Wow, where did the last month go!
April marked the official start of the 2013 race season for me and involved travelling to GIANT HQ in Los Angeles for the 2013 Team Camp and the famous Sea Otter Classic at Laguna Seca.
The purpose of team camp is for everyone in the GIANT Factory Off Road team to meet up, hang out, see the new faces, and organise the upcoming race season. On top of that, we endure PLENTY of photo shoots in our fresh kits, and on our brand new bikes, all before we head our different directions for the crazy busy race season.
It’s a pretty rad feeling being on a factory team and being presented with all our fresh race rigs for the year, and receiving all our 2013 riding/racing/training gear from our amazing sponsors. The sight of huge boxes of kit awaiting us, filled with gear from our sponsors, is something we all are very appreciative of. Thank you!
First order of team camp is to get photos and posters done while our bikes are in prime condition and our kits looks wicked and brand new. Day 1 of team camp has not been kind to me in the past and last year was not an ideal introduction to everyone. This year I was expecting it to be way more relaxed and exciting because I was now more “officially” part of the family, however my 2nd year wasn’t to get off to great start either!
We all packed our bags, racked up our bikes and headed to the hills for our first day of shooting. The main objective of day 1 is to get a poster shot so team posters can be made in time for Sea Otter and the autograph sessions later in the week.
All was going sweet and we were all having fun on our new bikes and catching up as the day went on. It was great to be back in the Los Angeles hills shredding and feeling the warm sunshine in my face after a freezing winter! By about 4pm however, I was about to feel a different sensation on my face – the sensation of blood trickling and a bit of swellage to my lips and mouth.
We came to a loose drifty turn along the trail and team mate Adam Craig and I were roosting through it, looking for that golden shot! We had both hit it a few times with Adam keeping his feet in and I was drifting through with my foot out.
‘I’ll try it this time with my feet in and see how that goes ay,’ I say to our photographer Jake.
I pedalled into the corner fast, attempted to roost through the turn, and before I knew it I was checking to see if my teeth were still intact and trying to work out if I had just made my upper and bottom lips more ventilated. Luckily enough my teeth were still intact and my face seemed to take the majority of the impact.
My day was done. I cleaned up my face and limped back to the truck with a bruised ego and elephant-man sized face!
A bit of ice, a few laughs in the evening, a good rest, and we were onto day 2 of shooting. The worst thing about the incident from day 1 was that we didn’t get my poster shot. The other issue was that my face was massively swollen. I had bloody cuts on my top lip and chin and both my knees had some nice bloodied cherries on them.
‘How bout we shoot Josh today in his Enduro race kit of full face and knee pads,’ was the best idea floating around that 2nd morning. Great idea, and a good way to cover up all my marks.
A day of shooting involves leaving the hotel at 7.30am, gearing up with our bikes and gear for the day, hiking/riding up to the photo shoot location(s) and taking photo after photo in different spots, with different angles, and in different light. All that repeated many times as it’s needed to fulfil our sponsors desires for photos to represent their product. On top of that I had to get my poster shot. It was a hectic day to say the least.
In the end we got a killer shot, and I had a great day on a ridgeline trail that I would never had ridden or seen in any other circumstance.
The next hurdle of team camp, and my busted up face, was our studio ‘headshots’ on day 3. I still looked a mess. With a bit of makeup and some digital touch up paint, and a Fatty Vaughtin head wobble to get into character, we were good to go! (Ain’t Photoshop a magical thing!)
The week wasn’t just the endless photo shoots, team meetings, bike set ups and media obligations, we were also able to get some cool rides in through the hills towards the coastline and over to Malibu along the Los Angeles coast. I am lucky enough to have some wicked team mates and it makes for some easy going rides with plenty of laughs on our training days. Plus, they are drivers and proceed to tear my legs off at every chance they get!
With our fresh rigs set up, new race kits sorted and posters in print it was time for me to put on my race face as we headed to The Sea Otter Classic. This event is a one of a kind. It is a huge deal amongst the industry due to the fact that it’s the first time many of the teams and sponsors have seen each other since the end of the previous season. This was my 3rd “Otter” and this year I decided to race the downhill as well. Adam and I thought it would be a cool training weekend if we raced the short track cross country on Friday, the full cross country on Saturday, and finished off the weekend with the downhill on Sunday. This made for a super busy few days, fitting in training on all 3 courses along with racing them. Not to mention that this year’s entry lists for all 3 events was like a World Cup!
Each event was obviously super hard and competitive and it was a good eye opener to see where my form was heading towards the start of my race official season in May. Finishing off the weekend with the downhill was super fun and racing all 3 events was wicked and I couldn’t have asked for a better 3 days of training.
After a couple of cheeky brewskis and some chocolate cake with the team it was time for everyone to head their separate ways to start the season. For me, I was able to head back home to Vancouver for a couple of weeks before I leave for Italy for the start of the Enduro World Series.
With a new bike to test and train on, and the weather on the improve in BC, I was frothing to get back. Back to the trails and back in the hurt locker to add the finishing touches to my winter prep leading into game day. It’s crazy to think how quickly it has come around and it is hard to contain my excitement to sink my teeth into the first big race.