Friday, April 12, 2013

Bear Creek US Mountain Bike Nationals Camp

Mike Kuhn and I are teaming up to bring you a weekend full of preparation for the USAC Mountain BIke National Championships, held at Bear Creek Mountain Resort. The event dates for Nationals are July 18-21, 2013.

What better way to prepare for the uber-technical trails that cover Bear Creek's slopes than to spend the weekend living and breathing them. You'll have access to some of the best coaches and ride with Bear Creek's most successful Pro riders for 3 days. We'll talk training, bike setup, mental preparation, and race strategy to help make that perfect race day happen for you. You'll get a fresh look at the XC(Pro & Amateur), SuperD, and Short Track courses and get those lines dialed!

The camp is intended for all ages and abilities and everyone that comes will take home something useful. Not planning to race National Champs, that's cool too. While there will be an emphasis on Nationals, everything we touch on will be applicable no matter where you race, or just ride! You don't even need to be a racer at all! The instruction and interaction will be universal.

Register online at-

Keep checking back as we announce more details. If you have a specific question, contact me directly, absnyder125 at

Come get your learn on!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I suppose Enduros are the new hot trend in fat tire racing, and perhaps rightfully so. Two weeks ago I jumped on the bandwagon and toed the line at the Madcap Enduro of Michaux organized by none other than Harlan Price. If there is any place to string together some ribbons of singletrack descending it's Michaux. Three timed descents totaling approx. 30 min of race time left everyone smiling at the bottom. Some mild fire road climbing connected the dots. Each stage suited a different set of skills. Stage 1 was super flowy, but a lack of finesse would leave you over-powering the constant switch backs and rock crawls. Those who could put the power down had the advantage in Stage 2, and the final Queen Stage 3 was one for the big bikes. Stage 1 & 2 treated me well, with a 2nd and 1st place finish, putting me in 2nd overall starting the final descent behind Ryan Leech, but that was were my luck ended for the day as I lost enough time in the chunky stuff to shove me back to 3rd.

To handle the punishment I hooked up my SCOTT Scale 29 with a fresh set of Stan's Arch EX wheels wrapped with Schwalbe's new Hans Dampf 2.35 Snakeskin tires and bumped up the travel on the Slide to 120mm. It totally worked! No mechanicals, no dropped chains, and no flats. Riding the hardtail had me second guessing during the final 30 second countdown but I knew the rocks were big enough that I wouldn't miss it too much and there was just enough pedaling in each run to turn it into a pretty big advantage. 

Monday morning was back to the bike work, changing wheel/tire setups for the this weekends Shenandoah Mtn 100 miler. Every time I pop the Stan's Gold 29 wheels on the Scale it blows my mind. I can only compare it riding a road bike with knobby tires. It is so fast! 

I piled into the Stan's NoTubes van along with Richie Rich and Vikki on Firday afternoon and rolled down to Chris Scott's new Stokesville Lodge, adjacent to the Start/Finish area for Sunday's event. My plan was to ride the day relaxed somewhere well behind the lead group and let them pound each other into the ground in the opening miles. I wasn't really there to race, or at least race anyone other than myself. My mantra for the day- 'The less I try to do well, the better I'll do'. I rode with people I hadn't seen for while, Les Leech and I talked about our houses and getting older. I gave Garth a hard time for rolling the first descent so slow (he can smash the flats though!), and my teammate Jeff Dickey and I chatted about how hard the lead group was already hammering.

Through Aid 2 I rolled with a group of 7 or 8 guys, Garth included, before the slog up Hankey Mtn. By the top of that climb I had left the big group behind and rallied down Dowells Draft to Aid 3, with just one close call with a tree, where I got word that I was in 8th place. What?!  That was the first time all day I had any idea where I was as I closed in on the halfway point. The next climb a few miles down the road I caught and passed Rob Spreng and Mike Simonson (see below) moving me up to 6th on the run-in to the monster 17 mile climb up towards Reddish Knob. I floated around in no-mans land for next 35ish miles and two Aid stations. Cramps were everywhere and I felt like I was crawling up everything but at Aid 5 I got word that the next 3 guys had all come through separated by about 3 minutes each. 'Cool, I guess I'll see them at the finish'. I was totally not in any position to start chasing them down. The descent down Chestnut Trail was tough too. Foggy, rainy, muddy, and cold. The 15 minute descent was no less painful as the hour long climb we had just crested.

The biggest surprise of the day came halfway up the final climb when I caught Brandon and Sam Keorber. I could instantly smell a podium spot! I got around both pretty quickly but Sam clearly had one more effort than I did and let it rip. I just held off Brandon to land myself on the bottom step of the podium in 5th spot. 

Congrats to everyone that finished the day out despite two rainstorms. Not Easy!

Looking out the front window of the new Stokesville Lodge. The campground and Start/Finish is just beyond the trees.

The NoTubes crew post SM100 recovery sesh

Was I an underdog?

Monday, June 4, 2012

TSE Stage 7- Final Thoughts

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TSE is a wrap. And a success. My fitness was about as high as I could have hoped for. It was inspiring to make the lead group almost everyday in a field full of top-level dudes and it was totally surreal on the days I was able to finish with or ahead of them. It feels good to finally see years of work starting to really pay off and being able to not just hang, but even duke it out with the big dogs. I was able to jump on the box once with a podium finish on Stage 5 at RB Winter. Otherwise I settled for 4th place most other days. While it got frustrating being just one step away from the podium every day, I was content knowing the talent that I was being compared with. I finished the week in 4th on GC, just a handful of minutes back, but also a handful of minutes ahead of some of the best stage racers in the US. I think I've really started to make a name for myself as a stage racer. Its a racing format that naturally suits me. I like that the scope of the race extends beyond just the actual pedaling. To be good, you need to be able to recover properly, make proper equipment choices and take care of that equipment during a long hard week, stay focused and disciplined, be consistent, race smart, and develop a positive daily routine that works and leaves you race ready every morning. All that in addition to being fit and fresh. It takes a complete rider to feel good for the entire week and its not easy, but its something that I know I can be one of the best at.

I am not typically one to make blatant references to sponsors, I believe that results usually speak for themselves. But in the case of stage racing, and especially in the case of rough, raw, untamed central Pennsylvania singletrack, equipment choice can be a deal-breaker.  So for that reason, I think a few of my sponsors deserve a shout-out. Not just because they help me and I owe them some exposure, but because I chose their products over everything else on the market, because they work and I believe and trust in them enough to punish them day in and day out this last week at TSE and every other day of the year.

First up is the Scott Scale 29 RC. Stupid light and stiff, and it handles like it's on rails. It is my first big wheel bike and I love it. Making the switch was natural. With wheels and tires becoming lighter and lighter, the argument of weight vs. 26ers is becoming less and less valid. The handling is there, the rollability is there, and the stability is there.

Speaking of wheels and tires- I've been rolling on Schwalbe rubber for over 3 years now. At first I was exclusively using the full UST versions of their 26in tire range. The thicker casing and sidewalls made feel more confident that I'd finish every day with air in my tires. Making the jump to big wheels, they don't offer full UST casings. Instead, I opted for the Snakeskin versions, which I was a little leery of. They were both thinner and lighter, not a chance I usually like to take with rim wrappers, but they've proven to be even more durable. My fav all-rounder is the Racing Ralph 2.25. For general trail riding here in State College, I opt for the Nobby Nic 2.35.

Mount those wrappers on a pair of NoTubes ZTR Race Gold wheels and you've got one of the lightest setups around. The wheelset is sub 1400g, with carbon skewer levers and Ti hubs. Being as light as I am I feel safe running the Gold's on any terrain, and I raced them every day through the brutal rock gardens of TSE. For slightly heavier riders, I would recommend the Crest versions. Just a 150g or so heavier, they are intended for more everyday riding/training, but are still lighter than almost any other wheelset.

Finally, one of my favorite components, my X-Fusion squish. Another long-time sponsor, I have been nothing short of blown away by the performance of both they're forks and shocks. The 26er Velvet and the 29er Slide are baller. Smooth and buttery, just as light as all the others, and way less expensive than you would imagine for the performance. Plus, all internals are 100% metal for durability. Can any of those other guys say that?

With that being said, I need to also thank everyone for their support not only just this past week, but over the years. The emails, texts, and phone calls are priceless and they help more than you all probably know. You know, leading up to TSE I must have been asked over a hundred times by friends if I was ready. If I was going to kill it. Make the podium. Win a stage. Its funny though, I saw all of that as pressure to do well, because everyone would be watching. It was stressful and I was anxious. I felt like people were expecting a lot of me. I was expecting a lot of myself too. After the first day though, I saw it differently. Instead of seeing it all as pressure to not blow it, it became support and inspiration to do well. I realized that I am a product of one of the best cycling communities in the country, and having the privilege of representing that community at one the highest levels is something that I take pretty seriously. So again, thank you to everyone, I don't take it for granted.

Stage 6- Post Race Interview

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Stage 4- Post Race Interview

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Stage 3- Post Race Interview

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