Category Archives: Mountain Biking
I am excited to announce the launch of TerraHubs.com, a sister website to TerraVida! This website will be an excellent resource for outdoor folks looking to meet up with others and go on adventures! This site is a free tool where you can create a group, join a group, organize adventures and events, and more!
This project was a collaboration between Dan Matriccino and Nathan Silsbee, with the vision of connecting outdoor minded individuals across the globe! Hikers, bikers, SUPers, kayakers, snowboarders, skiiers are welcome!
I hope you find this website useful, and please submit feedback if you come across anything that needs improvement!
I had the privilege of attending the Red Bull Divide and Conquer team triathlon this past weekend in Vancouver, BC. It was an unreal event that brought together some of the best mountain runners, bikers, and kayakers in the world.
I was fortunate to join forces with Asheville mountain running animal Matt Morse and Australian Super-D pinner Josh Carlson for the event, and I truly enjoyed the feeling of sharing all of the ups and downs of the event as a team. Generally speaking, athletes in all of these sports are usually all alone on competition day. We handle our own training, nutrition, preparation, and effort when it’s time to perform. Most of the strategy and planning goes on silently in our minds, and when we do succeed, it is us alone who celebrate at the top.
The team dynamic was much different, and I can’t wait to do more events like it in the future! The three of us were coming from all different walks in life, but there was such a supportive environment pervading throughout the week leading up to the event and the day of. We helped each other out with airport pickups, food, rides, and course planning. We were each deeply invested in each other, and when it was our respective turn to compete for the team, there was a much deeper motivation there than usually exists when you are competing for yourself. We all wanted to take our own games to the next level to honor our teammates’ efforts.
And that is what happened!
The course was a primal representation of what the North Shore of Vancouver is made of. The mountain run was 12 km long, but had two brutal descents of Mount Fromme and Grouse Mountain for a total elevation gain of 4800 vertical feet! At the top of Grouse Mountain, the runner scans the transponder and passes it off to the biker, who ran a 33 km course of single track and fire roads that featured gnarly rock drops, infinite slippery root networks, brutal hike-a-bike climbs, and 40+ mph fire road sprints. The biker then tags the kayaker, who runs to their boat, runs it to the Red Bull ramp, and launches into the Capilano River. Although only class III, the river weaves through a spectacular 6 km gorge on its way to the Pacific Ocean, where the paddlers then have to loop around a buoy, paddle against the tidal current up the coast, and run their boats a quarter of a mile to the finish line.
To top this all off, it rained all night before the event, and continued for the entire day of… the course was doused, and the runners and mountain bikers were working with the worst conditions imaginable.
Matt started us off strong with a staunch lead in the run 1/3 of the way up the mountain. He did this against Arcteryx, North Face, and Red Bull professional runners! He was so far ahead that the big guns didn’t see him get lost on the course, but that is what happened. Matt got reoriented and caught back up to the leaders, but then got lost again, this time unable to get within sight of the front of the pack again. He still finished strong in 6th position, and Josh took off down the mountain bike leg trying to close the 12 minute gap behind the leaders.
Josh slayed the track and showed why he is one of the best Super-D and Enduro riders in the world. He navigated the gnarliest North Shore roots and rocks in a blistering time, and tagged me in 3rd place looking like someone who had just been to war!
I hit the Capilano River charged with energy and had good lines through the gorge. I put the power down efficiently, and came across the finish line after 40 minutes of pulling hard. Our 3rd place position put us on the podium of this amazing inaugural competition!
Achieving that result together was different than previous paddling competitions where I have placed well. We all met up later to share stories, beers, and the cash prize that we won together. It was awesome teaming up with other people who devote their lives to their sport, and combining our efforts to achieve a team goal. While the race organizers predicted a seven hour total time for the event, all of the top three teams completed it right around four hours!
The event video can be found here:
The word on the street is that Red Bull will be rolling this event out to other places in the world to make it a circuit. Here’s hoping for an Asheville event!
What Up All!
I hope that the winter season is treating you well. It’s been pretty funny watching all of these Shit __s Say videos develop, and I figured that we could organize and embed a few for quick consumption by our viewers who may not have seen them all. It was a pleasure to be the official chauffeur for the kayaking installation of this viral phenom!
Without further ado, enjoy this compilation:
When life gets too busy, it can begin to feel like a rapidly moving train in a dark tunnel. The only thing to be seen is the railroad ties directly ahead of the train – banging noisily past and the distant light at the end of the tunnel. One can hear the loud noises and commotion of the train as it’s careening down the tracks, yet nothing is seen outside of this tunnel. As the train speeds along, one takes each turn of the track a step at a time, and knowing the light is not far away. Working full time at a media company and managing a business simultaneously can feel just like that… Being outside is a pleasant reminder that soon enough this train will burst into the light.
Last weekend I was able to burst into the light for a little mountain biking in gorgeous Moab, Utah. I am lucky to have a wonderful girlfriend who loves adventure as much as I do, so we had the weekend cut-out for us!
Life felt as good as ever after a long day of exploring Arches National Park, and a couple of cold smoothies at the Peace Tree restaurant in downtown Moab. A relaxed evening at the campground and an early bedtime prepared us for the exciting morning to come.
Thousands of miles of open desert, cactuses and rocks make for a difficult habitat for animals.. For mountain bikes, it’s paradise!
~Hot air roared past my ears, and the only thing that mattered was the 20 feet of barren slick rock in front of my front tire. This is why I am alive! ~
Rachel and I spent the day exploring the various brand trails Moab has to offer. Our border collie pup, Waldo, experienced the most exhausting day of his 4.5 month life. Fortunately the only casualty of the group after 4 hours was a ruffwear dog shoe lost in the depths of a mud hole. Tragic.
8 hours and lots of caffeine later, we returned from Mars to the bustling rush hour traffic of Fort Collins, CO. Thoughts of the next adventure begin working fervently into my head.
I’m finally back home in Asheville after a 2.5 month sojourn around North America with bike and kayak in tow. It has been an incredible experience that I will never forget, but it always feels good to come home.
I spent quite a bit of time in the Whistler, BC area, and I have come to the conclusion that it is probably the most amazing place to find yourself if you love skiing, biking, kayaking, or all of the above. I will allow the pictures below to do the talking.
Luke Radnor ripping Whistler Bike Park apart! Luke is one of the guys who pulls your bike off the rack when you ride up the lift, and this is his after-work routine.
The bro train dropping into the Crabapple Superhits. This is the biggest jump line in Whistler, and is a very cool place to watch local talent crush it.
If you’re ever in the area and enjoy hiking, there are two hikes that you must do… the Stawamus Chief and Black Tusk. They are very different experiences, but both spectacular.
The Chief is a short intense climb up to the summit of the 2nd largest granite monolith in the world behind El Cap. This is the view of Squamish from the top.
Black Tusk is an absolutely spectacular 16 km and 2000 vertical meter climb into the Garibaldi wilderness. It is worth every step though, and views like this are everywhere.
The kayaking in the area is every bit as incredible as anything else. Whistler has world class steep creeks within ten minutes of town. As a local, you could easily go paddling before work, work all day, and go riding after work. Here is the putin drop to one of the classic runs of the area, the Upper Cheakamus.
Photo by Bryan Harris with Guillaume Pedneault’s camera.
Different view of the same drop by Guillaume Peneault…
Just a few minutes past the pulloff for the Upper Cheak is Callaghan Creek. This is an ultra-classic run, and features some great rapids and back-to-back 15 and 25 foot waterfalls.
Then of course you have the big water training ground, and my favourite run in the area, Fear Canyon of the Elaho! This place demands respect.
One of the other great things about Whistler is the fact that you can balance all of these things with a super cool social scene at the end of the day. Lost Lake is a perfect afternoon cooldown before you go out for dinner in town.
Whistler is just set up for bikes, and is an inspiration to what I hope alot of US towns will turn into. It’s pretty fun riding a downhill bike to the bar!
So, long story short, go to Whistler if you ever get the chance. Be sure to keep checking here and on our YouTube Channel for media as I get my life sorted out and post stuff up.
Good lines all!
Check out the video of all of the action:
It feels great to be composing this blog post from the banks of Lake Ontario in Canada. I have just completed a two year period of full time (8:30-6:00) employment for a technology company in Asheville, NC, and it feels good to be taking some time to step back and enjoy life!
This area of Eastern Canada is the first stop of a cross-continent journey for me, and spending every possible minute in the outdoors is definitely feeding my soul.
The day after my last day of work, I was in the car with my brother, Nicholas, driving north. We drove 19.5 hours straight to Highland Bike Park, probably the best bike park on the eastern side of the continent. In spite of our 4:00 AM arrival and lack of sleep, Highland didn’t disappoint! We had a blast riding the many groomed high speed trails all day, with Hellion definitely being our favourite!
Credit: Chris Annesi
After riding Highland that day, Nick dropped me off with Mike McDonnell, a friend of Adam Herzog’s. I rode another 7 hours up to the Jacques Cartiere River north of Quebec City, QC. I unfortunately forgot my tent, and huddled under a tarp all night as I was eaten alive by musquitos and soaked to the bone by a thunderstorm… but the river made it all worth it.
Adam, myself, and a group of five others blasted two runs through some of the most intimidating wilderness that I have ever seen. If you are a class V paddler and ever get a chance to go to the Taureau, take it!
Adam routing it into Cohasset, one of the best rapids on the Taureau.
After the Taureau, I moved my nomadic possessions to Adam Putnam’s truck, and rode with him and Alan Panebaker down to Montreal, where I reunited with my brother at Bromont Bike Park. This is another amazing mountain and is known for its gnarly trails. It is actually such a challenging mountain that it is the site for an annual stage on the Downhill World Cup circuit. We met one of our best buddies, Bryan Harris, there and ripped Bromont apart for an entire day (or at least until we were too tired to hold on to our handlebars anymore). My favourite combo was definitely the #7 trail down into the Terrain Park, and then jumping back on #7 to the bottom.
The crew, together at last.
Credit: Nick Gragtmans
After destroying ourselves for four days, we headed to my parents’ place near Kingston, Ontario, for some rest, relaxation and sailing! The Bay of Quinte is a world-class destination for the sport, and the area actually hosted the sailing events in the 1976 Olympics. We had an epic day of filming, but it ended with disaster when Nick flipped the Hobie 14, broke a rudder and his boom, and managed to wrap the broken trapeze wire around the mast so the sail couldn’t be lowered! Some onlookers called the Coast Guard, and I sailed home once he was hooked up and being towed to the harbour! Never a dull moment…
Nick in the process of destroying my 1973 Hobie 14.
Until next time,
With our focus on mountain biking in this new contest, I thought it would be appropriate to share a writing excerpt that I put together about a month ago for the BCBR Writing Contest through Pinkbike. Basically, the winner receives a couple thousand dollars worth of gear and an all expenses paid trip to the 7 day BC Bike Race in the beginning of July. I’m bummed I didn’t win!
Anyways, here is my entry:
Twilight on the Trail
I’m done for the day. The office has worn me down sufficiently for one nine hour period. My head hurts from squinting at the computer screen, my body feels heavy from inactivity, and my back scolds me for sitting for so long.
As I burst out of the door and into the evening sunshine and spring breeze, I spread my arms wide to soak as much of it in as possible. Every bit of radiation, every fresh, unfiltered oxygen molecule that passes over my skin… I thank it for waiting for me, and apologize for neglecting it all day from my fluorescent-lit cell. As I stroll towards my car, my bike smiles at me and quietly says, “I’m ready, are you?”
The grind. The man. The rat race. They have a way of sapping your energy and getting you down, but there is no better cure for that than pedaling into the woods and playing games with physics and nature. Time accelerates and the duration of four of my favourite songs, played at excessive volume, finds me at the trailhead.
As I downshift and begin pedaling up the hill to start my loop, all angst and negativity from the day has evaporated. Those same oxygen molecules now flow into my lungs, through my heart, and then on to the atrophied limbs that are screaming with joy for the exercise. Even brutal exertion feels more like a gift than a punishment on a day like today. My breathing and heart rate increase, and so does the endorphin flood to my brain. All is well with the world.
Bikes can solve many problems. As a form of recreation, they provide mental health through a respite from the everyday and a submission to the welcoming arms of the natural world. In their more utilitarian mode, they provide part of the solution to our society’s dependence on non-renewable resources like petroleum. Imagine the improvement that would result in fuel consumption if we all rode our bikes to destinations that are within a short distance. Both of these uses provide us with the fitness that keeps our lungs and muscles strong and healthy.
I reach the summit after a 45 minute climb, take a sip of water, and stare out at the sunset and back at civilization. This is what I was put on Earth to do. That other thing… I only do that to allow me to experience places like this. My boss couldn’t track me down in a million years out here.
Seat down, knee pads on, and I’m in reaction mode. The world around me turns to a blur as I focus on a descent that is very familiar, yet still remains one of my all-time favourites. Conditions are perfect. The recent rain has made the dirt beautiful and tacky, and I giggle as I put my foot out and drift around an off-camber corner. There is something very liberating about laughing out loud in spite of the fact that no one can hear you.
Riding my bike is a humbling experience. Every corner, root, and jump is a puzzle that I can only partially solve. No human being has ever had a perfect run on any trail. There is always room for improvement and learning, and that is part of what keeps drawing me back for more.
What is work? The events of the day until this point are nonexistent as my bike dances underneath me. New life is emerging all around as the grip of winter releases, and I travel alone at dusk in my place of sanctuary. I used to try to explain this feeling to non-riders. I have given up. The scope of human communications cannot accurately depict the feelings that it brings to me, nor can it describe the sense of satisfaction afterwards. As I dance with my partner in crime down the mountainside, it truly feels like a part of me.
I triple over three roots, rail a corner, and shift my weight back as my suspension soaks up a rock garden. In the blink of an eye, my front tire hits a wet rock and swaps out. It’s scary how quickly crashes occur on a mountain bike, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Before I know what is happening, I have somehow wrapped my right leg all the way into the frame, and the bike and I are an intermingled heap as we accelerate towards the unforgiving ground.
“Ahhh!!” I see stars as my upper leg is crushed in a vice that the bike has somehow created. The pain is beyond anything that I have ever experienced. I tumble to a stop, and involuntarily scream in agony to the empty woods. My mind is racing to make sense of the situation; it all just happened so fast. As if on queue, a cold breeze hits my sweat-drenched neck to signal the onset of night.
I lie back in the ferns and close my eyes. The pain is still unbearable, and my mind races to assess the situation. Who did I tell that I was coming out here? Nobody. Did I see anyone at the pull-off or on the trail? No. How long will it be before anyone knows I am gone? A while.
A fracture of the femur is one of the most serious injuries that a human being can sustain. The femoral arteries are at extreme risk, and if severed, can cause blood loss to a life-threatening level in a matter of minutes. These fractures usually warrant an immediate helicopter evacuation to the nearest Emergency Room. I have neither a helicopter nor an Emergency Room. Only seven kilometres of single track in both directions to the nearest form of civilization.
Fortunately, I also do not have a broken femur. My leg is still throbbing in pain and beginning to turn the dark hue of a deep tissue bruise, but I did not feel or hear the horrible snap of a broken bone. Ten minutes of counting my blessings and gathering my thoughts on the forest floor, and I am back on my bike slowly rolling downhill.
I exit the trail and turn onto the uphill fire road that will reunite me with my vehicle. The last hint of daylight is fading from the sky, and the spring warmth is quickly following suit. In spite of the shot of pain that accompanies every other pedal crank, the work keeps me warm.
Sometimes, the knowledge of how something could have transpired is just as powerful as the actual events would have been. As I limp my bike up to the roof rack on my car, I do so with a dire awareness of what could have happened, and the peculiar feeling that I have some things yet to do in this life.
Riding bikes is a thing of beauty, peace, happiness, and connection with our world. It is also a thing of danger. That risk is part of what makes us feel alive and in the present moment at all times. The experience wouldn’t be the same without the risk, but next time I will tell someone where I’m going.
Hope you enjoyed it folks! Also, if you’re interested in reading the winner’s entry, it can be found here:
I found it interesting how similar our first person writing styles are, although his story is way more intense!
Peter Mills has been shredding his way across the country, check out a video from his season in 2009!
Check out the video here:
Surf over to the main site to see our interview with Peter.
So our blog post today is dedicated to a group of young DH mountain bikers from right here in Western North Carolina. These guys are barely old enough to vote, but they are turning the local DH scene upside down with the creation of the sickest trails in the area, as well as the most high quality video production that anyone has done of this zone of the biking world.
Before I get into too much detail, watch this video:
There are three main characters that you need to know about here:
Sam Anderson- Sam is the visionary of the entire network of trails featured in this video. They are in his backyard. He has spent countless thousands of hours digging in the woods to create this playground, and it is the best DH shuttle riding within seven hours of Asheville. He does all of this around working towards an engineering degree from UNCC.
Chris Annesi- Chris is the producer. He is Sam’s roommate at school, and has an incredible eye for expressing the sport of mountain biking through his video camera. Sam and Chris have been ramping up their film efforts, and in one year it will culminate in a full length action film. More about that in a sec.
Nick Gragtmans- What can I say, Nick is my younger brother. He’s tall, lanky, and his voice cracks. He’s also one of the smoothest, fastest riders that you’ll see on any trail. His style is just sick and I know he has a Collegiate National Championship Title in him.
You’re going to see some cool things from these guys, so keep an eye on them. Their new project is entitled Finding Flow, and is set to drop in April 2012.
Be sure and “like” their Facebook Page and check out some of the videos of their progress. I’m sure the final product will be amazing.
Until next time, see you out there folks!