“A nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future” ~ Webster Dictionary
What is Time to a racer? I’ve been thinking a lot about this now that its the off season and I have had a bit to reflect on the race season. Racing a discipline depended on the clock and how fast you can go from the top of a mountain to the bottom can create an obsession with Time. Not just hours or minutes but the time that really matters in the end… Its the seconds and milliseconds that ultimately put you on the box or off the back.
After my first full year of racing nothing but the clock It still blows my mind that gaps aren’t bigger at the end of the day. How does one defy time… To be faster and beat it to a pulp… Crush it… make it your bitch…
So with this seed in my mind I’ve been looking at the trail different, touching the brakes less and looking for the free speed there for the taking. The off season is where the biggest gains are made and those tenths of a seconds you got beat by all year add up to seconds in your favor. Working on flipping the script.
Some of us want it… some of us don’t have enough of it… and some of us even run out of it…
This may be the hardest off season yet… Back to work I go!
Vuelta al Cotopaxi. Ecuador.
Abbey Alexiades raced in the two-day Vuelta al Cotopaxi as part of a co-ed duo with her husband, Alex Alexiades. Abbey’s report on the grueling weekend:
“The Vuelta al Cotopaxi is the biggest race in Ecuador with 250 teams of two competing over two days around the Volcano Cotopaxi.
The first day was the hardest day I have ever had on a bike. The two long climbs combined with the altitude made this day really hard. Sections of the long climb were so steep I had to walk! As we reached the top of the climb the heavens opened up and the thunder, lightening and hail started. I went from overheating to being so cold. Luckily once we started to descend ee rode out of the storm and then just had to deal with the mud. Not eating or drinking enough led me to bonk pretty badly during the last 10km. We ended up 7th place and a little off pace. Once we arrived at camp, Alex set up the tent while I ate and tried to get warm. We were fed lunch and dinner and were able to get to bed pretty early.
The second day went much better. The climbs were shorter and not as steep and the trail was more technical. I felt much better and was able to have a lot more fun. About half way through we caught up to the third place team but were unable to keep with them on the climbs. The riding was a lot of fun. We finished in 4th place only 6 minutes out of 3rd place. We were unable to make up enough time on the second day to move up too many places and finished 6th overall. There was only 4 minutes separating 4-6th places so it ended up being a very close race.”
Day 1 Route Stats:
- START: The Neighborhood Caspi Virgin Quinche (10,334ft)
- FINISH: Hacienda El Tambo (12,139ft)
- DISTANCE: 33.8 miles
- MINIMUM HEIGHT: 11,482ft
- MAXIMUM HEIGHT: 13,697ft
- TOTAL ASCENT: 5,905ft
- GRADE AVERAGE: 0.9%
Day 2 Route Stats:
- START: Hacienda El Tambo (12,139ft)
- FINISH: Barrio El Caspi Virgin Quinche (10,334ft)
- DISTANCE: 42.8 miles
- MINIMUM HEIGHT: 10,334ft
- MAXIMUM HEIGHT: 13,353ft
- TOTAL ASCENT: 3,904ft
- GRADE AVERAGE: -0.6%
Watch video from the event. Keep an eye out for Abbey!
27th Annual Tidewater MTB Challenge. Williamsburg, VA.
Jordan Kahlenberg went south for the weekend to race the Tidewater Challenge/VORS Final with GNE’s Virginian rep, Lester Brown III. For all his chillaxin’, Jordan sure knows how to take a win! Jordan’s report:
“This past weekend I found myself packing the car for one last bicycle game weekend. These games, titled the ‘Tidewater Challenge’, were held near Williamsburg, VA, on private land only open once a year for the race. race prep was ideal for this one, having spent Friday night at my teammate Lester’s house watching The Simpsons and grazing on leftovers in the fridge.
The unique part of the Tidewater Challenge is that it’s not just a single race, but in fact a series of races which riders can string together in various ways to complete a ‘Trifecta’. With prices for individual races and for the overall Trifecta, it pays to choose wisely when shooting for the overall.
Having not ridden as much of late, I of course chose to do the solo marathon XC (5hr+) on Saturday, versus the Duo Marathon and Short-Track combo. I gambled on experience to get me through, while hoping that by racing earlier in the day, I’d have more recovery time for Sunday’s XC, which would act as a tie-breaker. Surprisingly, the gamble paid off! I won the solo Marathon and got to sit and relax while riders prepped and raced the Short-Track races later in the afternoon.
With the marathon win under my belt, I was credited with two first-place finishes, with only the XC race left to complete my ‘Trifecta’. There were some strong riders I’d be going against, but was optimistic I could recover in time to take the overall for the weekend. Some fast rassers showed up for the XC, most notably Keck Baker of Champion Systems/Cannondale. Having just recovered from Appendicitis, he was a few pounds lighter (no appendix now) and fresh. I knew that if I just stayed at the front and rolled with him, I’d take the cake. Unfortunately, my start was lackluster, and I ended up getting gapped when an overly ambitious rider realized he was in over his head and slowed a bunch of us down in the tight singletrack. “Dude, you’re killing me smalls!”
Having no real matches to burn after the previous day, I tried to keep as steady as possible to maintain my position and hopefully catch any stragglers from the front group. No dice! Rode much of the race on my own and rolled in for a 5th place finish and the Trifecta win!”
Jordan decided to take on the Trifecta which led to an early start Saturday morning for the marathon while I opted for the afternoon short track. Designed as 2 five lap heats, the ability to hold top end efforts and recover quickly was a must. I was glad to have done several cx races leading up to this event and felt in good shape. A smaller field didn’t mean a reduction in intensity and even the race promoter jumped in to give us a run for the money. Consistent racing saw me finish 4th place in both heats and I was happy with my efforts.
Sunday was the XC race and both myself and Jordan were on the start line representing Giant Northeast. Having spent 5 hours on the course the day before, Jordan and I discussed strategy beforehand. The course started with a sprint for 180 turn, opening into a wide stretch with rolling and jump features before the first section of singletrack. The sections of the course near staging and start/finish area were designed for motocross and bmx racing, a passion of the promoter. The rest of the course presented tight, twisty and root-infested single track with a solid dose of short, punchy climbs and wide-open descents. It really offers a bit of everything, making it a favorite for mtb racers all over. I was sitting top ten during the first lap and lost one place during the furious pace. I settled into a rhythm and focused on riding light through the roots and being smooth with power in the climbs. When all of the dust settled I came in 8th place and shaved about 11 minutes off my finishing time from last year.
It was a great weekend and I was glad to have the company of new teammates for one of the best races in Virginia. Here’s to spreading the word and seeing more Giant Northeast in the state, truly showing the team is #Vermont2Virginia.”
Lester’s Current Soundtrack: Pharrell – Come Get It Babe
Sportif Cross Cup Series: AACX. Edgewater, MD.
An exciting report from David Flaten, who hunkered down for some hard work on his XTC and earned his first elite CX win of the season — way to go, David!
“AACX is a regional cross race put on by the ABRT road team. It’s a great venue, and an awesome cross course! Last year I took 3rd place so I had two options to improve from last year’s ride. Several things have improved over the last year. One is fitness, two is knowledge of racing, and 3 is being able to actually think while racing, instead of turning myself inside out as a mindless zombie for an hour. Staying relaxed and fluid while racing I have found reduces crashes, and increases performance.”
“The gun went off, and two riders went off the front right away. I sat in 3rd wheel and relaxed while they towed me around for a lap. A good friend of mine, and GREAT rival Kevin Carter was sitting on my wheel and I knew he was going to be the guy to watch for the day. I put a couple feeler attacks out to see who would respond. One of the Haymarket riders was eager to control the pace and keep me off the front. Halfway through the 2nd lap I was feeling fantastic and wanted to throw the Hail Mary. I attacked on a slight uphill right before a technical log barrier that I was able to bunny hop on my XTC 27.5 Team Edition with 100% confidence. I heard a slight tangle behind me as the other riders got caught in some traffic clearing the log. Headed back down a twisty, fun descent, I realized I almost instantly had 15 seconds on the rest of the pack. I had some time to sit up and recover and think to myself if I wanted to go on for 6 more laps by myself, or wait for someone to come across to work with. I’m in it for the training so I decided to go on by myself. I kept things in control, and maintained a healthy gap which continued to grow. I threw a Hail Mary, and managed the touch down! Taking my first elite win of the season. I hope to be back next year to defend my AACX title!”
Triple X Trex Fest Halloween XC Enduro. Schnecksville, PA.
Jess and Joël Nankman and Jake Possinger all decided to hit it up Enduro-style at the Triple X Trex Fest near Allentown last weekend.
“Had a great weekend racing the Trexler TripleXXX Fest Enduro this weekend at Trexler Nature Preserve. It was only my second enduro, but I showed up ready to compete with the guys in the Men’s Open category. I led the start of Stage 1, finishing with a good time but wishing I could have pushed myself harder on the small climb. Stage 2 was twisty and fast and let me rip over some jumps and tear some berms. Stage 3 was a long, fast descent with plenty of areas to catch some air. I tried to keep my wheels on the ground with the thought that if I rolled everything I might be a little faster. At the bottom there was a long, fairly flat sprint to the end which gave me an opportunity to put the hammer down. My official result for the day was 8th of 25 in Men’s Open.
Throughout the stages I kept thinking about how my Anthem was the perfect weapon for the job. The race oriented geometry mixed with 4 inches of travel gave me a benefit over everyone with all mountain bikes. I was able to push it on the climbs and they were not. Another important part of my setup was my choice in tires. Schwalbe Racing Ralph’s definitely saved my day by providing traction in corners and mud while still letting me go scary fast! And of course ProGold kept me running smoothly!
The atmosphere was great and I got to visit and talk with Joël and Jessica (AKA Superman and Wonder Woman) following the race! This was my last MTB Race for the year but I’m more than happy with my result and happy I got to catch up with some other members of my Giant Northeast family!”
From Jess and Joël:
“This week had us and others dressing up in costume for the TrexxxFest Halloween Enduro race. Sometimes racing is about going hard, sometimes it is all about having fun, sometimes it is about going as hard as you can while having fun wearing a costume. This race was all about the last option.
For the TrexxxFest Enduro, each timed stage was between 1.5 and 2.5 miles long. They incorporated flowy descents as well as a little climbing. There were some logovers, berms, and little jumps to keep things interesting. Overall, the Trexler trails have been designed to be fast, flowy, and fun. All three stages started at a central staging area, which made refueling and rehydrating easy- just stop at your vehicle to grab what you need. The end of each stage was part way up a climb but not all the way to the top. Also included in the race was an award for “Best Costume”.
The location for the race was within the Trexler Nature Preserve. The Preserve, located within Lehigh County, PA, is a place where people can hike, cycle, ride horses, cross country ski, fish, or just view nature. The 1,108 acre expanse was founded by General Harry Trexler as a way to protect endangered bison and elk at the turn of the 20th century. As for mountain biking, there is about 8 to 9 miles of single track trails and the 8.5 mile Border Trail around the preserve.
As for our race, we looked like super heros but were not quite as fast as who we were portraying. Joël dressed as Superman and I as Wonder Woman. Joël placed 9th in Open Men and I was 4th Open Women. Enduros are not really our thing, we would rather pedal all day for 50 or 100 miles. Despite being a little out of our element, we went with the primary intention to have fun, show some Halloween spirit by dressing up, work on technique and skills, and enjoy the day with friends- and we did all of those things.”
Read Jess and Joël’s full race report and watch Joel’s video from the race on their blog.
POC Eastern States Cup: Super Championship. Mountain Creek, NJ.
Brian Scolforo, Seamus Powell, and Collin McBride took to the mountains again last weekend for the POC Eastern States Cup Series Super Championship: a two-day event with qualifying runs on Saturday and finals on Sunday. The purpose of the Super Champs was to create an end-of-season event that would unite the New England Cup and Atlantic Cup regions and racers for one full weekend of downhill insanity. Zing!
Two weekends ago Brian Scolforo secured his spot as the New England DH Cup Series Champion and runner-up in the Atlantic DH Cup Series (yeah, pretty rad). Brian’s report from Mountain Creek:
“The last race of the season rolled around, Mountain Creek Super Champs. A new style format that most of us have never experienced. Top ten finishers in the overall series from the Eastern States Cup were secured spots, the others were left to battle to lock in a top ten qualifying time with the threat of a secured rider bumping them out. One of the roughest and possibly the most awkward tracks of the year had everybody puzzled. Tons of rocks and multiple line choices made it very difficult to lock in clean runs. Qualifying brought me down the hill to an 8th place, gas left in the tank for Sunday. Amped up on Sunday I was ready to pin it down the hill, all or nothing on a track like this. A bit of a crash on a rock slab threw me off my bike and off the pace, jumped up and pushed my way down to a 12th place finish.”
Collin McBride competed in the amateur junior division and kept his cool despite the unusually challenging course. His report:
“Awesome weekend at Mountain Creek racing the Super Champs final. They made a insane course that was very rocky and had many line choices. Crashing in my seeding run led me to think I need to practice more on the course, and on my race run I got blown off my line by the huge rocks, leading me to take a line I never have before which was very slow. Overall I finished 7th. The season is now over and I can’t thank Giant Northeast enough for the support they have given me. And my dad for bringing me and supporting me at every race. Can’t wait for next year!”
Seamus Powell was also onsite, putting in a fast enough run in the Pro Men’s field to grab a 7th-place super-hero finish on Sunday.
For some really sweet video coverage, check out this short video Pinkbike posted. Keep an eye out for those blue GNE/Fox kits! And for some gorgeous and exciting photos (featuring fall foliage, mountain-top views, and bikers ripping down crazy rock gardens) visit Pinkbike’s race coverage. They capture so much beauty and exhilaration in their photos that you’ll want to try DH MTB yourself, even if you’re a scaredy cat like me.
PACX: Star Rock Cross. Washington Boro, PA.
Report from Grassroots team rider April Nabholz, who got her first win in the “A” field:
“This race is part of the PACX series and is promoted by a local team and bike shop, Mason Dixon Velo/The Cycle Works. This race is always fun: three years ago the race was held in an early snow; last year one wall of a barn was removed so the race course traveled straight through; and this year there was an over-night hog roast preceding the race.”
“The women’s 1/2/3 field had only five riders, so we started concurrently with the larger Cat 3/4 women’s field. I knew I didn’t want to get caught behind any accidents or wobbles that could send me to the back of the pack, so I made it my priority to go hot off the start and grab the hole shot. The course suited me well and all went (rather unusually) according to plan. I was able to lead the race from start to finish and enjoy my first win in a Cat 1/2/3 field.”
MABRA Super 8: DCCX. Washington, DC.
The Mid-Atlantic Bicycle Racing Association’s Super 8 CX Series traveled to DC last weekend for a two-day event. David Flaten and April Nabholz represented GNE in the in the men’s and women’s elite fields.
“DCCX is the premier race for the Super 8 Mid Atlantic series. Stacked competition, and massive crowds is what I keep coming back for. This race puts a few national level UCI races to shame when it comes to what is being offered to the racers, and spectators.”
“I started second row on my Giant XTC 27.5 hard tail mountain bike. I don’t have the best gear ratio, or high end gears with the mountain bike, but I get great training out of racing cross! I found myself sitting top 10 in the first 2 minutes of the race. There was a slight pile up in a off cambered left hand turn and I was far enough back that I was able to pick my way through without having to un-clip. Now I found myself sitting in 6th place with the lead group of 3 in sight. I worked with the two riders sitting in 4th, and 5th for a while until one of the riders had a really hard crash on a cobbled path section of the race before the first sets of barriers. I didn’t necessarily attack the guy that was currently sitting in 4th place as much as I just continued to maintain a consistent power effort, and found myself with a nice little gap to 5th place, and the lead group of 3 within striking distance.”
I went from feeling great to feeling terrible in about 5 minutes chasing for a lap by myself to catch the lead group. A group of 6 riders seemed to appear out of no where and I did everything I could to hang, but to no avail I found myself in no man’s land once again. With 2 laps to go, a group of 3 riders bridged, and dropped me in the same way the first group did. I did whatever I could to hang on for the last paid position for the last 2 laps to finish in 12th on the day. Disappointed in the result, but happy to get a great day of training on the bike!” (David)
After racing locally on Saturday, April headed down to DC on Sunday to catch DCCX on Day 2. April’s report:
“According to Crossresults.com, dry power courses are my weakest link (give me mud and hills). I’d never raced at DCCX before, but most people described it to me as a power course and (Oh! Joy!) conditions were dry.
I later wondered if I should have stayed home on Sunday morning. We left the house forty minutes late and then spent another twenty minutes circling around in DC trying to find the venue. I hadn’t pre-registered, so by the time I got my number pinned on, I had only about fifteen minutes before staging and zero opportunity to see the course. I was freezing cold, so I got in a really rushed warm-up on the road and then hurried to staging.
I asked the girl next to me “which way are we going to turn off the pavement onto the grass, left or right?” but she wasn’t able to tell me. I was staged in the third line, and decided that I’d be able to cope with the unfamiliar course best if I was toward the front of the field. I put in some effort off the start and moved up really nicely before the first corner onto grass and thought “Sweet! I just need to hold onto this spot and I’m golden.”
Then it was like being in a terrible video game. I was being swept along in the adrenaline-fast pace of the start, but I had no idea which way we were going to turn next, and the bright sunlight felt blinding. The corners were sharp and dusty, and here and there were unpredictable gnarled roots. The first lap surprised me again and again — a second set of barriers! A brick path! Stairs! A corner that keeps on cornering! I felt like it would never end. I spent the first half of the race losing ground, and the second half trying to make a little back. I finished mid-pack, but behind the women I usually finish with. Better luck and better day-of preparation next time.” (Apri)
Meet one of our Pro riders and Assistant Team Manager, Jed Schober.
Hometown: Lancaster, PA
Number of Years Racing: 17
Race Bike Setup: Carbon XTC with Gripshift, Trance SX 27.5
Riding Strength: Climbing and Rock Gardens
Favorite Race Course: Greenbrier, MD
Favorite Place to Ride: Rothrock State Forest
What is your “Ride Life”?
My “Ride Life” is having the ability to see and experience special places, that you simply can’t experience from a car, and that are difficult and time consuming to reach by foot.
What do you want to be if you grow up?
Any advice for young riders?
Force yourself to ride slow sometimes.
Best part about racing mountain bikes?
Traveling, friends, and post-race brewski’s!
Tight Jeans or Baggy: Baggy
Big Spoon or Little Spoon:
Big, especially for cereal.
What was your best Halloween costume?
“The MAD Scientist”
Deer and Squirrels
Your Best Cycling Hack/Tip?
Not recommended, but it is possible to finish a ride with a branch-spliced chainstay
Eastern States Cup at Plattekill Mountain, New York.
Wowee! After a long, exciting season of relentless mountain shredding, last weekend finally saw the Eastern States Cup New England and Atlantic Downhill Finals at Plattekill Mountain in New York. While the Plattekill event was the culmination of both the New England DH Cup and the Atlantic DH Cup, one Eastern States Cup race remains… the Eastern States Cup Super Championship takes place this weekend (October 18th-19th) at Mountain Creek in New Jersey. At the Super Champs, riders from all Eastern States regions compete on Saturday to qualify to race on Sunday in the “Championship of Championships.”
GNE’s Pro downhiller Brian Scolforo has been climbing up on the podiums all season, so it was no surprise to see him finish third at Plattekill, placing him in first place overall in the ESC New England DH Cup and second place overall in the ESC Atlantic DH Cup. Congratulations to Brian on a consistent season of top-notch performances.
Brian’s report from Plattekill:
“This weekend brought us the eastern states cup finals at plattekill mountain. We were provided with an epic track, fast and fun. Practice laps brought smiles and high fives. Sunday brought us blue skies and amazing temps. Pinned a run down and ended up third place, stoked for teammate Seamus on a great run just off the box in 6th. The series ended with a 2nd place overall in the Atlantic series and a 1st in the New England. Can’t thank all my racing friends and sponsors enough, without their support this wouldn’t be possible.”
Collin McBride put the pedal to the metal and pulled out a 7th place finish in the amateur juniors class, despite a near collision with a tree (yikes!):
“The mountain usually puts on a scary course that is steep and rocky but this year it was very jumpy and fast. I loved the course and couldn’t stop riding it on Saturday. During my race run I went too fast into a steep section and couldn’t stop, putting me into a dead stop in front of a tree. Hopefully next weekend at Super Champs at Mountain Creek is good and can’t wait for it.” (Collin)
- 3rd Brian Scolforo (Pro Men)
- 6th Seamus Powell (Pro Men)
- 7th Collin McBride (Amateur Junior Men)
For Pinkbike’s ever-awesome ESC coverage, click ici — the photos are gorgeous, and there’s even a shot of Brian riding in his stylie flannels!
Virginia Mountain Bike Series: Charlottesville Off-Road Omnium. Earlysville, VA.
Lester might have been hitting up some cyclocross races, but that doesn’t mean he’s put his hardtail away for the season! Check out Lester’s report on an awesome MTB omnium weekend:
“This weekend was the penultimate event of the Virginia Mountain Bike Series with the Charlottesville Off-road Omnium (CORO). The event was run as a collaboration between Blue Ridge Cyclery, Charlottesville Racing Club and the University of Virginia Cycling Club. Offering both open and collegiate categories, riders were presented with three races – short track XC, time trial, cross country.
“I headed up to the area Saturday afternoon and swung by the local Giant dealer, Bike Factory, to see some new stock and grab supplies. Once I got to the venue it was good times catching up with the collegiate racers and seeing how the MTB season was going for the Conference (Both myself and Ryan Hilaman raced collegiate mtb). After pedaling around a bit, I was called on to help officiate the time trial. I took the opportunity to sweep the course after the last junior went off. It was a lot of fun getting to ride behind them and give encouragement, topped off by watching one drift a downhill switchback!
“I stayed with some friends in the area and grabbed a late dinner. Sunday was early rising for the 10am start. On the start line we rolled with the Collegiate A Men riders. The first lap had a restrained pace as riders figured out the course along with several dismounts for traffic. The conditions proved to be good practice with wet, slick roots and punchy climbs. Rain started during the third lap and I charged through the last half of the lap. I took third place overall in the omnium and had a great time complete with post-race donuts.”
Lester’s Soundtrack this week: Childish Gambino – 3005
Mid-Atlantic Bicycle Racing Association (MABRA) Super 8 Series: Tacchino Cyclocross. Rosaryville, MD.
Report from Grassroots rider April Nabholz:
“Twelve women were signed up for the Elite race, and my goal was to finish inside the pay (top seven). Tacchino is probably one of my favorite courses: the location is way out in a big park, and the area is quite lovely. The course includes some technical wooded sections, half-circle turns around gnarled trees, pretty little turns through hedgerows, and a few fun, muddy descents and steep climbs.
I felt like I had an uncharacteristically sluggish start, but found my way into third spot on the first climb. I knew the women riding in front of me would soon detach me, but I stuck with them for as long as I could (not long). Once the leaders opened up a gap, I rode solo in third for most of the race. I was just beginning to believe I was really going to go top-three when I dropped my chain during a muddy descent and lost too many seconds and two places while trying to get my chain back on in a blind panic.
A fifth-place finish was still fine by me; I was mostly pleased just to know I was in good form. The more I ride my Brava, the more I love it and the more excited I get about the rest of CX season. Several people at races have asked me how I like the hydraulic disc brakes. How do I like them? They rock my world.