This past weekend Max headed North to Oregon for a first time experience with the Ashland Spring Thaw, racing the XC on Saturday and DH on Sunday (although not many do both and there’s unfortunately no all mountain category). It was his first race back after a mid season break after a painful Sea Otter Classic XC. A big thanks to Kyle Macaroni for many TRc and Highball shuttles on Friday (and a place to crash Thursday night), and Austin Riba for a place Friday/Saturday night.
“I lined up in the front row knowing it would be crucial to stay towards the front to get into some of the faster groups pacelining up the gradual but never ending climb to long flat traverse. The pace was a little slow at first so I rode in 2nd for a bit at my own pace and continued to ride my own race as that settled me around 12th by about 1/2 way up the hour long climb. I knew gearing up to stay with Carl Decker and a few others would not be sustainable as I was already tapped out at 189 HR for 30 minutes. The race felt real long for only 1.5 hours since the singletrack descending was only the last 19 minutes, but said 19 minutes sure was rad while it lasted! The
top flat section of the course 3 other 29er’s and I pacelined averaging 25 mph, but only 1 other and I knew how to descend the ripping single track down, so we pulled away immediately. Fortunately, I was quicker on corners while he was quicker on rough sections and fireroads (partially due to bigger tires and a Kona scandium fully), so as we took turns leading I got by on the last trail, BTI, a downhill pumptrack to the finish with too many berms to count! This put
just inside the top 10 in front of some other really fast guys so I’m stoked on this result as my first race back.”
The Highball was perfect for the course, flying on the uphill and flats with it’s big wheels and low weight, and pinning the last descent with it’s playful geometry and Nano 2.1 TCS Tires absolutely hooking up AND rolling fast (Ryan Condrashoff even decided to race them on his TR to 5th place in the DH as well the next day-not something I could get away with)!
Sunday brought more shuttle-fun with the DH race. That didn’t go as well but was still tons of fun! ~4 minutes of HIGH speed single track with lots of switchbacks, 1 rock garden and a jump. Not quite gnarly enough for a DH but definitely not long enough for a Super D (the xc race went down it). This made for some close racing, the top 5 all within one second.
“My first DH race in 2 years, and first time racing the course (seemed like everyone else had done it for years). I can make a lot of excuses for why I didn’t go super fast like everyone else, but when it comes down to it I need to work on my higher speed riding and lay off the brakes. I rode smooth and pretty damn fast, but more of a 10 minute + race pace, not a 4 minute balls out one.”
“The TRc is still amazing me as it was so light, pedaled so fast, and railed corners/switchbacks no problem. It was especially fun ripping behind Nathan Riddle on some slalomy upper trails afterwards!”
Check out more photos in the Gallery.
Meanwhile back in GnarCal, Colby took a sweet top 5 with a 4th place at the Lake Sonoma Ricochet. You could see more of him riding in this video of the race, but he was too close to the front, so it’s mostly the start.
“I just wanted to test my fitness after Sea Otter and was riding relatively strong. Lake Sonoma is one of the more demanding and physical XC courses on the local scene and the Highball was descending just as good as all the fully 29ers out there. Races put on by Bike Monkey are always a rad experience”
That makes two successful races for the Highball for us this past weekend and next up is the first Oregon Enduro and first race of the North American Enduro Tour in Bend Oregon!