His 2010 end of season review:
End of Season Update
My focus this year was on the Oregon XC series. I did a few early season road races to test my form. Fortunately I had a good base and was usually able to keep pace with the state’s elite masters group.
I spent my childhood growing up in McMinnville, Oregon, Nestled against the coastal mountains in what is now the heart of Oregon’s wine country, it was a great place to fall in love with cycling. In 1985 a young guy from California came stay with us. He drove up in a vintage VW van with a Diamond Back mountain bike on board.
After negotiating our 12 hilly acres on a Toys R Us BMX, I knew this was just the ticket. Even though the bike was too big and I knew little about shifter and brakes and bull horn bars, I was hooked for life. I made sure asked for a mountain bike for my birthday the next year!
My first MTB was a Schwinn Mirada purchased at the local Tommy’s Bicycle Shop. It had 15 speeds of friction shifting and was dressed in some ridiculous upright bars and city bike tires. I suppose my Dad knew those would never do because when I got the bike it had already had its first of many modifications—Specialized Ground Control tires!
The Mirada was really just masquerading as a city bike. Underneath was a TIG-welded 4130 chromoly frame with geometry quite similar to the top-of-the-line Cimarron. It even resembled this high-end bike with a spiffy steel-blue metallic paint job. My Mirada was a perfect way to start cycling!
In 1990 I got my second birthday bike. It was another Schwinn from Tommy’s but this time it was the high end racing bike—the Project KOM S9. It had Tange Prestige tubing and wicked fast geometry. A 11/8” headtube was standard and it came outfitted with a full Shimano Deore XT index group, Araya hard-anodized rims, and Kevlar beaded tires.
The next summer I harassed the owner at Tommy’s enough to get a job. Looking back on it I sometimes wonder if he was sorry for me or if my folks paid them off to hire me. At the time I got the job I just wanted to learn about bikes become a better mechanic. It wasn’t long before I learned that I was eligible for an employee discount. From that point forward, I am sure nearly every dollar I made was re-invested at Tommy’s. Good for cash flow I suppose!
Soon I was the proud owner of a Schwinn Tempo road bike with Columbus tubing and Shimano 105 parts. This was when I really started to ride. The shop organized evening bike rides and the guys invited me along. Actually I think they wanted to look like Greg Lemond or Gianni Bugno as they decimated me on those rides. Unfortunately for them, they soon realized that I wouldn’t be whipped for long. I started sneaking out with my cousin for training rides and soon had measurable fitness.
That winter our family took a trip to New Zealand. We had great times there but I anticipated our return. I knew the Trek 8700 carbon/aluminum MTB I had ordered before the trip would be waiting for me. That winter I really started to ride off-road. Weekly rides in the rain and mud characteristic of the Pacific NW winter only hardened my resolve and generated fitness. By the next summer I wasn’t the one they were waiting for on the evening road rides. One night as we climbed over Woodland loop, I remember riding away from the co-workers who got me started only a year before in chase of the local racer contingent.
I competed in a MTB race for the first time that year, too. My parents were out of town and I snuck away to compete on Sunday. It got my in a lot of trouble but it happened and all I wanted to do from that day forward was get to another race. The next time out, as I was in the process of being spanked by certain notable pro from Bend, I tore a sidewall of a WCS tire and didn’t finish. Later in the season I competed in my first downhill race at Mt. Hood SkiBowl. The downhill was contested on my Cannondale Delta V900 cross-country bike with bar ends and Onza clipless pedals. I can’t remember my placing in the downhill but I took second overall in the uphill competition that preceded it!
That November I broke my wrist playing football in the snow. I thought it was sprained because it didn’t hurt that bad. By January I was convinced it was broken because was still bothering me. However, I had planned a senior trip to Moab for spring vacation to ride the infamous slick rock and I wouldn’t miss that for anything. We had an awesome trip and logged well over 200 miles off-road for the week. When I got home I got a cast on my arm and ended up having surgery to correct the fracture. Not much riding that summer!
By September I was riding cast and all—I just couldn’t stand being away from mountain biking for months on end. The doctor wanted to make sure that the bone graft was thoroughly heeled so I was pretty much out of luck. So I went to the last race of the season anyway and won the junior category. The cast on my arm wore through my grip and nearly through my thumb, too!.
I got the cast off at the end of December and began riding more and more. The next summer I raced the senior sport category. I did well but don’t remember winning many races. I headed to Southern Utah University in Cedar City that fall. The riding was great and we road the trails around Brian Head and the Virgin River. During the winter I would drive to St. George and ride the trails there. I remember riding Green Valley the second weekend in January in shorts and short sleeves and getting a sun burn. Good times!
The following year I upgraded to the expert category and raced to many mid pack finishes. I was competing in both downhill and cross country events and traveling to many of the AMBC and Intermountain Cup races. I remember getting my first v-brakes that spring. When school ended, I moved back to Oregon and became more focused on downhill events. I was still working summers at Tommy’s, so I bought a Mountain Cycle San Andreas DHS and put the new Marzocchi Bomber Z1 on it. It seemed like you could ride anything with that bike.
In the fall of 1995, I started school at Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls. The engineering program there was challenging but the riding kept me busiest. We rode every afternoon until it was too dark and then we started using lights. There was a nice trail called “scratch” that was somewhat encroached on by tall grass and bushes. While riding it fast with a light, the reflections coming off the dried grass and leaves were mesmerizing!
While in college, I worked part-time at the Yankee Peddler in Klamath Falls. We had a great crew and the cycling community was thriving there. Our group rides often had 30 or more riders and the local club promoted races every summer. By the time I graduated I was President of the Klamath Freewheelers and had co-promoted two races.
The following I raced at the Napa Valley World Cup as an amateur. I had fun racing, but seeing the Pros and watching them attack the course with paramount skill and fitness left me longing for more. I was placing in the expert class at regional events and having a ball. At least until I lost the bars at 50+mph during a local downhill race, only to regain my vision on the way to the hospital strapped to a back board in an ambulance. I got well and raced the next weekend, but I can honestly say I have never ridden the same since. Probably a good thing!
In 1998, I competed in a few Nationals with the help of Storm Racing Cycles. It is too back they have discontinued their bike line because they rode so well. I had just finished my third year of college and raced Nationals in Mammoth, Deer Valley and Breckenridge. I finished mid-pack in both the downhill and cross-country events, but I loved the adventure and competition at the big races.
The next spring I bought a World Force VR1 frame for downhill. It was the precursor to many of the parallel linkage designs popular today and was a fantastic bike. I think I was the last guy riding V-Brakes for downhill at the time but I was consistently placing and even winning local events. Unfortunately I broke my elbow during practice at a regional race. It wasn’t a bad crash but my arm dislocated and that was it. I raced the remainder of the season and took third in the Oregon State downhill series. I had surgery in August to repair my elbow shortly thereafter.
I had graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Engineering in June of 1999. I got a “real” job at a door and window plant in Central Oregon. Life was good but I was in love with a girl from British Columbia. She wasn’t finishing her master’s degree until the following spring so I quit my job and moved up to Canada. The riding and skiing was great and I quickly learned my way around the trails of Kamloops. I also dedicated myself to getting back in shape for cross-country racing and getting my semi-pro license the next season.
We were married in April of 2000 and I was winning most of the expert races I entered both in the US and Canada. I got the semi-pro upgrade in June and raced the NCS at Crystal Mountain. I got blown away on the steep climbs and went home with the realization that I had a lot of work to do to be competitive.
In 2001 and 2002, I raced mostly regional events with the occasional national to test my fitness. I wasn’t training with any structure and it was evident I was at a plateau. I bought the Training Bible and a PowerTap and started planning the 2003 season. I was in the top five at Sea Otter that spring but cramped up and was just able to finish in the top 20. I kept training and was on form at the Schweitzer Mountain national. I got my usual slow start, crashed hard in the dust, and tried to move up. A friend shouted that I was in the top five after the first lap. I was in third after two laps and finished second! I won the Washington-Idaho-Montana series that summer and took fourth at the Durango National. I was finally ready to race the pro class!
As the 2004 season began, I was at the back of the pack during the Waco National. I knew the transition would be hard but it was amazing how fast the start was in the pro races. I was getting buried alive and there was little opportunity to move up in the twisting Texas single-track. By July I placed 31st at Schweitzer and was doing well in local events. I did well at the National Championships and decided to race cyclo-cross for the first season.
The 2004 ‘Cross season was like a renaissance for me. I had no clue what I was doing but loved the challenge waiting at each event. I was mid-pack at most of the races with some of the best local ‘crossers lapping me occasionally. I finished 17th in the Cross-Crusade series and had fun in the mud at Nationals.
Last year I made steady improvements in my fitness and was better at the nationals in Texas and Arizona. I won the first Oregon race and went on to win two more by the end of the season. Unfortunately I had problems with illness and mechanicals at most of the larger races and never seemed to ride well at any of them. I felt like I underachieved at Nationals with 16th place but rode well in the single-speed race the next day. First time on a single and it showed because I dropped my chain no less than 5 times during the race!
By the end of 2005 I had won the OBRA state MTB title, the Cliff Bar Oregon MTB series and placed second in the Mt. Hood SkiBowl Series. I made dramatic improvements in ‘cross and finished third at the FIAC Nationals and fourth in the Cross Crusade series.