Tragedy in MTB- We’ve just received confirmation that Dot’s Diner in Wilmington Vermont is GONE. If you have ever raced at Mt. Snow you’ve probably been to Dot’s.
I think I’m speaking for the entire NORBA community when I say that we express our deepest condolences and gratitude to the family owned business that has kept thousands of us full and happy over the past 25+ years.
Windham, Roxbury, Mt Snow, Killington- We are loosing our places to have fun- they are loosing their homes, lives an livelihoods.
THIS IS THE TRUE FACE OF GLOBAL WARMING- sorry to sound preachy.
Flood levels in some areas of VT are higher than they have ever been in recorded history, just as our MTB brethren in the Southwest are going through the worst drought ever recorded.
We must make our voices heard and express our love. We must help rebuild the infrastructure in these areas that serve us. We must work to drown out the voices that deny that climate change is caused by Man.
Most importantly we need to come together as a community to support and encourage the towns that economically depend on us that it is in fact worthwhile to rebuild Roxbury and Wilmington, to re-open that little Coffeshop in Windham at that gas station where underage kids buy beer.
Be decent- find ways to help-and never take for granted again the stability that nature has provided us with for millenia!
The most dynamic World Cup series in years wrapped up this weekend in Trentino, IT.
We saw the tightest, taught-est, ballsiest and most precise racing we’ve ever seen in 20(!) years of World Cup racing.
America’s Aaron Gwinn had the series wrapped up before he crossed the border- and was going for a record-breaking fifth win of the season to firmly cement his place in the pantheon of riders, mostly French, that have laid waste the hope, hard work and aspirations of dozens of other riders over the course of a season.
A raft of youthful loose cannons have been on the brink all year, dynamiting out of corners and blasting through the chunder like jockeys down the last straight at Churchill Downs in the Bluegrass silt- confident, compact, sometimes stunted and always cracking.
These boys are loose. They ride with the sanitary confidence of the videogame generation- the kids who started riding in the modern era, with good bikes, the heralded 3rd Wave. Their generation isn’t all mopheaded grinning shufflers searching for their retainers on Saturday night. There is a plurality of stock DH personalities from awkward to boisterous walking through the pits. They walk the track 4 times more than they ride it, they dress questionably and you see a dozen roving the track from the sidelines geeking-out come finals. Juniors are fast now.
The current crop of u-20 riders show more talent and more promise, collectively than any generation that has preceded them. It’s the 3rd wave- the beginning of the 3rd epoch, a fucking awesome sight.
There is no way we can discount the O.G. cat’s in the twilight of their careers. Klausman, Moreno, Pascal, Peat, even Gracia and Barel- These dudes still strap it on and beat kids who are 20 years their junior every weekend.
They represent the 20th century world of fat contracts, big trucks and early bed times. Gritting their teeth and shuffling their priorities allowed them to hang on through the dark days- the days that spawned the second great wave of champions- antipodean flat-pedal rippers.
Maybe the short flat OZ tracks upped their cornering, likely they were just hungrier. All we know is that they came to the US, camped out in Big Bear and brought a whole new game to the table just as geometry and suspension finally reached a point where tracks made a permanent leap forward in terms of difficulty and danger. I’d posit that the 1st wave was able to move forward because of the exceedingly high level of professionalism they were accustomed to. All of a sudden bottle and a good bike could move you 25 spots forward.
This steady trickle of young Australians was matched by the irrepressible bloom of UK downhill.
No longer was DH wed to the BCF. Some of the passionate kids from the 90’s grew into dedicated race promoters. Spades, rakes and lager expanded the dh trail network into an impressive web of tracks, reliable venues and multiple passionate promoters. Strong media and publishing houses helped to raise the profile of the sport just high enough to ensure a trickle of outside money to shore up the foundations of the lycra-less aspect of the sport. D.I.Y.? I’d say so.
By the middle part of the last decade we saw the writing on the wall. Danny Hart, in all of his suicide Pinball Glory was already filling full pages in Dirt. In 2004 a 95 pound Bryceland was sideways on the cover of the same magazine.
The new kids, call them the u-20 crowd, but I’ll call them the third wave, grew up riding bikes that would still make it down a track today. Starting at a higher level technically than the generation before gave them a huge leg up. They are teamates with the strongest, most experienced riders of the last 5 years (some of whom seen to be nearing their expiration date prematurely), which certainly can’t hurt, but I see that one of their biggest advantage is their ability work with all of the first generation riders like Voillouz or Tomac as coaches and the likes of Peat, Pascal and Barel who seem keen to share their knowledge.
What do we know about this guy?
We know that a retired former national DH champ and some dude who goes by “Griz” met him by chance.
We know that the biggest little magazine that nobody reads, Decline tried to pimp him- we know that someone named Conroy had faith in him and that a ’90’s kid mentored by Tomac, tangentially related to Carter, and sibling to a world cup winner managed to broker the most spectacular program we’ve seen since Commencals days at Sunn.
We know more about Gwinn’s team than we know about about him.
An ardent fan of DH racing should recognize these people.
-Chris “Monkdawg” Vasquez.
Monk was the wrench backing up Giove after she left Cannondale, Lopes post Stik, Yeti and Schwinn in the 90’s among other gigs. What’s that mean? He knows the tricks, the tactics and, most importantly he knows how to calm a rider down. A good mechanic brings trust and confidence.
-Martin Whitely. It’s hard to express how deeply Mr. Whitely is involved with DH. He’s the best person since John Parker(look it up kids) at finding talent. He serves or has served as an agent for everyone from Kyle Strait to Minnaar. Before the owner of Arai Mt in Japan started funding his powerhouse Global racing team he ran the entire World Cup series for 4 years. It goes on and on but it’s a lot like racing on a F1 team owned by Bernie Ecclestone. Heck, he ran the cycling end of the 2004 Olympics.
-Jon Tomac. Tomac. John Tomac. Tomac is Roger Decoster, Mert Lawill and Greg Lemond all rolled up into one package with a pinch of Jordan thrown in for good measure. He destroyed mtb races in every discipline, he raced as full time euro road racer, a pro bmx racer and perhaps most importantly for Gwinn, he got his game dialed in well enough to become a multimillionaire with a sweet ranch. The dude had full page Oakley ads in RollingStone(take that Aaron). Tomac Incorporated was, and still is John and his wife Kathy Johnny took all of that professionalism and capital and helped his kid become a bigtime moto slayer.
Tomac possesses some sort of unfathomable, indescribable magic inside of his head, some sort of extra gear. I think it comes from his confidence in his preparation. There really isn’t any other way to understand the situation. Hypnosis? I’m sure thatJT has pummeled the importance of supreme fitness into Gwinn’s head- but honestly, coming from somebody who pretends to know about this stuff, the mental discipline and confidence you develop from training hard is just as important as shit like power to weight ratios and anaerobic capacity.
The rest of Aaron Gwinn’s program is amazing as well, a bike company with infinite resources, what appears to be a fantastic strength and conditioning coach.
Clearly 95% of Gwinn’s domination this year has been mental. Yes, he appears to be stronger and fitter than everyone, his riding is phenomenally smooth and his confidence is supreme but does it add up?
Sport science lays out the pre-existing conditions for flow. Optimal challenge-skills balance. That’s the definition of Flow. We can scale both sides of that equation up until we get 6 second victories in theory, but the last 20 years of racing have never seen these vast differentials from week to week. There may be a dozen instances of Giove and Chausson smacking the rest of the womens field but we all know about the chronic, staggering lack of depth in Women’s racing.
Will the rest of the field crack the code over the winter? Is it as simple as training like a full-time professional athlete using the latest training modalities?
I don’t think anyone really knows at this point.
The 2011 series is in the books now.
We have one race left – On one of the most imposing tracks ever
Worlds is going to be twice as thrilling as finals. So many turns, so much risk, so many batshit crazy young riders.
The thrill is back!