Mendocino: Wild Wood Adventure Enduro

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Mendocino: Wild Wood Adventure Enduro

Mendocino is a very different challenge for me as an Enduro racer.

It's tight, twisty, tree hugging, slow average miles per hour style riding is extremely tough for me. The ideal bike for this style of riding would be 26inch wheels, narrow bars with short travel. and The ideal rider would be a small, light weight, finesse rider.

Well... I'm tall, I ride a long travel 29er with wide bars, a coil shock and I'm more of a thundering bull of a rider that is perfectly comfortable with high speeds, terrible rock gardens and large jumps. All of which are directly contrasting attributes for this course that is laid out to challenge the CES racers this Father's Day weekend.

So what do I do?

Do I change my bike? I could race a 275 bike that I would have to borrow and set up for me, or I could alter my current bike to try and better suit the mystical, twistical Mendocino trails. I would have to buy and cut new handlebars ($179), run an air shock ($450) and change my large volume fast rolling, light casing tires to something more narrow with large knobs to maintain traction in the tight twisty single track that every timed stage consists of from top to bottom. 

This race is going to be more challenging for me than usual because it takes me out of all of my comfort zones. Not only am I riding trails that do not suit my preferences, I'll have to change my bike. Specifically my cockpit. The point of contact for my experience of the trails on my bicycle. The most intimate of connections between rider and machine will be altered, foreign.  Although it may be fun trying something new, it would bring no comfort in familiarity or safety in experience.

It will be a constant reminder in a very visceral way that I am out of my element during this entire race. It will add to the emotional and mental fatigue I will experience throughout the 6000 feet of vertical I will be climbing and descending within 42 miles of riding. Which could be an advantage I suppose as the day goes on.

I will have some time to adapt, change and get comfortable on this new bike beneath me, but will it be the advantage I need to do well against my peers? Some of which have two or more bikes to choose from for this specific reason.

Which leads me to ask another question... do I care enough to do all of this for one race? Should I have another bike for situations like this in the future or should i just accept the budgetary restrictions and "run what I brung"? 

We will see soon enough. 

 

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Season(ing)

All the hard work is starting to pay off.

The fast lines are coming at a more regular pace. The trails are changing and your bike is finally starting to attach itself to you. Your tires are perfectly inflated and conforming with the earth. The sharp edged rocks and the salty clay that clumps in small bits but gives pretty near perfect traction most of the time is becoming familiar, a daily occurrence.

Either physically or just mentally retracing steps and lines throughout the day.

Sometimes it's even dusty and the dirt kicks up the in your eyes and makes for a slight drift before every corner and sometimes all the way through the corner. Your suspension is tracking with everything and the compression is finally starting to feel correct. The speed is coming...it's here...it's time to start looking further down the trail and picking up those reflexes off the end table.

It could mean your life.

You just want to be fast and have fun. No major wrecks...it's a long season and you hate the hospital so...let's stay out of the trees and in nature as long as we can without riding like chum.

Keep up the pace. Keep pushing. Set your goals so you have something to shoot for, to focus on. Like I said, It's a loooong season.

We need to cross-train, stay healthy, eat well and sleep deeply.

The season is coming...you can hear the beeps of the gate in your head sometimes. Feel the joy of crossing the finish line after a flowing run. The silence of just you on the trail, in the zone, pedaling, pumping, shifting gears to accelerate and looking intently down the trail to anticipate the next corner or obstacle.

Do you have enough speed for that jump? is it a double? corner after? rock garden? Shift again, then shift weight to set up a corner and power out and through! This is harmony.

This is why you ride. This is what you dream about. If you don't...you need to get out more!

 

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WAR is RAW

Greg LeMond winning the Tour de France is one of my favorite photographs of all time and one that I always go back to when I think about giving the ultimate physical, emotional, spiritual effort.

Greg LeMond winning the Tour de France is one of my favorite photographs of all time and one that I always go back to when I think about giving the ultimate physical, emotional, spiritual effort.

I wrote this a while back and thought it would be great to share as we head into another race season. – Heath

Racing is about laying all opinions aside. It's about gauging your performance against the rest of the world.  No guessing.  No argument.  Just results.  Just the elapsed time between the last beep and the finish line.  Do you have what it takes?  To be the best?  Can you beat the competition?  It raises an interesting question that has taken me to different places than I expected... Competition, what is it, really?

 

I hear the phrase "he's so competitive" and for some reason it always gives me pause.  It makes me think of Type-A, driven folks with short tempers and shorter attention spans that are always trying to prove to everyone else that they're better than them. Anybody else out there feel this way? The Keeping up with the Joneses mentality? In cycling he's the guy that always has to stay a half wheel in front of everyone, even on the most casual of rides. He's the guy who always has to have the better story at the party, do the better flip off the cliff jump, have the newest phone, best car. Sound familiar? I've come across many of those guys,  and I've been asking myself, what makes one that way?  Is it how they're wired?  Is it a learned practice?  Do they feel like they have to prove something to the world?  Well, I've decided to do my own personal study on the matter and my first step in doing so brought about some pretty interesting findings...

 

The first step was to look up the meaning of the word competitive. I have my own version of the word as many of us do, but the way it's used in most conversations these days is not the true definition of the word. Todays version of the word "competition" makes me think of a high school football coach screaming at kids to be better, hit harder or run faster than the kids on the other team. Like the coach from the Kobra Kai gym in the film, Karate Kid.  Soooo...stop me if I'm wrong but these athletes have taken the level of competition to another place, a darker place.  Nowadays when someone makes a play in sports they have to rub it in or talk trash to degrade or demean the efforts of their opponents. They jeer and slam their chests and scream with the intensity of someone that has just killed an opponent to please the crowd.  The "Anything goes as long as you get the "W" and the glory that goes with it attitude" has become one of domination and intimidation.

 

This is all the more interesting when you learn that the true definition of the word competition is summed up like this- "when two or more folks get together, the level of ability is raised exponentially.".  In other words, if you ran as hard as you could around the block by yourself, your fastest time would still be slower than your average time around the block with someone else running with you at a similar level of ability.  This is the  true definition of the word competition, "to raise the ability of all involved in a like achievement".  I don't know about you, but if that's the real definition of the word, then I would be honored to have someone call me competitive.  But that's where I've become confused. If that's competition, then what is it that most of us call competition?  What is the word for the behavior we find so often displayed in professional sports?  Which word defines the tactics, attitudes and the behavior found at the highest level in sports right now? 

 

That's what I found to be a big surprise,  the term as we know it is not competition, but WAR. 

 

That's right, WAR.

 

The difference between the two looks a lot like this: Running around the block with a kid your ability = competition.  Running around the block with the school bully that tells you, "I'm gonna kill you if you win or if you lose so you better get ready to die." = War.  So, I have found myself in a quandary.  Is it the nature of men primarily to declare war and act as though their lives are on the line even in the midst of a friendly group ride?  Is it believable that all of us have found ourselves in the clutches of war albeit in a less blood thirsty level than our governments?  And does that mean if we were in the position, would we not be waging war on our "friends"  in more terrible ways?  Are we really all that different than the people we choose to call our enemies?  The fiends of history, the destroyers of families and nations?  Would we find ourselves in their positions if we had their power?  Am I going too far with this?

 

Is this why we're so ready to rage when someone cuts us off on the freeway?  Ready to burst at the seams when things don't go our way?  When your boy posts a faster time than you on Strava?  Is that feeling of intimidation or domination deep within you?  Or is it right under the surface, bubbling over whenever you get the opportunity to ride your bike or drive your car or play basketball?  Right there ready to take out the first person that crosses your path?  Not real?  Not true?  How many times have you stopped for a fallen competitor during your race run or helped up a competitor in any sport?  How many times?

 

Do we need to re-examine why we race?  Why we ride?  Why we need to be better than the next guy?   Are you going out there to achieve your best, or to be better than the next guy?  

Just something to think about...I know why I roll. do you?

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