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!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Team Geronimo report from Enduro World Series- Winter Park Colorado

It was a rough and wild weekend of racing.  Photo Devond Balet//
Jess mining for some of the Rocky Mountain brown gold.  photo Winter Park Resort
This past weekend World Champions, Olympians, big names in the mtb world and a host international competition flocked to Winter Park to do battle with North America's best at the 4th round of the Enduro World Series. The most monumental Enduro race held on American soil proved to be a great one as Trestle Bike Park did an amazing job of creating tracks that challenged all types of riders. After securing his 2nd straight CFF Air DH victory, Team Geronimo's own Brian Buell mixed things up the first day of competition with a 4th overall placing out of 120 participants. Stay tuned as Brian provides you with his take on the weekend and how things all shook out for TG over 3 tough and stormy days of racing.

Dirt TV race recap brian @min 7
Rider Brian Buell attacking the Trestle DH track on route to a 4th place.  Photo Devon Balet//
A quick history lesson. The Trestle Enduro started 2 year ago and each year the competition has grown. In 2011 I finished 2nd overall and fallowed that up with a 10th in 2012. I've always loved coming to Trestle Bike Park at Winter Park and have had some of my most successful race weekends dating back to 2009 at Crankworx. This race is essentially at my home mountain as I grew up less than 2 hours away. I have had this event circled all year long!
Brian circa 2011 on his way to a 2nd place in the original Trestle Enduro  Photo: Devon Balet//
Wednesday Practice
Brian testing some lines during practice for stage 2.  Photo Daniel Dunn//
I arrived with a crew of Kiwi's early Wednesday afternoon and started my managerial roles of parking the trailer and getting set for the week. After all that was said and done I played tour guide on the mountain to my Kiwi friends Nick and Pang. It was both their first time at Trestle, so I took them on all the previous years race tracks to get them up to speed on what to expect this weekend and to get used to the terrain. The track conditions were dry and some were rougher than usual due to the heavy traffic the mountain has seen this summer. After 5 runs on just about everything that I could imagine racing within the park we called it day and left to set up our Kelty camp by moose lake.
Plenty comfortble and at home in my Kelty Gunnison 2.2.  Photo Holly Turner
Thursday Air DH 
Brian keeping it low and fast up high on the Air DH.  Photo Devon Balet//
Teammates and friends joined forces to put up our team pit area first thing Thursday morning which freed me up to register for the Air DH and get to work on the bike. The Air DH is apart of the Colorado Freeride Festival and something I've done since the start here at Trestle Bike Park. The track utilizes the lower half of Rainmaker, a flow trail chalked full of jumps and bermed turns, and it proves to be one of the hardest races I enter each year as its three and a half minutes of all out effort. There was a local only contingency this year as most enduro racers were focused only on the EWS, but I thought this was a great opportunity to ride a portion of stage 2 at race pace. After defending my Air DH title with a solid effort, the word got out and racers joked that I got paid to pre-ride tomorrows track, all in all a win win if you ask me. Michael also put the peddle down for a 3rd place, a great way to start the weekend with 2 TG riders on the podium. A late night of race prep left me ready to give a good effort the fallowing day on stages 1-2.
Brian's Air DH winning bike, the Banshee Rune.  Photo Brandon Turman//
Jess prepares to drop into the rocks on the Trestle DH track.  Photo Devon Balet//
Brian piloting his Banshee Rune down the Trestle DH.  Photo Daniel Dunn//
The EWS racing format for the weekend was unique as racing commenced before noon each day, the same time that we would be informed which courses we would be riding the fallowing day. I liked this as it kept riders on their toes, and it provided equal training opportunities for everyone. This meant that racing also started early at 9am and 2nd run continued immediately fallowing your 1st run with scheduled start times for both, quick pit stops only as there was only a small window to make any changes necessary. Anyways, I had a good day of racing with a strong 4th place effort on the Trestle DH track which was rough, but awesome due to some moisture that fell overnight. I had some euros scratching their heads after I fallowed up my 4th with an 11th on a very peddle driven stage 2 to keep my 4th place overall position after stages 1-2. The course maps for the fallowing day were released and off to the Winter Park back country we would go where a mixture of XC, technical DH and natural terrain.
"Almost too fast for the photographer. Brian Buell came in with number 49 and ended up with 4th place. That's nothing to sneeze at."  photo  Philip Ruopp//
Michael navigating the double jeopardy rocks on stage 2.  Photo Daniel Dunn//

Saturday Stages 3-4 
Michael putting the hammer down on some roots up high.  Photo Daniel Dunn//
Spirits were high going into the fallowing day as I slogged up the 20 minute and 500 vertical foot climb, but I was not too confident heading into both stage 3-4. Both were extremely physical and resembled cross country courses, a big difference from the previous day. I've always struggled with my pacing on these longer stages, my strategy was to keep it smooth and find a rhythm over the massive amount of momentum robbing roots. I kept to plan and rode well up top, but hardly felt fast, so I tried to make gains on the technical DH run Mountain Goat but was still gassed near the end of the 12 minute stage. Stage 3 was broken up into 3a and 3b as we had a un-timed transition in-between. Stage 3b was back in the bike park and I was determined to make up for a mediocre 3a. I nearly OTB'd on a feature that took out Ross Schnell, but held on for another top 10 finish, but the damage was done and I moved from 4th to 12th overall after stage 3. Stage 4 was cancelled due to lightning hitting the lifts, this left me with a bad taste in my mouth as I knew I could have gone harder in 3a, but then again so did everyone. Stage 5 was revealed and riders once again found their way to the top that evening for a go once the lifts resumed operation. I did a lower mountain lap on a piece of track I was unfamiliar with and called it a day to preserve equipment.
Brian trying to stay smooth on the high altitude singletrack.  Photo Daniel Dunn//
Mountain Goat proved to be a tough and technical trail that pushed rider and bike to the limit.  Photo: Eddie Clark//

Day 2 video Jess @3:06:,22225/sspomer,2
Sunday Stage 5
Trestle Mountain Bike Park certainly has some awesome terrain and Jess loves to rip it to shreds.  Photo Devon Balet//
A late 11am start meant sleeping in was in order. It had been a physical weekend thus far and I was looking for as much rest as I could get, so I skipped the morning practice session making sure both bike and I were ready for the race. I walked the only piece of track I hadn't seen yet and then waited for riders to drop on the first corner. After observing the top ten I attended to my warm up and was soon in the gate. The first few minutes were slow rolling single track and just as I thought my legs and lungs were about to implode the course dropped back into the bike park utilizing the trails and the DH track. It was an awesome mix and the best stage of the weekend and I was hopeful I could break back into the top 10, however it was no meant to be as even a strong 14th place finish with one big mistake still left me 5 seconds outside the top 10 in 13th overall. After getting over the disappointment, I reflected back on the weekend and was very proud of my 13th place finish. Also, I was very happy for Colorado friend Joey Schusler on his 6th, it was rad to see so many North American riders representing so well. 
Jess up and out of the saddle giving it 100% on the final stage.  Photo Daniel Dunn//
Brian on his way to a solid 13th place overall.  Photo Scott Hefel//
Day 3 video: Michael @ 1:31 Jess @ 1:44 Michael @ 3:51 Dylan Podium @ 4:50,22231/sspomer,2
Its a Wrap
Brian likes the thin air as less oxygen means more airtime.  Photo Daniel Dunn//
Giddy up, thanks for the support and telling me to pedal dad.  Photo Tom Buell
The high altitude may have played a part in how things all played out, but I was extremely pleased with how all Team Geronimo riders did this past weekend. Junior Dylan Gressett rode great all weekend and finished in 2nd place overall in his category. Michael Buell put in a solid effort with a 44th place overall and Jess Pedersen rode very well with some impressive times. This was the closest thing to a World Cup I've seen in the rocky mountain region and I'm incredibly excited to head up to Whistler to Participate at round 5 of the Enduro World Series. 
The future of mountain biking is bright with Dylan 2nd place on the podium.  Photo Brandon Turman//

Media Links CFF recap vid:,22275/970biking,307?

Denver Post Article w/quote

stages 3-4:,6108/Slideshow,0/sspomer,2 Brian Picture 14

stage 5:,6114/Slideshow,0/sspomer,2 Jess Picture 14


VeloNews gallery by Daniel Dunn
Mountain Flyer Gallery by Eddie Clark

Cycling News 

Ride On!