Here we are, past the middle of the riding season. I'd just got comfortably into the zone, and a visit from relatives forced me off the bike for a couple of weeks. Bad timing ! But as it happened, I just missed a bunch of rainy days and found time for a few aches and pains to be eased away. And found a little time to reflect on the season so far.
So where are we at ? Stoked ! In Stokeville !
It's been an amazing year. I jumped straight onto a new bike, with new geometry and a new suspension platform, and I loved it from the first day. I got my energy levels up and started a purge, dropping 15 pounds in a couple of months of hard riding.
I hit a couple of new personal peaks this year. Firstly, I managed to hammer out 17 laps of Silver Star bike park in one fresh, tacky Wednesday. They're open til late each Wednesday, giving a bit of time for a few extra laps. My previous record was probably a very hard worked 13 laps, a couple of years ago or more. I didn't deliberately go balls-out to break my record, it just happened by chance. I arrived early, was raring to got before the lifts opened. Cool temperatures, and lots of 02 in the air fed me energy and kept me fresh. Straight into it, dropping into Blast Off, I hammered out 5 laps before midday when my buddy Scott joined me. We knocked out another 6 laps before he had to quit due to a minor technical issue. Thanks to him keeping the energy levels up, I was ON IT ! A break for lunch and a couple of slices of pizza and my new found energy juice, Green Goodness from Bolthouse Farms, got me refreshed before knocking out another rapid 6 laps. I rolled in to the parking lot at 6.30pm and I admit on the last half lap on Downtown I was hanging on and two-finger braking for the first time in months, maybe since last year in the fall riding a super long steep haggard dusty line in Kamloops. Never has a cold beer felt so good. I'm convinced that the Makulu really helped me, keeping the energy levels high and performing extremely well as a very energy-efficient DH race machine.
The other peak was a couple of amazing laps down Honeydrop at Sun Peaks bike park, Kamloops. The park is famed for it's steep rough natural singletrack, which despite being rough and technically challenging, flows amazingly well. A contrast from the well groomed smooth airtime fun at Silver Star. Sun Peaks is my “spiritual home”, a place where I come alive and excel using the haggard steep terrain to my advantage. Some of the best riding days of my short time on a bike have been spent there. Honeydrop is all fast singletrack, steep sections, gnarly technical lines with rooty knuckle clusters, sawn off tree stumps into blind drops and sketch corners. I love it, and it's probably my current favourite trail. I was under pressure, put on the spot leading a couple of riders who I consider to be better and faster than I am. I excelled and the Makulu excelled with me. Running the trail “blind” – the last time was 4 years ago as a novice rider – I quickly found my zone and started letting the Makulu go wide open into anything and everything. Haggard straights with the terrain trying to pull me one way then another, failed to throw me off line and I just held my speed. Root clusters were aired over or held a line straight through them with a confidence bordering on arrogance, undeterred. Haggard blind root drops simply disappeared from under me bringing on the next technical move – boom, boom, boom. In a zone, simply and effortlessly hammering the trail. Riding in a style and at a speed I didn't know I was capable of. Amazing stuff. I was feeling it, right then, right there, in the best zone I can ever remember. Some days you're on fire, unstoppable, on a whole new level and I'm sure you know just what I'm talking about. When a rider who you think is better than you says you were taking lines they couldn't even follow, you know it's been a good day on the hill. We hammered through Arm Pump, a brutally fast rough trail that finishes in the village, and which usually saps upper body strength and brings riders to their knees begging for a rest break, raging and ready for the next lap. We thrashed down Cat Trax, Creeper, Mach, DH, Hi Octane and Smitty's Steeps, grinning ear to ear at the black tacky hero dirt. Sun Peaks has never, ever, disappointed.
The season has been amazing. I've dropped over 250,000 vertical feet so far, and I'm on target to break 500,000' if all goes well. Driven by passion, energy, and commitment, 2011 has been very good to me.
I also got time to write up this detailed review of the Makulu.
Thanks to Justin at Lama Cycles for grassroots support and Rich & Russ at Sovereign Cycle (a West Kelowna, BC, Morewood dealer) for professionalism, dedication, knowledge, and rider support, and for keeping the stoke level high and the focus on riding and the simplicity of having fun on a bike.