Boom! Race number 1 is in the books! Port Angeles was even more exciting than previous years as it hosted the NW Cup #1/Pro GRT race this past weekend. With a fair amount of rain before and during practice it was a slippery yet fast course that kept everyone on their toes. As usual everything ran smoothly from start to finish even with the unexpected high volume of racers (almost 500!).

Heading up for practice

Heading up for practice

Jaime and Vaea - having fun on our way up for course walk!

Jamie and Vaea – having fun on our way up for course walk!

Line speculation time

Line speculation time

A rider flying through the fog at the top of the course

A rider flying through the fog at the top of the course

This was my first race on my freshly built Intense 951 Evo and after some fine tuning of my suspension I can now say that it’s the fastest downhill bike that I’ve ever owned. It felt like it was made for the high speed gnarly course at Dry Hill (not so dry this race). Thanks to James at Suspensionwerx for helping me with that!

Smooth and slick

Smooth and slick

The big tabletop aka mud pit halfway down the course

The big tabletop aka mud pit halfway down the course

A Dunbar riding coming out of the woods

A Dunbar riding coming out of the woods

I was happy to get in both a solid seeding run and a solid race run to start off the season (taking 3 seconds off my seeding run in my race). I had a few mistakes on course that I could have avoided but overall I’m feeling super positive about the race season to come and I was very proud to finish 3rd and stand on the podium with some of my favourite competitors and friends. Way to go girls!

Stoked for Katie who owned the podium racing on her pink M9!

Stoked for Katie who owned the podium racing on her pink M9!

Pro Women!

Pro Women!

Pro Men's podium

Pro Men’s podium

Also, I can’t forget to thank my team mechanic Mr B, aka Big Rig for keeping my bike tuned and running in tip top shape all weekend. He even had some time to pull off a 26th place finish in a field of over 100 pro men hashtag mechanics that can race that can mechanic and race.

This is how much fun changing tires in the mud is...

This is how much fun changing tires in the mud is…

B piloting his M9 in for a landing on the final jump

B piloting his M9 in for a landing on the final jump

Seb Kemp and I have created this fun clinic in Whistler that will set you up for a great season of riding and/or racing.  Check them out!

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It’s that wonderful time of year when new bikes and gear are making their way out to happy little kids… and grown up kids. My bright shiny new DH race bike – the 2014 Intense 951 Evo – recently arrived and I have to say, I think this is the most gorgeous looking race bike I’ve owned! When we picked the color – a matte fluorescent red – we knew it would be bright… but it almost glows. I’d call it “sunset red” because depending on the angle and lighting it can look red, pink, or orange.

951 evo

Once it was built up by my mechanic “Mr B, aka Big Rig” it was time to get testing done so we could dial in the suspension settings. B and I headed to Vancouver Island to ride some of our favourite trails there – the old Hammerfest race course in Parksville, the race course in Port Alberni, and then I got to experience the awesomeness that is Forbidden Plateau in Courtenay with our friends Lee and Jacob.

I’ve been absolutely loving my M9′s for the past few years so it was a bit of a gamble to change it up and try something different, but the moment I sat on the 951 Evo it felt like a true downhill race machine. Three things I noticed: with my previous M9′s I’d had a 64+ degree head angle which was alway a little twitchy when I was over the front end of the bike, but the new 951 Evo has a 62.5 degree head angle which is far more relaxed and handles the steeper chutes noticeably better. The 27.5″ wheels roll over everything much more smoothly and truly allow you to carry more momentum which for me means as long as I stay off the brakes I’m faster. And finally, somehow, despite the fact that it has bigger wheels and a slightly longer frame, it built up to be 2 pounds lighter than my M9 was last year with the same parts. For me having my bike lose 2 pounds is immediately noticeable which translates into me getting up to speed faster and better control of my bike in the rough stuff.

Practicing my uphill pavement pedalling technique

Practicing my uphill pavement pedalling technique

It is the lightest, brightest DH bike I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning and I’m looking forward to some fast fun on it this year!

About a month ago I was contacted by a girl, Josie, who is obviously in love with her bike! It’s a big part of her life, just like us, and she has her own blog, Life on Two Wheels. She asked me a few questions and just thought I’d share the 2 interviews for the 2 series: Women on Bikes and Women Involved. Enjoy!

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Back to shredding with the Whistler Highschool Mountain Bike Team!  A few of us have been training all winter together, but outdoor rides started this week.  Close to 40 youth showed up for the first session!  Stoked!  Lots of new faces.  Everyone in the group will be racing the Highschool race series, but you’ll see quite a few of them go on to race XC, DH and Enduro events throughout the summer.  They are into it!!  I’m super lucky to have a great roster of coaches to help as well – Seb Kemp, Dylan Wolsky, Jesse Melamed, Nick Geddes, Ross Dunlop and Kyle Long.

This group is one of my favourite crews to ride and work with.  The energy is contagious and the talent is incredible!  A lot of them share the same level of passion that I have for mountain biking, I feel lucky to get to coach AND learn from them :)

I’m not usually bothered to write stuff like this but lets just say I was motivated to.

There is a difference between showing your rad femininity and sexualizing yourself.

“It’s important to know the difference between healthy sexuality and sexualization. Healthy sexuality, which is an important aspect of our physical and mental health, involves the mutual respect of consenting partners and fosters intimacy, bonding and shared pleasure.

In contrast, sexualization occurs when:

  • A person’s value is limited to his or her sexual appeal or behavior at the exclusion of all the other kinds of characteristics. In other words, all those parts of us that contribute to our wholeness – such as our intelligence, abilities, values, interests and passions – are absent from sexualized messages and images.
  • A person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness with being sexy. For girls and women, these standards are too often narrowly defined and involve unattainable and unrealistically “perfect” sexualized body types.”

-Taken from: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/sexuality_versus_sexualization_why_is_it_important_to_know_the_difference

We could all do it. Pose half naked with our bikes and look hot and sexy. I’m not a feminist, ask anyone that knows me, I’m not into all that girl power ra ra ra shit but as a professional female athlete, I have a responsibility to women, girls and myself and this is why I choose not to sexualize myself:

“Constant exposure to this type of imagery is linked to girls viewing their own bodies as sexual objects, which means girls become more concerned with how their bodies look than how they feel or what they can do. When we look at other women who are being active and doing amazing things (rather than just looking sexy), we think about the amazing things our own bodies can do.”

-Taken from: http://www.sparksummit.com/2013/07/12/research-blog-sexualized-female-athletes-the-impact-on-young-women/ 

Instead I’d like to send this message out to the world: What can your strong and beautiful body and mind do? What life adventures can they take you on? :)

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Online Registration for our Race Skills Clinic at the Silver Star BC Cup/NW Cup is now live via CCN Bikes: https://ccnbikes.com/kovarik-racing-race-skills-clinic/

2 Spots are up for grabs via the Intense Weekend Video Entry Contest so that means 8 spots are available through regular registration. So get on it quick!

Come learn, get fast, race and pit with us!

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Same kind of story. Heatwave, 35 plus degrees but didn’t seem as bad as Toowoomba for some reason. Maybe having the lake close by helped a bit, cooler air off the water? We did get a nice breeze from time to time too which was some relief. Either way, trails were dry, dusty, blown out and slidy. Made for some scary moments and also some good fun.

It was a 4 stage Enduro and with just under 200 entrants, it was a choose your own adventure format. You could ride the stages in whichever order you’d like. This worked well as it alleviated line ups and you could ride with all your buddies, no matter what group they were in.  Three of the stages were quite flowy and pedally with a few climbs and traverses in there. The last stage, which we saved for last, was a gnarly, rocky, loose downhill with jumps and off camber chutes. My fav.

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198 riders ready to be cleared to start the first transition. Podium Lube photo.

Chris just always seems to either nail it or blow something up. This time round, unfortunately, he rear flatted. Twice. First time was on the longest stage where it was luckily only a slow leak but he rode with a half inflated tire for most of it. Gruelling. I definitely would NOT want to do that. Anyways, he chucked a tube in and went up for the last stage, the “DH” stage. And a few corners in, rear flat. So crap!! He still managed to end up 10th and we are pretty confident that he could have walked away with it, had he been mechanical free. That’s ok. We know he is riding fast and these things happen. In retrospect, we were unable to find him a new rear tire before the event so he risked running his old one rather than running a different brand that he doesn’t like the feel of.  And, unfortunately, the risk just didn’t pay off. Big congrats to Michael Ronning and Lindsay Klein for taking the shared(tied)win! Ronning and Chris were Intense teammates on the DH World Cup circuit back in the day. He’s a legend and still pins it big time. Lindsay’s been around for a while too, just a really versatile rider. Nice work guys.

Chris leaning into a sandy berm near the end of Tunnel, the shortest stage of the day.
Chris leaning into a sandy berm near the end of Tunnel, the shortest stage of the day. Podium Lube photo.
Look at that arm formation! Elite mens podium.
Look at that arm formation! Elite mens podium.

The terrain at Mt Joyce seemed to suit me better than Toowoomba. Although the first 3 stages were ridiculously hard. Drool much? Yup that was me, the drooling panting loser, want to take my photo? Thanks. Ha! So there were 3 girls in the Elite Women category this time round. A bit of an improvement, at least we would fill up the podium! It was a good mix of backgrounds: XC racer Kylie Maduna, 4X racer Sharsha Huntington and myself, DH. Cool that we can all come together and enjoy this Enduro format. Kylie is strong on the pedalling, she is a little speedy gonzales! It was interesting to see that we were very close on the 3 “pedally” stages, we actually tied one of them. Pretty crazy how that can happen as I am sure we are quite different riders. Sarsha had a bit of a rough day, a few crashes on multiple stages. Props to her, being a mom and all and probably not having a huge amount of time for herself. Hope you’re not too sore to lift your kid today my friend! Geeez. Although I held my own on the flatter stages, I definitely made up a huge stack of time on the DH stage. It was my favourite and confirmed how much I love downhill racing. Downhill racing isn’t physically easy as you have to go all out and risk and focus but you can still feel pretty rad on your bike. When I’m racing a pedally stage and I’m drooling down my chin and losing my form by the second, yeah, I don’t exactly feel like a rock star! But saying that, I enjoy the challenge.

Claire landing the big table and straight on the brakes to set up for the berm nearing the end of the DH stage. Podium Lube photo.
Claire landing the big table and grabbing the brakes to set up for the berm nearing the end of the DH stage. So much fun. Podium Lube photo.
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Holding up my podium Lube Biowash and a bit of cash on the Elite Women podium. Element Photo & Video Productions photo.

Overall, another fun day of racing against the clock. Now we are turning our main attention to our DH bikes, in preparation for the World Cup in Cairns.

Thanks to For The Riders for the shade and to SEQ Gravity Enduro and Outlook Riders Alliance for a great event yesterday, we will be back!

Back by popular demand :)

girls

If you are between the ages of 6-12 (or if you’re a parent with a 6-12 year old ;) ), you should check out this mountain bike after-school program!  Going onto it’s third year, it’s just getting bigger and better.

Read all about it here.

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Here it is . . .  little vid, story and slideshow from our Utah trip last November.

Check it out on Pinkbike.

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