Downieville Classic Re-Cap – Jake’s Blog

Frame-09-08-2016-11-43-06For the past 3 years I have competed in one of the most amazing race events in America, the one and only Downieville Classic!  I fell in love with this event the very first time I competed in it. The Downieville Classic has so much to offer: the two sweet races, the cool activities, the awesome people, and the amazing feeling of being on the podium.

There two things that make Downieville so cool, the Race, and the Event

Race:  The Dowineville Classic consists of 2 ultra-fun and extraordinary challenging races, the XC, and the DH.  This is my 2nd year of competing in both of these races, and I felt I had a good chance of winning the Junior Expert Under 18 All Mountain “World Championship” Title!  IMG_3995My XC Race started at 9:35 Saturday morning.  In the first leg of the 29 mile XC race, I had to suffer my butt off up an 8 mile,3,000ft climb!  I was the 3rd junior racer to reach to Packer Saddle summit this year, just 2 minutes behind the leader Dylan Fryer.IMG_4017  Eager to close the gap I hammered the first section of trail. Once I hit the road I saw Dylan walking backwards up the course because of a race ending crash.  Knowing that the next racer was close I pushed myself even harder and caught up to the new leader Tate!  Tate and I battled back and forth for the remaining 15 miles of the race.  I attacked on the descents, and Tate pushed me on all of the climbs.  We battled with each other for what seemed like ages. Until the last 2 miles of the race, where Tate was  finally was able to gap me out!  “Noooo”, I thought as I saw him slowly pull away!  I gave everything I had trying to catch him but in the end he beat me by 18 seconds!  I ended up taking 2nd in the XC, and  led the All Mountain (AM) competition going into Sunday’s DH Race!  “YES!!!”

IMG_4070At 12:15 I lined up for my 12:24 start.  I was the last junior to start, and I watched as my fellow competitors started in 30 second intervals.  At 12:23 I move up to the start line as the racer in front of me didn’t show up for their start.  GO!  I took off at full speed and charged down the course!  As I sped down the course, I thought to myself I’m feeling pretty good!  It must have been true because within 5 minutes I had caught my first age group race opponent! I quickly caught another one of my competitors as I pedaled with even more drive!  Throughout the rest of the race I kept passing racers and crossed the finish line feeling confident that I took the win!Frame-08-08-2016-11-23-25  After anxiously waiting for 45 minutes the results were posted and I came in second 2 seconds off of first!  Dang it!!! IMG_4089That was a disappointment! But, even though I was second in the DH battle, I won the war, and was able to claim The Junior Expert U18 Downieville Classic All Mountain “World Championship” Title!

Event:  The bike racing was amazing, but The Downieville Classic Festival was an equally awesome time! IMG_4083After each day’s race at The Downieville Classic, I wandered the venue that contained bike and component company Booths. I also ran into pro racers like: Carl Decker, Adam Craig and Kelli Emmit.  When I became hot I took a trip down to the refreshing Yuba River.  While down at the river I relaxed on a tube, walked the slack line and watched the Shimano cast off contest (where competitors try to get a weight into a floating 2×2 square where whoever gets it in the most wins!)  IMG_4038I also watched the river jump where competitors ride off a ramp jump into the river. The best trick wins! Finally I played king of the floating box with a bunch of kids, which is just a cooler, more fun version of king of the hill!  It was a hard game because getting pushed in the freezing water all the time was not desirable!  After I finished hanging out at the River I headed up to the awards area to jump up on the podium with my awesome competitors !

IMG_4035The Downieville Classic Race and Festival was awesome! I had an great time hanging out in the cool town of Downieville, talking to and hanging out with some cool people.  I will always remember how I claimed my first Downieville Classic All Mountain “World Championship” Title!


Lauf, May The (Best) Fork Be With You -Jake’s Blog

IMG_0102Over my 10 years of bike racing I have raced, ridden, and pushed many different forks to the max of their performance, and although they worked well I never knew there would be a better option available for XC racing.  This year I finally have the closest fork to perfect, The Lauf Trail Racer Boost.

IMG_8369Lauf Forks have been the best performing XC forks on the market since they were introduced. In early 2016 Lauf introduced a second generation fork, The Lauf Trail Racer Boost. The Boost Fork is now 20% stiffer, laterally, and forward & aft.  This increases the suspension’s performance and gives you more feedback and control during your ride!  What follows is a review of the Lauf Trail Racer Boost.

IMG_0412The Lauf Trail Racer Boost is the best XC fork I have ever ridden and there are many things that make it the best!  The Lauf Trail Racer Boost is the lightest XC fork on the market, being made completely of carbon ( and 6 fiberglass leaf springs ) it comes in at only 2.20lbs!  The Lauf Trail Racer Boost also features 60mm / 2.35in of travel, it’s maintenance free, has 15mm thru axel, a tapered steer tube and comes with a 5 year warranty!

IMG_1001The Lauf Trail Racer Boost is not only light, but I feel it is the best performing XC fork.  CLIMBING: The Lauf Trail Racer Boost blows all other XC forks out of the water when it comes to climbing.  A racers ability to climb is most greatly effected by weight/gravity.  No one can argue that shedding  1.00-1.75lbs off your fork will significantly boost your performance!  Unlike the bobbing of an Air Sprung traditional fork, the fiberglass leaf springs of the Lauf Boost Fork do not flex during stand up climbing.  This allows me to put all of my energy into the pedals without loosing it through the compression of the fork.  And I don’t have to mess around or maintain a lockout!  DESCENDING:  Our Team has raced the Lauf Fork at events like: The Downieville Classic XC Race and The Mammoth Mountain Kamakazie Games XC Race. IMG_4635 Time after time the Lauf Fork has proven its ability to handle the rugged trails.  Given the great benefit we receive from climbing with the Lauf at those difficult courses I wouldn’t trade it for another fork!  The Luaf’s 60mm of travel is progressive, which means it is the most compliant in the beginning – perfect for absorbing small bumps and rocks- and becomes stiffer the further it compresses.  Exactly what you need for bigger hits and bigger drops!

In April I raced the Kenda Cup race #3 in Fontana CA, and it was the perfect place to put the Lauf Trail Racer Boost to the test!  The XC course had it all:rock drops, jumps, babyhead rock gardens and washboards.  The descent had several rock drops up to 1.5ft tall and the Lauf capably handled them all without bottoming out!  There were also a few sections of babyhead rock gardens.  I was able to speed  though these sections because the Lauf Boost, with it’s progressive travel, glided, extremely smoothly over these babyhead rocks!  The steep, heavily brake bumped section was where the Lauf really out performed its competition!  Traditional forks compression/rebound cycle doesn’t react fast enough to allow the wheel to trace over the wash boards, resulting in the wheel bouncing from top to top of each washboard. However, The Lauf Boost Leaf suspension is adept at tracing through the peaks and valleys of the brake bumps, resulting in a more smoother ride. Having The Lauf Boost Fork was like bonus, it handled all these obstacles capably, and boy was I loving the its lightweight, up the 1 mile, 700ft climb each lap!

IMG_1361This is my 2nd year of riding a Lauf, and 1st year of riding a Lauf Boost.  I haven’t had a single problem or complaint about either Fork.  So if your looking for a lighter, better and faster XC fork, acquire a Lauf Trail Racer Boost it will be the best fork you’ve ever ridden!

2012 El Paso Puzzler

The El Paso Puzzler….. Solved?

Mission Impossible ….take two boys ages 11 and 9 and enter them in a TMBRA Endurance Series Race, The El Paso Puzzler.  What…!!   Ask them just complete the race, but as the race ends you find they were super competitive in this 35 mile version of one of the toughest courses in the Country.

Mission Accomplished………!!!

RESULTS   35 miles/3500ft   56 racers   Men’s Open Class Field

13th Place   11 yr. old Jake   4 hrs 45 mins 21 sec

14th Place    9  yr. old  Nye   4 hrs 45 mins 56 sec

Here’s their story!

Yackle Brothers Racing Team members, Jake and Nye have etched their mark as top national junior XC MTB racers over the last 3 years, winning National Championship Medals (Gold, Silver, Bronze) along the way and dominating their peers!  Challenging themselves seems to be the only logical course for these two top athletes.

In their hometown of Cortez, CO and the Corporate Headquarters of one of their most supportive team sponsors, Osprey Packs they start their MISSION!  They completed their exemplary 2011 XC season, their training started at the Phil’s World Trail System in late Fall 2011.  Over three consecutive days Jake and Nye tested their metal, completing 30+ miles each of those days.  They proved to themselves they had the fitness to step up their racing game another notch.  Confident that the Puzzler was not only possible, but was a race they were legitimate threats to their competitors they pressed on. Over the remainder 2011, and as the January 15, 2012 race date approached, they trained daily with passion and commitment. Two weeks before the race they made their finishing efforts. Two days of 30+ miles on the High Desert Trail Gallup, NM, followed by 2 days in Moab, UT to complete some long miles on some of the technical trails at the Moab Brands and Klondike Bluffs Trails systems.

They were trained and ready!

4 A.M. Thursday, Jan 12.  The day begins as we start our 8 hour trek to El Paso, TX.  Bikes, bike and camping gear stowed securely in our Yakima Rack n Roll Trailer pulled by our fully loaded VW Jetta TDI Wagon we press on to fulfill the MISSION!  Our plans were to get 3 pre-rides in before Race day, to add to our knowledge about the Franklin Mountain State Park bike trails and race course.  Two years ago, on our way back from San Antonio, TX we stopped at El Paso and rode the northern section of the Lower Sunset Trail-rocky and rugged!  Today, we expected to uncover some kinder, gentler trails to go along with this trail!  What is the rest of the Puzzler course like?

3 P.M Thursday, we ventured out from the Tom Mays Park, on the Westside of the Franklin Mtns.  Under cloudy skies and bristling, cold winds we began our preparation on the southern section of Lower Sunset Trail.  The expectation of some rolling and flat trails was soon dashed. Rocks of all sorts-loose, embedded, round, jagged, limestone, granite- this isn’t what we expected on the trail. As we continued we found it had steep climbs and descents as it followed the contour of the Franklin Mtn. drainage washes.  We told ourselves, Oh well!  There’s tomorrow’s trails!  Should find some relief there!?

Jake exclaimed after the Race:

“Lower Sunset’s brutal, rocky climb offered up a huge group of Racers.  We destroyed them in short order!  Nye dug deep and put out like a Pro.  That fired me up!”

Friday, waking up to an icy, but welcomed sunny morning, we moving our race camp over to Bowen Ranch, the Eastside of the Franklin Mtns., the site of the Race Venue.  There we continued our pre-ride regiment. Today’s MISSION!  Mundy’s Gap, the signature climb of the Puzzler, a 1500 foot climb topping out at 5875 ft.  We rolled out of race camp, on the Lazy Cow Trail, a crushed granite, singletrack trail on a flat, creosote bush, strewn plain, we were stoked!  Flowing and fun!

Nye chirps after the race:

The trail was fun, fast and flowing.  That refreshed my spirit for what was to come!  Next, shredding Mundy’s Gap!”

We quickly hit the Tin Mine Rd. double track, that marked that our luck was to be changing!  Looming in the distance we could see the switchbacks that was Mundy’s Gap.  A couple of rocky miles of moderate grades gave way to long stretches of 15 % grades, maxing at 21%.  These types of trails were more suited to Mountain Goats and Big Horn Sheep.   As Colorado kids, Nye and Jake are growing up on these kinds of trails in the San Juan Mtns.  They hit the Mundy’s climb and appear to soar up the old road like a raptor floating on thermal drafts seeking its prey!  A more difficult climb would be harder to find, but this is the rarified air where these amazing kids excel!  On the summit we could only peer down the descent.  We thought of the warnings we have been told of a even steeper, scree field descent!  Descending and reclimbing wasn’t an option in the preparation plans, as 16 miles and a major climb today was plenty of riding for the day.  A restful late afternoon was what we all craved!

Nye exclaims after the Race:

“Mundy’s Gap was set up for us!  We blew past racer after racer.  Preparation pays off!  We knew we would kill it!”

Sunrise, the day before Race day.  We had one more goal, to check out the newly completed Sotol Forest Trail en route to Hitt Canyon Trail and North Pass Summit.  This traced the start of the race and the return route, too.  A mile and a half of rocky roads and we jumped on the Sotol Forest Trail, known for it’s Sotol Yuccas lining the trail and the hillsides in plentitude. The 600 feet of climbing, roughness and newly tilled narrow nature it possessed was sure to break up the starting pack of over 150 racers. Descending 200 feet off the summit to the Hitt Canyon Trail we hoped for some more of that flowing and fun, but short Lazy Cow Trail.  Not!  What we found was the toughest singletrack yet.  Hitt Canyon Trail was like a mine field of embedded granite and limestone rocks, mixed into the pebbly, dirt soil.  The chunky trail undulated up and down around Sotol Yuccas, drainages, and rock outcroppings for several miles as it made a sporadic ascent to North Pass.  Like yesterday, today’s 17 mile pre-ride loomed sufficient. We were very content looking down at 15 switchbacks on the singletrack up the Westside of North Pass.  We contemplated the advice that several were unrideable.  Race day would have the Yackle Brothers climbing up this little Devil!  Today we just ate our lunch at the Summit, which marks the 27 mile mark of the course.  Retracing the burly Hitt Canyon Trail and Sotol Forest Trail would complete the final 8 miles of the 35 mile race course and today’s pre-ride.

Says Nye after the Race:

“Those trails after the burly North Pass climb were rocky, chunky, gnarly and punishing. I sucked it up and pumped myself up for the intense trail ahead.  Trail knowledge kept us off the dirt and in the front of the Race!”

Returning to our Race Camp we began the last phase of our Mission. We learned from our pre-rides, that a race speed of 7 mph would probably be all that they would muster on this brutal race course.  Finally, Jake and Nye needed to prepare for being out on the Race Course an estimated 4.5 to 5 hrs.  Thankful, their hard training was now a comforting fact because they would be racing 2.5 times longer than any other Race they have done. As a reference, their races at USA Cycling Nationals were between 30 and 45 minutes long. Checking bikes, race clothes, packs for  readiness for the 8:00 A.M. start. Extra bike parts and tools, full water bags and Honey Stinger gels and bars to provide 150 calories every ½ hr were essential!  Ready to GO!

Says Jake after the Race:

“The Osprey Raptor Hydration Packs were flawless!  They stowed our gear, quenched our thirst and kept our confidence raging!”

Nearing 1:00 P.M. on Race day Jake and Nye finally appear at the top of the hill just before the Bowen Ranch Finish Line!  Showing the toughness of this course, the winning elite racer had an average speed of a mere10.46 mi/hr.  We were proud that Jake and Nye were able to record an average race speed of 7.26 mi/hr!

Jake sighs:

“Whew! I’m done. So proud, yet so tired.  I conquered the Puzzler!  People congratulated me, I’m stoked!  Food at last!

Nye proclaims:

Crossing the Finish Line makes me so happy.  Boy I’m ready for some food!  Great Race and people let me know!

Mission Impossible, Mission Accomplished is now the reality!

Yackle Brothers Racing…….…..The Puzzler Solved!

Great Raceng Boys!