TBT: Will’s Collegiate RR

In honor of TBT and a break from just referencing it on Instagram, we bring you back to the start of the year with Will Curtis:

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February has been a month of building. And after beginning training in January, I am happy to report that the month has been going well and my fitness is starting to get to where it needs to be. I started racing on Feb 1 at CCCX, where I was happy to place 4th in a solid Pro field despite only starting high intensity training the week before.

Apart from racing CCCX on my mountain bike, I have been involved with the UCSC Road Team, both on and off the bike. Beyond racing our home road race (which took place on campus!) and crit last weekend, I helped organize and run the event, which raised almost $5000 for the UCSC Cycling team. All of the money raised by the event will go towards making racing more accessible for UCSC students of all skill levels by paying for race entry fees, spare equipment, kit costs, and transportation to events. And although less important than making the race itself a success, I was stoked to pull of respectable results in both events of the weekend, finishing 2nd in the road race after making the decisive attack and 4th in the criterium, both in the competitive B category (mostly Cat 3-4 racers). With these results, I hope to upgrade to the A category for the remaining races of the season. These early season road races serve as an awesome way to get long efforts in, and the atmosphere of a collegiate race is much more mellow than that of a USAC road event while still maintaining an extremely high level of competition.

Outside of cycling, I have been studying like usual, but have also been organizing a benefit night with our local development-league NBA team, the Santa Cruz Warriors. Thanks to their cooperation, tickets sold to the game on March 7thwill benefit Sprout Up, a nonprofit organization that provides free environmental sustainability lessons to first and second grade students in local elementary schools. I hope that these fun and educational lessons help lead to a generation of people passionate about respecting and protecting the environment (and I try to sneak in a little pro-mountain bike talk when I can too!).

Next up will be the Stanford and UC Berkeley road races. Mountain bike season for me will start at the Fontana ProXCT on March 22, if not sooner at the Bonelli Park round (if I can get my final exam studying done in time).

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Now back to the present. This week is the Ocean Porpus Classic (Sea Otter)! Come find us during the XC races and give us a good heckle or around the venue for some good old bike industry hanging out (likely to be at the E Thirteen/The Hive or Santa Cruz tents).

Commence All Mtn Racing for 2014: Keyesville Classic

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As mentioned in last weekend’s post, this passed weekend brought the infamous Keyesville Classic, and thus the start of some proper all mountain racing for the 2014 season. Here’s Team SCXF’s take on the event.

From Will:

After racing the Fontana ProXCT the weekend prior, with some of the fastest racers in the world, I was excited to head down to Keyesville with the team to do a more low-key event. Additionally, the All-Mountain format, consisting of short track, downhill, and cross-country races all done on the same bike, made it a perfect event to try out my new Santa Cruz Tallboy 2.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 3.45.15 PMShort Track went well, and I managed to finish 6th in a strong, deep field full of many of our state’s fastest endurance riders. Next up was the downhill, held on a fun, fast course with a couple technical rocky sections. I was stoked to race, and felt like I had the perfect bike for the event while many of my all-mountain competitors were at a disadvantage on hardtails. Unfortunately, it was not to be and I flatted my rear tire during my race run. Although I was angry to have lost my chance at a high result in the all-mountain category, I was still excited for the XC the next day.

XC went smoothly, and while I was unable to match Tony’s strength that day, I was happy to ride consistently into 5th place. I was also impressed by the Tallboy’s ability to hang with short travel hard tails in a XC event after feeling so comfortable in the downhill the day before. I am learning more and more that this bike is capable of a lot more than meets the eye.

Big thanks to Tony’s amazing family for hosting us, and to all our sponsors for keeping us rolling. As always, stoked on what’s to come!

Will’s race on Strava

-Will

Tony’s been shredding nonstop down in SLO and it showed at Keyesville with his 2nd place in the XC and 4th in All Mountain Overall! Here’s his take on the race:

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Colby, Will, and I signed up for the all-mountain category and had the opportunity to race the Short Track and Super-D on Saturday, the day before the big Cross Country race.  The Short Track was first, but unfortunately I had some bike-fit issues and ended up coming in towards the back.  Luckily Will was having a solid race, and was up there duking it out with the top guys.

The Super-D was held later in the day, and although most of the course was very smooth, there were a couple sections that we had to pay close attention to line choice.  Specifically, there was a pretty technical rock garden and a rock chute called the snake pit.  Not having a big bike, my goal was to just make it down with a smooth run and be able to race the Cross Country the next day without any injuries.  Luckily, my highball and X-Fusion suspension handled the course like a champ, and I came across the line in 8th overall which included the DH-only guys. Not bad Hardtail 29er!

The next day was the Cross Country race, and I was eager to have a good race after my problems in the Short Track the day prior.  The three-lap race started out fast, with team manager Colby Pastore getting some photo time in while taking the whole-shot.  Once the first climb came around, teammate Will Curtis and I started to gradually move up into the top 5.  Jason Siegle and Eric Bostrom had a gap on us, but we kept a solid pace going to make sure it didn’t get any bigger.  After the first lap, Bostrom had a flat, Jason was riding away, and I found myself in 2nd with Will, Charles Jenkins, and another guy in pursuit.  Being a shorter race, I kept the hammer down and tried to stay away from everybody and maybe make time up on Siegle.

I was able to keep my 2nd position, but I couldn’t catch the leader.  I felt pretty solid and I am looking forward to the Sea Otter and the Whisky 50 in the month to come!  Congrats to Will for snagging 5th, Colby for finishing, and friend Mike Zanetti for killing it on his first race back from his injury!
1799194_556682001095804_1954535527_oFinally a few words from Team Manager Colby.

Last weekend the boys and I headed down to the 26th annual Keyesville Classic to contest the All Mountain Category. This race is pretty cool because they require you to race the Short Track, Downhill, and XC all on the same bike. For this year I chose my Tallboy 2 with a 120 fork and a dropper post for a bit of an advantage in the DH but kept my WTB Nano tires and Easton EC90XC wheels on to keep it light and fast for the short track and XC.

The STXC was pretty uneventful for me. I had some added energy towards the end when I saw Tony’s high-viz helmet off in the distance and was determined to catch him. I was bummed to hear he had a bit of a mechanical, but stoked that he was at the front of the race with Will before that.

The DH was next, I was pretty comfortable with the course. I was hoping to take things up a notch this year and take a pretty aggressive line through the snake pit but ended up going with the standard rut line. After waiting at the top for what seemed like hours for the Pro Men we lined up, Will started ahead of me on his Tallboy and Tony started right behind me on his Highball, so naturally the Sh*t talking was pretty good in the start shoot. The course was pretty tame for the most part, it was separated with two areas that added some difficulty. First was a bit of a rock garden that was maybe 100 yards long and for some reason the 3 of us could never repeat the same line, right as you exited the rocky bit you entered the infamous “Snake Pit” which is a rocky shoot about handlebar width and you basically just ride this rut and hope for the best. Race run I unfortunately got a little cocky on an exit corner and lost all my speed for that portion of the course. I still ended up 6th overall in the DH including the DH only guys, I think I finished 2nd out of the All Mountain guys behind Anthony Medaglia who absolutely ripped it on his SRAM equipped Santa Cruz TRC.

The XC is really what everyone was focused on this weekend, the course is pretty challenging and has some pretty steep rollers. We rolled up to the venue only to find out that they were going to start the race earlier and left us with little to no warm up. After some pre-race drama my epic warm up of riding to the start from the car was a huge success. I ended up starting the day in 6th overall with my STXC and DH results combined. The whistle went off and I found myself sitting in 3rd going into the first corner of the start area, we hit the first roller and all of a sudden I was in 2nd, heading into the first descent I found myself leading the race into the first main climb. I wasn’t really sure why everyone was going so slow at the start until 1/4 of the way up the first sustained climb when all of that work basically caught up with me. My lack of warm up left my muscles tight. Once I recovered from my holeshot hero start I found myself towards the back, at that point I just set a pace and held it there the whole race picking riders off as I went. The tallboy was so much fun out there, most guys would be on the brakes down the short descents into the punchy climbs but my bike allowed me to rip down everything and use my momentum to get up most of the climbs. I ended up about 15th, not overly stoked about the placing but once I got into my pace I was really happy with how I was riding overall.

1932576_556681984429139_1458064504_oHUGE HUGE HUGE thanks to Tony’s grandparents for taking such great care of us, they absolutely spoiled us with dinner and a great place to stay every night, our annual post race Hooters dinner was cancelled due to Will being a sour puss but there is always next year.

I am pretty excited to go into Sea Otter and get some last minute conditioning under my belt before Tony and I head out to Arizona to race the Whiskey 50!

Until Sea Otter!

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2014 Underway: Fontucky

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Fontana, otherwise known as Fontucky, Fontoilet…the names only get more crass from there.  Fontucky marks the beginning of some serious 2014 shredding for Team SCXF.

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Check out Will’s ‘short’ write up on his 2014 experience. Winning Fontana several times as a junior, he’s now a veteran at enduring  a voyage on I-5 South to go suffer some more   with the infamous Fontana Black Lung (the course is usually dusty-as).

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“Here is a write up on Fontoilet.

After finishing my final exams for winter quarter at UCSC, I packed up the car and headed down on Friday morning to Fontana for the ProXCT. I knew my training had been going well prior to finals, but had spent the past week mostly in the library and not nearly enough on my bike, so I allowed myself to have no expectations for results or fitness. I got down with enough time to do a quick pre-ride at sunset, and was impressed with the course. Although short (3.7 miles/lap), it included many things I love about mountain biking: challenging, technical climbing with some fun and fast descents. Unfortunately, I also knew that the amount of technicality and single track would make for some serious bottle necking at the beginning of the XC.

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Sure enough, I started on the back row of the 120-person XC field on Saturday morning, and, as expected, I spent about half of the first lap off of my bike, seemingly waiting in line to drop into each single track section. Over the next few laps, the race strung out and I was able to climb my way into 70th. Although not happy with the result, I was impressed with my form and am confident that I can pull off a strong result with on a race course with less traffic.

Short Track on Sunday was a great time, mainly due to the star guest appearance by John Hauer, whose aggressive riding style was a huge help in working my way up through the field from the back row. Our goal was to last 10 minutes before getting pulled, but we managed to stick it out for 15 minutes, getting pulled with only 2 laps remaining. Although it was another mid-pack finish, I was stoked to last that long in such a competitive race.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 10.55.25 AMThe greatest part of the weekend was getting to do an evening photo shoot with our resident photo-magician Max Houtzager, who never fails to make me look like I ride bikes fast (however difficult a task as that may be). Thanks to him, I’ll be set for the next few TBTs on Instagram.

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Next up is the Keyesville Classic this coming weekend, where I will be meeting up with Tony and Colby to contest the All-Mountain category. I am stoked to get to race on my new Tallboy 2 and at a more low-key event. Hopefully we can pull off some strong results!”

-Will

MRH_1831After 3 tough races he’s still stoked to go for a sunset pedal. What a champ! Look for more news next weekend!!!

Building for the Sport and the Season

Team Santa Cruz-X Fusion

Welcome to 2014! We are really looking forward to this year, with plans to be more active in the recent growing mountain bike advocacy campaigns, as well as helping  NICA (the National Interscholastic Cycling Association), that have already taken affect. That and of course more enduro racing and shredding videos! Here’s all the radness that’s already gone down.

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Will participated in a panel in Santa Cruz:

“Other highlights of the month include participating on a panel at UCSC, joined by professors and land managers, to discuss the future of mountain biking in the school’s incredible Upper Campus Preserve. I was honored to be chosen to represent the cycling community and was blown away by the attendance of local mountain bikers. It was truly inspiring, and I hope that the discussion leads to a sustainable way of legalizing mountain biking on the preserve.”

The Upper Campus trail network in Santa Cruz  is easily one of the best in the world, where besides all the local pros, weekend warriors, and college kids out shredding, you also find visitors from all over the world and industry folk testing the latest. We hope for a day when we no longer have to advocate constantly for something that in our eyes is obviously so great.

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The whole team, Will, Riley, Tony, and Colby, volunteered at the Norcal High School League 2014 Winter Camps, among the likes of many mountain bike legends such as Mark Weir and Jason Moeschler. And Lindsey Voreis! You’re awesome!

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Team Highballs on Tam with matching X Fusion Slide 29er forks, Easton Wheels, and everything else!

“I was happy to help out at the NorCal Cycling League’s beginner camp in Fairfax by showing some extremely promising young riders my local trails.”-Will

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After mostly riding just to instagram his bike in scenic Santa Cruz, Will and Riley got up to some racing to start opening it up for 2014!

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From Will on his CCCX sufferfest:

“I was excited to get out, get in a hard effort, and not get completely smoked in the process. Up next is the Cal Poly Collegiate Criterium & Time Trial this weekend, followed by the next CCCX on Feb. 15. Stoked to get the season underway and excited for what it brings!”

Riley and Colby got in a hard effort much further north in the infamous Grasshopper called Old Caz.

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From Riley:

“For this year’s sold out Old Caz Grasshopper, a 51 mile route with 5000+/- feet of climbing I chose my Highball C with cyclocross tires. The X Fusion Slide 29 fork combined with Formula R1 Racing hydraulic disc brakes really gave me the advantage over a standard cross bike. While riding on the road behind the world class rider, Geoff Kabush, hitting speeds of up to 35 mph on the flats, it was a struggle to hang on.

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Old Caz is a race of survival, so I brought a mass amount of food including lots of GU Roctane and two bottles full of  electrolyte tablet GU Brew. Crossing the line in 20th place out of roughly 425, this was a great day of training and putting my bike body to the ultimate test. The Highball was wonderful and did everything I could have asked for. After the ride I had a GU Brew Recovery Chocolate Smoothie waiting for me in the ice chest in the car. Another great successful Old Caz for the books.”

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Colby with more gas in the tank at the end!

Enjoy 2014 and we hope you are excited as we are!

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Collegiate Racing

If you haven’t been keeping up on our facebook page, you can cruise through all of what the team’s been up to. Downieville, Annadel XC, Interbike, and a whole lot of Collegiate racing has gone down since our last blog post. Lots of rad photos and good times!

_MRH9863 Were proud to announce a new deal with Supacaz, bringing the cycling industry products not just for bike nerds._MRH9803 Will way out in front in the STXC at the UCSB Collegiate Mountain bike race.SilhoetteWill’s been racing a lot recently, and he’s clearly on form. On top of racing the Santa Cruz Super Enduro last weekend, he mobbed down to Parkfield right after for another collegiate win.
_MRH9836Lonely but stoked at the front of the race.WillThis weekend he heads to the east coast to meet up with Cody for Collegiate Nationals. It’s his last year in the league and he has always wanted to win a collegiate national title. Hopefully his form continues through the weekend!

 

Camas Enduro, Kirkwood Classic, USA Nationals

Colby headed up to Tahoe recently with Riley and came 4th in the Kirkwood Classic Super D recently. Report and video to come, but for the highlight of today’s post, Team Santa Cruz-X Fusion brings you the first hand account from the U23 Nationals of Will Curtis.

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Photo Credit: Kathy Burcham

“This last Tuesday I headed out bright and early for U.S. XC Nationals, leaving the moderate temperature of the beautiful bay area for the humid heat of Bear Creek, Pennsylvania. After desperately trying to avoid devouring a philly cheesesteak immediately upon our arrival, the Bear Development Team (headed by the lovely Julia Violich) and I drove out to the course to do some recon. Before riding it, I had heard horror stories of people attempting, and failing, to ride it on a hardtail. Being that I had only brought my Santa Cruz Highball Carbon, I was a little nervous. Maybe its because my hardtail is the best out there, but after riding the course, I had a grin from ear to ear on my face. It was technical from beginning to end, with short steep climbs that I am always a fan of. The biggest obstacle would not be the relentless rocks, but the sweltering heat, already reaching 100 degrees and 90% humidity by 11am in the morning. I was sweating just thinking about exercise.

Friday morning at 10:30am, the gun went off for my U23 Pro XC race. Of course, lady luck brought me a massive pile-up in the first twenty feet of the race, focing me to get off my bike and bringing my good friend Taylor Smith (Cannondale-Sho Air) to the ground. After tiptoe-ing my way around the culprit of the crash, I remounted my bike and entered the technical singletrack in almost last place. The first lap was a mix of frustration and anger, as I tried to pass masses of people on narrow, difficult trails that no one in front of me seemed to be able to get over without walking. By the second lap, the trails ahead of me were more open, but I had taxed myself trying to reach the front. I decided to settle into a pace so that I would have a chance of surving the next four laps in the already brutal heat. Sure enough, the racers ahead of me began to drop like flies. I kept a constant pace, unable to push hard but determined to finish. Sure enough, just surviving the race was enough to put me in 14th out of 35. I was hoping for better, but given the circumstances, I am proud to have finished the race.

Because I didn’t reach my expectations in the XC, I decided to race Super D to hopefully end the weekend on a higher note. I borrowed a bike from an awesome friend (Thanks Tyler!) and had some great practice runs on the fun course. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and my chain came off catastrophically in the first rock garden, wrapping itself around my pedal and forcing me to dismount to untwist it and get it back on the chainring. I pushed as hard as I could down the rest of the course, but I had lost too much time, eventually finishing 36 seconds off the Pro podium.

Despite the challenges, I had a great weekend and am happy to have gone. More than all, I am so thankful by all the support I received from everyone out there. It amazes me how generous and kind the cycling community has always been to me, and I am grateful for it every day.

Now its cheesesteak time.”

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Photo Credit: Kathy Burcham

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Cody Phillips also made it out to the Oregon Enduro Series race in Camas, but a crash going huge off a jump in practice took him out of the running for the race. Spraining his wrist, he recovered in time to cross coasts for Nationals with Will, but had less than stellar races, yet still finished just outside the top 10 in Pro Super D.

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Next up, Downieville All Mountain World Championships! Get stoked,

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Team Santa Cruz-X Fusion

Enduro Racing!

As for the news we mentioned before, things in Oregon went pretty well to say the least! Cody’s first couple rides on the TRc got him well inside of the top half of the very stacked Oregon Enduro Series fields.

From Cody’s race report:

“In all the Hood River Enduro went pretty well. It took a little while to get used to the brand new bike with components that I had never used prior to the weekend. Despite this, come race day the bike was flawless and the bike was the last thing on my mind. This was the first enduro of the season so I felt like I had a lot of kinks to workout as far as my mental game. My legs felt awesome and covered for some of my mistakes. I placed 23rd overall with 2 stages finishing inside the top 20 and a bad stage three that cost me a lot of time on the overall. I am more motivated than ever for this weekends cross country race and the following weekends enduro in bend.”

Back in CA Riley had a crash in the Summit STXC Series and took a bit of time off. He knows listening to your body is important and as of this past Wednesday, had a great ride and felt strong at the weekly Dirt Crit Series in Annadel State Park. Colby still hit the Rockhopper Classic Super D. His time was 2nd fastest at the split hot on Team WTB-Cannondale legend Mark Weir, but then got too excited in a corner on his Bronson and took a digger to the head at ~25-30mph, getting a concussion. We’re glad he was fine and even made it to the Bend Enduro with Cody (cont. reading!)

Cody went back to the dry hot end of the West Coast to get 2nd in Pro Super D at the US Cup Series, and 7th in the XC on the same TRc.

Cody then improved a bit on his result from the previous Oregon Enduro in Bend, which is nothing to shrug off at these races. Another solid top half finish overall and top 10 on one stage is keeping us excited to see where how he goes in the future!

Check the Bend video coverage for clips of both Cody and Colby

That’s all for now, stay tuned for CA XC State Champs, the China Peak Enduro, and finally the Ashland stop of the Oregon Enduro Series where Will will also be able to race thanks to finals being over.

Also, Will is combining his Ashland race into a shredding road trip with his Dad to tour the PNW. Right now it’s Tahoe, next up Ashland, Bend and Sandy OR, then Washington and BC! Video updates will be on the regular. Enjoy:

Road Trip Day 1: Tahoe for Father’s Day from Will Curtis on Vimeo.

Riley and Cody Ready for the Weekend

More big things as usual coming from the team recently. New kits, bike set ups, and good results to cover, all before going into two races that we're excited about this weekend, the first Oregon Enduro in Hood River, and the Rockhopper Classic XC + Super D in our own backyard.

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Riley raced a 2-man team in the Bike Monkey Boggs 8 Hour race we alluded to in our last post, and won. By 25+ minutes. Here's a video of the start, where he debuted our new kit. His streak continues, and we look forward to seeing what he can do at the Rockhopper this weekend, where he has raced before!

DSC_2156Cody finished up his first year at Lees McRae on the East Coast, wrapping things up with some collegiate DH and DS on his Nomad (getting 3rd and 1st). Photos on VitalMTB.

Soon after getting home, he came to NorCal to help out at the High School State Champs XC race, and then join Max, Colby, and Riley to sample the hot new Tamarancho Flow Trail, and then continue up to Oregon for the Hood River Enduro. Last year he raced it as his first enduro / pro race, and got just outside top 5 on one stage, racing blind on an overweight/falling apart Enduro.

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Cody got comfortable quickly on his fresh TRc. Very excited to see what he can do on it at Hood this weekend!

We're also all jealous of Colby for winning the steeze award as usual and having the badass new Santa Cruz Bronson.

_MRH7180-2Busting out of one of many rad corners. Rad fresh flow trail + rad fresh Bronson = fun!

DSC_2140Drool. That is all. Stay tuned for news after this weekend!

Sea Otter Kicks Off The Season, Howard going Strong

The whole team made it to Sea Otter, racing all together for the first time, in the stacked 130 person international pro field nonetheless. No one was pulled, yet only 100 finished. To put it in perspective further, the current Olympic XC Champion had an off day and finished 25th…

_MRH5077 This happened…Colby stoked on finishing._MRH5048-cody Cody made the pilgrimage from the lame coast to race. As his first Pro/U23 race of the season, he learned a lot, but is still itching to shred some enduros.DSC_1053-will Will, wasted (in a sober way at this point…) at the Hive tent. Thanks to their great support all weekend. We visited all our other sponsors as well, and everyone was super rad! 
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Riley won the Team SCXF race within the race, and finished just outside the top 10 for U23′s and 59th in total. A Cat 1 just last year, he’s riding really strong right now. His race report mentioned eating a total of 6 Roctane Gels that helped a lot, and the stiffness of the 142x12mm Highball rear end really allowing him to accelerate up the final, infamous Sea Otter climb coming back to the venue._MRH4636-tony Tony melted and decided to save his legs for tandem XC the next day…DSC_1046-tony Still making the most of being out on the bike!DSC_1045-colby The Colbs.DSC_1034-will Will was our second strongest finisher, feeling stronger than last year on a better race, but in the more stacked field finished 20 places further back in 69th.DSC_1038-cody Cody pops his pro national race cherry.bryceland and colbyColby and Ratboy shooting the shit after the always rowdy slalom race. Maybe some of Bryceland’s radness will rub off on Colby if we’re lucky.

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 2.03.18 PM Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 2.02.57 PMThe next day Colby and Tony busted out their tandem skills and came 2nd behind some gnarly kids. At least they looked sick doing it….

Since finishing 10 minutes off the leader in an insane field at the Otter, Riley has continued his show of fitness with two strong Summit Shorty Races placing second and then first the next week the past two Wednesdays.

In Riley’s recent STXC race report, “the high school racers were out along with their coaches and the regular trail shredders”.  He’s been duking it out with Cannondale/Sho Air’s Taylor Smith (also last year’s Summit Shorty Series Champ) for the top spot, and apparently the 2nd time is a charm!

He’s now returning to the Boggs 8 Hour race this weekend to race in a 2 man team! Over 700 racers will be in attendance, and we’re all stoked to see how he does.

Photos and Words by Max Houtzager (www.maxhoutzager.com)

Introducing Bonetiger and some Fontana Pro XCT / US Cup East Action

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If you missed this, we spent some time in Pacifica during Spring Break trying to show Tony Smith, our final new rider for 2013, how to go down a hill on a bicycle.

Very soon we will be on our final bike set ups, including the new Bronson, for 2013 with new kits, so keep an eye out…

Will raced the Fontana Pro XCT for the team, but the combination of melting in the heat and the Fontucky dust led to back cramps, which ended his race early. The debut of one of our team’s high vis Highball29er’s looked sweet nonetheless.

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On the lame coast (East), Cody hit up the US Cup East in Bryson, North Carolina, and is pumped to get back on the best coast for Sea Otter next weekend. We are quite excited for the team to be all together racing for the first time this season!

An XC/Enduro Mountain Bike Race Team