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Team Yeti Fox Shox EWS #4 La Thuile 2014

Team Yeti at EWS #4 – La Thuile, Italy

Three weeks has passed since the last EWS round in Valloire. While we’re still in the Alps, we’re in Italy for Round 4 in La Thuile. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how things were going to go in La Thuile. I’d had a bit of a rough couple of weeks with some kind of sickness straight after Valloire and a week away from training. But the body had just started to feel 100% again for this weekend, and I felt pretty lucky with the timing of it all.

La Thuile was another typical Alps location with scenic views for days…the kind you can never get sick of. In contrast to Valloire, we pretty much didn’t see the sun the entire time. Rain was threatening all week and delivered some storms and showers pretty much every day at some point.

Thursday was the first of two practice days, with six stages in total and five different stages (Stages 1 and 4 were the same course). With the average stage time well over 10 minutes, it meant a lot of descending and some fatigue management…for the arms and the legs.

The most important stage of the weekend was definitely Stage(s) 1/4. It involved pedaling up to almost 2600m from the top lift, and a descent right down to the town. It was like two totally different landscapes. Up top it was snowing on Thursday, making practice almost impossible and definitely pointless. You couldn’t see any course tape and the ground was covered in snow. And it was absolutely freezing! I did a run or two on the other stages on Thursday to check them out and was having a great time. The courses were a good all around mix of technical, flowing, high speed, slow speed…pretty much anything you could think of was somewhere on the mountain. Something for everyone.

On Friday I tried again to get a look at the top of Stage(s) 1/4 and some of the snow had melted. But this time around, the super thick fog was more the issue and I couldn’t see 10 meters in front of me. It was good to get an idea of what the terrain was like, but as far as having any idea of where I was going…well, I would be doing a high level of winging it come the weekend’s racing. Heading up again later to check it out might have been a good plan, but I still had four other stages to learn and it was still positively freezing up there. I didn’t want to make myself sick again just when I was getting on top of everything.

Day 1:
On to racing, and up for Stage 1. It was much warmer at the very top this time. The snow had all gone and the wind was down, but it was still a bit foggy and misting rain and making the course very greasy and slippery. My run was pretty bad up top and I spent more time looking for where the course was heading rather than focusing on riding fast. The physical nature of the stage and the length meant that if you went out too hard, that you would pay the price down farther. The course went into some very muddy boggy sections where maintaining speed was vital, followed by a short steep fire road climb, before dropping into the last 5 minutes of flowing single track. The course would make you pay the price if you were too tired to pay attention to where you were putting your wheels. All in all, a very tough stage.

It went okay, but “okay” is not good enough when you want to win these races. I had a bit of a crash, which wasn’t ideal. But I was more bummed that I took it too easy and tried to take it too easy and play the safe game like in Valloire. I was still 9th for the stage but I lost a good amount of time to Damien Oton who went fastest. I was pretty annoyed at myself for then having to play catch up all weekend.

Stage 2 was just plain good fun. It started with a solid one-hour climb to the top followed by nothing but fun corners the whole way down. It wasn’t too physical and not a stage you could win the weekend on, but a stage where you could definitely lose it. There was a lot of steep hillside trail that could see you falling down the side of a very steep embankment if you overcooked a turn. And about 20 minute before we started the rain started up…just enough to make the fresh cut grass super slick and wet down the roots. It actually made the stage more fun and a fair amount of sideways back wheel time was had. I rode well and much more aggressive than Stage 1, and was second fastest and moved up a little overall. It was a good little confidence boost heading to the final stage for the first day.

Stage 3 was super fun. The rain had made the top open stuff very slippery and unpredictable, while conditions under the trees remained dry and grippy. I was feeling really good, but it seemed to take me about 5 minutes of the stage to adjust to the grip levels after the rain and learn that the roots were wet but not really slippery. I came in 5th for the stage…a little disappointed, but not too bad. Rene Wildhaber put in a killer stage and won and was leading at the end of the day. I was back in 7th and knew my Valloire safe game plan wasn’t going to work here, and a new game plan had to be formulated for Sunday. I got a good feed in the belly, watched a movie and went to bed ready for a good second day.

Day 2:
My body felt really good today and everything felt nicely opened up from yesterday and I was ready to go for it.

Stage 4 (same as Stage 1) was a lot wetter and rougher today, and made it even more physical and harder to ride fast. The top rocky open stuff was super slippery and almost impossible to find a good groove. I rode it much better than yesterday, but encountered a small problem at the end of the run when my chain bounced off the 11t rear cog and jammed up between the 11t and the swing arm. It was kind of a freak thing, but it shows just how rough these stages are. I was still much closer to the fastest time than I was yesterday, and only a handful of seconds from top-3 for the stage. I definitely had some speed to pick up on the technical muddy stuff. But with that stage involving most of my weak points, I was content and looking forward to my favorite two stages of the weekend.

Stage 5 was just fun top to bottom with awesome flow, technical, and some super fast sections. It was classic alpine riding. I was on a good run with everything going spot on; when suddenly in the very last part of the stage some random person was taking a run of their own down the course. I was screaming as loud as I could that I was coming but they stayed right in the middle of the race line. I’m sorry if I was a bit rude to whoever it was if you’re reading this, but when you’re in a race stage of a world series race and you’re stuck behind someone who shouldn’t be on course and they are costing you seconds…well, things got a bit heated. I was 2nd fastest for the stage just behind Martin Maes, and I moved up to 5th overall heading into the final stage.

Stage 6 was another awesome stage with fun sections the whole way down. There were some good pedaling sections, mud and dry, and just an all around balance of everything. It was a perfect stage for what I think Enduro should be. La Thuile nailed it with this one!
My run went really well. I was being a little cautious to not pick up a mechanical to ruin my weekend, but still pushing 100% where it was safe. I had to fight so hard to get back to 5th overall and I didn’t want to ruin that. I needed to keep the series points ticking over. I ended with a stage win by a good amount of seconds, and was really happy with that. I didn’t manage to make up enough time to jump up in the overall for the weekend, but I was happy to get away from here with 5th. A big Congrats to Damien Oton for the win! He’s another guy who hasn’t put a wheel wrong all year and has been gaining momentum…a well deserved win.

So, I’ve been struggling a little to find my groove at some of the races this year. I’m not sure what that’s all about. Maybe it’s a little pressure on myself, but I really don’t get nervous much. I’m feeling better at every race, and I feel like a lot of the stages have played against my real strengths this year while a lot of tricky conditions have been thrown at us. People ask me if I’m disappointed with how some things have gone this year. Actually, I’m really happy with how things have gone the past two races. It’s a constant learning process and it’s been a really rewarding challenge. Sure, it’s been a little frustrating at times, but that’s all part of what makes the good days feel so good! We’re past the halfway point of the season, and I’m on a plane right now with the Enduro World Series points lead and heading back to the USA to get some burritos in me. We now have the three venues I’ve been most looking forward to all year as the last three rounds of the series. I’m as happy as a pig in mud!

Bike Setup:
Frame: YETI SB66c medium
Forks: FOX 36 Float 2015, 15mm axle, 160mm, 77psi
Shock: FOX Float X, 175psi
Wheels: DT Swiss 240 straight pull hubs, aerolite spokes, EX471 rims
Tires: Front and Rear Maxxis 2.5 EXO 3C Minion DHF, 26 psi/29 psi, tubeless ready, with Ghetto Split tube tubeless. (People always ask about ghetto tubeless. Even with tubeless ready tires and rims, we still use the split tube an extra buffer of protection to reduce the risk of pinching the tire by the bead on rocks, and the ghetto setup helps seal small cuts around the bead of the tire from pinching.
Cranks: Shimano XTR 170mm w/stages power meter
Brakes: Shimano XTR M987 levers, Saint Calipers, 180mm Freeza Rotors
Derailleur: Shimano XTR Shadow Plus
Shifter: Shimano XTR
Pedals: Shimano XTR Trail
Cassette: Shimano XTR 11-36
Bar/Stem: Renthal Fatbar Lite Carbon, 30mm rise, 740mm/Renthal Apex 60mm
Seatpost: Thomson Elite Dropper, and Thomson seat clamp
Chainguide: E-13 Carbon LG1
Chainring E-13 narrow wide guide ring 36t
Seat: WTB Devo
Headset: Chris King
Grips: ODI TLD

Text by: Jared Graves
Photos by: Sebastian Schieck

Follow Jared on Instagram: @JaredGravesMTB

July 16th

YETI Fox Shox EWS #3 Valloire

Jared Graves wins EWS #3 – Valloire, France

What a brutal weekend. Where do I begin? Valloire for Round 3 of the Enduro World Series lived up to the hype. You can’t put on a bad race when you’re in the French Alps, and this race didn’t disappoint.

As it has been mentioned, we descended more than the length of an entire season of World Cup DH over the two days. Needless to say, my arms still feel a bit wobbly as I type this. As with the typical French format, racing is largely blind, apart from one easy practice run before we race that stage. But, this weekend featured a huge amount of fresh trail, so it changed dramatically for the race stages after 300 riders took a practice run down them.

We had three race stages each day, with Stage 1 being raced once and Stage 2/3 being raced twice.  We then moved to a different part of the mountain for the second day where we once again raced Stage 4 once and Stage 5/6 for a second time. I have to say that I really like this format. Trying to lay down a good time first time around is always hard and then it’s a different challenge for your second run when you know the trail a little and try to push harder. It’s just another way to bring in another aspect of the different skills required for Enduro.

We arrived early in the week to get settled and check out the area. We encountered rain for the first few days, and Richie and Rosara went out on some rain missions. Richie gave himself a cold in the process, but it takes more than a headache and runny nose to stop this man-child. I headed out for some short mud sessions on whatever trail I could find, just because it was fun, but spent some time on the wind trainer ticking the legs over…what fun! By Friday, the sun was out in full force and made for a perfect weekend’s racing.

Saturday –
Saturday’s stages were on existing trails that had been used for French races before. It may have been a bit of an advantage for ones who had raced here before, but it was nothing worth worrying about. The trails were very high up in the mountains and certainly weren’t anything that were frequently lapped out by everyone. They were quite raw and fresh and damn good fun!

Stage 1  –
Probably the most fun stage all weekend with a good mix of some high speed open stuff, some technical rocks, and good flowy tree sections, with some Mach 10 fire road tucking to be had right before the finish. To me it was a really awesome mix of everything.

My timed run went well, but it was a big reminder of racing and pacing at altitude. When you have a 15-minute stage, you really do need to start slow and build up. I was catching my 20-second man (Florian Nicolai) on a long flat fire road pedal in the middle of the stage, and I wanted to pass him before we headed back into the next tree section. I put in a big effort at the start of the fire road and got past, but absolutely popped myself in the process. From that point, I was just hanging on for the last 5 minutes to the finish. I was well and truly redlining and felt like I kind of blew it a bit, but I was 2nd fastest overall for the stage behind Francois Bailly-Maitre. All in all, a good confidence booster for the day.

Stage 2/3 –
Just brutal! The hardest trail on the arms that I have ever ridden with high speed, tons of rocks, and a lot of G-outs. Arm pump started to set in about 5 minutes into the stage and then you had to hope you are good at the inner thigh seat pinch steering method to let your arms relax at every moment. I knew this was a good run for me, and I really wanted to make the most of it and get myself to the top of the leader board. But the stage had other plans for me.

So, it’s hard to explain, but about 100m out of the start was a short, deep and super soft snow section right before a climb. Needless to say, it was all about rolling the dice and getting through it. If you got through clean, you were pumped. If you didn’t, you would lose 20 seconds before your stage even really got started. You really needed the momentum from getting through the snow to get up the next short climb; otherwise you were going to be walking. My plan was to come in hot, lean back, keep the front wheel straight and commit. It worked perfectly, except for hitting a super soft patch and finding my way over the bars before I knew what was happening. It couldn’t have been a worse start to the stage and I was less than happy. Having to run up the next hill got me near redlining straight away. I rode the remainder of the stage well, but I just never recovered from the snow. A very disappointing stage, but we got to do it again and I was after some redemption.

Stage 3 started in complete contrast to Stage 2, I picked a different line through the snow and got through it like butter. I was so pumped; it was such a good way to start the stage! I was careful with pacing this time and could feel really good flow and was hitting my lines; everything was clicking and I was loving it. At about 5-6 minutes in on the trail, I could feel my back tire was going flat. I hadn’t hit any noticeable rocks or anything, but it was definitely going down. So frustrating!!! From this moment on, my whole weekend’s race strategy changed. I knew I could nurse the wheel down, but it was killing me to have to ride so conservatively to make sure I kept the remaining air where it was meant to be. I felt like I was bleeding time, but Nico Lau and Martin Maes had flatted, and Francois had some kind of mechanical which cost him time, too. So, you have to race smart, think big picture…not just for this race, but the entire season and get to the bottom safely to minimize time loss. I had to keep the wheel safe for the next day’s racing. With enduro, you aren’t allowed to change any parts once racing has started. A busted wheel means a 5-minute penalty to replace it.

I eventually crossed the line, hoping I would be within 30 seconds of the fastest time still and stay in touch. To my surprise I was 3rd for the stage, just 12 seconds back over the 16-minute stage on Justin Leov in 1st.  Happy, yet fuming inside at the same time, a lot of seconds went missing on the Stages 2 and 3, but it definitely could have been a lot worse.

At the end of Saturday, I was 3rd overall. Justin Leov was riding super fast (combined with being the only guy to not have any issues) and was comfortably in the lead. But, with how brutal the terrain was, no lead was big enough and day 2 was only going to get rockier.

Richie had an up and down day and was dead last on Stage 1, after getting a front flat. But, he came back strong to take 3rd and 5th on Stages 2 and 3. It’s only a matter of time before he gets through a weekend and is pushing for the podium.

Sunday -
Stage 4 had V-shaped rocks, scree slopes, off camber sections, fresh cut grass, and was steep! Justin was safely in the lead and it wasn’t going to be worth it to push to try and catch him…there was just too much chance for mechanicals. I was going to play the safe game, and I knew I could stay top-3 and get good points for the overall. I would be content with getting away from this race with that. I rode the stage conservatively, while guys that weren’t at the pointy end of the overall leader board pushed hard, took risks and set the fastest times. I also picked up another slow leak flat after something had cut into the very top of my tire, but I was able to make it down without it being an issue. It was a reminder of why I was playing the safe strategy and I was content to be just outside top-10 with a very safe run. I even moved ahead of Rene Wildhaber into 2nd overall.

Stage 5 will always be a classic, it’s so much fun! So much steep off camber grass, some more scree slopes, high speed, low speed tech, and a short power climb. It was really cool, but hugely painful to race!

Once again the race got flipped on its head on this stage. Justin had a 38 second lead before this stage and was playing it safe and still flatted. He’s one of my best buddies of all time, and I was absolutely gutted for him, He was the fastest guy this weekend, but now the results wouldn’t tell that story. It’s a frustrating part of racing, it happened to me a couple times with mechanicals and random incidents last season and it is a tough one. But he handled it like the champ he is.

My stage went pretty well. I was fighting the bike too much up top and forgetting to do the little things right, making mistakes and wasting energy, as well as playing it too safe and riding tight. After the stage, Damien Oton moved into second and Rene Wildhaber took a few seconds back on me, which meant that now the top-3 were going into the last stage separated by only 4 seconds.

So many thoughts were running through my head. We had a big gap back to Cedric Gracia in 4th and the top-3 was assured. I was in the lead, but only just, and really wanted to win. When your main rivals for the series overall have all had mechanicals and are well down on the overall results for this round, you know its a good chance to consolidate good points and get into the points lead. In the end, I decided to just go with it, not take risks, ride conservatively on anything high speed and rocky and then give everything I had left in the last 4 minutes when we got into the more pedaly part of the stage.

The run itself was all a blur. I knew I wasn’t riding my fastest, but I was going to get down in one piece doing what I was doing and that’s all I could think about.
I crossed the line and had done the same time as Rene, so I knew I had at least second place. Damien Oton came down and was on the same time also! I had WON!! 1 hour 20 minutes of race time on the limit, and I had won by 3.5 seconds…my first for the year and such a relief!

It was such a stressful weekend; especially when I realized I could really capitalize on some good series points this weekend. To pull it off was such a great feeling. It was made even better by the two men running the show at Yeti, Chris Conroy and Steve Hoogendoorn, who were both over to watch the racing this weekend. Yeti is like my second family and it was really awesome having them there.

Big thanks to everyone at Yeti…Conroy and Hoog especially. The Polar Bear was worked out of his fur this weekend keeping our bikes in top shape, and Albertross Callis was around to lend a hand when he could. After the race, we all had a nice team dinner, shared some bottles of wine and some nice Whiskey for a little celebration, and topped off an exhausting but awesome weekend!

Bike Setup:
Frame – Yeti SB66c (medium)
Fork – 2015 Fox 36 Float, 15mm axle, 78psi, 160mm
Rear Suspension – Fox Float X, 175psi
Seatpost – Thomson Elite Dropper
Wheels – DT Swiss 240 hubs, EX 1501 rims, Aerolite spokes
Tires – Front: Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 3C EXO/Rear: Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 3C EXO, 28/33 PSI
Brakes – Shimano XTR M-897 Race lever, Saint calipers, 180mm Freeza Rotors
Rear Derailleur – Shimano XTR Shadow Plus
Crank – Shimano XTR 170mm with Stages Power Meter
Chainring – Shimano Saint 38t
Cassette – Shimano XTR 11-36
Pedals – Shimano XTR trail
Seat – WTB Devo, titanium rail
Chainguide – E13 Carbon LG1 Race Guide.
Bars and Stem – Renthal Carbon FatBar Lite (740mm wide, 20mm rise); prototype stem 60mm
Headset – Chris King
Grips – ODI Troy Lee Designs

Text by: Jared Graves
Photos by: Sebastian Schieck

Follow Jared on Instagram: @JaredGravesMTB
Follow Jared on Facebook: Facebook.com/JaredGravesMTB

yeticycles.com

June 24th

Team Yeti Fox Shox EWS #2 Tweedlove

Team Yeti at EWS #2 – Peebles, Scotland

After a month back home after EWS #1 in Chile and some good riding and training under my belt, it was time for EWS #2 in Scotland.

It’s fair to say that this race was one that I had been thinking about a fair bit. With the weather in Scotland (wet and cold) and the unfamiliar terrain, it was going to be a battle just to be prepared with everything you need to be self-sufficient out in the hills. It’s always a long drag to fly from Australia to Europe, and even longer to keep flying across to the UK. But, the trip was actually really good; I managed to get some good sleep and the flights weren’t packed (gotta take those when you can get them!). The whole team met up at the Edinburgh airport on Monday afternoon and we had a quick drive down the road to the race venue/village in Peebles. As usual, bikes were built and a quick spin was had to check out the area.

Tuesday:
We had five big days ahead of us and the body was feeling pretty tired, so we spent the day trying to get over the jet lag and get some quality sleep. Shaun got our bikes dialed in and we were able to take it easy and get our bearings of the area a little more.

Wednesday through Friday – Practice:
We had three days of practice. That may sound like a lot, but when you consider that you have almost 100km to travel on dirt roads and single track just to ride all eight race stages for the weekend, you need all the time you can get. Our plan was to try and do two runs of each course over the practice days. We accomplished our goal, but it meant 13 hours on the bike over the three days with about 90% of that time spent climbing back to the tops of hills, all while trying to stay fresh enough to be able to race at 100% on the weekend.

The trails here were definitely fun to ride, but they are far from what I consider my strengths to be. Practice was made even trickier by constantly changing weather and track conditions. But by the time the final practice run on Friday was finished, I was feeling reasonably comfortable with the practice I had done.

Saturday – Race Day 1:
As the sun finally came out for the first time since we had been here, I rolled out at my start time and made my way to Stage 1.  The first couple turns of Stage 1 were going to set the tone for my day to come. The bright sun for the first 200m of trail before dropping into the heavily wooded first tree section was like somebody switching out the lights…with the eyes adjusted to sunshine and then dropping straight into darkness. I could not see anything and rode straight off the track into some trees. It wasn’t a great way to start, but I knew better than to panic and try to make up lost time. The sun had turned the mud to a thick sluggish peanut butter and any small mistake was magnified by loss of momentum and time.

For the remainder of Stages 1 and 2, I simply struggled to find any form of flow, and small mistakes with the super tight trees meant I was losing time in every turn. To kick me a little more, I burped half my air pressure out of my front wheel halfway down Stage 2 and rode with a very low front tire, which meant even more time lost. It was just one of those days where nothing was clicking…one of those days when you want to pack up and call it a day. I’ve had plenty of those days during the past 17 years that I’ve been mountain biking, but they’ve never happened on a race day. 

We had a break after Stage 2 and I was feeling pretty gutted with the race going terribly. But, you have to regroup, think big picture and get on with it.

Stage 3 was the longest and had the steepest, sloppiest, most technical sections of the weekend. I rode much better and was top-10 on the stage despite a big stall out and dismount/run on a flat section. Stage 4 should have been much better. For whatever reason, the Starter kept me in the start gate for 3-4 seconds after I was meant to leave, and then was like, “Oh, okay, off you go.” It’s normally not a big deal since we have timing chips that start and stop our time as we cross the start and finish lines. But, they had issues with the electronic timing and had to switch to manual timing for the stage. This meant they started the clock on your exact designated start time. With the Starter holding me back, time had already been ticking away before I even pedaled off the line…cool deal. It was just another example of how my entire day was going.

Sunday – Race Day 2:
The weather was holding off and things were drying out a bit for Sunday’s racing. Despite starting the day sitting in 30th position, I knew Sunday’s racing had some better stages for me. I was confident that if I rode like I normally do, I could pull back to a top-10 overall finish for the weekend and salvage some decent points.  To cut a long story short, I did just what I had hoped for. My confidence was still a bit off, but it grew with each stage and I started pushing harder and riding a lot better. I was continually getting into the rhythm of the trails, getting closer to the limit of the grip levels and racing smarter. The final stage was one of the better stages for me and I wanted to end on a high note…to leave Scotland with the confidence to carry me to the next round of the series in Europe. It went perfectly to plan and I took the stage win. It was still a disappointing weekend overall, but I had clawed my way back to 9th overall for the weekend. The Stage 8 win was the best way to finish it.

It was cool to see Richie finding his enduro feet a bit more this weekend, and he finished Sunday’s racing with top-10 results in all of the last three stages. He’s on the right track to be pushing for overall top-10′s as the season continues.

So, all in all, it was a very up and down weekend for the team and we left with things on the upswing. The conditions and trails in Scotland were far from my strengths, but to pull some solid stage results has my head in the right place as we move back to the big open French Alps for the next round. I can’t wait to get back to the massive alpine hills; it’s what it’s all about for me!

Follow Jared on Instagram: @JaredGravesMTB
Follow Jared on Facebook: Facebook.com/JaredGravesMTB

Bike Setup:
Frame: YETI SB66c medium (yes, still 26 inch wheels)
Fork: 2015 Fox Float 36, 75psi
Shock: Fox Float X, 175psi
Wheels: DT Swiss, 240 straight pull hubs, aerolite spokes, EX 471 rims
Tires: Front – Maxxis Shorty 2.3 EXO 3C prototype, 25psi.   Rear -  Maxxis Minion DHR2, 3C EXO, 28psi
Brakes Shimano XTR 987 Carbon Race levers, Saint calipers, 180mm rotors
Cranks: Shimano XTR 170mm
Power meter – Stages XTR with Garmin Edge 500 head unit.
Derailleur: Shimano XTR Shadow Plus
Pedals: Shimano XTR Trail
Chainguide: E-13 TRS
Chainring: – Shimano Saint 36t
Bar/Stem: – Renthal FatBar Lite Carbon, 740mm/Renthal prototype stem 60mm
Seat/seatpost: Thomson Elite Dropper, WTB Devo Yeti team edition
Grips: ODI Troy Lee Designs.
Headset: Chis King

June 3rd

201405_BuffCreek_01

SB-95 / Buff Creek

There are certain trails that are made for big wheels. In Colorado, one of the most famous is Buffalo Creek, known by locals as Buff Creek. We took one of our newest Yeti ambassadors, Lydia Tanner to sample the trails. She’s no stranger to Buff Creek, but it was the first time she had thrown a leg over the SB-95.

Lydia was previously a pro on the cross-country circuit and a staunch believer in hard tails. “That was the most fun I’ve had on my bike,” she said after ripping down the high-speed gravely trail like a seasoned enduro rider. When the pitch turned upward, she pounded on the pedals and was pleasantly pleased by how fast it climbed. “I’m not sure I need a hard tail anymore,” she said.

The SB-95 has five inches of travel, an aluminum front end, and this year was upgraded with a carbon rear. It’s stiff, aggressive, and an incredibly fast-climbing trail bike. It’s also amazingly affordable.

For more details, check it out Yeti SB95

May 29th

201404_ChileShoot_01

Nevados de Chillan, Chile

While most racers headed back home after the Enduro World Series in Chile, Jared Graves and Richie Rude opted to stay in the southern resort town of Nevados de Chillán for a few extra days to enjoy the local trails. After a week of high intensity racing, the laid back atmosphere of exploring new trails was welcomed. Without the pressures of racing the clock, the trails could be enjoyed to the fullest. The region boasted incredibly unique terrain that the team had never seen the likes of before. All of this added up to prime riding conditions as the crew made the most of their time in this beautiful place. 

May 5th

2014_Huayhuash_YetiBlog_01

Huayhuash Film

Earlier this winter, three Yeti Cycles ambassadors (Joey Schusler, Thomas Woodson, and Sam Seward) set out on a self-supported ride, looking for a truly genuine experience. The goal: to circumnavigate one of the most wonderful and wicked mountain ranges in the world – the Huayhuash, by bicycle. Prior to their attempt, only one other group had successfully completed the trip.

Most adventures of this magnitude are years in the making. In this case, it was a spur of the moment idea; part of the vicious cycle Joey and his friends have of making every adventure more thrilling than the last. January is the rainy season in the Andes so their time in the mountains would be desolate and small mistakes could become life threatening.

The friends tagged first descents down rocky couloirs and 16,000ft passes, watched sunrises against the tallest peaks in the country, and slept to the sounds of seracs falling at night.

In the end, they didn’t make it as far as they had hoped. Between rain storms, concussions and locals waving guns, the Huayhuash had ripped at their eager ambitions. It was a journey that fulfilled their sense of wonder and deepened their friendships. Huayhuash is their story.

Be sure to view their multimedia feature from the adventure over on Huayhuash.Bikemag.com

Huayhuash from Joey Schusler on Vimeo.

April 30th

YETI Fox Shox Enduro World Series #1 Nevados de Chillan

Graves Second in EWS #1 Nevados de Chillán, Chile

What seemed like a long offseason has ended and a new season is underway. Training and preparation is done, and it is all happening! After a quick two-day team camp in Santa Cruz, California to set up the new bikes and get our suspension dialed in with Fox, we headed to Yeti’s home of Golden, Colorado for a few days riding, going over the season ahead and discussing some new things on the horizon.

On Sunday morning the long travel to Chile began, just as another round of snow storms were coming into Colorado. It was the perfect time to get out of Colorado if you’re a mountain biker (but good news for the skiers/snowboarders). We had a fairly standard 24 hours of mind numbing travel ahead of us, which gave us plenty of time to think about the season’s expectations, plenty of “me” time so to speak. The only drama was Polar Bear’s (Shauny) beloved toolbox was once again lost by the airline and causing a little stress on his part. To top it off, the airport in Santiago had no form of computer based lost baggage system. When you have language barriers and some Spanish scribbled on a piece of paper that is meant to be your baggage receipt, it’s fair to say that some anxiety is imminent.

Once we got the to the venue, we had a few days to check out the area and get some small training sessions in to wake the body up from travel. We also had the opportunity to meet some of the locals, and it became immediately apparent how excited the Chilean mountain bike community was about this event. It’s really cool to see how passionate they are about the sport. As for us, the whole team settled in and Team Manager Damion Smith started to get the feel of what enduro is all about. Damion slipped into the role as enduro spirit ambassador, Richie Rude was getting amped for his first EWS race, and Shauny got his toolbox back. It was time to start practice!

Practice:
The format in Chile was six race stages held over two days (Saturday/Sunday) with two days practice beforehand (Thursday/Friday). If you were lucky and hustled you could get two practice runs of every stage. We held to the plan and got two practice runs in on each stage, except for a mechanical issue for myself on Stage 5 that meant I would have to make due with one run of that stage.

Saturday
Stage 1:

Stage 1 was pretty much just a DH course. The top half was open with deep volcanic ash and it was easy to stick the front wheel into a soft patch and get ejected over the bars. The bottom half was more hard packed with tight berms and some small rock gardens. Race times were going to be tight. You weren’t going to win the race on this stage, but you could easily make a mistake and cost yourself the overall. My plan was to ride steadily, get a solid start, and save energy for the later stages that would bring some time gaps. Everything went to plan, I made no mistakes and I rode at about 95% the whole way down to make sure I kept upright. I finished the stage 5th fastest with only 2 seconds separating the top 5.

Stage 2:
Stage 2 was the longest stage of the weekend and physically tough. It contained no climbing but mixed in a lot of pedaling out of turns to get up to speed. The stage was amazing with a mixture of fast and flowing to steep and technical. I knew this one would be a good stage for me. I didn’t feel like I rode fantastically well, but kept good overall speed and paced it well. In the end I won the stage by 12 seconds, and jumped into the overall lead by 11.

Stage 3:
Stage 3 was another pure DH track. It was just deep sand up top and you had to lean back, pick a rut and ride it out. It was another stage where you could definitely lose a lot of time if you crashed or picked up a flat tire, which was super easy to do when you are plowing through rocks at 60km/h. I throttled back through the rocks because I didn’t want to toss away a nice overall lead and pushed a little bit on the flowing bottom half where risks would come with minimal consequence. I finished the stage 3rd fastest while crowd favorite Cedric Gracia took the stage win. I was really happy with 3rd, considering the throttle was far from wide open and I had extended my overall lead by 1 more second over Jerome Clementz.

Sunday
Stage 4:

I was feeling a little nervous heading into day two with the overall lead. I spent the offseason with thoughts of winning on my mind and a strong desire to start the season with a win and maximum series points. Stage 4 was a favorite for most of the racers. It had to be ridden to really understand what it was all about, but imagine a three minute super tight bobsled run, bouncing from left to right through perfect natural berms every half a second. It was unlike anything I’ve ever ridden. Your reflexes had to be spot on and your full attention given, or you could guarantee you would be off the track cartwheeling before you know it. Riding it in practice was one thing, but trying to ride 100% in a race situation made everything come at you super fast. At times my mind couldn’t keep up and resulted in a few scrappy moments and near crashes.  I was a little disappointed with my run and was 3rd fastest for the stage. Martin Maes rolled the dice the best and was fastest while Jerome took a few seconds out of me and was second fastest. But, I still controlled the overall with an 8 second lead.

Stage 5:
I knew that Stage 5 was going to be a tough one and should have been a stage to try and push out my lead. But my mechanical in practice meant that I would be riding the last 2/3 of the tight and technical stage blind. I really had no idea what was coming and as a result I had a moment with a tree and a small crash to avoid running down the side of an embankment. I knew I had lost some time, but was surprise I still came in 7th fastest for the stage. Jerome took back another 5 seconds and shrunk my overall lead to just 3 seconds going into the 6th and final stage. The pressure was building; the last stage was going to be good!

Stage 6:
Stage 6 was basically eight minutes straight down the side of a cliff and was super fast and steep. The top of the course was well above tree line and the volcanic soil made it feel like you were riding on the moon, something you don’t experience every day. The bottom half was steep loamy turns as you made your way back below the tree line. The track just got steeper and steeper and some arm pump was inevitable. I should have taken a lot more time to choose better lines in the top section. There were a few key sections that I covered far too much ground where I could see other riders’ more direct lines. An extra ten minutes scoping out a few smarter lines would have made all the difference, but it’s too late for that now. I lost 10 seconds to Jerome in the final stage, and with it the overall lead. The end result was 2nd overall for the weekend.

Second place overall is a tough pill to swallow after leading almost the entire race. But second place is still a good solid start to the season. I felt a little rusty having not raced against the clock for 6 months. I did dozens of timed runs at home, but it never replicates an actual race. I’m heading home for 4 weeks and getting some racing under my belt before Round 2 in Scotland. I’ll be ready in Scotland! I’m pumped the season is underway and the first race is done!

Big thanks to all of the sponsors who make my job as easy as it can be. The team structure this year with Yeti/Fox is dialed and I can fully focus on racing on the weekends. As always, huge thanks to Shauny Hughes for getting my bike tip top for race day!

Bike setup
Frame: YETI Sb66c medium (yes, still 26 inch wheels)
Fork: 2015 Fox Float 36, 75psi
Shock: Fox Float X, 175psi
Wheels: DT Swiss, 240 straight pull hubs, aerolite spokes, EX 471 rims
Tires: Maxxis Minion DHR2, 2.4 front 25psi and 2.3 rear 29psi.
Brakes Shimano XTR 987 Carbon race levers, Saint calipers, 180mm rotors
Cranks: Shimano XTR 170mm
Derailleur: Shimano XTR Shadow Plus
Pedals: Shimano XTR Trail
Chainguide: E-13 TRS
Chainring: – Shimano Saint 36t
Bar/Stem: – Renthal FatBar Lite Carbon, 740mm/Renthal  prototype stem 60mm
Seat/seatpost: Thomson Elite Dropper, WTB Devo Yeti team edition
Grips: ODI Troy Lee Designs.
Headset: Chis King

April 22nd

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Sarah Rawley – Spring Training

As our fellow ambassadors were enjoying freshly squeezed juices six times daily, and climbing high in the Andes for the Andes Pacifico enduro race deep in South America, the other half of the Yeti Ambassador clan, Alex Petitdemange and I, headed not quite far as south, to whip ourselves into shape in the vortex of Sedona.

Alex, aka “Frenchie”, had a week off before heading to Sochi for the Winter Olympics, and figured, why not throw a week of training in there. He jumped on a plane from Munich to Salt Lake City and drove to Moab. I hopped into my trusty Subaru and drove from snowy Summit County to Moab, and there we rendezvoused for the trip south to Sedona, where out mini training camp unfolded over the next seven days.

Sedona, Arizona is famous for many things— vortexes, crystals, Pink Jeeps, spiritual enlightenment, and in recent years Sedona has become a hub for mountain biking. The movie set background of red sandstone formations filled in with evergreen vegetation, paint a natural playground where the Yeti thrives on the diverse trail network of sweeping singletrack, steep red slick rock, exposed cliff sides looking down into the lush Oak Creek Canyon, and limitless opportunities for the SB-66c and SB-95c to do what they do best when the going gets rough.

Both Alex and I had been “off the bike” for a few months, but within the first few pedal strokes, the last ride in October seemed close behind in the rear view mirror. I quickly transitioned my mindset from pinning it on skis like my lift depended on it, to chasing around Alex on all-day rides that included trails such as Slim Shady, HiLine, Thunder Mountain, Javelina, Hog Heaven, Hangover, and of course, always passing through “Le Chicken Pointe”— the quintessential meeting point of Sedona’s trail network, where Pink Jeeps rock crawl in circles around mountain bikers enjoying a mid-day snack. In Sedona, it is effortless to piece together epic rides where you are never more than a few miles from civilization, water, and espresso.

Every day started the same. Alex would go out for his 6:30 a.m. ride, be back in time before the household awoke to stumble into the kitchen and start brewing four french presses simultaneously. We would wait until it reached 50 degrees, head out with loaded packs, and ride circles around Sedona while running into other industry folk who had also migrated for some pre-season training.

Alex concocted a new route every day to ensure that we would ride every single trail in Sedona.

Both directions.

By the end of the week, we had Strava’d nearly every trail in Sedona, rode with more people than I typically do in a year (Tribe Gathering aside), witnessed some of the most incredible orange and red sunsets against the towering rock formations, and my arm got a little too friendly with an agave plant. I used to think of agaves as a margarita party just waiting to happen trailside, but after toppling over into one, I recommend steering clear at all costs.

The race season will be upon us very shortly, and our week in Sedona set the base and theme for the season— riding epic trails day in and day out with your friends, sunrise to sunset, riding fast where it matters, and stopping to enjoy the scenery along the way. I am already counting down the days to when I will be back in the vortex for the first Beti AllRide Clinic May 3-4, 2014.

Let the season begin!

Story by: Sarah Rawley
Riders: Sarah Rawley, Alex Petitdemange
Photos: Alex Rentzis

April 9th

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Jared Graves – National Championships

The Australian National Championships are done for another year. While I’ve raced both DH and XC in previous years, this year’s schedule didn’t allow me to race both disciplines. So, I decided I would have a more serious crack at the XC race this year and continue training and building a base for the upcoming Enduro season. Regardless of how the race turned out, my main training goals would be achieved. I need to set goals along the way to keep motivated and my training on track. My preparation has been really good, I haven’t cut any corners and I know I’m the fittest I’ve ever been. With that in mind, I would still be pretty disappointed if the race didn’t go well.

This year’s National Champs were held in the small alpine town of Bright in Victoria. Bright is a nice little town with a really cool vibe and atmosphere; it was a perfect spot to spend a week of riding and racing bikes. I arrived a day early to settle in and enjoy the week by relaxing and avoiding the typical pre-race rushing and stressing. The Polar Bear Hughes came with me to keep my bike dialed and give me one less thing to worry about during the week.

Wednesday - I checked out the course and wanted to do a fair bit of riding. The first EWS round is 5 weeks away and I have to keep on top of some quality training. While I was taking an easy week to make sure I was fresh for racing, I didn’t want to take it too easy and lose focus of my EWS aspirations. The XC course was definitely one for the climbers, which isn’t ideal for me. I know my ability to climb and recover has gotten better over the past months’ training, so I wasn’t too stressed. Longer climbs mean longer descents and there were a couple short sections on the descents where I could take some time from the rest of the field.  So, I did five laps of the course, put in a couple solid climbs to get the heart rate going a little bit, and then a bit of a spin on the nice quiet country roads for about an hour. It was so nice to just cruise along and have some time to think about things. There wasn’t too much else going on this day, just relaxing and keeping the feet up

Thursday - More of the same from Wednesday…pretty boring stuff really. Haha! Did two more laps of the course, and a solid road spin to take advantage of the scenery on the roads. A pretty easy day all around.

Friday - The day before the XC race and I started getting a little nervous. I wasn’t nervous for the race itself, but I was nervous because it felt like a culmination of five months of my life and the goals I had set for myself. As a competitor, you can’t help but start thinking about how the race would play out and how you wanted to go about your own race. I suppose I was just really keen to have a solid race and show people what I was capable of. It was also a good opportunity to fine-tune some prerace preparation type stuff that I would normally do at the EWS races… tick all the boxes and get into the swing of doing the prerace rituals again. I stayed off the course, but did a few punchy efforts out on the road to make sure I was firing on all cylinders and that the body was awake for tomorrow’s racing.

Saturday - XC Race Day. As I’ve gotten older and more experienced, I don’t get all worked up on race days like I did when I was young. I’m still eager and ready to go, but I don’t get that feeling like my life depends on that one race. I ride my best when I’m a little nervous, but with the knowledge that I have good races and bad races and that I can learn from the bad and move on.

I did a bit of a warm up spin in the morning and everything was feeling good. In my head, I went through my checklist and felt like I had done all I could do to that point, and was keen to get the race underway!

It was nice to race a little earlier than we normally do at National Series rounds, but the 12:30pm start meant we would be racing in the hottest part of the day.

Before I knew it, I was on the start line and we were off on a short road start loop. I had heard reports from earlier races that the road loop could get a little crazy, and I knew I had to get to the front and stay out of trouble. The other part of my plan was to go out easier than I had at previous rounds and ride my own race. While XC is a sport for pure endurance athletes, I know that I don’t really fit into that category. My main strength and training for the past 18 months has been based around going hard for 5-20 minutes. I intended to go out easy on the first lap and build into the race to avoid leaving myself with no legs in the last couple laps of the race.

As we descended into the first singletrack section, I made my way to the lead and started to cruise. I felt like I was soft-pedaling the first lap, and was surprised to see the field spreading out as we got towards the top of the course on Lap 1. From there, I knew that we should be in for a good race. Dan McConnell was sitting right with me and put in a bit of an attack about half way up the climb on Lap 2. I knew I could have gone with him, but I decided to let him go. I had a plan to ride my own race and do what I had to do to get myself from the start line to the finish line in the shortest possible time. Dan got a small gap of around 10 seconds and it stayed around that mark until the 4th lap. The mid part of the race was uneventful and I kept to my plan; I felt good and my laps times were staying all within 10 seconds of each other. I kept Dan in sight, but he had better climbing legs and slowly extended his gap. With each lap, I pulled about 30 seconds ahead of the chasing riders in 3rd, and (barring a mechanical) knew a top 2 position was sorted. On the last lap, I picked up the pace a bit and gave it all I had left to finish in 2nd place a little over a minute behind Dan. Dan’s just too strong on the climbs for me, but I’m looking forward to progressing and hopefully having some good battles with him next year. I know I have a lot of room for improvement left in me, so we’ll see how it goes!

Sunday - XC Eliminator. I have to admit that I’m not really a fan of XCE. I probably feel that way because it is the discipline that the UCI replaced 4X with, but I also know that it’s a race discipline that suits me perfectly. Having never raced it, I thought it would be fun to have a go at it. Australian Paul Van Der Ploeg is the current World Champ in the discipline and I was hoping to get to race him, but he’s recovering from a shoulder injury and did not start on race day.

The track was 800 meters long and took about 90 seconds to complete. It was a fun track with a few good turns, a quick pump single track bit, and a long road sprint to the finish. During qualifying, I came in fastest by almost 4 seconds and was feeling confident knowing I was more of a sprinter than any of the other guys in the field. As the rounds progressed, I stuck to my plan of getting to the front and staying there. I was able to take it pretty easy and keep my legs fresh right up until the Final. In the Final, I did the same thing…got to the front and went as hard as I could. I opened a good gap and started sprinting to the finish and everyone behind sat up and settled for their positions. So, with that, I am now the National XC Eliminator Champion. Sweet! I’ll take it!

It’s been a tough, but rewarding last few months and I feel more ready than ever for what I want to achieve this coming season. I can’t wait to get home this afternoon and jump straight onto the SB66 and start putting the next step of my year’s plan into action. The tough part is making myself get the recovery time in and not riding too much! So, I have about three and a half weeks at home to fine tune a few things on the enduro bike before heading off to the US for a quick team camp and then straight to Chile for EWS #1. OOOOOHHHHH…getting excited!

- Jared Graves

March 12th

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Chile – Andes Pacifico

The 2014 enduro season opener for myself and fellow Yeti Cycles Ambassador Nate Hills may have been the most demanding, intense, and adventurous event either of us have ever done. We embarked on our journey to South America with the intent to compete in the Andes Pacifico Enduro and then continue on after the event to explore the endless rugged peaks of the Andes

(more…)

March 1st

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An In-House Review of the SB95 Carbon

“I’m bi-winning. I win here, I win there.”

-Charlie Sheen

First off- I’m going to get a little Kumbaya on you. Bear with me…

I truly believe that there is nothing as dangerous in this life as an inflated ego. Unfortunately, this dangerous path is as ingrained in our human nature as greed, lust, and many others. That said, I also believe that a high level of confidence is the most essential, necessary and respected human trait…such a fine line. More often than not, it is this fine line that separates the greatest victories from the most epic disasters. I’ve been in the sales/marketing field my entire career and I feel like I’ve seen this particular human trait play itself out more often and with more drastic wins/losses than those in most professions. For instance, I’ve been the kid walking through the halls asking (quite obnoxiously, so everyone can hear) “Where should I back up the dump truck full of cash?” after closing some deal, and I’ve been the adult, watching with a heavy heart as the new kid walks through the halls blurting out something similar. What I’ve discovered is the more obnoxiously you exploit the highs, the lower the lows. Regardless, there will be ups and downs in sales as there are in sport, and in life. I believe that what keeps you in the game is to accept that with every upturn there is an impending downturn and prepare accordingly. This may seem like a negative way to look at things, but it isn’t…it’s rational.

I can proudly say that in my sales/marketing career (despite making every single mistake possible and as well as introducing a few), I’ve finally come to accept the inevitability of the sales cycle and have even learned to (in some cases) prepare accordingly.

In mountain biking- not so much…

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“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

-Ernest Hemmingway

Even though I have no interest in racing these days, I still love riding every chance I get. In fact, when it comes to mountain biking, I simply can’t help pushing myself to get better, and it has nothing to do with my competitive personality (although that never hurts). The good thing is that this sport provides a truly limitless opportunity to learn. The amazing level of technology in high-end mountain bike manufacturing plays a huge role in this. I mean, come on, Jared Graves took third place in the Downhill World Championships this year on a SB66 Carbon… A TRAIL BIKE!!

A couple weeks ago my eagerness to learn resulted in a lawn-darting crash to clavicle explosion. Sometimes, learn’n hurts!

I certainly don’t like playing the “victim” card but in my recent bout of crashes leading to this big one (yes, the writing was on the wall, I simply refused to read it) I’m blaming Yeti Cycles, and not just the bikes. In fact, I would focus on three converging storm patterns that create “The Perfect Storm” of sorts:

There are too many badass mountain bikers who work here at Yeti whom I feel terminally obligated to chase.

Switch Technology allows a ride quality that becomes increasingly stable at higher speeds. In other words, the faster you go, the better it feels. Unfortunately for me, faster isn’t always better.

With the combination of Switch Technology and a geometry that allows 26” wheel ride qualities with 29” wheels, the SB95 Carbon brought yet another level of comfort and confidence to go faster.

It was just a matter of time.

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“Every once in a while a bike comes along possessing that special blend of handling characteristics that makes us continue to gravitate towards it long after we’ve put in enough miles to make a fair assessment of its capabilities. This was certainly the case with the SB95C, and we kept grabbing it out of the test fleet, pretending that there was some specific trait we wanted to evaluate, when truth be told, we just wanted to disappear into the woods for hours on end, riding ourselves silly on the Super Bike. It’d be easy to look at the bike’s numbers and dismiss it as ‘only’ a 5-inch travel 29er, but that would be selling it short. This is a ridiculously capable performer, one that left us continually impressed by its abilities.” - Mike Kazimer, Pinkbike.com

I translate the quote above to say “This bike is too dangerous for Nick Ramey.”

Here’s the deal…If someone would have told me, even two years ago, that I would consider ANY 29” wheel bike to be capable enough to become my “one quiver” bike I would have laughed right in their FACE!! Well, again, live and learn because the 95c is just that. This isn’t because I decided to finally try the 29” wheel thing for the first time because I work at Yeti. Nope, I’ve owned TWO 29” wheel mountain bikes prior to the SB95c, one hard tail and one shorter travel full suspension. You may ask why I tried them in the first place? Why not just stick to my 26” wheel steed? Well, the only answer is, the marketing. I’m a sucker for a product that looks great on paper. A few years ago, the 29″wheel mountain bike became the bike industry marketer’s dream. Simple characteristics like “Contact Patch” and “Rolling Inertia” quickly turned into “Rolls over rocks and roots much better than the 26″ wheel,” “More distance covered per pedal revolution,” “Increases forward momentum by (whatever)” and on and on. Well, I’m in! Long story short, in my first two attempts, I noticed a few of these ride enhancement qualities but not many, and nowhere near enough to make up for the loss of playfulness and maneuverability I experienced on my 26” wheel bike.

Three years later I decided to give’r another go when we launched the SB95 Carbon.

I’ll be honest in saying that despite the overwhelming demand for the SB95 Carbon in the market, I was a tad worried about my ability to sell this bike. I was such an advocate for the 26″ wheel that there was no way for me to hide it. So, my fingers were crossed on the 95 Carbon but I wasn’t expecting any miracles.

Let me stop here for a second to discuss the trail rider market. I would love to get as much feedback from the reader (that means you, mom, thanks again for reading) as possible but I think this market is the most dynamic group in terms of participation in the cycling industry today. The main reason for this is that for the first time in the many years I’ve been involved in this sport, groups that were at one time polar opposites are now “meeting in the middle.” Yeah, I’m talking about the “Gravity” kid and the “Cross Country” kid. This convergence of weirdoes is due to a number of exciting factors in the industry. A couple things right off the top of my head are the exciting and fast-growing sport of Enduro, and fierce competition amongst bike manufacturers to make the most efficient, pedal-able, big travel line of bikes.

I feel that the SB95 Carbon is on the top step of the podium for this category of bikes. So, right away, the 95 Carbon appealed to my XC weenie background just as much as it did my more recent desire to learn how to descend at some point in my life. The introduction of our SRAM X01 kit sealed the deal. Out of the box, our X01 kit (without pedals) is 25.6 pounds for a LARGE!! I would consider that to be a cross-country or endurance event, race-ready, 5” travel, 29” wheel bike. Did I mention that includes a bomb-proof kit with REAL tires? One thing I love about Yeti is our collective refusal to sacrifice ride quality for weight, despite the fact that it often hurts us on the front-end. The reason it hurts us is that, unfortunately in this market, a half-pound +/- can seriously alter purchasing decisions. Truth is- you can shave a half-pound off a bike by throwing on some ridiculously light tires. Well, tires have a huge effect on the way a bike feels on the trail, so we don’t do that- Pretty simple. We spec tires that are best for that bike’s ride quality right out of the box. The SB95 carbon X01 kit has a burly, 2.4 Maxxis Ardent on the front and a fast but strong and supportive Ikon 2.2 on the rear.

The geometry also seemed to make sense to me and the bike fit like a glove right away. So, I gave’r a go.

Ascending – I have to say that it was blatantly obvious that the 95 Carbon climbed much better than my SB66 Carbon. I saw no need to adjust the CTD setting to anything but “Descend” as the bike climbed so stiff and efficiently utilizing the Switch Technology platform. On technical climbs the fact that the Switch platform kept the tires glued to the trail along with the larger wheels made climbing the very technical gut of APEX a dream come true. There was suddenly no need to follow the climbing lines that have been burned on my brain for the past 15 years. Suddenly, I was cleaning sections more often and several for the first time ever. Technical climbs aside, the bike just climbs fast. When we launched the SB95 Carbon and the ARC Carbon at the same time at Toro Park in California during Sea Otter, the loop started with a 45 minute, steep dirt road climb. I did it once on the SB95 Carbon and once on the ARC Carbon. At the same perceived exertion, I was only 10 seconds faster on the ARC Carbon hardtail. Just sayin’, numbers don’t lie.

Descending – The climbing characteristics aren’t what sold me on this bike. It took me a few rides to figure out that (unlike my two previous 29er bikes) I didn’t have to completely change my mindset (from that of a 26” wheel ride) when riding downhill. For instance, I didn’t have to focus on straightening out twisty lines. The bike was extremely nimble and I can hop it from one side of the trail to another. Basically, I could ride it like a 26” wheel bike and it was reacting positively. But, here’s the kicker…It also had all of the traditional benefits of a 29er in that I could point it through those hole-filled rock gardens and gapped out root sections just as easily as hopping it over these sections or creating new lines entirely. Also, I found it was pulling me out of numerous “situations” where I would have been in deeper trouble with a 26” wheel (like the front wheel getting stuck in one of those holes naturally created by a bunch of large rocks in close proximity) or an unforeseen and quickly approaching two-three foot drop.

Basically, I was riding much faster and more confidently. At some point my “confidence” turned into an “inflated ego” and I started going down a bit here and there. No biggie, I got this….

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So I had surgery last Friday. Doc Hewitt says 6 weeks before riding of any kind and probably longer for serious trail riding. I’m thinking 2 weeks will be more than sufficient. Besides, I’m not worried about crashing this hard again. I’m sure I’ve learned my lesson this time….

January 2nd

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I’m Part of the Tribe: Liz

The Yeti Tribe is a diverse group that share our same devotion for owning and riding great bikes. They come from all walks of life and enjoy all kinds of riding. Liz joined the Tribe at the start of 2013 when she picked up her new SB66 Carbon. Since then she has raced her first enduro event, learned to jump, and become part of the riding community. When she’s not riding her bike or out skiing she works for Patagonia as an associate sales rep for the Rocky Mountain region. She also volunteers for two organizations, She Jumps, and Girl Bike Love, both aiming at encouraging, inspiring, and empowering women to get out and enjoy the outdoors.

We’re happy to have Liz as a part of the Tribe. If you own a Yeti, you are part of the Tribe.

December 11th

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What We Ride – SB66 Carbon

I remember not so long ago, my quiver consisted of a dirt jump bike, a cross country bike, a long travel cross country bike, and a downhill bike. I would mix and match which bike I would ride depending on where I was going, the type of terrain, and the duration of the ride. That is no longer the case, the SB66 Carbon is more often than not the only bike that leaves my garage. It allows me to ride everything from epic XC rides to our local DH shuttle runs, without changing a thing on my setup. Even with the advent of the larger wheel platforms I still find, along with almost every other employee here at Yeti, the 26” wheel size of the SB66 the most versatile and fun to ride.

Myself and fellow Yeti employees Chris Heath and Ross Milan decided to see how far we could push our SB66’s and hit up one of our local DH spots. I could tell we were all a bit nervous but at the same time quite eager to get some airtime on a work day. If there is one thing consistent across the board with Yeti employees, its that they are competitive. Especially ones that used to race DH professionally against each other. The day progressed into a game of who could one up who and hit the bigger jump or slash the corner harder. After a few crashes, a flat tire, and nothing but smiles, the day came to an end with a new found appreciation for the versatility of the one bike setup.

November 27th

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Yeti Dealer – Second Avenue Sports

Yeti has an incredible history in Durango and the town still exudes turquoise. From the local coffee shops, to diners, and bike shops, the town is peppered with vintage Yeti bikes, jerseys, photos, and history. In fact, its hard to walk around town and not see a Yeti something-or-other. Or, strike up a conversation in the local bar and you’ll likely hear a tale about the factory or the characters that worked there.

We are proud to have a great Yeti dealer in town, Second Avenue Sports. This is a mountain biker’s shop. The employees are well-versed in the local trails and understand the nuances that make great riding mountain bikes.  As you would expect, the service is incredible — the shop just emits some good ‘ol bike vibes. The showroom shows a commitment to having the bike you want in stock and ready to roll.  In the winter, they change gears a bit and run a full service ski shop.

For more information be sure to check out their website, and be sure to stop in on your next riding trip to Durango.

Website: Second Ave Sports

November 21st

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Yeti Freak – Erez Beitan

Adventure Riding in Morocco
Words by: Erez Beitan
Photos by: Hovav Landau

Prologue

Jamal was out of water. He had run out a few hours ago, looking for his mule along the foothills of the Atlas ridge. Eventually, he managed to find a small acacia tree which provided him a shelter from the sun and the sat down. A couple minutes later, he fell asleep. Suddenly he woke up, hearing some weird noise, kind of tribal screaming, but in an unknown language. It was defiantly neither Moroccan nor Berber. He started getting worried, his body shivering. They were getting closer, and he could see them now. These odd creatures looked like colorful monsters. He had never seen anything even close to that. They were coming for him. He froze and prayed for god to save him. But it didn’t really work. The Yeti’s attacked. It was just a matter of time until he would surrender and join their tribe…

Two months earlier…
It all began with a phone call from my friend Roy Galili, who is well known for finding unique destinations for bike riding.
“Morocco” he said. “What do you think about it?”
A Few years ago I went for a 4X4 trip in Morocco. The memory of me looking out of the windows, looking for the perfect single tracks and bike routes, came out very quickly.
A couple more phone calls to another two friends: one is the gifted photographer who took all the great photos you see here – Hovav Landau, and the other is the well-known rider and the owner of the best bike shop in Tel Aviv – Elad Kadosh. And off we go to the exotic destination along with Roy and his home friend Sharon.
Morocco was nothing like we could ever imagine. As if you would have had to describe Israel as a land of sand and camels. When I heard the name of Morocco, I pictured an endless desert, no shade at all, heavy hit that slows you down and primitive tribal people. I was totally shocked on our first day of the journey. Surprisingly, I have found huge ridges, covered with snow, floating rivers, evergreen forests with the best cherries you’ve ever had, and over whelming people wherever you go.
After a challenging morning at a local “metal shop” in Marrakech (don’t miss the local market and Jama Fanan square), trying to fit our bikes to the rooftop of our local driver, and almost losing my fork, we were heading towards the Toubkal ridge. The local food stands along the way smell great, and we get a close look and taste of the traditional Tagine dish. Morocco is a place where you can ride right into a small mud village in the Atlas mountains and find the warm welcoming of local women who will immediately offer you food and Berberian whisky (tea la Monte ).
There are no designated single tracks for bicycles in Morocco. We were riding either 4X4 roads or mule trails, which the locals uses to transport their commodities. That’s where those 575 Yeti’s came to life and really shined.
One of the top highlights of our trip, was the morning where we started with a long climb of about 800m from Imlil, on a mules trail while three mules were carrying our bikes to the top. I’ve named them “the Mulocopter”.
The trip was great and what made it even better was meeting two local guides. One is Norddine, who took us through some nice places and even succeed getting us a cold beer after the ride (very important and unusual in a Muslim country).
And Jamal a gifted rider and a true adventure seeker who took us to the most amazing single tracks between the villages that still use mules for transportation.

Epilogue
I was lying on the mattress in my room at the Riad Abaka hotel in Marrakech, trying to get a quick rest before hitting the streets, for this is our last night here. Suddenly, I could hear weird noises coming from the lobby. They were naming me, and I didn’t know who they were. They mentioned something about Yeti, but they were talking another language, Arabic I guess. Eventually, I ended leaving my own Yeti with them to ride in Morocco.
Lucky Jamal…

November 6th

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2013 Tribe Gathering

“You must not be from around here,” said the old, bearded dude in a way-too-tight spandex jersey as he pedaled up to us. I was splayed out in the alpine grass next to my bike, cross-eyed and half-bonked from the exertion of riding up to this meadow nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, and my riding partner for the day, Pete from the UK, was rummaging through his pack for some kind of sugary snack to bring us back to life.

We were somewhere in the backwoods of Telluride Mountain Resort, having come out there for the annual Yeti Tribe Gathering, a yearly meet-up of like-minded Yeti Freaks from across the globe. Your typical Tribe event consists of camping near one of the many awesome Colorado resort towns, feasting on a bunch of insanely decadent catered meals, drinking copious amounts of beer and whiskey, and competing in various events like kids’ bike races, wheelie contests, and rodeo-esque barrel races. And oh yeah, there’s an epic group ride scheduled for Saturday morning.

This year’s ride – on paper – looked pretty do-able. We’d do a long but gentle climb up an old railroad bed to the outskirts of Telluride, then hook into some fun singletrack along the river that brought us right into downtown. From there, we’d use the Village Gondola to ascend a couple thousand feet to some trails that would eventually lead us to a crazy-long downhill back to our camp. What I failed to realize is that after the gondola ride up, there was still a significant amount of climbing and traversing to be done to get you to the descent – all of which was in the razor-thin air above 10,000 feet. The fact that my previous night’s carbo-loading included a six-pack of Pabst did not help matters.

Pete, our marketing manager in the UK, and I had driven over from Denver the day before with our NZ distributor, Kashi Leuchs, and two of our pro riders – Rosara Joseph and Jared Graves. Between the three of them, they had competed in something like 6 Summer Olympics, and had literally won more national championships than they could recall. Needless to say, Pete and I saw them at the beginning of the ride and at the end, but nowhere in between.

The old Mountain Man who had happened upon us asked which way we were heading, and when we gave him a vague description of our plans, he advised us to scrap those ideas immediately. As he sat there on a Stumpjumper that looked like it may have been on loan from the local historical society, he sketched out a new, “better” route for us, which started with the following instructions: “A few miles up, stay right at a fork and ride a ways until you see a ‘brown sign’. From there, turn around, go back the way you came, and you’ll see a small two-track on your left. Follow that for a ways until you see a singletrack off to the left of it, then work your way down through a bunch of unmarked trails back towards your camp.” I was distantly reminded of the scene on This Is Spinal Tap in which the band gets hopelessly lost backstage due to bad directions from a janitor (“Hello Cleveland!”).

With that, the old dude tightened his toe straps and pedaled off up the hill in an impossibly huge gear. Pete and I gathered our packs, wearily climbed on our bikes, and started to grind further up the mountain, not having any idea where we were going or which direction we should head as we crossed dozens and dozens of other trail intersections. Before too long, our haphazard route started heading slightly downhill, and as we bombed into a stand of mid-summer Aspens, I caught a quick glimpse of a random ‘brown sign’. Some neuron in my energy-depleted brain must have connected with another, and I quickly realized that this must have been the first landmark Mountain Man had described to us. Pete and I grabbed a couple of handfuls of brakes, pushed our bikes back up the trail a bit, and lo and behold, here was the route we had been told about. It was just dumb luck that we happened upon it.

And what incredible luck it turned out to be. As we headed down into Mountain Man’s prescribed route, the trail greeted us with grippy loam, banked turns, and rolling undulations that you could double-up with the right speed. Pete and I caught our second wind and let out whoops and shouts as we threaded between spruce trees and zipped past blooms of wild columbines. Eventually, the route became steeper and more rugged, and this is what we were waiting for. We were both riding SB66 Carbons built for big mountain riding, so we attacked the chutes and washouts, wheelie-ing through creeks, roosting turns, and hopping over downed limbs. The ride finished with an insane natural slalom course through a stand of Aspens and finally dumped us on a gravel road for a short pedal back to the campsite and cold beer.

Later that night, after another epic meal and too many drinks, Pete and I recounted the day and our incredible luck for having met Mountain Man. We had heard from others that the ‘official’ Tribe ride was tons of fun, but it paled in comparison to the sweet trails we had ridden down from the top. The weekend wrapped up the next morning with a big breakfast and some hearty farewells. Another great Tribe Gathering was in the books, and we’ll have to wait until next year to see what kind of luck we might find out on the trails.

-John Pentecost

November 4th

EWS FInale Legure 2013

Jared Graves – Enduro World Series #7

Well, the 2013 season is in the history books. After last month’s World Championships, I spent almost six weeks back home getting into the swing of a normal life and routine. It was tough getting motivated for this weekend’s EWS in Finale Ligure because I knew that my 2nd place overall was secure and that I couldn’t gain enough points to take the overall lead. Really, I wanted nothing more that to finish off the year with a win.

Regardless, I got some good training done in preparation. I thought of it more as a lot of riding and throwing in some random periods of going as hard as I could. After all, you don’t want to keep burning yourself into the ground when you have nothing to gain or lose in the overall, and you should be letting the body recover prior to getting things into gear for 2014.

Sunday – Shaun Hughes (mechanic of all mechanics) and I packed up and departed Brisbane for one last 2013 adventure to Finale Ligure, Italy for the 7th and final round of the Enduro World Series.

Tuesday – Tired from travel and ready for bed, Shaun and I arrived at about 2am in Finale. We were met once again by Albert “the Albertross” Callis who had arranged our rooms to be ready for our late entry. With that, we were all set for some much needed rest before our big week.

Wednesday – We had time to check out the area and go for a spin to wake up the body. I felt surprisingly good and the body didn’t feel dead from travel…a good sign for the week. We met up with a few guys who had ridden here before and they showed us some good trails to ride. It was exactly what we needed and we rode for about 2.5 hours and snuck in two quick shuttles. Afterwards, we called it a day and went straight back to bed. Good first day.

Thursday – Today was the first official practice day. This is a bit of a change from the usual Italian format of less practice, and I was a bit worried about how it would play out. I knew that many people had ridden or raced here before and knew the courses well. But, as a competitor, you can’t think about that stuff; you just have to do what you can and hope it’s enough. In a way, I suppose I was thinking of it almost as preparation for 2014. I got in 10 runs for the day with a lot of time on Stage 4. I pinpointed Stage 4 as the stage where time could be made or lost; I could take some risks and “make my move” so to speak.

Friday – More practice. I was really enjoying myself, feeling fast, and looking forward to the weekend’s racing.

Saturday – Racing Day 1:
Stage 1 – We rolled out at 8:30am for this fairly short stage that contained a variety of technical, flow, and short sprints. I had only ridden Stage 1 later in the practice days while I was a little tired, and had thought it was more physical than it was. I paced myself to how I thought I should and I rode well technically, but I soon realized that I was barely breathing. When you are fresh and your body is amped up for racing, you can go pretty deep and I realized that I had saved far too much. It was another rookie move and a good learning experience for next year. I still found myself right up at the pointy end of the race, just a couple seconds off pace.

Stage 2 – A really good overall test for the riders, but far from what I would call “the peoples’ favorite” to race. It was so hard to find the flow. The stage contained a solid minute and a half technical climb followed by 3 minutes of brake-dragging DH trails. And that was about as diverse as it got. My run was just too conservative; I took the climb hard, but ended up slow in a few sections because I spent too much time focusing on my lines, setting up for corners, and not crashing. But, I was on pace at the pointy end again. Nico Lau seems to love the tight techy awkward stuff and put some good time into all of us on this stage. I was happy enough to still be at the top of the results sheet, but I knew I was capable of much better. I was a little disappointed.

Stage 3 – I was determined to not make the same mistakes and I wanted the win on this stage. It was a pure DH stage; steep and very technical with only one 10- second sprint out of the start. I knew that if I could lay down a win on this stage, my legs were good and I would be in a good spot for the remainder of the stages.
My run went exactly as planned with a perfect balance of opening up the throttle without any major risk. It’s exactly how I should always ride. I got my stage win and I jumped into the overall lead after this stage. Jerome Clementz was super consistent in the early stages and was only 0.1 seconds behind me. Nico Lau should have been in the lead, but was late at a time check after stage 2 and was penalized 1 minute. It’s really hard to see riders penalized like this, but I’m sure even Nico would agree that rules are rules.

Stage 4 – This is where the day got interesting. Stage 4 was the stage I had been looking forward to all week. It was time to do some damage. After stage 3, the organizers left us a very tight transition to Stage 4 and it took 40 minutes of solid tempo climbing to make it to the top. My heart rate was a fair bit higher than it had been on any other climb all week. A pace had to be held that would have been hard for amateurs to maintain without being penalized for missing their start times. Drama was brewing! Regardless, all the top guys made it up with about 5 minutes to spare before the Stage 4 start. Jerome was in the gate, goggles on, 10-second countdown started, when he was suddenly told, “NO, NO start, the stage has to be cancelled!” To go from race ready to stage cancelled in a 10 second time frame, CRAZY! It turned out that one of the later Stage 1 starters had been involved in a major crash and that there wouldn’t be enough day light left for everyone to complete Stage 4 once the course was race ready. So, it had to be cancelled. The welfare of the riders absolutely has to come first. But, as far as the race went for me, I couldn’t help but be very disappointed. Out of all the stages to cancel, they cancelled the one I had targeted. It seems there’s been a few similar incidents this year that have worked against me. Oh well. So, that was it for Saturday’s racing. I was in the lead overall, so I can’t complain.

Sunday – Racing Day 2:

Stage 5 – This stage was so much fun! Whoever built this trail needs to build more; they know what’s up! This was definitely the stage that people were most pumped on and every rider in the field could equally enjoy. It was just fast and flowy from top to bottom while still being physical. It was hugely enjoyable.
I had done three practice runs on Stage 5 and probably could have done more in order to get the most out of the trail. But, you can only do some much in practice. 
My run was going really well until the last steep, rocky section. There were a ton of spectators and you can’t help but open it up a bit more in that atmosphere. I ended up overcooking a right hand kink, went head on into some bushes, head and shouldered a tree, and went full death grip in order to not crash! Somehow, I managed to stay upright. (Tip for the Day: It’s amazing what you can ride out of when you really try and don’t give up) But, I went from what should have extended my lead by about 3 seconds (so I’m told by people doing splits) to falling 1.2 seconds out of the lead before the final stage. No biggie in the grand scheme of things, but far from ideal.

Stage 6 – Stage 6 was a repeat of Stage 2, and Jerome and I were almost dead equal on time. With the overall race win on the line, I knew it was going to be a tough stage. If I wanted the overall, I couldn’t afford any mistakes. My stage went fairly well, but it was so easy to make mistakes given the technical and tight nature of the track. Unfortunately, I made a couple small mistakes and my stage wasn’t good enough. In the end, I finished 2.7 seconds down and in 2nd place overall behind Jerome.

I came to Italy looking for a no pressure race and a win, and I was a bit disappointed to not get the win. I made my share of mistakes, but I know Jerome did as well. It’s not like he had the perfect race, and he still deserved the win. Although, without Nico Lau’s 1-minute penalty on Saturday, he would’ve ended up fastest over the two days racing. So, despite what happened, I have to say well done to him, too!

It’s been a great season. In closing, I can say that being so close to the win here will give me endless motivation while preparing for 2014. I can’t wait!

As always, thanks to Shauny for keeping my bike 100%, and to Albert for helping wherever he could. Good support at this level is mandatory and I couldn’t have got where I am without the help of these guys, the whole Yeti team, and my sponsors. So, thank you to everyone.

Apart from all that, it’s well and truly into the silly season for finalizing plans and sponsors for next year. I can’t totally relax just yet, but at least I can take a bit of a physical rest!

‘til next year and thanks for reading!!

Frame – Yeti SB66c Medium
Fork – Fox 34 float 2014 160mm
Rear Suspension – Fox Float X
Seatpost – Thomson Elite dropper
Wheels – DT Swiss 240 hubs, 500 rims, and Aerolite spokes, alloy nipples
Tires – Maxxis Minion 2.5 EXO, ghetto/split tube tubeless. 27psi F, 30psi R
Brakes – Shimano XTR race lever, Saint calipers, 180mm Ice-Tech Rotors
Derailleur – Shimano XTR Shadow Plus
Cranks – Shimano XTR 170-millimeter with Stages Power Meter
Chainring – Shimano Saint 36-tooth
Casette – Shimano XTR 11-36
Pedals – Shimano XTR trail
Chainguide – E13 LG1
Bars and Stem – Renthal 740mm Fatbar lite, 20mm rise, and 50mm Duo stem
Headset – Chris King
Grips – ODI Ruffian MX

Follow Jared on Facebook: Facebook.com/JaredGravesMTB
Follow Jared on Instagram: Instagram.com/JaredGravesMTB

October 24th

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Yeti Dealer – Wilson Backcountry Sports

1230 Ida Drive
Wilson, WY
307.733.5228
www.wilsonbackcountry.com
Supporting Yeti Since 2005.

Wilson Backcountry Sports is a small shop established in 1993 providing service for backcountry skiing, mountain biking and local Jackson Hole and Teton Pass trail maps.

Our Location is ideal. Located at the base of Teton Pass has made Wilson Backcountry Sports the top ski and bike shop in the Jackson Hole area among locals and visitors. With out doubt, there is some of the best skiing and biking in the country right out the backdoor. Wilson Backcountry Sports only carries brands that have stood up to the abuse thrown at them right here in the backyard.

Our friendly and knowledgeable staff will help you get the right gear, so you can hit the trails. Whatever your passion, Backcountry Skiing or Mountain Biking, Wilson Backcountry Sports can help.

Summers for Wilson Backcountry Sports means biking. Teton Pass and the surrounding area offers lots of amazing cycling opportunities. Our staff of avid cyclists can help you with the latest trail conditions, maps and guide books to get you there. Wilson Backcountry has a full service repair shop. Let our experienced mechanics tune and repair your bicycle to get it running its best. We also offer bike rentals with a selection of mountain, hybrid, or road bikes to choose from.

October 1st

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I’m Part of the Tribe: Alex

There is no doubt about it, mountain biking can become a lifestyle all its own. As many of you know, when you’re hooked on it, you’re hooked for life. Once you’ve been initiated, you’re always planning the next big ride or searching out new trails to explore. Alex is one of those people who has made a lifestyle out of riding his bike…and he’s done a damn good job at it, too. Luckily, his job as a ski technician for the US Ski Team is seasonal through the winter months and his summers are left wide open for mountain bike related adventures in his hometown of Moab, UT. It’s a safe bet to say Alex rides more than either you or me… Never before have I seen someone so eager to get up early and ride every single day! His enthusiasm for riding is unmatched, and I wish you luck if you’re trying to keep up with him on the climbs. Alex has been a great ambassador for Yeti ever since he purchased his first frame many years ago. He came to the Tribe Gathering a few years back and has become a big part of the Yeti family in the years since. Check out the video to get to know a bit more about our favorite Frenchy and watch him rip his backyard trails in Moab.

September 26th

World Champs Pietermaritzburg 2013

Jared Graves – UCI World Championships

DH World Championships – Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

I’ve been keen for World Champs all year, as it was my only goal with DH racing for the season. All of the other DH races I did this year were just to get selected for the national team and get to Pietermaritzburg, while not risking hurting myself for the enduros in the process. There was certainly an added level of pressure for the race given that it was my only DH racing objective. But, since Enduro racing was the season’s focus, I also felt very relaxed going into and throughout the week.

The Bike -
 As most people reading this probably know, I decided to ride a bit of a different bike to 99% of other riders for this race. I decided to ride my stock SB66 Carbon instead of my DH bike. The bike set-up was essentially no different than the bike I’ve been on at all of the Enduro World Series races this year. The only real changes were a Fox Float 36 180mm fork up front, Shimano Saint brakes and crank, and a Shimano Ultegra 11-23 road cassette. I also took the dropper post off for this race, too. There were so many jumps on the pedaling section that there wasn’t any sustained pedaling before you hit another jump. And, in my opinion, you should be standing up giving it all you have, not sitting on your bum! But, at the end of the day, there were two main reasons for deciding to go with the SB66c. The first being that it has been the bike I’ve been on all year and it was the set-up I was used to and comfortable on. I knew there would be sections of the track where I would lose time on the smaller bike, but also sections where I would gain back time. The second reason is that the SB66 is such a capable bike. I knew it would be able to handle everything the track had to throw at it. With both those points in mind, I thought it was an obvious choice for me.

Tuesday -
 I arrived in Pietermaritzburg in the afternoon straight from the EWS in France last weekend and was feeling pretty tired. There wasn’t any practice for the Elites until Thursday, so I had a couple of days to do some spins, play with my SB66c (built specifically for this race) on the XC course and settle in.

Wednesday - Track Walk
. The track was more or less the same as it was last year with only a few minor changes at the bottom and a whole lot more jumps on the pedaling section in the middle (to reduce the pedaling). I wasn’t sure how the track changes would fit the smaller bike, as I needed the pedaling to make the most of the smaller bike’s strengths. But, I would also carry better speed through the jumps and it would probably even out. 
The biggest difference was how dry it was! It was just deep powder from top to bottom; like riding mud without the moisture. Masters World Champs were run the previous week and the track was a lot rougher than usual. I knew the top section (with a lot of corners, some rock gardens and technical steep sections) would be tough to ride as fast I could on my DH bike, but the SB’s capabilities continually proved itself to me this year when things got hairy. Overall, the course is a very fun one to ride and most riders had a lot of positive rings to say about the course and the updates.

It seems to be the people who have never seen the course who have the most negative things to say about it. In person, it was certainly far rougher and more of a “real DH track” than it looks from some helmet cam run that was put on the Internet. Throw in multiple 45-60ft jumps, and there was plenty to make it a worthy World Championship DH track.

Thursday - First Practice. I 
got four runs in today. The first two runs were just to get a feel for the track, find a few lines and get them drilled into my head. Then we made a few small set-up changes to tire pressure and fork adjustments, and went up for two more runs to start picking up a little speed and get all the jumps done. The dry slippery track was definitely tough at first, but I started getting the feel for it all on my last two runs. I got used to the dirt and started feeling a lot better and was hitting all the jumps on my third run and was feeling pretty good about things after my fourth run. I achieved everything I wanted for the day and finished the day feeling happy!

Set-up changes - My bike needed some other changes that I just didn’t have time to do with the short practice time. My fork went off to Fox for them to work their magic, where they made some internal changes to give the fork better small bump sensitivity and then stiffen up in the last part of the travel. I also decided to go to full DH tires. They may be a bit slower rolling, but the lighter EXO sidewall tires were a bit too squirmy on the high-speed impacts and I couldn’t push hard enough in some key sections. One thing that blows my mind with a course like this is why everyone wants lightweight wheels. There’s no major accelerating on this track, which is the only situation where light wheels would be faster. This track is flowy and you carry consistent speed the whole way down, and rolling weight can be your friend. A heavier wheel that is up to speed will naturally want to stay in motion more than a lighter wheel, so it made perfect sense to go to a heavier more stable tire. I also kept with the ghetto tubeless set-up I’ve been using all year, and it worked without issue all week. It’s definitely harder to mount a stiff DH tire in this way, but super mechanic Polarbear Hughes had no major dramas getting it done for me. He didn’t even need tire levers; it must be his big polar bear paws!

Friday -
 Second Practice. They extended practice to four hours today, which was very welcome. My plan was to get in five runs, get up to speed, and make sure I had done all sections flat out. There was only one very short practice session planned after today, so it was vital to be at least 95% up to race speed by the end of the day to know what it was going to feel like come race day.

Junior Race Day - 
This was race day for juniors, and we had our two Yeti shredders ready to go with Richie Rude and Jay Fesperman. After silver at World Champs last year, Richie was now the hot favorite for the race. He’s a big strong lad who isn’t afraid to huck some gaps and get loose, pedal at everything flat out, and basically just dominate the track! He was ready and the track suited him well. Jay was also picking up speed each run and looking fast, and keen for his first World Champs experience as a first year junior rider. And, as it turned out, Richie’s day went absolutely perfect and he smashed the field! Almost 6-seconds faster than 2nd place for a very convincing win and the title of 2013 Junior DH World Champion! Needless to say, the Yeti pit was a happy pit on Friday afternoon! Jay also showed some great form with a 12th place and one of the fastest times for the first year juniors. He’ll no doubt be hungry for a medal next year!

Saturday - Seeding Run. 
Well, they still call it seeding, but it doesn’t really make sense because they still run the same start order for the finals. But it’s a good opportunity to test your warm up and get in a solid full run to see how you stack up compared to others. The biggest news of the day was an overnight rain that had slicked up the track a little. Being in the first 1/3 of riders to start their run was a bit of a disadvantage as the track was definitely a bit slick for the early starters. I wasn’t worried, as it was Sunday that counts. In the end, I was happy coming in 7th fastest and only 4-seconds off the fastest time. I cruised the top section and was only about 90% on the pedaling, and my heart rate didn’t get within 20 beats of maximum heart rate during the run. I knew I had a lot more to give tomorrow and my confidence was high! We made a few more small tweaks on the bike; some more low-speed compression and an extra PSI in both tires (as they were still a bit squirmy on a couple very high speed G-outs). 
I got in a good 45 minute trainer spin to make sure any lactate was out of the legs, had a quick massage and did some stretching, and relaxed all afternoon with my feet up while trying not to think about race day tomorrow.

Sunday - Race Day. I slept like a rock all night and woke up feeling fresh; a perfect start to the day! We had a 1.5-hour practice session and my plan was to be up top at 9am to be one of the first guys down the hill and try to squeeze in three runs. The track was drying out again and I wanted to make sure I was 100% certain where I could push hard and where things were getting a bit dusty and slippery again. I accomplished my goal and squeezed in three runs. My last run was perfect and I was as ready as I was going to be. 
I’m not going to lie – the next four hours of sitting and waiting for your start time sucks! You just want to get this thing done! I was feeling a bit nervous, but well under control. I knew I was definitely a lot calmer than a few other guys who were cruising around with a look of complete confusion on their faces. Body language says a lot, and something I definitely used to my advantage with 4Cross racing. Look confident, act confident, and be confident! 
 3:08pm was my start time and after what felt like an eternity it was almost time to go. My warm up went well, my body was ready, and my bike was ready. 
My actual race run was a bit of a blur. The track had deteriorated quite a bit from the morning’s practice and was very dry and loose again, just how I like it! I knew that you had to be fresh to make the most of the jumps and pedaling at the bottom, so I made sure that I stayed smooth and clean up top to preserve energy. I took it easy on the pedaling and just pumped to maintain and gain speed on everything. When I got to the pedaling section my breathing rate was well under control and I still felt fresh and I got good backsides on the two main 60ft jumps. This was probably the most important part of the whole run; if you didn’t get good backsides and pump from the jumps, you lost a lot of speed and momentum into the pedaling. I got into a good rhythm by not going too hard early and sustained my power over the whole straight. At the end of the pedaling and jumps, I still had a lot left in the legs and lungs. You just get another gear come race run, and I felt like I may have not given enough. I also found I couldn’t pedal too hard. Pedaling any harder and I would’ve completely flat landed every jump on the straight. I was in a good position to finish strong.

I gave it all I had over the last minute, pedaling wherever I could and trying to stay off the brakes in all the high speed turns at the bottom. In the last 10 seconds, I knew I was on a good run. I just kept going with all I had and crossed the line over 12-seconds on the fastest time to that point. My time goal had been 4 minutes, and I just missed it by coming in at 4.01. I had set myself up for a long afternoon in the hot seat…just as I had planned!

For more than an hour all riders went slower. A few came close, but I was still in the lead. With only six riders to go and it was Mick Hannah who finally beat my time. I was kind of bummed, but Mick is super strong on this track and was one of the hot favorites. So, it was no surprise that he knocked me off the top spot. From then, I just hoped my time would hold for a medal, as this was my big goal for the season.

With only three riders left, Greg Minnaar was due in next and his first split was blazing fast. He lost some time in the middle, but went a full second faster than Mick Hannah in the last 40 seconds of the track to get into the lead by a mere .3 of a second, leaving me in 3rd.

So, with two riders to go, I was sitting in 3rd….c’mon!!! I just want a medal!! My goal at the World Cup here last year was top-5, and I got pushed back into 6th by 5 THOUSANDTHS of a second. I really didn’t want that to happen again. 
As luck would have it, Steve Smith pushed too hard and went down. That’s part of the nature of Worlds, everyone pushes harder than they normally ever would at a World Cup and a lot of guys crash. I was gutted for Steve; he deserved a good result and was riding the best he ever has, but it wasn’t his day.

Then there was just Gee Atherton left, his first split was faster than mine. But, he looked like he was laboring in the last minute of the course. As he came to the line and was outside my time, I knew I had secured 3rd place and was so happy! I couldn’t believe it, the day had worked out just like I’d hoped and I found myself with my first ever medal for Elite DH World Champs! Yewwwwwwww!

So that’s that. I’m all packed up and on my way home. World Champs was like the icing on the cake of an already great season. We still have one last EWS race to go, but I’m already excited for next year! Thanks for all the support this season from everyone. I’d especially like to thank my sponsors, there’s been a lot of people over a lot of years who have done a ton to get me to where I am right now!

Setup

Frame - Yeti SB66c – medium

Fork - Fox Float 36, 180mm @90psi

Shock - Fox Float X @ 180psi

Wheels - DT Swiss 240 hubs, Aerolite spokes, 500rims

Tires - Maxxis minion 2.5 Front, 3C Maxx Grip @27psi – Rear Maxxis High Roller 2, 2.4 Maxx Grip @31psi, Both Ghetto/split tube tubeless

Cranks - Saint 170mm

Brakes - Saint, 200mm rotor front, 160mm rotor rear

Cassette - Ultegra 11-23

Derailleur - Saint

Shifter - Saint

Chainring - Saint 40t

Pedals - Shimano prototype (stiffer engagement)

Chainguide - E-13 Lg1

Seat - WTB Devo Yeti Team Edition

Seatpost - Thomson Masterpiece

Bars and Stem - Renthal 740mm Fat Bar Lite, 50mm Duo stem

Grips - ODI Ruffian MX

Headset - Chris King

September 4th

World Champs Pietermaritzburg 2013

Richie Rude – Junior World Champion

Coming into the 2013 season with the knowledge that the World Championships were being held at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, I was confident and ready to strive for the number one spot. The PMB track suits me well and I was excited to get back on the track for my last Worlds as a junior.

High speed, big jumps, and a few technical sections make the track relatively straightforward, but you have to carry speed well and be fit enough to be competitive on the pedal sections. I knew that the pedal section was going to be a big factor in the race. After being one of the stronger guys on the section last year, I was confident I could pull back time on the bottom two thirds of the track this year.
Leading up to Worlds, I had had one good race (out of the four World Cup rounds) and my confidence was down. I couldn’t figure out what I was missing this season with my racing, and refocused my attention on my last chance to snatch the junior rainbow stripes. It was definitely odd having not raced all year with the juniors at the World Cups, and I was nervous that I hadn’t been able to compare myself to them throughout the year.

When the USA team was announced, it all started to become reality that Worlds were only a week or so away. With Mount Sainte Anne over and only PMB in my sights, I tried to forget all of the poor performances that I had this year and focus on winning.

Through every trainer session, I thought of winning. I focused on the one race of the year where I could grab the number one spot…the only race in which I had no other choice. I wasn’t going to go to Worlds to get 2nd again. That vengeance within pushed me through all of the hours spent on the trainer or miles on the road. I pushed myself to my limits until the thought of the PMB pedal section became less and less of an intimidating obstacle.

I may not show much expression towards my confidence or excitement for things, but it was hard not to show it to my family, friends, and the Yeti crew for helping provide the support I needed. My Mom, probably one of the people who I give the most credit to for keeping me focused, helped me to stay motivated in the lead up to the race. Whenever I questioned things, she reminded me of all the hard work I have put in to be where I am today.

The week before heading to South Africa, Yeti flew me out to Colorado to spend some time at their new headquarters and freshen up a bit. Those few days in Colorado couldn’t have come at a better time. Shaun Hughes and I made some beneficial changes to the bike and decided to stick with the normal DH setup (aside from a minor Maxxis Minion modification). We also ended up going for a bigger Shimano Saint chainring, smaller Saint 185mm rotors, and a sweet 10-speed cassette that Shaun rigged up.

Without realizing it, riding Colorado dirt a few days prior to PMB made for a smooth transition onto the Worlds track and I felt comfortable right away in the first practice session. Throughout the week, I could not wait for Friday to come around. Before I knew it, it was Friday and I was getting some pre-race jitters knowing that the race winner would be decided that afternoon. Like a gift, my two best practice runs came the morning of the race. The course had taken a beating throughout the week and was looser than ever and full of dust with loose dirt over hard pack.

Throughout the day, I tried to keep the mood light and joke around with Shaun. The only thing that ran through my head before I set off was putting all of my hard work into my race run. As the final beeps counted me down, my mind zoned in on one thing, my performance. I remembered all of the work I had put into this one run. My head and body were in focus, only reacting to what was coming up in the course. One thing that stuck in my head was to land the third big tabletop jump and begin to lay down the horsepower as quickly as I could. I remember hearing the announcer saying a few words about me being ahead while I was on the final straight, and it gave me that extra bit of motivation to dig deeper and keep pushing. I crossed the line and had opened up a 6-second margin on the current leader. At that moment, I knew I had put in a good run as I had found 8-seconds on the track from Thursday’s qualifier.

I think it must have been the adrenaline and rage still going, but it didn’t immediately feel like I had won World Championships. The immediate congratulations and the hustle to the podium puts it into perspective. Standing atop that number one step was the biggest relief for me; I had completed the biggest goal of my junior career.

This win makes the entire season worth it. Having not done as well as I hoped all year and pulling off this win really made up for the depressing prior months. With this win ticked off in my book of accomplishments, I think it will help me stay focused and motivated for next season. The task of mixing in with the Elite men will be difficult, but it’s one that I’m ready for. I want to keep improving on what I know I can do. Being just outside the top-20 last year and then not being able to pull runs together this year will make me even more driven to lock myself into the top-20 for 2014. I have high hopes of cracking top tens like other first year elites that have come up through the junior ranks.

Throughout the season and into Worlds, bike setup was always at its best. I cannot thank all of my sponsors enough for supporting us as a team. Thank you everybody at Fox Racing Shox, Shimano, Renthal, Maxxis, DT Swiss, Stages power meters, Giro, One Industries, USA Cycling, and Smith Optics. Also, thank you to the supportive fans, and my loving friends and family back home!
And, of course, I cannot forget about the entire Yeti Crew! Thanks for making my dream of wearing the Rainbows a reality.

Richie Rude

2013 Junior World Champion

September 3rd

201308_WPBoulder_04

Rosara Joseph – Winter Park to Boulder

The morning was rather grey and gloomy, with low clouds hanging on the hills. Joey was excited to be able to shoot photos in atmospheric conditions; I was scared about being caught in a storm on the top of the mountains. We had the essentials: rain jackets; four tortillas rolled up with peanut butter and jam; a pork chop; two tall boys of the finest local drop, Coors; and a handful of those types of energy bars that you eat only when starving and bonked. We were also filled with excitement, and a fair amount of trepidation – well I was, anyway.

Joey Schulser (Yeti employee, photographer, and bloody fast bike rider) dreamed up the genius idea of riding our bikes from Winter Park, where we’d spent the weekend racing round 4 of the Enduro World Series, back to Boulder. It was just the kind of idea that I’m into: an adventurous epic mission, and one with the added bonus of an actual purpose – I needed to get back to the Boulder/Denver area to fly back to Oregon, so why not do it by bike on as much sweet mountain single track as possible? Joey and I were joined by a tag along, Adam ‘from another team’ Craig.

Our path over the Continental Divide took us up and over Rollins Pass at 11,676 feet. There were two route options to the Pass: up a gently graded road following an old railway line, or straight up the guts via a kind-of trail through the woods. Of course we took the latter option. We started along a defined track, which faded to an indistinct animal trail, which then turned into a find-your-own path through the woods…

The going was fairly slow, with soft, thick ground cover, fallen trees, and a steep grade. It was mystically beautiful though, through the dense, green forest and heavy, humid air. Eventually we made it to tree line and spotted the ridgeline far above us that was where we wanted to be. After a decent push, we made it to the old miners’ path that led to the old railway road, a dodgy-looking old bridge, and eventually the Pass. We paused at the top while Joey bugged me with his camera and I ate the first of my peanut butter and jam tortillas. It tasted delicious. Not as delicious, however, as the pork chop and Coors; nutrition and hydration are very important while doing long rides in the mountains.

After savouring the beer and the views from the top, ominous looking clouds and a chilling wind drove us on and down. And into a damn good time. From the top of the Pass, all the way back to Boulder, we linked together extremely good singletrack descents with dirt and pavement climbs. Some of the descents were rowdy, rough, and rocky; some were blindingly fast through blurry forests; others were sweet and smooth through wild flower meadows. All were fun. Between hours 5 and 6, we climbed road 505 from Eldora. After climbing for over 30 minutes on a steep, rocky track, the kind that becomes increasingly aggravating as it bounces and jars your weary body and bike, we reconvened at what we thought was the summit. Turns out it wasn’t, and that it was an evil climb that never ends. I ate my last peanut butter and jam tortilla. We eventually got to the top and, soon after, realised all that sweat and exertion was totally worth it, as it led to a ripping fast descent on perfect dirt through jungle-like forest.

Hours 6 to 8 passed in a haze of road and dirt climbs, distant rolls of thunder, and unappetising energy bars. The final descent, which we started eight hours after we set off from Winter Park, was, appropriately, the most sketchy of all them all. I was clumsily hitting my pedals on every second rock. From there, it was an eternally long 20-minute ride through town to the burrito store. I half expected cheers and a welcoming party – did these people not know we had ridden our bikes across the mountains all the way from Winter Park? No matter, our adventurous experience was reward enough. As was the reminder of how enjoyable and satisfying it is to commit to doing something that challenges you and forces you out of the day to day mundane. Adventures are fun.

Rosara Joseph

August 28th

CWX13 Whistler

Jared Graves – Enduro World Series #6

Val d’Isere – France

Mentally, Round 6 was one of the toughest weekends of my life. Since racing the Val d’Isere World Cup downhill here last year, I have been looking forward to coming back. The town of Val d’Isere is so cool and the surrounding mountains provide beautiful views; the kind that make you stop and feel lucky to be where you are.

Tuesday - Arrived in Geneva after a long flight from Colorado. And by long, I mean hugely stressful. I don’t recommend going to Europe from the US, with stopovers in Canada. I had a 1.5-hour layover in Toronto before my flight to Geneva. In that time, I had to collect my bags (some of which didn’t make the flight leaving Denver…including my bikes), clear customs, re-check my bags, change terminals, and go back through security. Dripping with sweat and running everywhere through terminals, I barely made my flight. I finally landed in Geneva and had to complete more paperwork in order to have my bikes delivered to me in Val d’Isere after they arrived. Our good friend and fellow Yeti Freak, Albert “The Albatross” Callis would be my team help for the weekend. He picked me up at the airport and we were on our way. We arrived late Tuesday, got settled in, and pretty much went straight to bed.

Wednesday - Albert had his bike here, which was a similar to mine. So, I was able to go for a bit of a ride today and spin the legs. I can’t remember the last time I tried to ride a bike with the brakes set the opposite from how I run them, it’s such a dramatic change. I found some easy single track along a river to spin along and I was so scared every time I got on the brakes…not a confident feeling at all! Not much else today and I was just trying to stay awake with the time change; getting over jetlag was the main priority for the first couple days. I’m also sure I’ve racked up about a $250 phone bill today trying to get through to the airport and delivery company as to the whereabouts of my still undelivered bikes. Everything was automated voice messages (in French nonetheless). Where is a real person to speak to?!?!

Thursday - REALLY hoping my bike shows up today. I have some changes that still need to be made to get it race ready and I’m getting stressed! A couple small training sessions today to get the body ready for racing with some plyometrics and a few intervals, but I decided to stick to the road to avoid having to deal with Albert’s backwards brakes…haha! My bike was supposed to be delivered this afternoon, but it never came. I’m starting to border on RAGE! At about 9pm, I was starting to get ready for bed, when a delivery guy texted saying he was here with my bike…yewwwwwwww! So happy, I could now go to bed stress free and hopefully get my first good night’s sleep.

Friday - track walking day. As is normal with the French format, Friday is set aside to walk stages. It takes about three hours to walk down just one race stage, so you have to pick a trail to walk and hope it pays off. The obvious choice to walk (according to the map) was the top of Stage 1 and then cut across to the bottom half of Stage 3. That’s what we did and it seemed like a lot of people had the same idea. If only I would have been given an earlier heads up that Stage 2 was the one that you really needed to walk. My legs were already feeling blown out after almost four hours of walking, so there was no chance I was going up for another three hours on them. A small easy spin for an hour before dinner, make sure the bike is 100% dialed for day 1 of racing, then off to bed.

Courses: The format for this weekend was three different stages with one practice/sighting run on each course, and then racing on twice on each course, making a total of six race stages.

Stage 1/2 started by using the exact same start as the World Championship DH skiing course, which was pretty cool. From the top of the Gondola it made for a brutally steep, bike over shoulder hike, to the very top for our first two timed stages. The course was fairly flowy and fast, and I thought it was very cool they just taped virgin trail through grassy fields and used some very cool natural features of the terrain. There were so many dips and holes and natural berms and it was super fun…the sort of trail I would absolutely love to get a full days riding on to get to learn properly and really get up to speed. From the top natural grassy stuff, it went in to some very rough and unused single track that had okay flow. The track eventually joined back into some DH type switchbacks near the end and finished on part of the XC world cup track’s descent from last year. I enjoyed the stage and felt confident on it.

Stage 3/4 had so much going on with very tight and awkward trail, without much flow through most sections. It also used some bike park trails in small sections to give you a bit of a mental break from looking for lines, which was nice. The hardest part came after massive storms rolled through and turned the stage super greasy and slippery. I just tried to remember three key points for this stage, all of which completely stalled me out in practice.

Stage 5/6 was very long at 17 minutes and very physical. Similar feel up top as Stage 1/2; with a lot of natural grassy flowing stuff. I really enjoyed that and hope they do more of that stuff in the future. That was a big thing I heard from people this weekend; racers enjoyed the flow of a lot of sections, but sometimes things got a little awkward and flow (and fun) was lost. The middle of this stage had a fairly prolonged climb, a good few minutes with another minute or two of flatter stuff as you crested the top…a huge leg and lung burner! The bottom 1/3 dropped into steep wooded switchbacks before a few more short punch climbs before the finish.

Racing – Stage 1 - Found my flow straight away today, and didn’t have that first run tight riding like other races this year…PUMPED! Everything went well, and I was eating into the 20-second interval that I started behind Jerome Clementz. The only problem was the dust. It got to a point where all I could see was his dust. I just couldn’t push to get any closer in the last minutes of the stage as it steepened. I couldn’t see where I was going and the dust just lingered. I was happy to take some time out of him to start the day, but a little annoyed about the dust. Still a stage win to start the day…can’t complain!

Stage 2 - Such a rookie start, my brain was out of gear and I crashed into the very first turn. I just completely over cooked it, so dumb! I didn’t panic; it was an 11-minute stage and I got back into my rhythm. From there, I rode almost perfectly and was catching Jerome again, but the dust became the biggest issue again and I couldn’t push. Once I got to within 8 seconds of him, that’s where I stayed. I had to accept that was as close as I was safely able to get to him and keep any sort of visibility. The last thing I needed was to smash a rock and get a mechanical because I hit something I couldn’t see. Finished with another stage win and feeling happy.

Stage 3 - Lunchtime storms rolled in right on time. At least dust wouldn’t be an issue. The storms however made for quite a long delay before we actually got to ride. Conditions were now super slick and mud tires would have been the call. But, travelling by myself (and travelling light), muds weren’t an option, which made for some wild times! My run started really well…for about 45 seconds. Anyone who raced this weekend got a feel for how bad the visibility was in the heavy fog. Combine fog with only one practice run to remember hundreds of sections of track (impossible) and I found myself coming into a turn through the fog with no visibility and I launched straight through the tape and down an embankment. I was soaking wet and covered in mud, including my gloves. By the time I got back to where I left the track, Fabian Barel had caught me (so I had lost 20 seconds). We ended up riding the whole run together and I tried to push to build small gaps on the pedaling sections, but Fabian was right behind me. And my mud covered gloves made it very difficult to hang on to the bars…it was like having cakes of soap for grips. I got all the way to the last turn when I decided to put the bike down one more time and I slid for what felt like an eternity! I got back up and my number plate was missing from my bars, but I found it and grabbed it quickly. I could feel that I’d hit my thumb pretty good and was disappointed to have just thrown away another 15 seconds on the VERY last corner. The 20-second lead I had over Jerome had turned into a 25 second deficit after this stage. I was feeling very frustrated. Once I finished, I realized that I had put an 8 inch long gash down my right quad and that it was bleeding fairly heavily through my shorts, and I could feel my thumb seizing up more by the minute. Time loss, nagging injures to deal with, and still a full day’s racing tomorrow. My mental state just took a massive blow, and I was very frustrated.

I also felt bad for my good buddy Justin Leov, who was sitting 2nd overall just behind me after the first two stages and would have been in the lead at the end of the day’s racing but he suffered a puncture and lost 7 minutes on this stage. Racing can be brutal sometimes!

Stage 4 - Due to the delays and storms yesterday, Stage 4 was delayed until Sunday morning. After a night full of rain and freezing conditions with fresh snow up the top of the Gondola, it was time to head to the top of the mountain for an 8am start. This was going to be a rough one; my thumb had swollen up fairly well and hanging onto the bars was difficult. As my run got going it wasn’t too bad, but I had to go easy through any rough sections. I just didn’t have the strength to hold on with my left hand, combined with freezing temperatures that made my thumb feel even weaker. I had to try and survive and limit the time loss as much as I could. It was a pretty bad stage for me, but not as bad as it could have been. I made it down and was still hanging onto 3rd place overall. Jerome won the stage with another solid run and set himself up in a strong position for the overall win.

Stage 5 - This ended up being the final stage. We had more delays with heavy fog up top that made getting a helicopter in impossible (should anyone hurt themselves). The race was simply unable to go ahead if the medical situation wasn’t up to par, which is a good decision. This however meant that we would only be racing this stage once, instead of the planned two runs.

My thumb was feeling much better as the day warmed up a little. Some brief sunshine and some much needed ibuprofen helped, too! Overall, I was feeling really good about this stage after our practice run. My plan was to make sure I stayed 3rd overall, stay safe, and try and push to make up the 26 seconds I was behind Fabian Barel and take back 2nd overall for the weekend. My run went great; I rode almost perfectly…just like the final stage in Whistler two weeks ago. By the midway climb, I had caught and passed Fabian (who started 20 seconds ahead of me) and had my 40 seconds man, Jerome Clementz, in sight. So, I set out after him. I pushed right to the line and was right on his back wheel as we crossed the finish. What a perfect way to end what started as a very rough day! I got back into 2nd overall, and was only down 11 seconds from the overall weekend win. I was really happy, but a bit disappointed at some less than ideal circumstances and some rookie maneuvers on my part that cost me the top step of the podium. Fairly bummed as well that they decided not to run Stage 6. After taking 40 seconds off Jerome on Stage 5, I could have gotten the win if the race had gone its intended full distance. Not sure why we didn’t do Stage 6, as we had all afternoon to do it!

So that was it, round 6 of the Enduro World Series done and just one round left to go in Finale Ligure in Italy in October. But for now, I’m at the airport in Geneva, my bags packed, and on my way to the Downhill World Champs in South Africa this weekend! Been excited for this race all year, can’t wait!

Frame – Yeti sb66c Medium

Fork – Fox float 34 2014

Rear Suspension – Fox Float X

Seatpost – Thomson Elite Dropper

Wheels – DT Swiss 240 hubs, 500 rims, and Aerolite spokes, alloy nipples

Tires – Maxxis Minion 2.5 EXO Front, 27psi, Maxxis MinionDHR2 30 psi rear, ghetto/ split tube tubeless

Brakes – Shimano XTR race lever, Saint calipers, 180mm Ice-Tech Rotors

Derailleur – Shimano XTR Shadow Plus

Cranks – Shimano XTR 170-millimeter with Stages Power Meter Chainring – Shimano Saint 38-tooth

Cassette – Shimano XTR 11-36 Pedals – Shimano XTR trail

Chainguide – E13 LG1

Bars and Stem – Renthal 740mm Fatbar lite, 20mm rise, and 50mm duo Stem

Headset – Chris King
Grips – ODI Ruffian MX

August 26th

Shredding on the AS-R Carbon at an MSC XC race in Salida

The Making of a Yeti Freak

The Disgusting End to a Long Chapter:

“The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only ones who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”

-Hunter S. Thompson

A colleague of mine at Yeti recently competed in his first mountain bike race. The race was one of those new-school endurance events with roughly a quadrillion feet of climbing over 60 some-odd miles. He asked me if I’d ever done an endurance mtb race. I explained that I had, the Firecracker 50 in Breckenridge. Suddenly, I was back out there on that beautiful, 4th of July morning in Breck, and I immediately felt sick to my stomach.

I’m not going to waste time discussing race reports because there’s really nothing interesting or impressive to report. In the scheme of things I was a mediocre cross country racer, at best. That’s just the thing, when I look back at all the physical and mental agony I endured to be mediocre it’s a tad depressing, not gonna lie. There were certainly some rewarding moments, but mostly agony.

What I will say is that when I finished the Firecracker 50- fighting cramps that shot through my soul for the final hour- in a sprint to the line (and not for first place) where I proceeded to dry heave in front of 100 or so men, women, children and dogs, I finally came to the conclusion that enough is enough… And then the cramps hit again- So I stumbled around on stilts, and threw up some more…

A New Beginning:

“Both formerly and now, it is only suffering that I describe, and the cessation of suffering.”

-Buddha

Fast forward 6 years and I’m looking to do some XC racing again. Not really because time heals all wounds or anything like that but because it’s part of a sales/marketing project I’m working on with Yeti.

I’ve known Chris Conroy and Steve Hoogendoorn for many years through the bike industry, bike riding, and general drunken shenanigans, but the ASR Carbon I bought in 2011 was my very first Yeti. Why did I wait so long, you ask? Well, just because I stopped shaving my legs and hadn’t vomited while cramping since the Firecracker 50 didn’t mean that I wasn’t still an XC racer at heart. I was still a Weight Weenie.

I remember looking at the specs of the ASR Carbon like it was yesterday: 120mm fork? I’ll be adjusting that to 100mm immediately. Saddle, handle bar, tires way too bulky and will be replaced. Alloy wheels? Hogwash. Look at that geometry- Low bottom bracket; slack head angle? I’m not racing motocross here folks. I finally decided to sack-up and race the ASR Carbon with the stock, XTR Pro kit. It was 23.4 (or so) pounds all built up. What a tank!!

Back in the day, whenever I would hear someone say “Have fun out there!” when talking about an XC or road race I would cringe. There’s nothing “Fun” about bike racing! If you’re having fun you’re not trying hard enough. Save your registration money if you want to “have fun.” However, after racing the ASR Carbon that season I changed my mind. Not only was it the most fun I’d ever had racing bikes but it was the most rewarding in terms of my expectations of the bike and myself. I had never descended so well and the stiffness to weight ratio of the ASR Carbon made it an amazing climbing machine. The bike seemed to improve with every ride.

It’s important to note here that there was something more important going on that summer- Something far beyond the racing/training/riding. I felt much more content soft-peddling climbs. I was peeking at drops and gaps that never appeared to me before. Suddenly, I’m leaning a bit, awkwardly turning towards them (because I can’t turn for shit), like a toddler peaking in the cupboard at the rat poison…

Joining the TRIBE, Full Time

“If you’re going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you’re going to be locked up.”

-Hunter S. Thompson

The project I was working on with Yeti was going better than planned. This success is purely an outcome of believing in what you sell. There was no doubt in my mind that the ASR C was THE xc machine despite being stuck in the middle of the 29” wheel craze. I simply portrayed these feelings to the market, the bike sold well, and every single person who became part of the program/purchased a Yeti loved the bike as much as I did.

I was out on a lunch ride with Conroy one random hot, dry June afternoon when we discussed the potential of full-time Yeti employment. I almost fell off my bike. I was thrilled. A couple months later I was rolling into Corporate Circle as a full time Yeti Employee.

At that same time the XC race season came to an end and I was (for sure this time) hanging up my carbon fiber race slippers. This was a much, much better way to wrap up the XC thing- on the heels of the best season ever- not in terms of results but of pure good times out there shredding the CO trails on the ASR Carbon.

It was about that time that the SB66 Carbon caught my eye.

Completing the Transformation

“To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.”
-Bruce Lee

Don’t get me wrong, I’m old and weak but I’m still a competitor, dammit. Except now, the competition is simply to stay alive as long as I can while riding any one of the wheels of the Yeti employees on the Lunch Ride. And trust me folks, it ain’t easy.

Here’s the deal, I’ve been lucky enough to ride over 15 different, high-end, full suspension bikes over the years and the SB66 Carbon is far and away the best bike I’ve ever ridden. It climbs like an XC bike and descends like a downhill bike. It’s the perfect balance of light, stiff and strong. I’m truly amazed every single time I ride the thing…

I know, I know, how lame does that sound coming from the Sales Manager at Yeti!? When I worked in the media industry I used to roll my eyes when I listened to people in my position say things like that. Did they really believe it like I do? Did they wake up every single morning just itching to ride the bike like me? Maybe they did. And maybe they too completely revamped their thinking on a sport that they’ve loved for almost 20 years because of the way ONE BIKE rides…. But I doubt it.

Every night I dream about finally trying/cleaning at least one of the 13 gaps, drops and death corners that continue to haunt me during waking hours. Good news is I’m slowly chipping away at them. Truth is, at 42 years old, I’m finally having the time of my life riding a bike. Now I see guys out on their road bike, down in the drops with that look of utter agony on their face, and I want to stop and have a conversation with them. Something like “Hey man, let me save you a few years of pain. Go buy this bike and jump it off stuff. Trust me.” But it’s not just the bike- it’s the people, the challenge, the TRIBE.

I’m a Yeti Freak.

August 23rd

Trumpore_EWS_Whistler-8

Jared Graves – Enduro World Series #5

Whistler – Canada – Enduro World Series round 5.

Monday

Typical travel day. We flew out from Denver and arrived in Whistler just before dark and with just enough time to go for a mellow cruise with my favorite WAMP (Weird Ass Mountain Person) Joey Schusler on the Lost Lake trails. I really love the trails there, if you’re after some fun turns and some bits that are still technical, Lost Lake are probably the easiest trails Whistler has to offer.

Tuesday

Just a fun day in the Park, again out with Joey, he’s one of the most fun guys to go riding with, always laughing and with a smile on his dial. He’s pretty much equal with Richie Rude as far as getting rowdy on the bike goes. On this particular day I couldn’t wait to get up to the Top of the World trail, a track that features all the kinds of riding I love the most. Hands down, Top of the World has the best views of Whistler I’ve ever seen and it’s a fun flowy trail with some altitude to get the lungs going and a good amount of rocks to keep you on your toes. After Top of the World, we rode some other stuff in the park, probably a little too much, but were only in Whistler for six days, so the feeling was that we should make the most of it.

Wednesday

The first day of official training and we were able to ride Stage 5. With it being the longest stage and almost half the total time of the race, I knew it would be where the race was won or lost. I was able to get in two full runs and, despite feeling tired after yesterday, I had encouraging runs. The track was a similar one of the stages last year, so I more or less remembered it. The run was around 23 minutes and featured literally a thousand turns, so learning the whole thing was never going to happen. My goal was just to find my rhythm and remember the few bits that might catch me out.

Thursday

Really just nothing to report today as it was exactly the same as yesterday. Perfect weather and two runs of Stage 5, Might have been the same as the day before, but riding in Whistler is always good times.

Friday

Practice for Stages 1 through 4.

Definitely not what I was expecting, but the course covered some awesome trails! Most were definitely not my strong suit with all the super tight and fiddly bits, followed by steep and rough terrain. Overall this event was shaping up to be a real all over physical test. With all the riders on the mountain, the tracks were also getting blown out fast!

I rode all four stages to get an idea of what it would be like on race day. Stages 1 and 2 went from the Top of the World trail as part of the liaison and the timed section for Stage 1 started on the Khyber Pass trail. I’ve heard a lot about this trail and it lived up to its reputation, it’s soooo good! Stage 2 was a weird trail, like nothing id ever ridden before, not quite sure how to explain it. It was very tight and, so, it was easy to run completely off the track into the bushes. In the middle of all this, two extremely short and steep climbs, the sort of ones that send you straight into the red zone. No question, it was going to be tough to have a clean run on Stage 2.

After Stage 2 was a long, steep climb up to the beginning of Stage 3. To be honest, I wasn’t very into this stage. Mostly because I know I struggle a little on this type of super tight and fiddly stuff. Some bits were almost like downhill trials and many were definitely a challenge to maintain flow through.

Next it was over an hour of climbing up to the beginning of Stage 4. The uphill was brutally steep and had a few sections that required walking to avoid completely blowing my legs up on. The stage itself was one my favorite trails that I’ve ever ridden, steep and rocky, with constant flowing turns. Riding it fast gave me just such a rewarding feeling. A trail that good almost makes up for an hour of climbing.

Saturday

The day before the race and I was feeling pretty tired. I knew I needed to take it easy or, at least, easier than Friday. The bottom of Stage 4 was very close to our house for the week, so it was an easy pedal over. Riding Stage 4 for a second time made it clear that the trails were badly blown out from all the riders that had been on them. Luckily we got a good idea of what to expect for Sunday’s timed runs. The rapid rate of deterioration of the trails became even more clear in the afternoon when we went up and did Stages 1 and 2 again. The change was complete and they both a completely different trail compared to 30 hours before. After our practice runs it was time for a nice cruise along the road back to the village and then it was feet up and time to relax.

Sunday

Race day and my plan was pretty simple: After racing the enduro in Whistler last year and being beyond tired for the final stage (which descends 5500 feet down the mountain over 23 minutes), I knew it would be extremely important save some energy for the final stage, Begin that stage tired and there would only be one result: Massive bleeding of time! I planned to not go too hard in any stage. Sure, I knew I might lose some time, but I would probably be the freshest guy left on the hill for the final stage. With that in mind, I launched into Stage 1.

Stage 1

MAN! I need to get better at finding my flow and not riding tight on the first stage of the day. At pretty much every race this year I’ve given up time to Jerome Clementz on Stage 1. Not sure what it is, but I just can’t get into a rhythm early, but as soon as that first stage is out of the way I find my flow. I was still second fastest for the stage, but I was a full nine seconds behind Jerome. I guess that not too much over nine minutes but that guy is just too good at every sort of trail to gift him a nine second head start.

With Stage 1 out of the way I did achieve my main goal for the stage which was to grunt up the SUPER steep climb about two thirds of the way down the hill. I wasn’t able to make it up in practice, I did it when it counted. It was an all out sprint to make it up the grinder and I was already starting to fatigue coming into it, but I just punched it as hard as I could. After the stage, I looked at my Garmin and it showed that I put out 1960 maximum watts while getting up the climb! So much for trying to save energy for later!

Stage 2

I had a pretty good run, and I was happy with it. At the very least, I didn’t throw myself into any trees on the tight bits! A very hard trail to find good flow and pace, especially when it was only the third time I’d ever ridden it. My time was fastest by a comfortable margin at the time I crossed the line, but right behind me Jerome went 1.3 seconds faster. Second for the stage again was a bummer, but I did manage to save a good amount of energy for later in the race.

Stage 3

I was kind of dreading this stage because I didn’t get along with it in practice. I’d only ridden it once, so I decided to put my brain in neutral and just go with it. It actually worked really well, I was a bit slow in a couple parts, but I hit some other sections faster than I should have and managed to get away with it. Unfortunately toward the bottom I decided to see if I could knock over a tree with my shoulder. Needless to say, I lost and went straight onto the ground….Ooops! Fabien Barel went fastest on this stage and put a good chunk of time into everyone. I was mainly concerned with Jerome’s time and, again, was disappointed to see he pulled another six seconds in front of me. I had to find a way to stop the time bleeding to him. Also Rene Wildhaber was having his best race of the year and was close behind, so I was watching his times closely as well.

Stage 4

I knew things might swing more in my favor for the final two stages. I had setup my bike to suit these stages more and I just don’t like to change tires and chainrings and all that stuff that other guys do throughout the race. I like to have the feel of all my parts 100% for each stage and not be trying to find the limits of a different tire, or gearing of a different chainring. I like to keep it simple!

I had a lot of fun on Stage 4 and was fairly happy with it. I just lost a little focus here and there and forgot a few key things, but all-in-all it was a solid stage.

Once again though, Jerome went four seconds faster than me. I was starting to get pretty frustrated as he was always just one step ahead of me all day. I was OK with being 16 seconds back after Stage 3, but wanted to pull back some time in stage 4 and that just didn’t happen. It ended up that I was second for the stage again, and was 21 seconds back going into the final battle.

Stage 5

This was the big one! All week I knew the race would come down to the final stage. My body was feeling strong and I was really fresh and ready for a big finale. My plan was to have a good smooth run, and make sure I secured second spot for the day. I was also thinking that maybe I could challenge Jerome with a really good run, but taking back 21 seconds on a guy like that is a pretty tall order in any race, even one that is 23 minutes long!

As my run started I could just feel that it was going to be a good one, I had found my rhythm and flow, and found myself hitting everything just like I’d imagined. I knew I was on a good run, but it’s impossible know how the other guys are going. After about the halfway point, I decided I would take some risks on the parts that weren’t too rocky or dangerous.

I overcooked one turn in “Angry Pirate” which resulted in me slapping my man bits on the seat pretty hard and made for an uncomfortable couple of minutes. On the last few sections of the trail I was giving it all. So much so that my legs were starting to buckle, but, amazingly, I had no arm pump.

I crossed the line and was in the lead by a long way. Jerome started one minute after me and I had my clock going on my Garmin so I could gauge his time. I just sat and stared at it, watching the seconds ticking over, knowing the exact time he had to hit if he was going to beat me for the overall. The 1:21 that I needed to take the overall seemed to take forever, but the time came and went before he came into the finish area. I knew I had it but I waited until he crossed the line and got the official time before celebrating!

I couldn’t believe it! All day he had been too good, but I knew Stage 5 played to all my strengths and I did all I could to make the most of it. Having my wife there at the finish to share the win with was so amazing! Then I was reminded of the $10,000 first place prize! I hadn’t thought of that all day because I was focused on just winning.

So that was that. My First EWS win and it happened at the biggest race of the year. I just couldn’t be happier!

A big thanks to my mechanic for the weekend Nate Espinosa. With my usual mechanic, the Polar Bear, doing DH wrench duties at the MSA, Nate did a top-notch job as his stand-in. Cheers Friend!

Bike Specs

Frame – Yeti sb66c Medium

Fork – Fox 34 R.A.D

Rear Suspension – Fox Float X

Seatpost – Thomson Elite Dropper

Wheels – DT Swiss 240 hubs, 500 rims, Aerolite spokes, alloy nipples

Tires – Maxxis Minion 2.5 EXO (ghetto/split tube tubeless) @ 27psi F/30psi R

Brakes – Shimano XTR race lever, Saint calipers, 180mm Ice-Tech Rotors

Derailleur – Shimano XTR Shadow Plus

Cranks – Shimano XTR 170-millimeter with Stages Power Meter

Chainring – Shimano Saint 38-tooth

Casette – Shimano XTR 11-36

Pedals – Shimano XTR trail

Chainguide – E13 LG1

Bars and Stem – Renthal Fatbar Lite (740mm width and 20mm rise); Duo Stem (50mm)

Headset – Chris King

Grips – ODI Ruffian MX

August 13th

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Cam Cole – UCI World Cup #3

Cam Cole – UCI World Cup #3 – Vallnord, Andorra

As a downhill mountain bike racer, injury is something that is always possible. To perform at the top level on the Word Cup Circuit racers are being pushed to new limits and new speeds in each and every race. The margin of error at these incredible speeds definitely makes injuries a likelihood.

This past weekend, the Yeti Cycles race team headed to Vallnord, Andorra for the third round of the UCI World Cup. After spending the last few weeks training and living in Morzine, France, team riders Richie Rude and Cam Cole could not have been more prepared. With a freshly cut course on some of the worlds steepest terrain, the race was set to be one of the most challenging of the entire season. Cam was on track for a top run when he had a massive crash. The race stopped while he was evacuated off the mountain via helicopter. He sustained a broken T7 vertebrae, concussion, and chipped tooth. Sadly his season looks to be over for the time being. Luckily, he is to be expected to make a full recovery. We can’t wait to see you back on the bike, Cam.

Leave Cam a “Get Well Soon” message on his Facebook Fan Page: facebook.com/camcole

July 31st

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Jared Graves – Enduro World Series #4

EWS #4 Winter Park: The Highs and Lows of Racing

Tuesday
Made it to the venue and it was suns out guns out! I thought it stayed cool at high altitude, but I was seriously sweating bullets. Got settled in and hit a quick trio of runs on the easy “green” tracks. It was super dry and dusty, good thing I love Colorado’s blown out ball bearing dirt! I was definitely hoping for the weather to stay dry; its so slippery here when it hasn’t rained in a long time and I feel incredibly confident on that type of dirt. Then again, I suppose mud’s fine too. With something like the weather, its completely outside your control and its just not worth the energy worrying about it!

Wednesday
Though some stages were meant to be announced today, it turns out they weren’t. I suppose the organizers didn’t have everything, well, organized. Without killing myself, I focused on covering as much of the mountain as possible and did so in four different runs. Got some quality skids and drifting done with Yeti’s photo/social media outlaw Joey Schusler. Good times….good times indeed!

Thursday
Stages 1 and 2 were announced at lunch, earlier than normal and a cool idea from the organizers as it takes the guess work out of which rusn to spend time on. Got two runs of Stages 1 and 2. I immediately felt fast and my lines felt dialed. Then, just as predicted in the day’s forecaset, super heavy storms rolled in at two on the dot. I’ve spent a lot of time in Colorado over the years, and know all about the weather patterns here, but I’ve never seen a storm like this one. Positively biblical! Hail, wind, and flash flooding. The trails before this were bone dry, and the water seemed to just soak right through like a sponge.
I headed out at about 6:00PM for a quick run, just to check trail conditions. I was amazed how well the trails held up, not to mention the absolute hero traction! The rocks and roots were a bit slick, but overall, the tracks were mint.

Friday/Racing Stages 1 and 2
Stage 1: The course was just the DH track here, definitely quite rocky and technical in parts. The key with this track is overall speed maintenance and at 11,000 feet altitude for the start, that’s not always easy. Definitely not my strong suit to go straight to racing the most technical stage of the day first; my maiden run down the hill was at 9:00AM!  I definitely need a run to warm up, get a feel for the dirt and I knew this stage might be a struggle. As it turned out, I was really happy with how I rode. I definitely didn’t feel amazing, but, again, I generally ride terribly on my first run of the day. This time, I remembered all my lines, paced it well and had no mistakes. All in all very happy with the run, and I took the Stage win! It was very close for the top three on the stage and, with it being a DH track, I was pumped to come in ahead of three-time DH world champion Fabian Barel.

Stage 2: This was seemingly tailor made for me. About 11:00 minutes long with a number of short power bursts on the pedals, loads of berms and jumps, and maintaining speed being the most important thing. I felt good coming into this after winning the morning stage and I knew I could get a solid stage win on this course.

I felt amped! As I set out, I got straight into my rhythm. Flowing and all that fun stuff, but I was very careful not to go out too hard in the first few minutes. Everything was going perfectly and then it all went south. It’s been a while since this has happened to me, but I picked up one of those mechanicals that has no explanation. I was safely through the one rocky section on the course that might give me a mechanical and there was just no other obvious spot to cause a mishap. My chain jammed all through my swing arm and my pedals got stuck with my wrong foot forward, which was causing my to almost crash on every jump. I had no choice but to stop, and at least get my cranks set with my left foot forward so I could pump my way to the finish. Unfortunately I also copped this mechanical before the 2 fairly flat, but long climbing/pedaling sections. That resulted in me having to get off the bike and run. I was devastated, but knew I had to get to the finish as fast as I could. In my mind, I was just thinking: It’s a long series with lots of racing to come and I can’t ever give up!

I crossed the line, and had lost over 3 minutes. Damn, this was a race I was super excited about all year. It’s close to the Yeti factory, a lot of Yeti employees were in attendance and I really wanted to win for them! Any chance of that happening was well and truly down the drain. Its one of those things all of us need to face and deal with at some point, and it sucks!

From this point my focus just turned to stage wins, I wanted to sweep the rest of the race just to show everyone the speed I have right now. At the end of the day, I had gone from 1st overall, to 104th because of the mechanical. Tough pill to swallow for sure.

Saturday/Racing Stages 3 and 4
Stage 3 was meant to be a two-part stage. One that featured two timed sections and an untimed liaison stage between the two. As it turned out, big afternoon storms came through again and the chairlifts has to be shut down. So, Stage 4 had to be cancelled. That meant the first part of Stage 3 stayed as Stage 3 and the second part of Stage 3 became Stage 4. Make sense? No worries, I was kind of confused too!

Stage 3 was absolutely brutal; from the top of the chairlift we climbed 20 minutes up to almost 11,500 feet. Just walking up a set of stairs at this altitude gets your lungs going, let alone racing it over the most technical, muddy and rooty stage of the entire race.

As I started off I had to constantly tell myself to settle down, its way too easy to go out too hard early on. With the altitude and physical nature of this stage, anyone going into the red was never going to come back.

It’s a feeling you need to experience to believe. Getting to within 10-15 beats per-minute of you maximum heart rate, at 11,000 feet, then dropping into some of the most technical riding I’ve done in years. The lack of oxygen and the fatigue made me feel drunk, and I was racing! It was wild, and I’m not going to sugar coat it, about half way down I just wanted it to end! Pure torture!

I did a fairly good job of pacing myself over the pedally first half, and wasn’t too tired as I dropped into the technical section fittingly called “Mountain Goat.” I felt far from the pace I rode it the day before during practice when I had a rest to catch my breath before beginning the run, but I also knew everyone would be feeling the fatigue.

As I got into the last three minutes of the stage I saw my 30-second man, 10-time DH World Champion Nico Vouilloz come into view. A solid, dangling carrot to chase if ever I’ve seen one. The last two minutes were predominantly speed maintenance with some power pedaling thrown. I had one small mishap one the stage; I clipped a rock that claimed countless brake rotors, but I was lucky, and instead of bending my rotor I just broke two spokes, Not ideal, but I certainly wasn’t going to ruin my race.  I did my best to manage all while being completely cross eyed! I was slowly reeling Nico in and when we hit the line I was almost on his wheel. A definite career highlight.

Forget catching Nico, I was just happy the stage was done! I knew Jerome Clementz would be super hard to beat on this stage, because of how he rode in the previous EWS round in Les Deux Alpes. Jerome doesn’t struggle on the physical stages, not to mention he is extremely fast on technical terrain. After more than 11 minutes of racing time, I was just three seconds off Jerome’s time and he was fastest for the stage. I felt pretty satisfied with that, but, again, felt more satisfied that the stage was over! What’s more, Jerome and I had also put big time into the rest of the field. Adam Craig finished third on the stage, but was another 20 seconds behind me.

Stage 4
We had about 30 minutes to get up to the top of Stage 4. I was a nice and easy 10-minute climb to our start location in the bike park. The ability for quick recovery between stages is definitely something I put high on my “What I want from my training” list. So this was good for me. Stage 4 was pretty much a half-length version of Stage 2. So I went into it looking for a little redemption. But with no spare spokes in my backpack, and no mechanical assistance allowed up on the hill, I had to ride the wobbly rear wheel with missing spokes on this stage. Not ideal, but as long as I didn’t get too aggressive in the turns I knew it would hold up.

I ended up having one of those runs that rarely happens, everything just clicks, and I just can’t think of any way that I could have gone faster. In the five minutes of the stage I managed to put 15-seconds on the rest of the guys at the pointy end of the field. I knew I had a really good run, but was surprised at the size of my lead. I was pumped and a little bit bummed as I knew that I could have done some massive damage in Stage 2 if it weren’t for my mecianical. On top of winning the stage it was super cool to see my Yeti teammate, Joe Schusler, (who was doing his first EWS round) come in second place for the stage. Damn solid effort for an part-time racer and it put boosted him up into fourth place overall. I don’t have to tell you how pumped he was.

Sunday/Raching Stage 5
Stage 5 was meant to be a 20-minute super physical stage, but for some reason the organizers shortened it to an eight-minute, DH oriented stage. Normally, I’d be fine with that, but, with my mechanical on Stage 2, I needed every second of racing I could get. With the overall win out of sight, I just wanted to grab another stage win. It was essentially the same as the DH track we used for Stage 1, just with a few different sections thrown in, and a few minutes of rocky, technical stuff as well as a short climb thrown in at the start of the stage.

Another overnight rain made things wet and slippery on the rocks and roots that studded the technical sections, but the dirt was super grippy. Gotta love the Colorado sand! I went with the same game plan as Stage 3: Don’t push 100% from the start so as to save strength for the technical sections. I had another great stage and came in again with a comfortable 13-second stage win.

In the end I was 25th overall for the weekend. Hard to swallow after almost sweeping the rest of the race, but mechanicals are part of the game and happen to all of us at some stage. My confidence right now is sky high, and I can’t wait for Round 5 in Whistler in two weeks! Ohhh Yeahhhhhh!!!

Bike Set-up:
Frame – Yeti sb66c (medium)
Fork – Fox34 Float 2014 (now available!)
Rear Suspension – Fox Float X
Seatpole – Thomson Elite Dropper
Wheels – DT Swiss 240 hubs, 500 rims, Aerolite spokes, alloy nipples
Tires – Front: Maxxis Minion DHR2 2.3 @ 26psi. Rear: Maxxis Ikon EXO 2.35 @ 28psi. Both with our ghetto/split tube tubeless set-up
Brakes – Shimano XTR race lever, Saint calipers, 160mm Ice-Tech rotors
Rear Derailleur – Shimano XTR Shadow Plus
Crank – Shimano XTR 170mm with Stages Power Meter
Chainring – Shimano Saint 38t
Casette – Shimano XTR 11-36
Pedals – Shimano XTR trail
Chainguide – E13 LG1
Bars and Stem – Renthal Fatbar Lite (740mm wide, 20mm rise); Duo Stem (50mm)
Headset – Chris King
Grips – ODI ruffian MX

July 29th

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Jared Graves – Enduro World Series #3

Wednesday – Travel day

We had 36 hours in Morzine, France with just enough time to squeeze in some laundry, grab some much needed sleep, and get in a quick spin on the road bike to bring the legs back to life. To say I was feeling fatigued after last weekend would be an understatement; flat as a tack would describe it best. We left Morzine set for Les Deux Alpes around lunch time, arrived late afternoon, got settled into our place, went for a quick ride to scope out the area, and just took it easy.

Thursday

The day proved to be a good opportunity for Polar Bear Hughes and I to check out the bike park and get some riding in. The bike park is full of endless berm and jump trails…basic stuff, but still really fun. After last weekend, I still wasn’t feeling 100%, so we only did a few runs and decided to spend the afternoon with the feet up and get to bed early.

Friday

The trail crew was out and beginning to mark the courses and racers had the opportunity to walk some of the stages. I opted out, after feeling like it was more of a blowout than it was worth. Instead, I got out on the road bike for a couple of hours to spin out the legs, have a look around, and keep the body awake. Finally started feeling recovered from the previous weekend’s efforts, which relieved me and made me feel a lot better about the racing that was around the corner.

Saturday  – Practice Day

The format for this weekend’s race was a bit different than previous EWS events, with practice on Saturday and all racing on Sunday. Practice started at 9:30AM and everyone was keen to get up on course. All the tracks were freshly cut and new, and the morning practice session was almost a waste of time. The tracks featured a lot of fresh mowed grassy stuff that needed burning in and were changing quickly and were totally different by the end of the day. They’d become very fast and dusty and were getting rougher with each rider. I got in two to three runs on each of the stages, and was feeling pretty confident with my preparation.

Sunday – Race day
Stage 1

As the leader of the series, I was the last to start and didn’t roll out down the ramp until 1:00PM. Stage 1 had a little bit of everything. The first half was long, flat and basic. But, the second half was a whole different story; a solid climb that felt like it would never end, followed by 3 minutes of brake dragging steep descending…a big mix of terrain. The top half of my run went well, and I was feeling good. The climb was tough and I was trying to push the 40t chainring up a climb that would’ve been more manageable with a 36t or 34t. It was almost impossible to concentrate once over the top of the climb and I started the descent …I was totally in the red from the climb and then dropped straight into some seriously steep and techy turns. It was all going well, when I saw my whole stage go down the drain. The course tape had been completely broken at the end of a long fast, steep straight (after just two runs it’s impossible to memorize an entire 15 minute run, so you sort of rely on the course tape to give you an indication of where to go) and missed the turn and kept going straight down the hill at about 50km/h. Pretty quickly, I realized that I had missed a corner. I stopped and had no idea where I was and began to panic knowing that I was losing a bulk of time. In the “spirit of enduro” I didn’t want to be that guy to gain time by taking a shortcut or risk getting disqualified by taking a shortcut. So, I tossed my bike over my shoulder and hiked back up the hill (50m worth up a very steep slope). I knew I had lost probably a minute or more, and I was fuming!

In the end, I had lost almost 1min30sec to stage winner Jerome Clements. Jerome annihilated the stage with an impressive display of skills, fitness and strength. He essentially set himself up for the rest of the day and it became his race to lose. With Stage 1 behind me, my focus for the day changed. I needed to have a solid rest of the day, and get back in the Top-10 in order to salvage as many points as possible.

Stage 2

It was a very tight time transition for Stage 2 and I got to the top of the hill with only 8 minutes until my start. Stage 2 started with a very technical rocky section before transitioning to a fun, fast and flowy with some fast rough stuff. I had a decent crash in the rock section during practice on Saturday, so my plan was to just get through the section in one piece. That actually became my plan for the rest of the day; ride smooth and safe as to not have any major crashes or mechanicals that would completely have me out the back on points. It’s a little frustrating to have to ride conservatively, but it was easy to push it and risk crashing and doing damage to my bike and self. So, I played it safe. My run was solid, and to my surprise, I was 2nd fastest and on the same second as Nico Vouilloz. I was feeling confident going into the short lunch break and Stages 3 and 4.

Stage 3

After lunch, I decided not to look at how the overall positions were playing out. I’d just focus on doing the cleanest run I could for each stage and remain hopeful that the overall position should look after itself. Stage 3 was like a steep sketchy DH track; very tight and awkward with no real pedaling. Just trying to stay upright was the key to success on the stage. I honestly thought I was losing time throughout my run; I just felt really slow. I hadn’t missed any lines or crashed, but I stalled out in one tight turn. I really thought I was going to be out the back and was completely surprised when I crossed the line with the 3rd fastest time…2 seconds back behind stage winner and Junior DH World Champ, Loic Bruni. My confidence was growing, but I couldn’t help but think about what could have been with a good stage 1 run.

Stage 4

It looked like rain was going to hit us for Stage 4, but it passed just as quick as it came. Much like Stage 3, Stage 4 was like a DH track; very fast and rough, with some tight turns that all looked the same and required a delicate touch. My plan was to not do anything silly and put together a solid run to improve a few more places in the overall for the day. I still hadn’t looked at the overall standings and remained focused on riding my own race. My run was solid with no major mistakes. I definitely over-braked a good amount of sections that I could have pinned a lot more. But, I played it safe and ended up with the 3rd fastest time behind Sam Blenkinsop. My result had me feeling good about my chances of getting back inside the Top-10. Results were posted and I was pleasantly surprised with 6th for the day and fastest overall for the last 3 stages.

Overall, it was very up and down day with frustrating Stage 1 followed by three solid stages. I was happy with my riding and to salvage 6th place and some good points. Jerome Clementz kept it solid all afternoon and took the well deserved win. Jerome’s the guy to beat right now, and my main competitor for the overall title. I was very happy to see him get the win, he’s a top guy and really great for the sport! With his win this weekend, he’s taken over the series lead, with me 2nd overall and Nico Vouilloz in 3rd. After three rounds (of seven), the points are really close and the title is still completely up for grabs.

I’m excited to be heading to Denver, Colorado on Tuesday morning to get in some high quality riding, and even higher quality burritos! So damn excited to get a burrito in my belly! My extra special wife, Jessie Graves will be coming to join me in a couple weeks, too. I haven’t seen her since before Punta Ala event nearly 2 months ago. So, there’s a lot to be excited about, and all in all, things are just peachy right now. A huge thanks goes out to Shaunybear Hughes, the best mechanic ever. My bike was 100% dialed all week; it never misses a beat!

Bike Specs:

Frame – Yeti sb66c Medium
Fork – Fox 34 R.A.D
Rear Suspension – Fox Float X
Seatpole – Fox DOSS
Wheels – DT swiss 240 hubs, 500 rims, and Aerolite spokes, alloy nipples
Tires – Maxxis Minion 2.5 EXO, ghetto/split tube tubeless. 27psi F, 30psi R
Brakes – Shimano XTR race lever, Saint calipers, 180mm Ice-Tech Rotors
Derailleur – Shimano XTR Shadow Plus
Cranks – Shimano XTR 170mm with Stages Power Meter
Chainring – Shimano Saint 40t
Casette – Shimano XTR 11-36
Pedals – Shimano XTR trail
Chainguide – E13 LG1
Bars and Stem – Renthal 740mm Fatbar lite, 20mm rise, and 50mm duo Stem
Headset – Chris King
Grips – ODI ruffian MX

July 8th

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Jared Graves – Enduro World Series #2

After a six week break since the first of the Enduro World Series in Punta Ala, it was time to head to Val d’Allos, France for the second round of the series. In Val d’Allos we knew we’d be seeing totally different terrain and a totally different race format and a steep learning curve for the weekend. The Format was fairly simple: six stages over two days with just one practice run allowed for each stage. The one-look format is something I have tried to prepare for a little over the past few months, by basically just trying to ride as fast as I can first run down any new place I rode. Oddly, this something that I felt pretty comfortable with, so that gave me a little added confidence coming into this round of the series.

One thing I knew was going to be difficult was trying to keep up with the French at their own game on their home turf. Not that it would be a huge advantage, but the French riders have raced here a number of years over basically the same courses and with the same format. I was a little worried how the racing was going to play out, and if foreigners would even be able to be on the same level as the Frenchies. Also going from a total of 20 minutes of timed stages in Punta Ala, and now having over an hour of timed stages for the second round, was going to be tough.

Friday – Practice Day
On Friday we were allowed to get up on the hill and walk any section we wanted to see, basically just to get an idea of the terrain around. With six stages and approximately a kilometer of vertical drop (3,000 feet more-or-less) per stage, it was going to be impossible to walk everything without completely blowing myself out. I walked up about 2/3 of the first stage and then walked down a chunk of Stage 5. That took almost three hours and was about all the hiking I could handle if I wanted to stay fresh for racing. So I cut it short and called it a day. It was really good to walk with one of my best riding buddies ever, former teammate, and all-round good guy Justin Leov. He was doing his first EWS race, and was pretty excited to get after it.

Saturday – Stage One
I woke up feeling mentally really good and ready, but I was a little surprised that my legs felt completely blown up from hiking the day before. My muscles were definitely not used to that amount of walking/hiking. We had our only practice run at 8:15 in the morning. The early run was a total struggle for me, my body and mind just did not want to ride flat out down alpine trails at that hour. Once I was up and about though, it proved to be a good way to wake myself up; the view from up top was amazing, and definitely made me feel very lucky and grateful to be where I was. The track was fairly long and a mix of flowy and fast up top, and natural, grassy and steep at the bottom. A good all-round run. I felt solid up top and my run was going well until I had one of those stupid crashes left me stuck under my bike, struggling to get out from under it. Definitely not an ideal start to the race. The bottom natural stuff was tough to ride fast, especially with no idea where I was going. Ultimately, I didn’t lose too much time and could only imagine how things would’ve gone if I’d have started the day on equal footing with the locals.

Stage 2
Had the same top half as Stage 1, so that was perfect. The route then peeled off into some nice steep traverses and amazing flowing sections. Just a short, 45 second long fire road section to get the legs burning and then more flowy fast singletrack to the finish. Fully awake for this stage, my run was pretty much perfect and I posted the best time by four seconds and got myself back to within six seconds of the overall lead. All of which got me pretty amped up for the final stage of the day–Stage 3

Stage 3
Came back to the pits from my practice run with a smile from ear to ear, hands down my favorite track of the whole weekend. This stage proved to be a good mix of everything: no climbs, but a fair few short punchy sprints and just so much fun to ride. I knew it would be a good track for me. This was also the run that turned the race on its head a little bit. Fabian Barel was one of the strong pre-race favorites, but he flatted on the top of the course. On my run, I could see I was catching Jerome Clementz who started just ahead of me. By the mid-way point I knew I was on a good run and could sense that I was getting closer and closer to Jerome. Suddenly I closed down the gap quickly and it was obvious he had some mechanical trouble (which turned out to be a flat tire.) I went flat out to the finish and was very happy with my run. I took the stage win again with Greg Minnaar finding his enduro feet, finishing just half a second back and Nico Vouilloz over 11-seconds back in third spot. Stage 3 proved to be an unlucky stage for some, but was a great stage for me. Playing it safe in a few sections was a smart move and something that doesn’t really come naturally as a racer; normally I just want to go flat out everywhere, but that isn’t always the best tactic in Enduro. By the end of the day and at the half way point of the race I found myself with a 6-second lead in the overall, and a lot of confidence leading into Sunday’s last three stages.

Sunday – Stage 4
Another early start, up on the top of the hill at 8:15AM for our practice run. It turned out that Stages 4 and 5 were run over the same course. Totally natural terrain, very physical, with two short, but tough climbs, and a long flat fire road which felt like it would never end followed by a batch of steep, tight and awkward stuff. My lead was a nice little gap, but anyone could lose or gain a lot of time on either stage. At the end of my practice run I had a big crash, flipping the bars and landing on a pile of rocks at high speed. I got up slowly, feeling pretty sore with a good chunk of skin missing from my left palm, which was going to make hauling on in the fast and rough stuff pretty difficult for the rest of the day.

This is the point where Enduro racing becomes tough, staying mentally strong when you have three more brutal stages of racing and your body is sore from top to bottom. It would prove to be a good test of mental strength for sure.

I had a near perfect first half I was extending my overall lead, the pain in my hand wasn’t bothering me at all and I was feeling good. Then, at almost exactly the same as spot as my practice run, I found myself sliding down the hillside wrapped in course tape. Trying to unwrap my bike and untwist my bars I knew I was losing a good chunk of time…I was just gutted! I pushed on as hard as I could to the finish and I felt good about where thought I’d end up. In the end, I lost just a few seconds off my lead, but I was completely frustrated that I had thrown away a lot of time.

Stage 5
Stage 5 was going to be the make-or-break stage. I was still in the overall lead by 3-seconds and felt like it was my race to lose. Again, I rode a good first half, then it all went a bit pear shaped. I clipped a rock with my foot on a short rocky climb and fell over. I got going again fairly quickly, but that was a few seconds gone. Off my rhythm a little, I crashed again on the exact same corner as the previous run. The worst part of it being that I landed again on my skinned palm. So for the rest of the stage my left hand was too weak to hold onto the bars properly. I had to hang on extra hard with my right arm, resulting in some heavy arm pump in my right arm. I wanted to win and just had to keep pushing as hard as I could. I knew I was losing time through every fast section as I had to back off or I would blow a hand off the bars and crash. At the end of stage the damage was done: I was now out of the lead and dropped to second overall by 9 seconds.

Enduro can give such up-and-down feelings, I was happy that I was secure in second overall with just one, non-technical stage to go, but I had thrown away the lead with a few stupid crashes. I might have been able to ride fast and avoid mechanical issues, but you can’t crash four times in five stage and expect to win. Having a sense of that, I was a bit gutted.

Stage 6
Just a short, five minute stage, this one was just an easy, flowy, DH track really. I was nine seconds back but about 25-seconds ahead of Greg Minnaar who had ridden steadily and had moved up to third overall. I decided I’d attack and try to pull back some time on the last run. But there’s just no way that Nico Vouilloz, a 10 time DH world champion was going to give back a nine second lead. So I backed off and just rode a safe and conservative stage to make sure I didn’t throw away second overall. It was a tough choice to make as I really wanted to push flat out and give it everything the win, I also knew the second place overall would give me the overall series lead.

So that was that. My first French enduro had definitely lived up to its reputation as being the most physical and toughest around. Racing the course focused on just seeing what’s coming around the next corner it’s possible to something completely basic, like breathing! The trails were amazing though and I’m already looking forward to coming back next year!

Frame – Yeti SB66 Carbon, medium
Fork – Fox R.A.D 34, 95psi
Rear Shock – Fox Float X – 175psi
Seat Post – Fox DOSS
Brakes – Shimano XTR race levers, Saint brake Calipers
Wheels – DT Swiss, EX500 rims 26″, DT 240 hubs,  DT Competition double butted spokes.
Tires – Maxxis Minion F 2.5, front and rear, EXO, 27psi F, 30psi R. Ghetto/split tube tubeless.
cranks – Shimano XTR 170mm with Stages Power meter
Chainring – Shimano Saint 38t
Cassette – Shimano XTR 11-36
Pedals – Shimano XTR trail
Rear Derailleur – Shimano XTR, shadow plus
Bars and Stem – Renthal Fatbar lite, 20mm rise – Duo stem, 50mm

All parts 100% stock and available to purchase, except forks which will be 2014 Production.

July 1st

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Big Mountain Enduro – Angelfire, NM

There’s no doubt about it, the crew that works at Yeti is about as diverse as it can get. We have car geeks, fisherman, hockey players, skiers… you name the passion and we likely have it represented. Each person is overwhelming unique. Differences aside, we share a passion for riding and racing bikes.

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June 24th

UCI World Cup Val di Sole 2013

Cam Cole – UCI World Cup #2

Val di Sole World Cup – Cam Cole Rider Diary

Day 1: Track Walk
The Monday after the Fort William World Cup was complete it was a 3am wake up call and we were off to Val di Sole for the second World Cup.  Despite its rugged reputation, the Val di Sole track has looked after me with podium results for the last two years.  I was really looking forward to another World Cup after a mechanical at Fort William. Despite the mechanical, I was still able to salvage a decent result, but not what I was looking for. The track walk went well. The track looked as if it would live up to its reputation: brutal, steep, rocky and rooty.  I was looking forward to practice in the morning.

Day 2: Practice Day
The first day of practice went well. I got four runs under my belt and I knew where I was going. The bike feels like its working just as it should.  My tyres of choice were a 2.5 Maxxis Minion on the front and a 2.5 Maxxis High Roller on the rear.

After practice I headed up the track to walk again, just to get check out a few lines and make sure I wasn’t missing anything.  The track changed a lot after one days practice, it was quite amazing.  The rocks and roots became more exposed as the dirt was torn off the track. With qualifying the next day I felt like I could lay down a good time so I was looking forward to getting it done.

Day 3: Qualifying
Practice before qualifying went well. I tried out some 2.7 Maxxis Minions because I thought there was the potential for them to work well with the way the track was developing.  They didn’t feel as good as my tire combo from the first days practice so I changed backed to them before the qualifying run.  I didn’t feel quite as good in practice as the day before. I think I was slightly overriding the track and it was a case of keeping it as smooth and fast as possible.

I had the number 16 plate and was the 16th elite man on track.  I felt smooth and fast and was working into my qualifying run getting quicker as I progressed down the hill.  I came into one section fast and missed my exit line drifting wide onto a line that I had ridden in practice earlier so I wasn’t worried, I didn’t want to slow down – with the racing the way it is now every millisecond counts and you can’t afford to brake unless absolutely necessary. Next thing I knew I was on the ground.  The marshal dragged my bike off the track but I managed to get it back on and get on down the hill to finish. I felt like I just played a game of rugby against the All Blacks all by myself. My head, neck back and shoulder were dead but surprisingly all okay – all that injury prevention gym work over our southern hemisphere summer paid off.

Day 4: Practice Day
I missed practice today because I was really stiff and just walked the track later in the day to ease into it.  A lot of people had a day off practice so they could be fresh for the race.

Day 5: Race Day
Heading down the track on race run it was hard to believe how much the track had changed from the first day. I felt good considering the previous two days and was getting quicker as I gained more confidence as I went, then I went down and crashed in a section that also ended up claiming a number of other riders including fellow kiwi Brook Macdonald.  It was a disappointing end to the weekend with a 36th place and 14 seconds off first place; crashes are frustrating as they always leave you thinking what if…

June 17th

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Cam Cole – UCI World Cup #1

The first stop on the World Cup circuit in Fort William this weekend marked the beginning of the season, and like all opening rounds, it gave us an early indication of how each rider’s off-season training would prepare them for this notoriously difficult track. Yeti riders, Cam Cole and Rich Rude hit the track hard and finished the day 16th and 28th respectively, with Richie earning the fastest time among the juniors. Jared Graves finished 37th.

We caught up with Cam after the race to get some insight into their training the race and expectations for the coming year.

“After nearly 40 hours on planes and in airports, I arrived in Scotland from New Zealand the Saturday before the opening round of the World Cup in Fort William. The plan was to stay in Edinburgh at a friend’s for the weekend, sample some of the local coffee shops, take in some sights and get the legs turning over again before meeting up with the team and getting to the race site. The week’s weather was looking warm and dry, and after Thursday’s course inspection, we could tell the track had already seen a lot of sun and was looking rough and fast. I had not seen the Fort William course in such a rough state since 2009 (the last year of the ‘07 course layout). Since rebuilding the track for the 2010 World Cup, the track had eroded and looked very similar to it’s brutal predecessor. I was looking forward to getting on the bike and getting the first practice session under my belt. It was going to be a tough week at the office for the team, but we were all excited.

“Anticipation” and “expectation” best describe the first round of the World Cup. Coming in, it’s tough to gauge how hard you’ve worked in the off-season compared to the other riders. Athletes from all sports experience this, and the mental weight of rider expectations can be difficult to shake and can hinder performance. Downhill is such a mental race and it’s hard to stay out of your own head and just ride. All things aside, it was great to get a qualifying run under my belt on Saturday afternoon. I knew where I stood and I knew where I wanted to go. I was sitting in 16th, nine seconds back from the leaders. In the middle (and most pivotal) part of the course, I was struggling with the flat and very rough, rocky turns. After adjusting suspension settings and toying with different bar heights during practice, we were able to identify where I was strongest on the course and where we could make up time. Sunday was Finals and I left all doubts behind as I dropped in for my race run. I came out aggressive and smashed through gears determined to get my run underway at speed. My aggressiveness may have ultimately been my downfall as I stood up the bike and dabbed a foot in the first technical turn and lost a second or two. Regaining my composure, I was eager to leave nothing on the course. I attacked hard through the middle part of the course and maintained it through the “motorway” section and down to the line for a solid 16th place finish.

Round 1 of the 2013 World Cup is in the books. For me, two solid 16th places (Qualifying and Finals) puts me 14th in the Overall. I think my Round 1 result bodes well for my goal of a Top-5 in the 2013 Overall. After missing last year’s first World Cup round, I still managed an 11th in the 2012 Overall. Val di Sole, Italy is a week out and I’m looking to build on this weekend’s successes there and into the late summer World Cups. I’ve had good results in Val di Sole before and placed 5th in the last two World Cups held there. Here’s hoping my luck continues. “

June 10th

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Anthony Sloan Memorial Ride

It seems like just yesterday we were riding with Anthony and enjoying a post ride beer at his favorite haunt, the Golden City Brewery. Turns out, it’s been four years since Anthony graced us with his presence and every year we saddle up on May 7th to celebrate the life of a great friend and Yeti freak.

Many in the Yeti Tribe knew Anthony well. They knew his as a rider and friend. They remember his sincerity and humility, but also his intelligence and wit. He was well-read and spent much of his spare time traveling, writing and capturing the world through his lens.

We had his memorial in Evergreen, CO four years ago and every time I ride his favorite trail, I point to the sky and yell his name. It’s a silly thing to do, but I always do it, even when strangers are on the trail. They look at me like I am a freak — they are puzzled, sometimes a bit scared. I chuckle. I know Anthony would get a kick out of it.

Those who didn’t know Anthony can still be touched by his writing and photography. In honor of his memory, his mom, Dorothy, kept his website alive. Check it out.

Godspeed, Anthony.

anthonysloan.com

May 22nd

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Jared Graves – Enduro World Series #1

Jared Graves needs no introduction. He’s been at the top of the sport in several disciplines for over a decade (4x World Champion, multiple 4x World Cup overall championships, has hit the World Cup podium in DH, and was an Olympian in BMX). This season, he decided to turn his focus to Enduro.

Jared’s training is legendary, so there was no doubt he would commit 100% to becoming a great enduro racer. His first indication came at the Australian National Championships this year — he finished eight in the pro cross-country race and less than an hour after his race, qualified first in downhill and went on to place second in the finals.

Fast forward to the first race in the Enduro World Series in Punta Ala, Italy this weekend. There was endless debate about what type of rider would excel in the new format and the field was packed with the biggest name in our sport. The Yeti crew felt confident Jared would be in the hunt.

Here’s Jared’s diary during the week of training and racing…

Monday, May 15 – I arrived in Florence straight from Australia, collected the hire car then off to Punta Ala. For sure, it was a mission, finding my way out of the airport. Being solo with just a printed Google map and driving on the wrong side of the road was tough. CRAZY Italian drivers and no street signs made the trip an adventure. Eventually I just decided to wing it. I knew the venue was southwest, so that’s where I headed. My plan, surprisingly, worked out very well.

Once I arrived in Punta, I built my bike, got groceries, unpacked and then went out for an easy spin to check out stages 4 and 5. Stage 4 and 5 are definitely the more mellow trails, such good flow and just plain good fun! Grabbed dinner and headed off to bed ready to get some big days riding in over the next few days.

Tuesday, May 14th – Jet-lag is a killer sometimes, but I generally like it when I am wide awake at 5am and ready to get on with the day. By 6 am I was out on the trails. I had all the trails to myself, the sun was out and I was loving it. What a way to start the day.

I took a quick break and early lunch. Late morning, I decided it was time to check out the first three stages. This is where things got a little frustrating. After four hours out riding and about 4000 vertical meters climbing we had finally checked out the the first three stages. We then saw a bunch of riders shuttling with quads, moto’s, and trucks. They were doing four runs to our one and saving a load of energy.

To me this is not really in the ‘spirit of enduro’ that people keep talking about, but I guess as soon as you call something a World Series with a World Champion to be crowned, things change. I’ve trained way too hard to be at a major disadvantage, so I planned to shuttle as much as we could over the coming days.

Wednesday, May 15th – Again, I was up nice and early for another solo spin of stages four and five (which can’t be shuttled, at least not in any way that I know of). Another awesome morning, two runs on each and a good start to the day!

11 am and it was shuttle o’clock. We only had a hire car, which meant part shuttles, the rough roads wouldn’t allow the car all the way up top. But it was good to save the legs a bit and get in some more riding, even though there was still a lot of climbing involved.

This is where my preparation paid off. Some solid study on what the trails were like lead me to believe a more aggressive bike setup would be the way to go. I chose a Maxxis 2.5 EXO 3c Minion front and rear, tubeless of course! Added an extra 5 psi in the Fox 34′s and an extra 10 psi in the Float X CTD out back. I switched to  a 50mm mm stem from the 70mm I was riding at home, and my bike felt right at home on the VERY rough and fast trails.

Stages 1,2, and 3 were to my liking – actually very similar to the trails that the SB66 was designed for, fast, rocky and unforgiving! Loving it!

This is where things get tricky… you need an easy 48 hrs leading up to the race to be fresh and ready to roll on race day, so squeezing in that last practice while freshening up proves to be a bit of a juggling act. Time management over the next few days is going to be very important!

Thursday, May 16th – The predicted rains for today rolled in last night, which is giving me a bit of a forced rest. Sunny skies are predicted for the weekend so there isn’t much point going out and sliding around in the mud. I’m taking my first moments to myself since I’ve landed, getting on top of some emails, and letting the body recover a bit. Also, a perfect time to do some helmet cam footage study from the past two days riding to learn the tracks a bit better.

Friday, May 17 – More overnight rain, and very slippery conditions. I  decided to just take it easy and check out how the tracks were changing and if they were getting cut up from the runs in the mud. The rain has totally transformed the tracks — they are full on World Cup DH status rough. The punchy climbs were boggy and slow, very physical now, but really enjoyed the riding today. Unfortunately, a couple bad line choices ended up in some mechanical issues which resulted in quite a stressful next 24 hours!

Saturday, May 18th – Sun’s out guns out! Bike was back to 100% perfect working order, and it was time to head off and do a final check of stage four and five. They were both drying nicely, especially stage five, which was top to bottom hero traction, such good fun! Focus of the day though was on recovery with 6000 ft of climbing over 62km in the dirt and mud to ride tomorrow, I needed to freshen up.

PM was the prologue which is a showcase for the spectators, done street race style, down through the streets of a nearly town. After washing my bike and making sure everything was 100%, I headed off for the prologue. Practice went until 5pm, but with me arriving at 4pm, and 500 riders to practice, I only got in one run. It’s gonna have to do…

Then the rain came down, just to make things more interesting! My plan was to just not crash, you don’t want to throw away the whole race in a 40 second stage when there’s going to be close to 30 minutes of timed race stages to come tomorrow. So I kept it simple, and casual, and just tried to make it down with myself and my bike in one piece. To my surprise I came in 8th fastest, pretty happy with that!

Ready for a big one tomorrow. Weatherman says its going to rain, which will make things interesting for sure, but I’m ready for whatever, can’t wait!

Sunday, May 19th, Race Day – Yep, there was overnight rain, but not as much as predicted – just enough to keep thing interesting.

The first two stages were long, rough, rocky, muddy, rooty, rough, physical, tiring and rough! The call “world cup DH on trail bikes…. with some pedaling” was being thrown around a lot! My plan was to stay smooth and carry overall speed from top to bottom. I knew stages four and five would be my strongest, so I had to be within striking distance in these stages.I was very happy when I found out I was in 3rd overall after the first two stages.

Stage three and four were less physical and technical, but more about flow and speed maintenance. I knew had to push hard to try and push my way up the order, but I pushed a little too hard on stage three. I found a tree with my shoulder, nothing major, but a few seconds gone. Still, I ended up 2nd fastest on the stage, which gave me a lot of confidence for the final stage.

I wasn’t really content to ride smooth and just make sure I got down safely. I really wanted a stage win! Stage four suited all my stregths the best, so it was now or never. My run was clean and fast, and to cut a long story short, I got my stage win. What a perfect way to end the day. I was two seconds off Jerome Clementz, who finished second, and fifteen seconds off Fabian Barel who took the win. But to stand on the podium with those guys was awesome!

Man I learnt a lot this week. It was very mentally and physically tough, 6-7 hours riding most days, and in the end, I got very limited shuttling. Enduro definitely combines the best of all forms of riding — you can’t have any weak points. The hype of this race was justified and I am looking forward to the next race.

Bike Set-up:
Yeti SB66c frame / medium
Fox RAD 34 and Float X 2014 fork and shock
Fox DOSS dropper post
DT Swiss EXC 1550 wheel set, ghetto/split tube tubeless
Maxxis 3C EXO Minion front and rear / 26psi front 29 psi rear.
Shimano XTR group, with Saint brake calipers
Renthal 740 wide fat bar lite and 50mm duo stem
Stages power meter

thats about it for now! cheers!

May 20th

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Yeti Tribe Gathering – Indonesia

The Yeti Cycles Tribe Gathering in Colorado is now not the only Tribe Gathering. Yeti freaks from around the world have been taking it upon themselves to set up and organize their own Yeti Tribe Gathering events. Big thanks goes out to Iman and crew for organizing the first ever Yeti Tribe Gathering Indonesia. Below is a recap on the even.

1st Indonesian Yeti Tribe Gathering @ Cikole Bandung West Java 20-21 April 2013

Day 1:
“Proud to be part of history” was a selected slogan for the 1st Yeti Tribe gathering 2013. The event was very successful and highly appreciated by all. The event would not have been possible with out the organization from Iman, Ariston, Kemal, Teddy and Dennis.

After waiting more than 2 years finally all Yeti riders from around Indonesia could meet and enjoy the riding at Lembang Bandung in West Java. Participants came from many cities in Indonesia, Jakarta, Bogor, Cianjur, Bandung, Cirebon, Malang, Makassar …… 

Saturday, April 20 at 7 am tribe members arrived in the event location at Grafika Cikole West Java… after checking in and receiving goodie bags, everyone prepared their bikes. The riding start at 10am, opened by Iman Kusnadi as a chieftain, we started with short briefing and speech from the local mountain bike community.

The ride was awesome. We had to cross the jungle (Jayagiri Mountain), even though the trails were very slippery. All the riders could control their bikes properly thus no major incident happened in this section…

Continuing our riding to the “traditional market “ at Lembang where we can enjoyed site seeing before we rode uphill 2 km to the Boscha (Giant Telescope). All the Tribe members enjoyed the view in this spot and some of the them are took photos with the group.

Our riding continued to the Setiabudi main road towards to Bumi Sangkurinang restaurant.
Bumi Sangkuriang was an authentic & heritage building build in 1885 (Dutch colonial ornament).

We had a great lunch in Bumi Sangkurinag with original recopies such as barbeque chicken, Sudanese beef soup, and traditional salad. 
After we were full, we returned to the camp by bus for the barbecue night preparation.
The atmosphere created was very intimate where all riders can express their passion for mountain biking.

We closed the day with bonfire and late night snack.

Day 2:

Everyone woke up at 5am for early morning ride. Not many rider joined in this section so therefore only a few of us were very fortunate see the amazing scenery in the “Jurasic trek”,

No breakfast. No shower. No coffee. They just want to ride to ensure they don’t miss the sun rise at Jurassic trek ….its owesomeeeeee!

After breakfast we loaded our bike to the Cikole downhill trek, We had a DH coaching lead by Chandra (one of the MTB master in Indonesia) to ensure we understand how to ride in the downhill environment.
Not all riders are using DH bikes but with proper instruction from Chandra they can pass the trek and try many times even though they are only using 5 inch travel but they can enjoy the riding.

The morning trip went well, thankful no fatal accidents happened. There were some riders that crashed, but nothing major.

The clock was running so fast, we had to return to the camp for closing preparation. We had lunch at Camp and door prize (main door prize = Yeti ARC, sponsored by KH Cycle and TRB Bike )

Olly from Jakarta got the “Yeti ARC jackpot“ Congratulations to hi, also for other door prizes that he got.

The event was planned properly wit full pack of programs but were created in relaxed environment… last but not least it was proud experience to be part of history (1st Tribe Indonesia Gathering ), No 1 is always no 1 …

See you in the 2nd Tribe Gathering that will be held in Bali ( the island of good) with more fun and different environment.

May 16th

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A Professional MTB Racer’s Off-Season

So what does a professional MTB rider do early in the new year? It’s seemingly a long time since the last world cup of the season, but still a few months from the start of the season proper. Many people think it’s a big old party for six months, just doing whatever you want and still getting paid to ride your bike.  Some guys treat it that way, but they don’t last long before their party boy ways catch up with them.

Don’t get me wrong, when I get home, usually mid to late September, there is nothing else I want to do more than put the bike away for a while. I have no day-to-day plan, and I just relax, you have to, or you’ll go crazy, or worse….burn yourself out.

Some off-seasons have been more relaxed that others. In 2007, I went straight from the last MTB race of the year into a full BMX Olympic qualifying period, no off-season at all. At the end of the 2010 season, I didn’t even throw a leg over any form of bike for almost 10 weeks, but you reach a point where all you want to do is ride again, and that means its time to start building up for the next season!

So with a full Enduro schedule on for the coming season, as well as DH world cup and World champs, its going to be a busy year! Sometimes guys who race professionally overseas cop some flak back at home for not supporting the national series, and while everyone has different reasons for wanting to compete in these, or not compete in these, everyone’s reasons are different. 90% of the time if I don’t race its because I’m still burnt out from the international season, and if I do race, its because I’m feeling mentally a bit fresher and ready to test myself again.

My main focus for this season is Enduro. To me, if you want to win any of the bigger Enduro races you need two things – World Cup level DH skills and power and World Cup level XC fitness. That’s not an easy thing to juggle, and of course, their will be trade-offs in training, but so far I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job at it.

Firstly, I’ve taken a step back from the skills side a little more than I normally would in the off-season, just like I always did with 4X (as they say, you never forget how to ride a bike). I got a road bike again (actually now I have 2 road bikes) and I have to say, I’m enjoying it far more than I ever thought I would. Whether it be going out for a 4 hour ride with no real plan, just a general idea of the type of intensity and interval efforts that are on the cards for the day, or mixing it up with the local roadies in the criterium races. Critieriums have always been my favourite and the racing suits my strengths…I’m just loving it!

On the mountain bike, I’ve been riding with a rough plan of what needs to be accomplished and just going out and doing it. Luckily the bikes these days, like the SB66 carbon I’m on now, makes doing rides like this even more enjoyable. Technology never ceases to amaze and the modern day trail bike really is pretty special thing!

Of course, I throw in some XC rides and even a few odd races. All of this riding brings back memories of how I felt about riding as a teenager. I am not concerned with getting perfect gate technique, and first five cranks, getting perfect backside on every jump, hitting every corner perfect knowing if you don’t push hard enough or make a mistake you’ll I’ll be outside top 30.

Don’t get me wrong, my riding and training is more basic than its been on the past, but at the same time it is a lot more structured. It is making me take note of every detail from my diet, to bike prep and setup, to sleep patterns and especially training! One thing has become clear to me, Enduro is far and away the most pure form of riding, its really a breath of fresh air. I mean, there is no other form of MTB racing where you can load up your Camelbak and just go for a long ride and call it specific training. It’s what this sport has been waiting for for far too long!

Jared Graves

April 30th

Absolute Bikes

Ride driven first Impressions: SB66C

We’ve always said, and truly believe, that to find out what sets a Yeti apart you need to experience one for yourself. With the ever growing expanse of quality Yeti Cycles dealers and bike shops, as well as our traveling demo tour, it’s easier than ever to test out a Yeti.

At a recent demo with Absolute Bikes in Salida, Colorado, Alex Bowling threw his leg over a Yeti for the first time. Here’s his story.

“A couple of days ago, as we considered our next ride, Reilly suggested we take out a couple of demo bikes from Absolute Bikes.  While Isabelle is my number one girl, I thought it would be fun to try something a little different.  Taking a peak at the various Treks, Konas and Specialized bikes hanging from the rafters, I soon saw the bike I wanted to try: a 2013 Yeti Cycles SB66C.  Yup, a carbon-fiber full-suspension trail-bike with a full Shimano XT drive-train and 26″ wheels.  An all-mountain super-bike designed to climb like a hard-tail, descend like a champ while keeping you happy on all-day rides.

Rolling out of the Absolute parking lot and over the Arkansas River, I noted some slight differences in geometry from my Moots, as well as nuances of fit; none, however, too significant to impede my having a great time rippin’ the local trails.

Riding uphill for about 45mins with the front and rear suspension locked-out, I noticed only the slightest amount of bob from the rear-end.  At the summit we stopped to take in the view, snap a couple of pics, tighten our helmets and prepare to be blown away!

Now, I ride a lot.  No really, A LOT, and I can honestly say without hesitation, riding that bike all the way down the Cottonwood Trail was the most fun I’ve had on a bicycle in a very, very long time.  It was pure joy.  At times I caught myself yelling with glee, screaming with happiness, smiling so broad I thought I just might swallow my own ears.

I pushed that bike through some really rough lines at high speed and it simply shrugged it’s shoulders; “is that all you got?”  We flew off drops I would not normally attempt, and did so with total confidence.   Not only did the bike eat-up those rock gardens, it cornered beautifully; quickly and easily gliding from left to right as I tore through those tight chicanes like a man possessed.  And I was possessed with the desire and ability to hurtle myself down-hill like never before.  The bike was silent, never protesting, never fighting back, always asking for more and delivering.

Now, I’m sure there are many other bikes that would have handled that down-hill section just as well or better.  But I doubt many of them would ride like a true XC bike, nor weigh as little.

By the time we returned to town, we were beside ourselves, near hysterical from such an incredible ride.  With beer in hand to thank Shawn at Absolute for loaning me the bike, I was still feeling giddy, that huge smile still plastered across my face.  While I love my Moots, that Yeti really was in a class by itself.  If you ever get the chance to test-ride the SB66 Carbon, I highly recommend you do.  And, if you’re in the market for a new carbon-fiber super-bike, look no further…unless, of course, you want the brand-new 29′er version, the SB95C…”

To See Alex’s original blog post:  Bowling by Bike

For more on the SB66 Carbon: Yeti Cycles SB66C

For more on Absolute Bikes:  Absolute Bikes

April 23rd

Last Import - 1

Australian MTB National Championships

Last weekend was our national champs, back at Mt. Stromlo, Canberra. I hadn’t been back to Stomlo since I won my world 4x title there in 2009. It’s a place that’s always been kind to me, so I was looking forward to going back.

This year I have been training for Enduro and have been doing a lot of road and xc riding. Despite it seeming like a bit of a chore at first, when the fitness was a bit off after the usual break at the end of the world cup season, I’ve become quite addicted to it. As you get fitter/ faster/ stronger you just want more and more! About 6 weeks ago I decided I’d give xc a go at nationals.

A lot of people over the week in Canberra asked me about it, and some thought it was a bit of a joke, but I’d been putting in my hours in the Hurt box. I figured I had trained as hard as anyone else who was going to be on the start line with me on Saturday. I was worried that I had only 4 months training (and 6 weeks of specific training). And my base was almost nothing, compared to everyone else’s years of training. But I needed a mini-goal for the off-season, as I trained for the enduro world series, to really make me pull my finger out and get fit and this race seemed perfect for that.

Jumping in the deep-end….maybe, but in the last weeks leading up to the race I was feeling more and more confident, getting faster each week and progressing well. I was wishing I had a little more time as the week-to-week improvements were still coming rapidly. On one hand, it was good for the motivation, on the other hand I knew I wasn’t in my best form yet, but I suppose I need to save that for later in the year when it really counts anyway.

The course was fun, although I was a bit bummed the descent had been reworked — it was a highway, with every corner being a berm, taking away pretty much all the roughness and technical  advantage I would have over the field on this part of the track. This made the course 90% about climbing.

To the race… I got a near dream start, coming from last row I made my way through a couple rows with elbows out then jumped into the wheel of Sid Taberlay, who found another gap and punched through and we found ourselves right up front in the first 300 meters of the race.

I got into a three man group for 3rd to 5th place on the first main climb and we settled in, everything felt spot on. I was comfortable, and this was how we stayed for the first couple laps. Another rider bridged across to make it a four man group and it was right a this time my race went a little pear shaped. I clipped a rock and twisted my derailleur hanger early on in lap 3, leaving me only the middle gears on my cassette, meaning I was either pushing to big of a gear or spinning out, and i started fatiguing fast.

For the rest of lap 3 and lap 4,  I was going backwards fast. I was having to run up some climbs, and pump and tuck the descents. As I slipped back to 8th, I decided to stop and try to bend my hanger back into some form of straightness, which was risky as the whole thing could snap off. I got most of my gears back and could then spin a good cadence again, and by the end of lap 5 my legs were coming back to life a little ,so I started pushing again.

I closed in on 7th and just got past him in a sprint finish and ended up less than 10 seconds back from 6th. All in all, a very hard race, and a hell of a lot learned, mostly about what my body can be capable of if you just keep pushing and try. But I was still a little disappointed with how the race played out. It was great to get the support from a lot of people after the race who were very surprised…. Thanks for the support guys!!

The DH qualifiers were just a couple hours later, and to say I was tired would be a very large understatement. But as soon as I got my body moving again it started to loosen up and before I knew it I was in the gate for my qualifying run. The plan was to take it smooth and use it as another practice run for finals on Sunday.

Well that all worked out perfectly, and my run was near perfect, just relaxed and smooth, and put in about an 80% pedal to the line, and thinking to myself “that should be good enough for maybe a top 5″ but to my complete surprise I was fastest, I honestly couldn’t believe it!

Sunday was finals day. I was a lot more relaxed than I normally would be in any race day. I already had a lot of positives to take from the weekend, regardless of how my race run went. My body was still really tired, but got a little energy back overnight. Around 9 am on race day, the rain started falling. Luckily though, Stromlo dirt is quite sandy and holds up to the wet really well, and the track was surprisingly grippy and even faster in some spots than the dry — just a few slippery sections to look out for.

Rain was still coming down hard for the final, and it was all about finding a balance between actually warming up and staying dry so you wouldn’t get cold from the wet.

Run again went well. It was tough to race because the track was starting to chop up at the end of practice, and with over 100 elite and junior riders having their race run on it before it was my turn meant that some sections were going to be a bit of a roll of the dice. I nearly threw it away in one section but just saved it, pedaled hard to the line and saw that I’d came into 2nd, which was a great way to finish off a really fun week, of sun rain and riding bikes!

Big thanks to Shauny polar bear Hughes for all the wrenching love, as well as old goose Paul Rowney for giving me a bed to sleep in and a nice comfy and mostly dry Yeti team pit to hang out in!

Till next time! Go ride!

Jared Graves

March 13th

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2012 Tribe Gathering

As we rounded the last bend and saw the view open up before us, we finally allowed ourselves a small sigh of relief.  We were in Vail for our 11th annual Tribe Gathering, and we were almost to the peak of the ski resort, having spent the last couple of hours grinding our way up an access road.  Sure, a shuttle bus had delivered us to the halfway point of this climb after a vertigo-inducing ride up a bumpy dirt path, but when your ride starts at 10,000 feet and caps out around 14,000, it’s still a hell of a lot of work.

A small group of the faster riders were already at the overlook, and as I pulled up and dismounted, I took in a stunning view of Vail Pass with I-70 winding its way through the valley.  Shortly thereafter, my partner-in-pain for the day and Yeti’s UK distributor, Darren, rolled up as well.  We split a couple of Cliff bars, took a few photos, then hopped back on our bikes to conquer what we assumed would be the last small rise to the peak, followed by a couple hours of descending through Vail’s back bowls.

We were in for a rude awakening.  The climb not only continued much longer than we’d anticipated, it got steeper; much steeper.  Towards the top, we finally cried uncle and dismounted to push our bikes up the last few inclines, cursing our false hopes and Mother Nature’s endless ability to screw with us.

When we finally reached the true peak, a massive grassy valley spread out before us.  We could see ribbons of orange-brown singletrack threading their way endlessly across some gigantic traverses, so we eased off the breaks and dove right in.

What a payoff!  For the next couple of hours, we bombed through aspen-dotted meadows and small stands of fir trees, not believing that a trail could descend for so long.  Many of the corners were bermed up, making the ride seem more like an endless bobsled run than a backcountry trail ride, so we blasted into blind turns and over small downed trees.

About halfway down, a pretty heavy storm blew in, forcing a dozen of us to take shelter under a ski lift loading area.  The timing couldn’t have been better, as most of us were already suffering from arm pump and grumbling stomachs due to the effort already expended.

As soon as the storm lifted, we were back on our bikes and roosting down the trail.  By this point, the trail had joined up alongside a mountain stream, and the last few miles were spent drifting wet turns, hopping exposed roots, and launching off small rock drops.  The ride dumped us out down in Minturn, and we all spun the last couple miles back to camp with big smiles and exhausted laughs.

Later that night, we had a huge meal catered in and partied a little too hard.  Turns out, the combination of a nearly bottomless supply of booze, a bunch of rowdy Yeti Freaks, and an open microphone on a high-powered PA system has the potential to wreak some serious havoc.

When we finally climbed into our tents and RV’s at the end of a very long day of riding and revelry, there were some well-deserved snores heard drifting through the campground.  Another successful Tribe Gathering was in the books, and we were already looking forward to next year.

For more on the Tribe watch the video:  2012 Tribe Gathering

December 20th

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Iman / Yeti Freak

Check out some action from the 2012 Asia Pacific Downhill Challenge courtesy of Iman Kusnadi and his team Yeti Tribe Indonesia. The team rolled out in some sweet Yeti jerseys they designed for racing in the event. While Indonesia might not be the first location that comes to mind when thinking about DH racing, you might think otherwise after checking out the photos. The track and the bikes look dialed and judging from the pit set up and beer supply it would be hard to think anyone had a bad time. Nice to see that the Yeti Tribe is truly a worldwide force.

November 28th

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Yeti Dealer – OTE Sports Sedona

1695 W State Route 89A
Sedona, AZ
928.282.1106
www.otesedona.com
Yeti dealer since ’12

How did OTE Sedona get started?
It all got started with a road trip and a random stop to ride Sedona, and coincidentally Troy and Ross Schnell from Over the Edge Fruita were there, so we hooked up to ride and hang out. I had no intentions of starting a bike shop, but had always believed that Northern Arizona was amazing and underrated. Troy believed the same thing and knowing his background with Fruita – I kept in touch with him about the bike shop potential in Sedona. As our talks got more serious, I started telling my industry and riding friend Mike Raney about the idea. We had always joked about moving to Flagstaff anyways, and as the chips kept falling into place, it became obvious that we should partner up and just go for it. The opportunity was there for the taking. Its been great andI’m stoked we’re making it happen. Sedona just keeps getting better.

How did you get involved with the Yeti brand?
We’ve had our eye on Yeti since we opened, but didn’t have the resources at first to become a dealer. We’ve grown a bit, and once we got to demo the new Switch Link SB bikes, we were really impressed. The bikes and brand really resonates with us as riders.

Who makes it happen on a daily basis at the shop?
All year its just been 3 of us dudes working hard: Mike Raney, Matt Sherwood, and myself (Jason First).

What makes OTE Sedona a unique bike shop?
We get to share the awesome experience of riding Sedona’s world class trails with riders from all over the world. Rather than pushing the usual stuff like normal retailers, we’re providing the experience of killer riding with new friends. We’re all mountain bikers. We love it.

There are a ton of great trails in Sedona. What are a few of your favorites?
There are tons of great trails, we have about 350 miles of single track in Sedona! Some favorites: Hangover Trail – it never gets old to be on top of the Hangover saddle with those amazing views, along with all the technical riding, exposure, and slick rock steeps. I’d also say Chuck Wagon & Mescal Trails – lots of flow and fast cornering, and awesome views as well.

How does having your shop located in a destination town shape your business?
I’d say we’re more of a lifestyle business, almost more of a surf shop than a bike shop. Sure, we do all the mechanic and service work, but being in a destination, we’re more focused on sharing the riding experience and making sure riders can truly enjoy the amazing trails here. Having sweet rental bikes, awesome customer service, and detailed map information is a bigger part of what we do compared to the conventional bike shop.

Any cool events or races coming up in Sedona?
The second annual Sedona Singletrack Celebration is set for May 3-5, 2013. This is your classic MTB Festival; full of bikes, beer, and group rides. Definitely a great way to check out Sedona. We are helping the Verde Valley Cyclist Coalition (VVCC) put on the event, our local advocacy group that’s been doing a great job with the Forest Service and trails here. Come on out and ride with us!

October 28th

UCI World Cup #4 DH Mont Sainte Anne 2012

2012 Done and Dusted

The last bike has been packed and the box has been sealed. The van is fully loaded. This Marks the end of the 2012 World Cup race season.

I’m sitting in a little hotel room near the airport in Oslo, Norway, waiting for my flight back home to Australia tomorrow. Its pretty cold outside. Much colder than this average aussie is suited to. Despite my nickname “polar bear” I don’t like the cold much. But as the Yeti Fox racing Shox world cup team mechanic, I have to deal with this type of weather for most of the European “summer”. Its actually been a great season weather wise, only 1 full muddy race day. So I’m pretty stoked!

Its been a season of High’s and Low’s. A few notable High’s- Jared Graves returning to DH racing after a very successful 4x career. Richie Rude stomping his authority into the Junior Field for the whole season. 2nd place at world champs and 2nd junior overall. That’s pretty impressive for a 1st year Junior. Eliot Jackson’s style on pretty much any jump he can find! And the Lows? Being on the road for half the year. Missing my girlfriend Kylie, And our turtle Ninja! Not being able to ride as much as I do when I’m home. Having my entire bag and all my clothes stolen from the Yeti team truck on an overnight stopover on the drive home from Windham World cup.  That was not good. But the great thing about being based in the good old USA? You can pretty much buy anything! Thanks Walmart!

My goals early on in my chosen career as a Bicycle Mechanic were pretty straightforward. I wanted to become one of the best in my profession and Work for a top team in the World Cup, and I wanted to own my own Bike shop. So I don’t own my own shop yet, I do however work in one of Australia’s finest shops, For The Riders, Based in Brisbane, Queensland. And thanks to my 2 very generous bosses and good mates, I have been able to tick off my 1st goal of Working for a well-established, successful World Cup race team.

Next year will be my 4th year with the Yeti team, and I can’t wait to see what the season will bring. I’ve made some great friends and been to some amazing places. I’ve ridden in Whistler, Austria, Scotland, USA, and France this year. I have some great memories, I’ve laughed till a little bit of wee came out. I LOVE my job.

October 26th

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Old School Yeti Racing

Huge thanks to certifiable Yeti Freak Richard Desmaison for sending in these photos of his team racing the 1991 French Downhill Championships. Great to hear that Richard is still getting out to ride decades after these were shot. The bikes and the kits have changed since then, but its great to be reminded of your roots and realize that racing your friends to the bottom of the hill will never get old.

September 11th

Chamonix Lower

Alex / Yeti Freak

Home can mean a lot of different things depending on the person. To some, it is a location or a routine, for others it may be family or friends that make a place home. Sometimes life can pull you away from the place, but that state of mind can always be found on the trail. Ride in Moab, Crested Butte, Chamonix, or wherever you can put your wheels on some dirt, and the smiles you see on the trail can make the world feel like a much smaller place.

August 13th

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Mike / Yeti Freak

I work in a little bike shop (Yeti Dealer) in the UK and thought you might like to see our first SB66 build. Blown away by it and how well it rides, seriously like nothing on this earth, such a delight!

Thanks a lot

Mike French

(more…)

June 29th

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Chris / Yeti Freak

During the winter of 2012, I had the opportunity to take a dream trip to Queenstown, NZ.  I had heard great stories about their new bike park, and I was excited to escape the cold North American winter and ride some warm weather DH laps.  I was planning to meet with our NZ distributor, Kashi Leuchs, while I was there, but I was curious to see how much influence Yeti had in this remote country. (more…)

June 29th

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Israel Tribe Gathering 2012

Yeti Tribe Gatherings have sprouted up around the world. And despite the geopolitical landscape, we’ve found Yeti riders are pretty much the same worldwide. They love to ride, hang out with friends, and engage in the same type of knuckle-headed tomfoolery that defines our Tribe Gatherings in Colorado.
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June 13th

Above the cloud line on a trail called Original Sin.

The New Guy Blog – Episode #4 – Three Weeks in the Summer

In the winter of 2011, while still living in Vancouver and working for Race Face, I organized an epic 16-day trip to Whistler for July with a bunch of buddies from all over the US. I knew I wouldn’t be able to take that much time off work, but because I only lived a couple hours down the road from Whistler at the time, I figured I could easily ride more than half of those days.

(more…)

June 1st

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Russ / Yeti Freak

Our good friend Russ, owner of Wight Mountain bike shop in the UK, is a certifiable Yeti freak. He’s owned several Yetis over the years, and when we released the SB66 Alloy in the summer of 2011, he knew he wanted to get his hands on one and make something special happen with it. (more…)

May 16th

RyanKoster

Proud Yeti Freaks

Proud Yeti owner’s and their bikes. Just a small sample of what is e-mailed to us on a daily basis. We thank all of you for taking time out of your busy day and letting us know how much you love your Yeti bike and sharing your stories with us.

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May 14th

Jul

Team Yeti Fox Shox EWS #4 La Thuile 2014

Jun

YETI Fox Shox EWS #3 Valloire
Team Yeti Fox Shox EWS #2 Tweedlove

May

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Apr

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YETI Fox Shox Enduro World Series #1 Nevados de Chillan
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Mar

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Jan

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Dec

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Nov

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Oct

EWS FInale Legure 2013
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Sep

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World Champs Pietermaritzburg 2013
World Champs Pietermaritzburg 2013

Aug

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CWX13 Whistler
Shredding on the AS-R Carbon at an MSC XC race in Salida
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Jul

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Jun

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UCI World Cup Val di Sole 2013
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May

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Apr

Jared Graves - 42
Absolute Bikes

Mar

Last Import - 1

Dec

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Nov

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Oct

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UCI World Cup #4 DH Mont Sainte Anne 2012

Sep

Richard1 DH ChampFr91

Aug

Chamonix Lower

Jun

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Above the cloud line on a trail called Original Sin.

May

Finished Product 1
RyanKoster
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