiction as the season winds down with the conclusion of the Big Mountain Series in Durango and Moab.
The Huck wizard.  "huck I shall! Off stump I will!" Huck On!

Ride On!