Thursday, December 25, 2014

Loving life on the lefty!

The past few days I have to say have perhaps been the most enjoyment I have had aboard 2 wheels. I say 2 wheels as the stories I'm about to tell cover a few different kinds of bikes. Anyways here's what I've been up to on the trails, roads, and tracks around socal lately. 

The fun and games kicked of on saturday morning bright and sparky with an 8am meeting at Dave Zarbriskie's place. Dave had decided the a "mission" was required on the mountain bikes and for those fortunate enough to be invited attendance wasn't negotiable! The fortunate 4 to be invited to one of dave's famous rides were former world superbike star and multiple ama superbike champ and superstar Eric Bostrom, Local socal Pro Road cyclist and all round good guy Jessie Anthony, the owner of the world's most cyclist friendly restaurant Pedalers Fork and absolute champion of an individual Robbie the bear cub Schaffer, and finally yours truly. Dave Z rounded out the roster of 5 so was a pretty intimate group for whatever lay ahead of us. All the guys if you haven't already picked up I have the utmost respect for for not only what they have achieved in there respective careers but most importantly who they are as people. There was no doubt that the day would be a memorable one and by rides end that's exactly what it was. 

I have fallen in love with mountain biking of late, I have to admit I kind of have an addiction! To be brutally honest I challenge anyone to try riding the cannondale duel suspension Scalpel and not fall in love with MTB'ing! Ok I know they are my employers but in all honesty I have had a bucket load of mtb's over the years mostly top of the range with all the bells and whistles and none have made me get the mtb bug like the scalpel managed to instill in me. Firstly the bike looks simply down right cool!! The lefty fork which cannondale have made famous instantly grabs your eye with intrigue and also appreciation for its unique machinery. So many people ask me if it was weird to get used to and I simply say if they have ever seen me ride an mtb then they know I don't have time to look anywhere else except where I'm going!! I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to bike handling and in the bush that's amplified! So no I don't notice anything different. What I see looking at it is a bad arse upside down fork just like what's on a motorcross bike. Now a days it seems every level of bike uses the upside down method but back in my day you were stuck with a conventional fork for your mini bike days from a pw50 through to the 80cc. As you progressed through the bikes you used to dream of the day you would graduate to the 125cc and have a bike with that cool looking upside fork. Well atleast that's what is was like for me. I have no idea if it's a better more effective suspension system or the in and outs of its engineering, I just know that it looks dahn cool and just like I was the day I climbed aboard the 125cc I was absolutely excited out of my skin when I was given my first lefty by my friends at cannondale. Believe it or not it not just the look that makes me love riding the scalpel, no its the feel of. Keeping with the motocross theme it truly to me feels just like riding a motorcross bike. The way the back suspension shatters under breaks and the way you want to whip the tail around as you launch of any available jump that's appears on the trails, the feel for me reminds me so much of riding the dirt bike. Through in the temptation to stick a leg out and powerslide around sweeping bends and through berms and I'm often pinching myself with the amount of fun I have on the scalpel. It's a little scary the influence it's had on me to be honest as I've noticed when I get in trouble on a technical section flying down a hill I do what I would do on the moto, go for the gas!! Yeah I go even faster and figure I'll just plow through the obstacle or the bike will look after me and cannonball over the tricky terrain! Fortunately I've come through relatively unscathed.to date so touch wood that's the way things continue. On a positive note my skills seem to have improved prtty quickly so for now I'll just keep riding my luck and trusting the scalpel. The scalpel has more buttons and gadgets than a A380 in the cock pit which is also pretty cool. Perhaps my favorite gizmo is the simple lock out mechanism in the form of 2 buttons, one for the from fork and one for the back fork. Trusth be told it took almost a month to realize what the button for the back shock actually was!! Like I said I'm not very astute!! Anyways the cool thing about these buttons is you can easily lock out the forks when climbing which makes the bike more rigid and faster going uphill and unlock them when you let loose on the wild bush trail decents. It's a really cool feature. Oh yeah and also the disk breaks! Again it feels just like the breaks on the moto and give you that extra confidence to push things that little bit closer to the edge and get a little lose and still save it!! Yeah all in all I love the scalpel, it's got me hooked on MTB ing, everyone really should try one. 

Anyways back to the ride it wasn't long before we were into the wild wilderness playground in the heart of the santa monica mountain range. Dave root was pretty straight forward. Start out with ridiculously steep nose bleeding long arse climb to the top of a ridge and then 3 hours of rolling single track trials of varying gradient and difficulty to keep you onto your toes. The cool thing about mountain biking is its always a more relaxed crowd when it comes to competitiveness. When I say that I am highlighting the fact that in a group likes dave's chosen chain gang nobody cares who gets to the top first. Basically all getting to the top ahead of everybody else means is that you have to wait longer for the rest of the group. When we say we are going for an mtb ride as a group that's exactly what we mean. At all times we each know where each other is on the trail either in front or behind which is really cool. If there's ever any sort of competition that's reserved for going downhill where a bit of mucho Mano battle can go on and while it's crucially important to prove your the best going downhill aswell as up the same rules apply, at the bottom we all wait for each and make sure everyone is safe and sound. 

Back to the course and this first climb was a real beast! It just went and went and went and went and seemed to get steeper all the way to the top! I rolled up it with dave z and eric and we tried our best to chat away to take our minds of the how fricken challenging the climb was. All in all it was around a 40min slog fest, basically similar to a long climb on the road except on the mtb every muscle and bone in your body seems to ache! Often being on pitches in excess of 20percent you hang on for grim death and have to keep the front wheel on the ground and this is requires your whole bodies balance of effort distribution, simply put a 40minute climb on an mtb feels like around 4hrs of climbing on the road bike, it really saps you. Once we were at the top we took a moment to take to breathtaking scenery that surrounded. Robbie and Jessie were cruising along at there own pace so I took the chance to get a photo of them cresting this beast of a hill with the picturesque backdrop. I've never really been one for taking photos but since I've been training in and around LA on both dirt and road I've really been blown away so try not to miss any photo opps. 

With all 5 now safely atop the ridge we stopped for a moment to get in some tucka and have a quick chinwag about everything and everything and where we were headed on the ride. It's amazing when you out in the bush with such an amazing group of guys the conversations that happen. An environment like that for me creates such a meaningful honest and enjoyable setting that i really cherish. You have already earnt each others respect by making it through that brutal climb and that in itself forms a bond between a group of people, it's such a rare thing that cycling can create among groups of people, it's certainly forming these friendships I doing the sport I love that means the most to.

So after a quick re group it was time for the fun single trial. For the next few hours we rolled along through the santa monica's on the backbone trail toward westlake village. Due to the recent rain the dirt was in absolutely pristine condition and seemed to make your tires stick to the dirt like glue. It was epic conditions as the Robbie the Bear Cub repeatedly reminded us, the type of conditions that encouraged you to push yourself to your absolute physical and technical limit. 

Up and down we went and inevitably the competition increased within the tripe. Again going uphill was more of a rest period and chance to have a good social chat as we climbed to the next hair raising decent! Jessie particularly was the one who wanted to push the pace and started making what seemed like dangerous overtaking maneuvers at the time particularly on dave. By this time however we were a group of dudes having some fun and although a little sketchy going that hard under breaks into dangerous corners, it was all in good and before we knew we were all throughing caution to the wind and cannonballing down the hillside. Fortunately no one was injured and was hilarious all the different styles. Jessie and I have a slight air of motorcross skill to our depending and all over the bike and powersliding at any opportunity. Dave Z and robbie are smooth as silk and always seem to pick exactly the right line. It often looks like there going slow and you want to get past but in reality they make it look that was because they are so smooth. Eric, well he just oozes class. Scott tedro showed me a video of eric racing his AMA superbike against the world superbike's at laguna Seca back in his racing days. Eric was giving away 200HorsePower to his competition in the likes of aussie legends troy corser and troy Baylis. On every straight eric would lose ground to the more powerful ducati and into every corner he would end up right up there rear end as they came out of it. He was so incredibly smooth that the Powerfull bikes couldn't shake him and in this particular race he finished 3rd behind Carl fogerty and troy corser from memory. Was incredible to watch. We all after mtb ing with him for 5hrs I can see how he was so dahn good. He simply looks effortless on the mtb and is an absolute dream wheel to follow both up and down hills. I would never ever in a million years have happily attempted to ride over the things I did both up and down hills had I not been follow his smooth effortless style and line. It was truly an honor to ride with eric as growing up an all types of motorbikes fan I knew who he was and was always one of my hero's so that was pretty cool. Perhaps the biggest honor I have had in my recent memory riding my bike was when eric asked if I'd partner him in some 2man mtb events in the future. He said it's important to have a good partner as you have to finish together so that was a huge honor. Not sure if he just liked hanging out with me, thought I was good on a bike, or thought it was cool that we had the same bike!! I don't know his reason but hopefully a mixture of all 3 and I immediately felt pretty chippa after that compliment. Ah the moments you have on the bike.

Inevitably the ride came to an end back where it all began at dave's. Inevitably the competitiveness you get when 5 sports nuts get together ensured and a race to dave's driveway was the unspoken holly grail for the days victor. As we rolled into dave's street we appeared to call a cease fire. Jessie had been dropped on the boulevard into dave's neighborhood after dave and I decided we would chase down some road riders and show how fast our knobby 29" inch wheels could role. Eric of course had effortlessly slipped into the slip stream and was ready for the final sprint while the ride of the day came from bear cub himself, the famous restaurant owner, Robbie. Robbie had gritted his little teeth and hung tight when daze twisted the throttle and was still in the main group to fight out victory in the sprint to the driveway. You may have noticed robbie was the only non professional athlete per say that was invited on the ride but robbie is also by no means your average restaurant owner. Robbie is famous for throwing down what is known as his grenades which as you may be able to easily guess en tale a ferocious turn of speed on any terrain with the sole objective to make everybody else his riding with suffer for an unknown period of time. The get an idea of how donating these grenades are it's literally 100percent to the point where your preying he will blow asap as if not you not far from it yourself! On the road I did 1000watts for close to 30 seconds once trying to follow one of robbie's grenades. To this day it was probably the biggest one I have endured on hidden valley road but when you look back and see the likes of Dave Z instantly miles behind in a 30second period of time you know you've given it one hell of a nudge! Anyways robbie's grenades are famous among the north LA area and he well and truly earns his spot riding with guys at absolutely every level, from top to bottom. Robbie also has the most amazing ability suffer and never complain about it. Infact its awesome having him on rides as when you think your suffering you simply look at him and immediately feel much better! The bear cub really knows how to put himself into the pain cave!! Doesn't matter what the level of riders around him or what type of terrain or what type of bike your on, robbie will never let the gang down, he's pretty much the glue that keeps our groups together, he's a real champ.

Anyways back to unofficial finish line of dave driveway. Dave and eric were sitting on the front rolling along knowing exactly what was about to happen but not wanting to make the first move. Robbie and I were sitting behind plotting our assault and ambush in a bid for glory. Dave lives on this nasty pasty drag of about 2percent and you can see his house about 500m out. Sure enough as it came into site robbie let rip and was off in search of glory. I could by the ferocity with which he attacked that he would explode so I waited patiently. When I finally picked my moment Eric the racer was up to the challenge and off we went side by side wheel to wheel! It was funny as I saw his wheel beside mine neither wanting to give an inch it reminded me of those rowing days where the bows surge in unison. Your both just waiting to see who's bow starts drawing away first. At point it felt like eric was moving but then I dug again. We blew past robbie and he gave me a cheer, unofficial teammates!! As I started to edge clear I dug even deeper and quickly had a bike length then 2. The battle had been won and by time I reached dave's driveway I had lactate acid pouring from every mm of my body. Was just an awesome end to an amazing day in the bush with an amazing group of guys. It's days like this ill always cherish and feel grateful that my life allows me to have these experiences on the bicycle. 

With the ride done there was nothing but a grin ear to ear from all 5 of us. Obviously we made plans to do it all again soon and it was awesome to see how that 5hrs had made 5 dudes such great mates. Robbie and I loaded the bikes and headed of to his restaurant Pedalers fork for the traditional post epic ride feed! This usually consists of a burger or a ridiculous amount of eggs and smoke salmon, depends what we feel like. Best part is at pedalers fork all the food is awesome so it really doesn't matter what you order. On this particular day we super-sized the usuall chef burger which I will post a photo. Don't think I been that hungry for a while so needed to fill a massive hole which is exactly what it did. Through in a few to many coffee's, pedalers is famous for its 10speed coffee and you have one hell of a post ride feast. The other great thing about pedalers is so many of our cycling buddies frequent it aswell so on weekends cyclists are there in there droves. This is a really cool as then you sit around and share your epic adventures with people that probably appreciate it much more than others. I love talking you may have picked up so a good out chinwag about riding bikes at pedalers is something that never ever gets dull for me. All in all it just tops off an amazing day, an amazing experience and reminds me yet again how fortunate I am to be able to do what I do. 

CJW 

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Telstra NextG network.