Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow Wheeling

Last year I elected to not race the Winter Mountain Games in Vail because it sounded silly & I did not want to build a set of studded tires.  When I spoke to riders afterwards they had mixed opinions of the event but overall it was good.  So this year I decided to start a little early & get some tires built & try to get some practice in.

First thing first was to build the tires.  It was worse than I had even imagined.  I started with a set of cheap mud tires then drilled & studded 400 bolts into them.  It took me literally a full Saturday/Sunday of pretty constant work.  The reason for how long it took is somewhat a secrete on the inside of the tire but the results were worth it.

I did not know how the tires would work & thought they might even rip apart when putting real pressure on them.  I didn't want to go to Vail & have a failure so I needed a way to test them out. I contacted our local Powderhorn Mountain Resort & suggested making a media event out of a crazy bike rider on snow.  They were totally on board, especially when they heard I rode with Matt Bolig & Grassroots Cycles & invited me up along with the local NBC news station reporter.

I expected to just be hiking up a small patch of groomed run & would only get a few corners in an afternoon.    When I got there they basically shut down the terrain park top to bottom & gave us a team of snowmobiles to shuttle me, the news man, & Sara who was taking pictures around.  I got to session the park top to bottom for hours as many runs as I could get in.  I was literally sore the next day from throwing the bike around making it carve up the snow!

The tires worked great & felt like I was riding hero dirt. The faster I went the deeper the tires would carve in the snow & provide bite.  It was an amazing experience to have a fall line run with no bumps & no trail I had to follow.  I could go as fast as I wanted with no fear.  So exhilarating!   

When it came time to race at the Mountain Games I felt great.  I knew I had a bike setup that was working & I had so much time on the snow I really felt I could win.  I warmed up by racing the Short Track XC Crit race on Saturday night. I did this for a workout, which it was, & to continue my practice riding down hill on snow.  Although I could not keep up with the fat tire bikes on the uphill I had a dropper seat post & Transition Bandit which allowed me to ride loose & fast on the descents putting on a show. Sara said she could tell I was coming by the cheering in the crowd.

Sundays Dual Slalom race was super fun.  They gave us each a practice run then started the rounds with 31 starting men & 8 female competitors. The course had some rollers a jump & was on a nice steep pitch.  I made it through my first round almost too easily because it gave me a sense of confidence.  In my second round I came out kind of sleepily & only won by 0.15 seconds.  I knew the guy was fast so I had to step it up in the 2nd run.  I changed my style up a little & let the bike slide sideways more which scrubbed too much speed that I could not make up loosing that round by 0.16 for a differential of only 0.01.  I was somewhat devastated because I knew I had what it took to go for the win.

There is a (4x/Skier cross) snow race planned up at Powderhorn at the end of this season that they are going to have a bicycle class.  It is called the Downhill Bike , Boarder Cross race.  Taking place in the upper peace park where the new boarder and skier cross feature will be being built at the end of the season.  Featured during their March Madness Month and Beach Party Weekend the Downhill Bike boarder Cross will be taking place March 30th.  Make sure to wear your beach party outfit!! Costumes are highly encouraged and awarded! (Bring up your own bike, we will shuttle them up to the top of the course, HELMETS REQUIRED along with a $10 entry fee) the bike race will follow the boarder and skier cross monster slopestyle series challenge. 

The Monday after the event I knew it would be current so I uploaded my Transisiton TR250 Snow Dual Slalom Race bike to & got "Bike of the Day"!

I have to thank Powderhorn Mountain Resort for having an open mind & being willing to experiment with new sports.  Overall I must say riding bikes on the ski runs is amazing & think with different tire technology there might be a larger future of it.