I’m just crawling out of the jet lag since I returned home from a trip with Mike Hopkins to Israel. I count myself as one of the luckiest people on the planet after my trip there; our invitation came from the Ministry of Tourism for the Government of Israel and was through a random invite to Norco for athletes on a media trip. I basically spent 10 days on some of the most amazing singletrack in the world with like-minded people and the always pumped bike celebrity, Mike.

Mike and I have plans to log some heavy media time for our trip so I’ll keep it simple and share some content that’s gone out since we got home. Dirt Magazine Germany (the lovely Martina Bogott) posted this video today (and it’s primarily GoPro footage by our incredible host Nimi Cohen):

There was also a photo gallery posted by the dudes at SabaBike, which is worth a look HERE.

You should probably also check out our Pinkbike takeover that happened while we were in Israel HERE.(Click backwards on the photo to see the whole series).

Israel was rad and it’s already December. Time for some training, planning for a project for the new year and skiing!

- Leishner

 

 

As I sit in the Salt Lake City Airport and reflect on the 320km of riding that was my last week in Moab, I’m reviewing the results from last weekend’s Whole Enchilada Enduro and trying to put it all together in my mind.

What. The. Hell. Was. That.

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Jon Duncan took this photo of me as I dropped into Burrow Pass last Thursday as I tried to prepare for the Whole Enchilada Enduro.

I guess before I even get into the event, I’ll review the week we had prior to the race. I rode a LOT with Pete Stace-Smith, Dustan Sept, Jonathan “The Boss” Duncan and Mislav Mironovic all week in Moab. Pete is the ultimate tour guide in Moab and I saw a lot of the zone that I had never even realized existed. I came out of the gates pretty hot after Interbike – I felt gross from 2 days in Vegas and just wanted to shred. Katie Holden and I leisurely headed to Moab and we started riding as soon as it was humanly possible – she even forced me into a hike in Zion National Park (I know, poor me), of which I posted a few photos of on my Instagram account. My energy spending early in the week may have been my first and last mistake, even thought I was warned by people more in the know about “enduro” racing than I to take it easy. I ignored them all cuz Moab riding is SICK.

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Day 1 in Utah with Team Norco. Amasa Back. Jon Duncan photo.

I tried to verse myself on the stages that were announced for the race after taking a day off on the Wednesday before the event. We pretty much rode every trail we could think of before Weds and it was absolutely worth it.

Saturday was to be 3 (very flat and long) stages around the Magnificent 7 trails, and I had only ridden the zone once, so I felt like it was worth checking out. I rode those trails on Friday after putting Jon and Dustan through a vicious hot lap down the Whole Enchilada on Thursday. I was shattered by the riders’ meeting on Friday evening, even though I kept telling myself I was good to go.

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Saturday started with a 5k climb to the start of Stage 1. Jon took some shots and shuttled me around. I was really lucky to have his help there.

I realized the error of my ways about 10 minutes into Stage 1 of the race. I’m not an experienced endurance pedaller in any way, shape or form; my jam is downhilling , jumping, cornering and smashing my bike around.  I thought I had prepared myself for this event, albeit last minute, by putting together daily 20km rides on Whistler singletrack after work or on my days off. Technical riding wasn’t the game here in Moab and I was definitely out of my comfort zone right off the bat.

I figured I could compete, at the very least, on the Sunday stage 4. Burrow Pass, the fabled top of the Whole Enchilada trail, is full of steep singletrack, corners, wide open rough terrain and even a sweet little creek gap. I knew where my skills were in this event and figured I could at least come away with a result I could be happy with in one stage of the event. The morning of the race, however, gave us conditions on the trail that I have never ridden on a bike in my life. The trail was pretty much snow and sheer ice until 2/3 of the way down and I was on my ass and sliding about halfway down my “race run”. I put it into survival mode after picking my bike back up and carrying on and ended up 4th there. It was still (by far) my favorite stage of the race, even though it was scary enough that photographers on the trail put down their cameras to say to all of us just to “stay safe, just get through this alive”. No kidding.

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This is how you get to Burrow Pass. It’s a 1000ft climb from the Geyser Pass parking lot and is at about 10500 ft to start. I felt the elevation big time. Duncan photo.

I don’t want to say that the final stage of the race was a write off, because I learned a lot about myself and what happens to my body after the week I’d had. Everything that could have gone wrong did in those rough 30 kilometers – I bent my rear rotor pretty close to the top of the trail in a stupid crash that landed me in a cactus and full of thorns, I crashed again in front of a crowd of folks on the super technical “Snotch” part of UPS, crashed again after shouldering a tree I thought would move if I hit it (it didn’t) and lost my chain a couple of times. I had to dig pretty deep to bother to carry on and I entered a place mentally that I’ve never been before. I have nothing but respect for the ladies who are comfortable with racing for 2+ hours at a time.

My understanding of “enduro” racing didn’t include stages that went on so long, but I think this is part of the learning curve as our sport discovers what the discipline will look like. I can safely say that racing for more than 20 minutes isn’t something I’ve trained for, nor something that I really understand, but I’m motivated to try again in another setting. The girls at this event were absolute pros on every level – they were shredders, they were lovely to spend the day with and they were prepared for just about anything that was thrown their way.

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My favourite crew. L-R: Mislav, Dustan, Kevin (of Pivot Cycles), me, Katie, Pete, and The Boss (Jon).

I guess we all need to come dead last at least once in our lives (at something) to learn about ourselves – I know I learned a lot this week. I can’t say enough to thank the crew at Norco for their help and support this week. The early starts, the drivetrain replacement, the carbon bar replacements (I broke TWO this week on the Whole Enchilada – hack style) and the laughs, company and care. I’ve learned a ton and most of all, it was pretty effing fun (even though racing was a little more character building than fun at the time). Thanks to Wendy Palmer of Chile Pepper Bikes for getting me into this sufferfest also. I was so stoked when she helped get me into the sold out event – little did I know at the time!

Thanks also to Strando for awesome advice and insights about this format. It’s so strange that an “enduro” race can be compared from one to the other – especially events outside of the Enduro World Series. This race was like nothing I could have imagined. It was painfully long and hard – but I guess that’s why I signed up for it.

Headed home for a few days off the bike and back to work. Ya Whistler!

- Leishner

It seemed like I spent the entire spring of 2013 living like it was the last few weeks of my life. Thanks to working with great friends and excellent photographers, I was lucky enough to have 4 widescreen pieces published on Pinkbike this summer. I’ve already given the the lowdown on the Fraser Valley: Rule of Thirds project I did with Reuben Krabbe, Wade Simmons, Stephen Matthews and Joe Schwartz a couple of months ago, but the collection of articles can also be found here: http://bit.ly/1eRY7PI

Reuben slayed it behind the lens on that trip. Here’s a favourite shot from the collection to entice you to check out the link above:

Reuben Krabbe takes a mean photo. Check out his website at www.reubenkrabbe.com or our Fraser Valley piece.

Reuben Krabbe takes a mean photo. Check out his website at www.reubenkrabbe.com or our Fraser Valley piece.

Paris Gore and I also rallied and ran our Leavenworth piece from our trip in the spring. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/15gxA3W

Paris has been all over the world shooting World Cups lately, but you can check out his portfolio here: www.parisgore.com.

Here’s a favourite photo of mine from the trip:

Gunner and I in front of the lens for Paris in Leavenworth.

Gunner and I in front of the lens for Paris in Leavenworth.

This video I did with Paul Stevens for Norco’s 650 Fluid (which is a sweet little bike, by the way, especially considering its amazing price!) also surfaced last month. Check it out:

I’m off to Vegas for Interbike this week and then to Moab for The Whole Enchilada Enduro! I’m so pumped. If you’re looking for updates more than here, you can track me down on Instagram using @leishner!

-Leishner

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This was the view from the top of Stage One at the Enduro at Crankworx Les 2 Alpes. Ridiculous.

 

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My Range was the perfect bike for the terrain in France. Kinda can’t wait to go back and explore more. Big rotors were KEY.

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The Les 2 Alpes Pumptrack Challenge presented by Rockshox was my favourite event. Check out the killer backdrop.

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40 minutes of climbing brought you to these views. Not bad.

-Leishner

 

After Leavenworth, I decided to live June like it was the last month of my life. I rocked down to the Fraser Valley with Reuben Krabbe, Wade Simmons, Stephen Matthews and Joe Schwartz to do a massive 4 days of shooting for a 3 piece story that’ll go on Pinkbike.com. The first installment, written by Joe, can be found here: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/Rule-of-Thirds-Welcome-to-the-Fraser-Valley-part-1-2013.html

Planning is precise and difficult work.

Planning is precise and difficult work.

The backside of Sumas mountain looked like this when we were there. Stephen Matthews gets in on the mood lighting.

The backside of Sumas mountain looked like this when we were there. Stephen Matthews gets in on the mood lighting.

 

Joe Schwartz had the best colors. Elk/Thurston mission.

Joe Schwartz had the best colors. Elk/Thurston mission.

This guy. Everyone loves Wade, and for good reason. You don't become the "Godfather of Freeride" by being a dick to people. Legend.

This guy. Everyone loves Wade, and for good reason. You don’t become the “Godfather of Freeride” by being a dick to people. Legend.

Yes. This is Reuben on the ground taking pictures of bugs. By the side of the road.

Yes. This is Reuben on the ground taking pictures of bugs. By the side of the road.

Turns out I’ve become pretty backlogged in the posting arena, so I’ll do another post about France in the next couple of days. Just got back from there a couple of days ago from Crankworx L2A…stay tuned!

-Leishner

 

We headed to Leavenworth a couple of weeks ago to snap some shots with Paris Gore. Every time I go to Leavenworth, I’m blown away by the hospitality of the locals and the epic descents that wait at the end of long, burly shuttles. I was super impressed to see that the trail network has evolved there since I last visited and there are even some loops that involve reasonable climbs to access. If you haven’t been to Leavenworth before, go. Now. Stop at Stevens Pass on the way and make a point of shredding the bike park there.

Complete double ranges! We were lucky that my team manager at Norco lent Gunner a bike so we could be all matchy-matchy for shooting with Paris.

Gunner smashes a corner on Xanadu, Paris experiments with the long lens on the way up.

Jill and I landed POD on Pinkbike while we were down in Leavenworth. Paris took the photo.

Gunner takes a picture of Paris taking a picture of me. Pinkbike posted it (Paris did).

Next: the first Phat Wednesday of the year, amidst much controversy and talk. I love when people get fired up about this local league – it means they care. And they really, really do.

- Leishner

 

It’s been full on, but it’s been awesome. I’ve been to the Sunshine Coast for a sick trip with Norco and the entire team to ride, shoot and eat great food. The Whistler valley trails opened. And then the Bike Park opened. Let’s just say it’s been allllright. Here’s a little edit that came out of our trip (of many photos and other edits to come, I’m sure) by our team manager, Jonathan Duncan. For the record, I love hanging out with the folks on the team. Obviously the staff are amazing but the riders on the program are so dialed. We are all super diverse and everyone is a shredder. I also feel pretty honored to be part of such a stacked women’s team. Love Jill and Casey. Such legends.

Here’s another couple of snapshots of life so far:

Aurum build:

Building my amazing 2013 Norco Aurum. Full Shimano/Saint build, Rockshox suspension, Kenda tires, Gravity cockpit, WTB saddle and rims. Full shredder.

And lately:

Clockwise: shredding with coach Jordan in Whistler, Jackson waiting for the Bike Park to crack, shooting with The Boss Finestone and deep in the hurtlocker at Crossfit (photo by Katie).

Next up: Leavenworth on the Range with Gunner and Paris. Bring on summer!

-Leishner

My first Sea Otter was pretty darn fun. I flew down to San Jose on the Wednesday before the event and drove in with Katie, which made the trip even better. It was rad to have the on-hand support of the Norco crew during the week. I stayed with the team in a house in Monterey that week, trained every day with Miss Casey Jayne Brown, Zander and Lee (loved that) and got to know the ‘fit kids’ (Hayley, L’Espy and Guthrie) on the team. Was awesome getting to know everyone I hadn’t spent time with before and Pete, Jonathan, Havvy, Dustan and Chris from Norco had us dialed all week.

Because I’ve never been to Sea Otter before I really felt like I needed to work harder than the average bear to dial the course in. The course is pretty easy overall but being fast on it is both fitness-based and dependent on your comfort with letting your bike run fast and loose. The ground is super hard there and it was a fine line between overshooting jumps, two wheel drifting and actually laying on the ground (I did – hard – while towing Casey into the only real jump on the track and scared the sh*t out of myself for a couple o’ days – got the sweet black bruise on my ass and lingering hip flexor injury to prove it).

In the end I pulled a 7th, which wasn’t a mind blower but not embarrassing either. I’ll take it – the field was stacked and that result is satisfying, especially considering the fact that I buried myself like a true rookie by overdoing the laps in training (I averaged about 5-6 hotlaps a day and stupidly did 4 race speed laps right before my race run – I just started having too much fun!). It was awesome to have the on-hand advice from Chrissy (TaG Cycling) during the event; I think I’d have stayed on the ground after that crash on the Friday had it not been for spending the winter crushing weights with coach Jordan and the rest of the crew at Crossfit also. Hah.

According to MTBR's John Shafer, this rider's name is Jackie Swider. Pretty sure it's me though. I love Johnny Rempel in the blue tshirt laughing at me.

Pinkbike gave me and my bike some love at the 'Otter. Race run by Margus Riga on Pinkbike.

The other really cool announcement at the ‘Otter was the release of me and Jill’s cover on Freehub Magazine by Paris Gore. Love it and am thankful for being invited on that trip to Orcas Island with Katie, Strand, Shorty and Jill. We collaborated on the story inside the issue and I thought it turned out pretty well. It’s worth checking it out!

Photo by Paris. This is pretty cool, if you ask me. My first cover!

Next up – a big camp on the Sunshine Coast with the entire Norco Team. Looking forward to getting away with the nicest group of people maybe…ever?

- Leishner

 

I’m not sure if it was three years of ski patrolling that made me more stoked about my bike when the snow starts to fall, but I’m embracing it these days as much as my friends call me out on it. I’ve had a couple of less than magical shreds down in Squamish but it’s always been from my need to chase the dragon of that one good day. Here’s what it looks like when I can be asked to stop and pull the ol’ iPhone out:

Smiles for miles. Especially if it's sunny. This is rare these days.

I'm always scared of cougars when I'm on the Alice Lake trails by myself...but I wasn't scared enough not to get this moment in panoramic.

The other thing that has popped into my newsfeed is the new Pemberton Enduro Series. Kinda cool actually…I may/may not check it out but I love that there’s a community of shredders willing to take the time to put something like this together. This week’s course looks short and grunty – but they’re getting such great prizes, it’d be hard to just not do it!

This is worth checking out. So much work has gone into it already! --> on.fb.me/XjpDu2

And next up…A trip to Austin, Texas for the SXSW Interactive Festival for “work”, more bikes…maybe some ski!

-Leishner

I rocked over to Seattle with Reuben Krabbe a couple of weeks ago to hang with Katie Holden again. Been feeling the need to get on my bikes more and more these days but the weather has (obviously) not been in favor of that around here and it’s tough to make the time when I’m down to the normal person 2 days off per week all the time. That said, Katie, Reuben and I got some good hang time in together on that trip and Reuben took a couple of shots with his crazy infrared camera along the way. The purpose of the trip wasn’t solely shooting – but you can’t keep a man from his art, now can you?

Katie takes a mean photo on her iPhone. So much so that now that when I ride with her, I don't even take my phone out of my pocket because there's no point. She's a sure bet for Instagram shots; Reuben takes care of the publish-worthy bangers.

We hung out with Katie’s mom a lot during the trip too. She is a pretty great lady. She fed us super well and had really cool stories from her years of work as an ALS nurse. I kinda think she was one of the main highlights of the trip. Stoked to go back and hang out again!

Nothing new. Reuben, always with the risk taking. Not as scary as his Deep Summer climbing tactics (mostly because this time I didn't tie him in)...but still...

Overall, I’d say the trails around Seattle/Isaquaah are worth hitting up. I think a few more laps on them would make me feel like a hero and I’ll always welcome the opportunity for that to happen on my bike!

Pretty faces. Mine especially.

 

-Leishner

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