Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Weakest Link

When I first moved to Whitefish almost 4 years ago (with all my possessions loaded in an unlicensed 1981 Toyota  2wd pickup), I had some pretty valid excuses that prevented me from chasing the dream of racing my mountain bike across the land.

-My income: Minimal.
-My vehicle: Shitty.
-Time off work? Nope.
-Race budget: Out of pocket :(
-My bike: Kona single speed 29er with raked out (bent) "freeride edition" fork.

Don't get me wrong, I was happy as a clam with my rolling junkshow, but deep in my haunches I knew I was capable of better. When I moved to Working Lightly (the Yoga Ranch days), I was far removed from the racing scene, but in the center of the trail universe. My time in the single wide at Tally Lake was a much needed reboot to figure out what exactly I wanted to do in life. As my good buddy Brendan Halpin realized after 15 minutes solo at my house; "Phil, the only two options here are stare at the wall or exercise"!

Times were good on the ranch, but a 25 year old guy can't stay holed up in the woods all by himself, I had to get back out into the world. I wanted to show my fancy footwork to all that seemed interested. Two years ago I took a job at Hammer Nutrition, and it has taken me far and wide. But the life of a trucker/desk jockey/racer wasn't ideal either. Last season I was more fired up than ever about racing, but had little time to train, excuses excuses. Last summer was great, my local sponsor Sportsman & Ski Haus was a big help, and our sweet Cannondale Bikes made up a lot of the slack for my extra weight and lack of #training. I got a good laugh about being significantly heavier than most of the other pro mountain bikers out there, and even came up with a cheeky name for my lack of top end fitness, the "resort leg". 

I wasn't disappointed with myself about last season, I'm pretty confident I did the best I could given my schedule (and I can pretty much guarantee I'm the only guy that worked all of Interbike, closed down the Sinclair Imports party, flew to Bend and placed well at Marathon Nationals!). But I still had this * next to everything... More excuses.

So when I started thinking about 2012 and what I wanted to do on my mountain bike, and what areas needed improvement, everything pointed towards me, I was the weakest link in the program. 

-My income: Enough.
-My vehicle: Decent.
-Time off work? Generous.
-Race budget: $$$ in the bank.
-My whip (s): Cannondale Scalpel 29 (so rad), Cannondale Flash 29 Ultimate (20 pound race hardtail).

A wise man once said, it's not the arrow, it's the Indian. So now that all the pieces are in place, there are no excuses left. With no one to blame but myself, one could look at this as a lot of excess pressure to succeed, but I find it's quite the contrary. #Training is easy, it's the combination of $upport, time and motivation that can be ever so difficult for the privateer to round up. And if I ever don't feel like grinding out some hard ride by myself, I've always got the best crew of Trail Rangers the world has ever seen to recharge the nitro boost!

So now that all has (mostly) come together, I'm super pumped to get out to the races this summer. We're super lucky to have nationals and the prestigious Missoula XC back to back again, it's not often that Montana sees such high levels of competition, so it definitely warrants firing on all cylinders. I also wanted to pass on a huge thank you to two new sponsors. Two of the most storied brands in Mountain Biking have signed on to help me out, ESI Grips and Shimano MTB. 

ESI Grips are one of the most simple yet profoundly amazing upgrades one can make to a mountain bike, at any price. They are not only the lightest grips by far, but feel the best on your hands no matter how far the ride. 

Shimano needs no introduction from me, they have been behind mountain biking since before I was even around. After screwing around with all sorts of janky parts the last couple years, I'm very excited to know there is unmatched precision behind every shift of my XTR drivetrain, and the brakes have enough power to hold back the Spokane River at near floodstage!

Receiving product support really helps, but mainly it's just knowing that there's actually someone else out there besides myself that wants to see me race well is the big perk. Intervals are a hell of a lot easier when I can see a little light at the end of the tunnel, knowing there is at least some small reason that I'm cross eyed and about to fall off the bike in pain on that after work ride!

So thanks again to all the help keep the dream alive, hope to see everyone on the trail this summer!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh man, this is getting serious. I even noticed a man that looks a lot like you doing hard pulls at the front of a road race last weekend. Number 1 pic for top 10 underdog at Missoula XC! Keep up the #training!