Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Maybe in 10 or 20 years

Yep, that's when I think I'll be ready. Or maybe even past that.

I've received a lot of emails lately from mostly guys in their late 30s, 40s, and 50s that are racing mountain bikes and they tell me what an inspiration I am for them.

That is what inspires me.

It gives me fuel to keep on racing and do what I love so much. I did the Trans Alp race in 2004 which is a 7 day stage race in the most amazing German, Austrian, and Swiss Alps. I'd love to race there again but it was one of the hardest races I've ever been in. It was also the first time I raced in a Master's category. That was the most competitive age group I ever raced. I mean that of course most of the races I've done have been difficult, but the Master's category is a different beast. These guys give all they have to win and it's tough.

At this age, it's hard but not like I can't handle it. It's good to have the competition to keep and stay focused. If I went into it thinking it wouldn't be that bad then someone like Nat or Chris would show up and make it interesting. You've got to have that...keep it interesting. We are all going to the events for the same reason. To get the good competition and to have the opportunity to race another year.

Endurance is still a relative newcomer in the sport of mountain biking. It will take some time to attract the big dinero, but with the different series that started up in the last few years, it's got a lot of promise to get some good following. The focus has been on XC for a long time but this is a great next up-comer. We could use some good support.

OK - so back to the reason for this rant....I'm not thinking about retiring any time soon. I think I'll race till I die and my wife told me I'll live a long long time. Probably into my 90's.

I can see it now. 'There goes Tinker - the guy is 87 years old and still pedaling! He's on his 14th lap already!'

I'll have to turn up my hearing aid so I can hear the cheers.

So my goal is that I want to set an example to race mountain bikes as long as I can at a professional level and retire at a normal age. I want to show that you can make a lifetime career of it. Ned is the only guy that is ahead of me and he's set a fantastic example.

I want to do this as long as I can. Heck, I'm hoping to keep up with Joshua when he grows up. And I want to show that you can enjoy doing this sport and it will keep you healthy and young. And it's not all about racing but it's about being outside on the bike. I love the way it feels to be out there with everyone else that is having fun doing what they love the most.

I want to get a kick about being a professional cyclist longer than anyone.

Enjoy it as long as you can.



Friday, May 18, 2007

Wham, Bam, Thank You Carbon Rush

Wham, Bam, Thank You Carbon Rush
Posted on May 9, 2007 9:08:25 PM

It's the choice of season professional Tinker Juarez when it comes to long hours in the saddle over rough terrain. Jamie Whitmore's had phenomenal success on it racing Super D and will be her bike of choice to contest the XTERRA World Championship. Now Bike magazine states riders looking to ride fast and long, the Carbon Rush Team is one of the meanest machines on the market.

Read on to see what else the staff had to say after a long term "beat down"

"The bike climbs and accelerates like a true race thoroughbred with alarming responsiveness and tremendous speed"

"The Carbon Rush feels light and snappy without any of the twitchiness you'd expect from a race bike"

"The Rush is incredibly responsive when carving turns at speed"

"The Carbon Rush Team is a testament to Cannondale's race heritage. It's a meld of space-age materials and innovative design work that creates a bike with more than four inches of travel while maintaining the weight of a hardtail"

To find out where you can test ride a Carbon Rush check our schedule here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tour of the Unknown Coast

THE TOUR OF THE UNKNOWN COAST : Riding in a postcard

I like Humboldt County out in Northern California . I’d been there twice for the 12 Hours of Humboldt and once for the Bigfoot Classic mountain bike race. Those huge redwood trees and awesome scenery—you gotta see them to understand. So when Vic from Team Bigfoot invited me to come and do a hundred mile road that people call “ California ’s toughest century,” I jumped at the chance. “Ten thousand feet of climbing?” I said, “Sounds great!”

Vic had told me to bring riding clothes for all weather conditions. “It can be foggy or sunny, wet or dry, cold or warm, all in the same day.” I understood the moment I arrived. In Florida it had been in the 80’s, but it was in the 50’s, moist and overcast when I got off the plane at the Eureka/Arcata airport. I’m not used to cold!

The day before the event was a Cannondale shop visit. The Cannondale Demo center was there and they took me for a mountain bike ride in the Arcata Community Forest . I’d ridden there at the 12 Hours of Humboldt, but on different trails they took me on. There was this hike-a-bike and since I hadn’t brought mountain bike shoes I was riding with road pedals and shoes. So there I was duck-walking up this section, trying not to fall or break my road cleats.

The next morning was the Tour of the Unknown Coast . It’s in a little farm town called Ferndale that’s right out of an old movie. Sheriff Andy Taylor and Opie would be right at home in Ferndale . It was cold and overcast and the local riders were saying it was likely to stay that way. I ate and got ready for the 7am start time, thinking that I had plenty of time, when I heard Vic on the loud speaker calling “Tinker! Tinker!” It was 7:01 and 473 other riders were on the starting line waiting on me. Woops!

The route started flat, so the lead pack was moving when we hit the first of the small climbs. Then we onto the “Avenue of the Giants,” a stretch of road where you’re riding under huge redwoods trees. Most are like 200 feet tall and they tell me that there are a few 300-footers in there.

I’d been talking with local rider John “Fuzzy” Mylne in the pack. He’s a single-speed rider that I’ve met at different endurance events where he’s been doing really well. About 45 miles out we start up a climb and Fuzzy tells me that the climb goes on for nine miles. I figured that was a good time to test myself so I stood up and powered for a while then sat down and got into a good climbing rhythm.

After a few minutes I looked back and didn’t see anybody. I felt good and was keeping a pace that I knew I could sustain. Nine miles later it was over the top and into a fun descent through some amazing scenery that looks like something you’d see on a postcard. You could see for miles. Other than a farm house here or there the only thing man-made you see is the road. At the bottom was a tiny little town and as I passed the firehouse the firemen blew a siren. The next several miles was rolling terrain and still, hardly anything out there. Just untouched hillsides with maybe a few cows or sheep.

Finally I reached the ocean and the wind. Vic had told me about the headwind there and that one really windy year Mike Pigg the triathlete could barely go 6 miles an hour. Thankfully the wind wasn’t that bad. I was able to keep 16mph. Then I saw “The Wall,” a mile long climb that has sections of 23% grade. Yeah, just what I like! I made it up the first pitch and went into a switch-back section, looked back down at the road along the coast and didn’t see anyone.

Once you get over the wall you drop back down into this little valley, and then climb back out over what they call “The Endless Hills.” They named it right. Each switchback looks like it’s going to be the top of the ridge. But once you get to it you see the next one, and the next one, and the next one. I kept up my rhythm and was practically getting a stiff neck from looking back down looking for other riders. Nope. Just me.

Finally I reached the top—and the fog piled up over the other side of the ridge. It was only eight miles to the finish and was anxious to get out of the cold. A guy pulled alongside on a motorcycle to tell me to be careful, that the fog was thick almost all the way back. Vic had warned me about the final descent, that there were decreasing radius turns, potholes and a dirt section. The locals know this section and can really haul, but I played it safe.

Finally I made it to the final flat straight to the finish line. It was a great ride for me. I’ve always admired those guys in the Tour de France or the Giro who do big, long solo breaks like that. My time was five hours and twenty-eight minutes. The record is something like 30 minutes faster, but Vic said that was set in a year that had a tailwind along the ocean.

The ride was over but not my day. I had some kids to meet. I’d been contacted by a Sacramento Police sergeant who runs a mountain bike program for high school and middle-school kids. The program’s focus is to keep kids out of gangs. That really hits home with me ‘cause a lot of kids from my school got into that kind of trouble. The sergeant had asked if I could visit the kids in Sacramento , but with my busy schedule it would have been hard to do. So Vic invited the sergeant to bring the kids to the Tour of the Unknown Coast , comped them their entries, campsite and meals.

I spent about an hour with them answering questions and signing autographs. The bikes the kids use mostly came from the police as unclaimed property. Some are donated and they’ve managed to scrounge parts from all over. I’m going to go through my garage and box up some of my old stuff for them. Seeing the excitement on their faces when they talked about riding and racing was real inspiring, so I’m glad to help them.

So it was a good day for me. I had a good ride. got to test my fitness, met some great people. That’s it for now. It’s time to focus on the rest of my season.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Payson Showdown

I've been on the road now four weekends in a row and didn't get time to write up the Payson race but here is a news clip from the Cannondale Global News page about my win at the Stampede last weekend.

Mike Hershauer, owner of Focus Cyclery was there with his crew supporting me and took these photos. Focus had a nice set up which made it a lot more comfortable since it got so cold. Thanks Mike!

I also wanted to thank the guys from Focus and Chris Malloni from Cannondale for such great support and Dan Basinski for putting the race together. It was an awesome venue.

The town was super convenient to the Fairgrounds and even though Mom Rose didn't get to gamble much at the Casino, we'd like to go back next year and try again.

For the second weekend in a row, Tinker Juarez and Nat Ross battled it out, this time at the Payson Stampede 24 Hour Mountain Bike Challenge May 5-6, 2007 in Payson, AZ. As evening set in, so did cold temperatures and rain. Juarez and Ross kept close watch on each other for a good part of the race. As the evening went on and despite bone chilling temperatures, Juarez felt good on his Cannondale Scapel and established a strong lead after Ross flatted.

Ross wasn't able to recover the time while Juarez persevered on winning the elite solo men's category with 25 laps in 21 hours.

Juarez said "I had it in my mind to race to win without killing myself. After Natt had a flat and lost the time, I put my head down and kept going. My Scalpel and Kenda tires were the perfect combination for this course and without making any mistakes, or mechanical issue's, we were able to bring home the win. That was one really tough workout".
Here is a news article on Cyclingnews.com:

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Eureka Reporter - Tour of the Unknown Coast Article

Not so unknown
by Bryan DeMain, 5/10/2007

While Vic Armijo of Team Bigfoot refers to Saturday’s cycling event as “our little backyard race,” the 29th annual Tour of the Unknown Coast isn’t so little.With “up-until-the-race registration,” and good weather, Armijo and event coordinators are expecting nearly 1,000 participants.And some of those participants are big names in the cycling community.While Lance Armstrong came, saw and conquered many years ago, the Ferndale Fairgrounds will play host to race legends Tinker Juarez and Jacquie Phelan this weekend.For Juarez, who is a two-time U.S. Olympian and seven-time U.S. champion, this will be his fourth visit to Humboldt County, but this time around he’s expecting this one to be his most rewarding.Sgt. Charles Husted from the Sacramento Police Department’s School Resource Unit will travel with a youth mountain biking program, which is designed to keep youths off the street and away from gang activity, to meet Juarez.“The program’s goal really hit home with me,” Juarez said in a news release. “There was a lot of gang activity in my home town.”Juarez will spend time with the group from Sacramento following the race.“They’re very excited,” Armijo said. “They really had their fingers crossed to meet this guy, who has really become a hero in their eyes.”Juarez is well known for his community service and using his name for outreach programs.“That’s the type of thing he’s known for,” Armijo said. “He’s not just athlete, he’s an ambassador for the sport in every meaning of the word.”Phelan, a three-time U.S. champion and pioneer for women’s mountain biking, will give a women’s bicycle skills clinic on Sunday at the Fairgrounds. Saturday will feature five events, including 100-mile, 100-kilometer, 50-mile, 20-mile and 10-mile races.With gas prices soaring and many of the riders expected to come from out of the area, free camping is available at the fairgrounds. “There’s plenty of room and that makes the trip affordable,” Armijo said. “It’s better than paying a hundred bucks for a hotel room. This way you can wake up, eat a prepared breakfast and walk to the start line.”Registration forms can be picked up at sponsor and local supporter Adventure’s Edge in Arcata.

For more information, phone Team Bigfoot at 707-845-6117.