While prepping my bike for a week-long bike trip to the Utah & Arizona deserts, I noticed my stock saddle was on its last leg. I began hunting for a new saddle that could handle the elements of any climate, a little crashing, and would be comfortable for countless miles of riding.
Matt recommended the WTB Koda Women’s saddle to me to try and check the boxes. WTB recently released this saddle, designed by and for women. It features a wide center channel to isolate the saddle contact to the sit bones, and a shorter, wider nose for easy on-off transitions.
I installed it on my bike and left for my trip the next day. When we arrived in Utah and I finally got to try it out, and it immediately felt comfortable, like I had been riding it for months already. No need for “breaking it in” or getting used to it, the Koda was shred-ready out of the box. I put well over 100 miles of pedaling on it within the first week riding around in Virgin, Flagstaff, and Sedona with several hours of riding each day.
We pedaled up steep fire roads and across single track in various climates, and the Koda felt comfy the entire way. In addition to racking up pedaling hours on the Koda, I put it through the abuse of freeriding (and some crashing) in the rocky, terrain of Green River and Virgin, UT.
So far, I’m impressed and pleased with the performance and durability of the saddle. I’ve continued using it after my trip, riding and racing at TDS Enduro in northern California and at the CDC Enduro here in the rainy PNW. I tend to put a slightly higher than normal amount of wear and tear on my bike components, (hence why I needed to replace my stock saddle in the first place) and the Koda is still looking and riding like new.
I’d recommend this saddle to anyone (male or female) looking for a comfy saddle that could work on any bike for any type of riding.
The Dirty Sanchez: the gnarliest enduro out there. Broken & bruised limbs, mid-run whiskey shots, hundreds of hecklers, the rowdiest bike trails… sums up to my idea of an epic weekend. The Kona crew made an appearance in full force with Ali Osgood, Becky Gardner, Hannah Bergemann, Ryan Gardner, and Scott Countryman, and put together a race report from the weekend.
Hannah B. – Through an Instagram contest submission I was granted a “golden ticket” to race in the 2018 TDS enduro. A month later I was flying with my bike down from Bellingham to Northern California, not quite sure what I was getting myself into.
Friday was practice day which involved riding as many of the trails as possible, with shuttles to the top after every lap. This meant riding until my arms felt like they might not work anymore.
Saturday was race day 1, and started off with 3 of the gnarliest trails. My goal for the weekend was to keep it upright and I was (barely) able to make that goal! Stage 6 brought us through the infamous and gnarliest stage, Vigilante, which runs through a steep, dried up creek bed of loose rocks. Hundreds of Hecklers lined the gully, hollering as all the racers wobbled and tumbled their way down the trail.
Sunday was day 2, and we endured another 6 stages of gap jumps, loose rocks, and off camber steeps. I finished each stage completely gassed but with a huge, cheesy grin on my face.
The whole weekend was amazing. I landed in 7th in a large field of ladies and was happy to have relatively clean race runs. The Sanchez family and friends are one incredible crew of people, and I’m so grateful they let me come experience all the glory of the TDS.
Until next time!
When I rolled up to the Sanchez Compound for my second TDS I had 2 goals. The first was to not repeat my first year at the event by getting injured in practice, and my second goal was to be the first woman to win the Spirit Leader Award.
(side note: The Spirit Award goes to the racer who meets the spirit criteria of TDS legends like Mark Weir and Ariel Lindsley. That racer must improve the experience of all TDS goers, be it on the race course, during pastimes, or, especially, round the campfire into the late hours of the night. Every year in contention for the coveted award voices are lost, beers are chugged, trails are slayed, and many laughs are shared.)
I picked up Hannah Bergemann from the airport thursday night, we settled into our camp, and woke up to a chilly Friday morning of practice. As always, the trails didn’t disappoint. Imagine a trail system that somehow manages to feature unparalleled flow with gap jumps, massive wall rides, and deep berms, steep rocky gnar, spongy fragrant loam, rooty chutes, and high speed tech. That’s what makes up the 13 stages of TDS. But the mtb wonderland got the better of me and by my fifth run in practice I managed to scorpion over my bars and punch a rock, rendering my pinky both broken and dislocated (I would discover days later after finally getting an x-ray).
So I managed to fail my first goal, but the trail side doctors seemed confident I could still ride with the proper ratio of booze to ibuprofen and a firm buddy tape system. With my grip and general bike control being more compromised than I anticipated, I found myself crashing in the first few stages on Saturday. So I reorganized my goals and decided I didn’t care how slow I had to go, that I would still finish the race smiling.
After that, my weekend took a hard left turn from a bike race to a beer chugging, bar humping, break dance fighting shit show that I somehow survived with minimal bodily harm (besides an array of bruises and a pissed of left pinky). I made a lot of new friends, improved my beer bong skills, rode with some of the raddest pro women on the West Coast, and learned how to stay positive when things don’t go my way.
While I failed to walk away from TDS uninjured, I somehow found myself accepting an impressive spread of prizes after winning the spirit award. I’v had some good wins in my race career, but this one takes the cake. After navigating the wild waters of TDS weekend, I finally understand what it’s all about and I am grateful to be apart of it.
So what’s it all about anyway? Come out next year, and you’ll find out…
Becky and I have attended the TDS enduro for several years now and have had the pleasure of watching it evolve from a couple guys in the woods to an elite enduro with hundreds of racers. Every year we head to Grass Valley eager to race on some of Northern California’s best terrain. I made the trip over the mountain from Oakland and was stoked to see what my new Kona Process 153 could do.
After ripping practice laps and remembering just how awesome the tracks are, I was ready to send it into day one of racing. Unfortunately, the first day of racing was not in my favor. After a crash in the rock garden, a flat tire, and a few more less-than-ideal runs, I didn’t find myself where I’d have liked after day 1.
Thankfully, the best part of racing TDS is not just the riding, but the festivities and like-minded people that make the Dirty Sanchez. After some bike repairs, having a few Hey Buddy beers, I was ready for more races, and day two brought a way better day. With clean runs and no mechanicals, I was able to put some top ten runs together against a stacked class of riders.
After finishing up another winter in Telluride, Co, I made the trek over to TDS. After a winter of skiing, and recently recovering from a broken rib, my game plan was to ride consistent, smooth, and in control, especially after a history of injuries at the race. The first day of practice at TDS is always interesting coming from southern Colorado where the only trails available to ride all winter are more fitness-oriented and the rocky, gnarly trails lay beneath the snow.
By the end of the practice day and practicing all the features, I was feeling good going into race day. The weekends sunshine brought perfect dirt and tacky berms. Feeling super confident on more pedally stages, it took a bit to warm up to the more technical stages, but by the end of day 1, I was feeling strong on my Process 134.
All 12 stages went well, except for a few mishaps on some of the earlier stages, but the whole race was mechanical free and I was stoked to sit inside the top 10 against some very strong riders.
The 1st event of it’s kind for both Ascent Cycles and The Kona Supremes, this evening marked a big step forward for inclusivity in the mountain biking world. Our goal was to offer a safe space where female identifying riders from all backgrounds and experience levels could get their questions answered in an unassuming and supportive environment.
No stone was left unturned and even some of the veteran lady shredders in the group walked away with new information they could take to their next start line.
For those who couldn’t attend, I want to share some of the main points from the evening.
Buddy Up: -Isn’t everything more fun with a friend?! In enduro racing, buddying up isn’t just a social engagement, but about safety. Especially for someone new to racing mountain bikes, finding another rider with a similar skill level will help calm your nerves and keep you from getting into a situation you are not ready for.
-Riding the course before your event is another great way to settle those race day jitters. In enduro racing the course is often released days (if not weeks) before the event, giving you ample time to familiarize yourself with it. Knowing what is around the next turn can make a huge difference in finishing strong and avoiding crashes.
And remember, safety 1st! If a feature on the course scares you, there is no shame or penalty in walking your bike or taking the bypass.
Have the Tools for the job and know how to use them: -It is very important to be prepared for mechanical issues, especially on race day. A flat tire or broken chain could take you out of the competition, but with the right tools and know how, you won’t have to hike your bike off a mountain and can instead roll to the finish line.
Nutrition: -Staying properly fueled and hydrated is key. Although the timed stages of an enduro race are short, the overall event can be up to 30 miles, which is no small feat on a mountain bike. Race day is not a good time to try new things, so stick to your go-to ride snacks. The butterflies in your tummy will thank you. It can get really hot out there, so staying hydrated is vital. Electrolytes are your friend and will make the water you have with go further. Know where the aid stations are on the course, but don’t depend on them. Being overprepared is always the better option.
Use Protection: -Again, it’s all about being safe out there (and having fun, or course). Helmet, knee pads and gloves are essential. Protective eyewear is also highly recommended. Some courses could be dusty, others muddy, and a rouge pebble to the eye can cause serious injury. Having all the right protection can be a game changer and inspire more confidence on the course.
Passing: – Passing or being passed by other racers on the course is going to happen, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful thing. Communicate with fellow racers. If passing, be sure to announce yourself and find a safe place to overtake them. If you are being passed, don’t let yourself feel rushed, this is when mistakes happen. You don’t have to stop, but slow down so you can pull aside when the time is right. It’s totally ok to make the person passing you take the more challenging line.
Bike Check: -Going over your bike before race day can help prevent catastrophic failure on course. Don’t wait until the last minute, in case you need parts or the help of a skilled mechanic, to make sure everything is running smoothly. Check Everything. Bolts, pivot bearings, tire pressure, all of it! Doing a thorough bike check prior to race day will give you one less thing to worry about so you can focus on getting RAD!
Have Fun! -Last, but certainly not least, HAVE FUN! Enduro racing might be the most fun you can have on a bike. It’s all about high fives, comradery and the sense of accomplishment that comes from for pushing yourself or trying something new.
What’s the next step? Find a race in your area and get ready to Shred the Gnar!
Trail building is one of the most important, yet underappreciated aspects of our sport. While some truly respect the hard work and passion that goes into building a trail, there is much more bikers can do to understand and appreciate the vision and effort that goes in to creating our favorite trails. This effort involves more than just taking a shovel or hoe and hammering it in to the ground. Trail builders also have to look at the type of soil, drainage capability, and land use regulations. Without considering these factors, a builder could potentially spend several months or years putting in a trail that will only last the first initial few months/year and then either erode away from over use and/or environmental impacts (e.g., washed out), or get torn down because of land use violations.
I interviewed Kona’s very own Matthew Shelton, or more commonly known as Matty, to discuss the issue of sustainable trail building and his history as a trail builder, including his work on Kona’s new trail project – Devil’s Cross. Matty’s experience contains many highlights, some of which are good and some that provided valuable learned opportunities. Here are three that stand out:
Top lesson – Always get agreements in writing.
Top Work Highlight – Retallack build mission with Freehub Mag and the Treelines crew. Two peak to lodge trails in as many years.
Top Highlight all-around – Community building.
Matty has been building trails for a total of 14 years and counting. His passion to build trails came from a desire to “create a ride experience that was more in line with current trail design and bicycle capability.”If we look back to 14 years ago, many trail builders taught themselves the craft as trail clinics and sponsored volunteer days were few and far between.
Matty described the need for innovation:
“Trail design, at the time, was focused on past ideas of what riders wanted to experience and lacked the opportunity we needed. These trails didn’t meet our needs as riders, so we tended to work on our own projects, away from the experienced builders. Once we moved on from our projects, we found builders that were after the same type of trail experience; it led to a more focused and educated approach to building. You want the work to last, function as designed, and remain safe. We sought out the builders on the hill that could collaborate and offer experience as well as attending IMBA build clinics and trail summits that offered training in design, build techniques, and advocacy outreach. You need all three.”
This interview provides insight into what sustainable trail building entails, the legal restrictions and implications involved with trail building, and an example of sustainable building in action with Kona’s new trail, Devil’s Cross.
What does sustainable trail system mean? The functional definition is a trail that requires minimal maintenance and creates minor impact on the surrounding ecosystem. The more encompassing definition takes into account political support, land access, and community size.
What environmental aspects do you have to take into account (e.g., soil composition, water runoff, etc.)? You have to account for all of these things well before you put tools to the ground. Looking through USGS maps for soil types, topography, and drainage zones are the top three on every builder’s list.
How does this impact your trail design? For the most part, environmental aspects are very positive to the overall trail design. Taking notice of the potential issues before they manifest cuts down on build time and more importantly the maintenance aspect, which basically defines the notion of a sustainable trail. These areas of focus also give credibility to projects in the eyes of land managers who will likely be involved in the building process.
Why does accounting for environmental impacts matter when building a trail (e.g., longevity)? Minimal environmental impact is, very simply put, the most efficient way to build a trail. It always leads to a better final product in the way the trail is routed, built, and ultimately maintained.
How does land use laws and regulations impact trail builders and users, both from a trail building aspect and gaining access to lands available? Land use laws, especially liability laws in the US, are extremely restrictive to recreation opportunity. These laws affect mountain bikers and builders more heavily than other user groups, as they are have to be rewritten to afford even the potential opportunity for a multi-use or bicycle trail system to be permitted. The notion that a properly built bicycle trial is no more impactful than a hiker trail is still a foreign concept to many land owners and environmental advocates. Bringing these concepts to a larger audience and educating lawmakers, landowners, and other user groups will increase access and building opportunities. It is worth noting this effort is moving forward in Washington State with the help of Evergreen, WMBC, and other advocacy groups at a faster than normal pace.
Are there any other environmental/sustainability factors that impact trail building?
There is one that we cannot control. Bicycle trails are almost exclusively sharing space with trees in the Northwest. These trees are a resource to be harvested by public and private entities and provide needed funding for schools and roads here in Washington. While these timber farms are held to a certain level of sustainability, it is hard to deny the devastation of a clear cut. It is even harder to deny the level of hypocrisy of the claims by land owners that ‘bicycle trials’ need to be closed due to erosion or impact on surrounding areas when they share the same space with clear cuts and logging roads.
Why is trail building so important to the sustainability of our sport? The importance of trail building is three fold. Without trail work there is no riding opportunity, no progression, and that will lead to fewer and fewer opportunities to expose new riders to the sport. Trail building bridges the gap between user groups. Everyone builds trail. Equestrians user groups, hikers, trail runners, cyclists, even motorized user groups; they all need trails and building them together creates trust, acceptance, and more trail experiences. Well executed trail systems are quickly being recognized as huge revenue generators for local economies. This revenue is sustainable and does not require the vast expenditure of resources to generate profits compared to harvesting timber, mineral extraction, and all the infrastructure required for those activities. Trails are good business!
How did the idea to create/remake Devil’s Cross (DC) come into play? This was purely a ‘look at the map’ scenario. The slope that DC covers has no other trails in the area and, once completed, will connect the top of the mountain to the existing north side trails on Galbraith mountain. This trail was more about the concept of connecting the trail system together than specific trail features or even one trail. The WMBC T.A.P. program was our opportunity to get involved, so we adopted DC.
What is the history behind the trail before Kona took it over? My understanding is that it was once an uphill moto trail. It was really good to burn up since it is all sandstone and, unlike Super Cross, it didn’t become a rutted out water slide. Once moto users were not allowed on Galbraith, some adventurous folks took it over as a bike trail and cleared it every couple years (maybe 10 years).
What was the driving factor behind the trail (i.e., the visions for what you wanted)? We wanted a top to bottom trail experience that had connectivity to the rest of the hill. One this project connected the system, other trails could filter into Devil Cross and back to the central hub.
How did you account for environmental aspects when designing and building the trail? The same concept the old moto riders used, we tried to follow the ridge line and stick to rock the best we could. Always avoiding riding through or across drainage and sensitive slopes. Trail construction was mindful to the slope and dirt composition. The dirt holds up good to tires in this zone, but any water funneling or pooling can be devastating over time with so much sandy/loamy dirt composition.
What part of Devil’s Cross are you proud of the most (can be a couple)? Staying true to our vision and not forcing or going through with a design that did not fit the landscape. Denying the devil on your shoulder is tough! Are there any future plans/revisions in the works for the trail? All trails see revisions. We do hope to include a few features on the trail that fit natural terrain, reshape a few corners, and replant areas that were impacted by logging and trail work. Fresh ferns on trails feels good.
At the end of the interview, Matty made a statement that I think all mountain bikers should understand: “One big point to realize. None of this land is yours or mine, it is the land owners. Building trail correct and in coordination with landowners is the only way to move our sport forward.”
Respecting landowners and keeping an open discussion with them is one of the most significant ways to create a sustainable future for mountain biking. Sustainability is not just about the environment, it’s also about our community and advocating for multi-use trails in recreational areas. Understanding environmental factors, taking into account the local ecosystem, considering the type of trails bikers want to ride, engaging our community, and cooperating with landowners and Regulators all contribute to the sustainability of our trails and sport.
A huge thank you to Matty Shelton for sharing your knowledge and expertise. You do amazing work and the Kona Supremes greatly appreciate all that you do for our community and our sport!
The Supremes are #blessed to have some rad sponsors supporting our bad behavior and trail side antics. From applauding our podium hangouts to post race high fives, Nuun Hydration has been with us since the beginning. So this past Sunday, The Supremes hosted a private demo with the employees based out of Seattle to say thanks!
The Nuun Hydration Crew: Ray, Tyler, Peter, Mason & Ben (who works for Miir)
After getting the guys set up on the New G2 Process 153 29’er at The Kona Bike Shop we stuffed all the bikes and bodies in various cars and trucks to get to the South Side of Galbraith. After a few Supremes logged online to get in on the season pass for the 2018 Cascadia Dirt Cup, we were on our way! (season passes sell out quick, we had to make sure and get our spots!)
Right when we started cranking the pedals you could feel the positive vibes and contagious energy coming from our crew. Once the little flask of bourbon came out I knew we were rolling with the right people.
We meandered our way to the top of Galbraith Mountain for the grand tour of the classics that featured Evolution, Das Auto, Prison Love, U-Line, and Atomic dog/Radical Dragon.
We turned those boys into full blown Woo Girls by the end of the ride! Dirt splattered faces and fat grins accompanied by friendly banter made for a perfect mid-winter shred.
This past weekend the Supremes soaked up the sun at the first ever women’s mountain bike festival hosted in Sedona, AZ. So many brands came together to supply 150 women the opportunity to ask all the questions and demo all the bikes. Roam Bike Fest gave women the space and opportunity to just own it and shred like a boss.
The festival made sure that that all the ladies could ride from sun up to sun down with organized group rides and shuttles. But if the legs were begging to burn, the ladies could take off right from the festival location and ride some of the most iconic trails in Sedona.
It was so exciting to talk with women from all over the country retelling stories of hunting down the black diamond trails with other ladies and encouraging one another to try something new. The new trail/new feature domination gave the festival a special kind of buzz that was intoxicating – or maybe that was the free flowing margaritas out of the barrel of fun? Who really knows…
The point is Roam Bike Fest was the most perfect way to close the summer chapter and welcome fall riding. Here are a few pictures of the fun and some words from the Supremes that were in attendance this weekend:
“Roam fest is an incredible event that will boost your confidence and inspire you to follow your passion. Being surrounded by so many strong, beautiful woman was such an amazing experience. My favorite part of the event was seeing my mom gain the confidence to shred some red rock, giggling the whole time. Whatever your ability level on a bike there is no doubt you will have a blast at roam fest! “ -Mic
“To say The Roam Bike Fest was epic doesn’t even quite cut it. Between the amazing scenery that Sedona has to offer, meeting some of the most inspiring women I have ever met, and getting my ass kicked by the technical descents; Roam Fest created an unforgettable experience. One of my favorite parts about the trip was rolling up on a group of guys (who probably thought they were pretty cool) with, no joke, over 10 ladies and showing THEM how to get rad and shred the shit out of the trails. The festival was an amazing experience and I am excited to show up and throw down for Roam Bike Fest 2.0, East Coast style.” -Steph
“RoamFest was a unique and amazing experience–where else would you get to be part of a mountain bike festival for women, organized by women, and hosted by women. I am leaving this event feeling inspired by all the incredible people I met, and excited to stay in touch with my new friends across the country! The riding in Sedona was spectacular, the venue was beautiful, and the good vibes were off the charts.” –Delia
Many thanks to the awesome photographers, Katie and Brenda for the amazing photos! You can check out more photos and follow them at
Also… Huge, ginormous shout out to the incredible Ash Bocast and Andi Zolton for all of your hard work, time, and energy to pull off this event. And for inviting us to come party down with you guys, we had a blast!! Cant wait until next time!
After summer fires raged in Washington this September, the original final race venue near Mt. Rainer had to be relocated to Dry Hill in Port Angeles, WA. The Race Cascadia crew did an amazing job at rolling with the punches and organizing an entirely new venue on short notice. In fact, this race ended up being one of the most well-organized and smoothest races we’ve attended so far, and Dry Hill has become one of our favorite places to ride!
For this Blog Post, the four of us that raced wrote a little recap of the weekend:
“We scored an awesome camp site at Salt Creek Campground on the beach outside of Port Angeles on Friday night. After some heavy rain all night we reluctantly left the warmth of our tents to catch some shuttle laps early on Saturday morning.
The shuttle vehicle was a Uhaul pick up truck, and the shuttle system worked flawlessly. We all piled into the back with our bikes which kept them all safe, was efficient loading and unloading, and could carry around 20 people per trip!
I had a blast racing both downhill and enduro in the same weekend! The DH trails were fast, loose, and chunky with lots of jumps and doubles to send making for some exciting racing. I snagged 5th in the downhill race on my Process 153 CR.
The venue, dirt, course, and trails were all amazing making for an awesome weekend and great end of the season. Delia and I rode together all day (singing Fleetwood Mac along the way) in the enduro and finished only seconds apart!
My favorite stage was stage 1 which was fast and full of doubles and sweet berms. Stage 2 was rocky, steep, and greasy, while stage 3 was dry, rooty, and dusty!
Despite a nasty climb in the middle, stage 4 was also a favorite, it had some epic, loamy singletrack at the end that had me grinning the entire way. I was stoked to finish the season strong, without crashes this race, and to take 3rd for the overall for my first year racing pro.”
“The Port Angeles race was the smoothest run race I have participated in. The race course was set up perfectly so that the sport class could race one side of the mountain while pro/expert did the other and then we flip-flopped. This way, we all finished around the same time and didn’t have to wait in line for the stages.
The trails were fast, loose, and super fun! It was awesome to come at the bottom of a stage, breathing hard, with a huge smile on your face. Hanging and laughing with the sport class ladies made the climbs manageable.
Despite the uphill sprint in the middle of it, stage four was my favorite stage of the day because you finished the last couple minutes weaving in and out of the trees in woods laced with beautiful tacky dirt from rain the day before. You ended in the staging area where you could grab some hugs and high fives before heading back up the road.”
“After some rain for the downhill race on Saturday, we arrived at the enduro race on Sunday with tacky trails and greasy roots, which are my favorite conditions!
Mickey headed up the road climb with the sport ladies to stages 3 and 4, while Hannah and I made our way up to start on Stage 1.
We ripped down the jumps, stayed upright on the loose entrance to Dante’s Inferno, and finished feeling stoked about the rest of the day. Steph and the expert ladies were beginning their pedal up to stage 1, so we joined forces to make it up the hill again.
Stage 2, also known as the Cat 2 downhill course, was running super fast after a little rain on those loose corners. I had a moment of excitement when my Garmin broke loose and popped off my handlebars halfway down the trail, but decided to let it go and come back for it later! Hannah and I regrouped and made our final pedal up to Stage 3, on the “dry” side of Dry Hill.
We were relieved to find the the roots weren’t too wet, and each had clean runs down the trickiest trail of the day. Next was one more easy pedal up to stage 4, during which we amused ourselves by listening to Fleetwood Mac and posting silly videos to Instagram. Stage 4 was the longest run and the stage with the most pedaling, but we got stoked and dropped in. I pedaled my little heart out, and was very thankful for my new Kona Process 153, which pedals so well I forget it’s a trail bike sometimes!
We finished, exhausted and full of adrenaline, and discovered we had both made it on the podium, just 4 seconds apart.
For me, this was the highlight of my season. I had some serious doubts about myself and my skills this season after having some bad crashes and disappointing results, but I finally had a race where I had fun and rode well, and felt like I actually belonged in the pro class! It was also amazing to see all of my teammates make it on the podium at our final race of the year–congrats to Steph for 3rd in Expert and Mickey on 2nd in Sport! Yeah ladies!!!”
For the Expert Ladies, it was all about having a good time and hanging with your friends. The weekend started out with shuttle lap after shuttle lap in the back of a dark Uhaul with, no joke, 20 other people.
I got to pre-ride with the lovely Michelle Warner and Julie Baird. On race day, at the start of the first climb, I ran into my fellow Supremes Hannah and Delia, and was able to pedal up with them to stage 1 – which really set the tone for the day. Rarely on race day do I get to ride with the other Supremes outside my category. This theme continued when I saw them again at the next transition to stage 2. After stage 2, which was slick, greasy, and fast, I ran into the Mickster and got stoked again to start the pedal over to stage 3 and 4. Stage 3 was still dry and loose despite Saturday’s rain, and the climb in the middle of stage 4 was exhausting.
However, at the end of the day, it felt good to stand on the podium in 3rd for the Expert Women after starting the season in Sport. Looking back at the season, racing the CDC allowed me to progress on my bike and meet some amazing people that Im now lucky enough to call friends! As Michelle (friend of the supremes and fellow expert race) put, “I race because I’m pretty much paying money to make friends.”
Everyone landed on the podium this race (including Brooklyn who couldn’t make it, but took 3rd in the overall for Sport). Mickey took 2nd in the enduro, and 2nd for the overall series. Steph got 3rd in the race in expert after catting-up this season. Delia and Hannah both landed on the podium in pro taking 5th and 4th and finishing only a few seconds apart! Hannah snagged a solid 3rd place in pro for the season.
We can’t thank the Cascadia Dirt Cup enough for hosting such awesome events, and all of our sponsors, fans, friends, and fam for all of your help and support this season! Thanks to Chris McFarland and Eric Mickelson for the AMAZING photos and for being such awesome humans. Huge shout-out to Nuun Hydration for keeping us hydrated, The Kona Bike Shop for helping us fix many broken bike parts, and Kona Bikes for making amazing bicycles!
My younger brother, Jackson, would have been 29 on September 11th, 2017. He passed away on April 9th, 2016 after a long battle with drug addiction. This is my story of the day he died.
I will never ever forget that spring day last year. I had been anxious about that Saturday for a while, because I was trying to become the first woman to finish the King County Classic, an all-day, self-supported (besides for a mid-day Domino’s delivery to the Tiger Mountain parking lot) mountain bike ride in the greater Seattle area hosted by the local fast guys. I knew I could ride my bike all day, I just didn’t know if I could hang at their pace or keep up on the downhill. My only goal was to finish and not get dropped. Little did I know how hard that day would be.
After surviving the first 40 miles (about 2/3 of the ride) and feeling pretty good, we got to a rest point at the radio towers on Tiger Mountain. I saw a missed call and text from my dad—“Call us ASAP”. My dad never texted me. Instinctively I knew that something was horribly wrong, and began to feel anxiety rising from the pit of my stomach. I debated ignoring the message until the ride was over, but I had to know. I called back and my mom answered, telling me what I had been terrified I would hear for years. My brother had overdosed and he passed away at some point in the night.
In shock, I hung up the phone, sank to the ground, and started shaking. One of the guys noticed and asked what had happened and I shared my devastating news. This group of 20 guys—most of them acquaintances or strangers, gathered around me, offering comfort (and a beer), and asked me about my brother. I will never ever forget the kindness and compassion I received at that dark moment from a bunch of biker guys I barely knew.
After I had somewhat collected myself, someone asked, “what do you want to do?”. Realizing that there was nothing I could do to change what had happened, nothing to be lost by continuing, and still wanting to stubbornly achieve my goal, I said “I want to f-ing finish this ride.” And I did. My friend rode behind me for the next 20 miles, making sure I didn’t crash and reminding me to eat and drink. I don’t know if there is a good way to find out your sibling has died, but being able to just focus on pedaling through the woods for a few hours before dealing with the fallout was just what I needed.
Over the next few weeks (and months even), cycling and my grief continued to be intertwined. I raced my first big pro XC race, the Whiskey Off-Road, three weeks after Jackson’s death, and after spending the pre-ride sobbing at the side of the trail, just reaching the finish line was an accomplishment of its own. I came back to my weekly Wednesday night short track series in Seattle and my “bike family” gave me big hugs and offered support. I leaned on my friends in the cycling community and went for long rides to talk things over and escape into the forest.
Some days I didn’t feel like training or riding, other days I went out and rode as hard as I could to try and deal with the loss. For me, grief was both emotionally and physically exhausting. I battled horrible insomnia and a fog in my brain that never seemed to go away, yet I kept riding as therapy and as an outlet and had my best season of XC and enduro racing. As fall rolled around and cyclocross started, the grief became less of a sharp constant pain and more of a dull ache, and I finally started to feel like my normal, happy self once again.
Every big ride, every climb, every mountain I summit, I think of my brother and the things he will never get to do or see. It’s a reminder to me to enjoy each and every moment on this beautiful earth, both the good and the bad, and experience as much as I can for both of us.
We all go through tough times in our lives, but I’ve certainly found that heading out alone (or with a good friend) on the trails or pavement can provide some clarity and comfort. Things change, people come and go, but my bikes are always there, waiting, ready to help work through whatever life has thrown at me.
The Cascadia Dirt Cup found itself in our hometown of Bellingham this weekend for the Chuckanut Enduro. Per usual this time of the year, big holes, blown berms, and moon dust can be found on most all of the trails in the Chucks. “Slow is fast” was the theme for the day, keeping it calm and in control served to be the best strategy for a fast time. Having a hometown race was awesome for having local trail knowledge and less than a 15 minute drive to the trailhead.
Mickey and Brooklyn rode sport class which raced on Two Dollar for stage 1, Upper Ridge for stage 2, and Double Black & Double Down for stage 3.
For stage one, they pedaled up the fragrance lake road to Two Dollar trail. Two Dollar is one of the few pedally flow trails in the chuckanuts. It has a few long climbs that are one of the most challenging parts of the trail for racing.
Steph raced in the expert category, Delia and I raced together in pro, and sadly Amanda had to sit this one out with a sprained ankle. Our course consisted of stage 1 on Upper Ridge, stage 2 to Lower Ridge, stage 3 on Raptor Ridge, and stage 4 on Double Black and Double Down.
For the Pro/Expert course, we started climbing up the Fragrance Lake Road to the top of the mountain. It was a fairly long but consistent pedal with only a few steep climbs. We then started stage one on Upper Ridge. This trail descends down the chuckanut ridge and is full of awkward root moves, rock rolls, and one nasty steep but short climb. Being so dusty, this trail was one of the most challenging trails of the day. Delia had a clean run, but I hit the ground twice sliding out in the loose dust losing my glove and water bottle but without any injuries.
Stage two started at Lower Ridge. This trail is similar to Upper Ridge, but a little steeper and faster. It has some tight fast sections that justify some narrower handlebars. This trail is one of my favorites, but was tough to race in the dry conditions. I went off trail once but had a better run than stage one. Delia managed another clean run and came out with a smile on her face. If you’re ever out riding the chucks, this trail is definitely worth checking out!
Stage 3 brought us to Raptor Ridge. This trail was in better shape than the others as it gets ridden less often. It’s super pedally and has some tight switchbacks and straight-away sections. I had a much better run and took 3rd for this stage despite it being one the trails I’ve ridden the least in the chucks.
We hike-a-biked up the Rock Trail back to the top for stage 4. This one I was most excited about as it’s one of my favorite trails in town.
It was insanely loose and dusty, but like always insanely fun! I had a clean run up until near the end where I had a washout on a loose corner. Despite so many crashes, I still came away with 4th on this stage and 6th place in the overall.
Delia was stoked to finally have a smooth race without any crashes, slips, or mechanicals! Steph Dawg had a great race and landed 5th for her first expert race. Mick and Brooky B absolutely crushed their home turf and took 2nd and 4th in the sport class. Getting to ride with so many awesome people on home trails was such a good time, and we were all happy to walk away from this race injury-free. Shout out to our local, hometown shredders Bonnie Burke for taking 2nd in Pro, Chelsea Hawkins for taking 3rd in Expert, Matty Hoff for 4th in Hard Tail Open, Donny Alison taking 4th in Pro, and Spencer Paxton for 5th in pro!
We have one more race left to go for the season down at Ranger Creek on September 16th. Stay tuned to our social media pages and in the bike shop for upcoming events. We have some group rides, clinics, and other events in the works for the fall that you won’t want to miss!