Posts Tagged ‘Giant Bicycles’


Looking back at 2015 with Scott Leland

November 19, 2015

2015 Northstar Mountain Bike Season recap

NS MTB Team-09.12.15_-14

The 2015 mountain bike season on the Northstar team was a blast. After a season off the bike due to various injuries my goals this year were rebuild my endurance, rep the giant/northstar brand and have fun racing with the team… and maybe climb up onto a podium or two. It was a winter tailor made for the early season racer with spring like temps and almost no snow from November through March. What is one to do but start racing in March when the mountain bike gods bike gods bestow gifts like that upon us!

Big Sandy

The Big sandy was a first time race for me. It’s a 38 mile xc race with about 6k of climbing. I had been training hard up to this point and had excellent legs. The course also had a nice technical dh which played to some of my strengths. The course was very fast and was a perfect fit to the fast rolling 29er wheels on the Anthem X. After a little over 3 hours of racing I crossed the line in first for the cat 1 race!

NS MTB Team-09.12.15_-35


2 weeks after The Big Sandy I was lined up behind Levi Leipheimer at the brutal Sonomas XC race. This race offered up 36 miles and 7k of twisty, steep trail circumnavigating Lake Sonoma. I had a great race but unfortunately pulled a muscle in my low back with about 6 miles to go. I dropped from 3rd to 6th by the time I crossed the line and missed the podium by a hair. OUCH!

 Sea Otter Classic

The Sea Otter XC course was in its 2nd year on the new short course. We no longer had to flog ourselves on the 2 lap 38 mile race. I had another very good race and was happy to end up 2nd behind perennial winner Bob Letson .

That’s me in the green shirt!



Scott 2nd Place Cross Country

Whiskey 50

The Whiskey 50 was a first time race for me and I will definitely go back. Epic rides puts on this race and it is definitely epic! It was 50 miles of awesome trail, good music and beer. I had a rather hard time during the race however. I bonked hard at mile 35 and dropped from 6th to 25th on the long skull valley climb. I started slamming calories and eventually got the engines going again. I clawed my way back to 11th out of 562 racers and made a mental note for my management of this race next year.

NS MTB Team-09.12.15_-22

The Tour of the White Mountains

The Tour of the White Mountains was another new race for me. This was the 20th running of the race held high in the mountains of northeastern Arizona. Good thing we live at altitude because this 51 mile XC race starts at 7100ft! The race went off without a hitch and I held on for 12th out of 140 in the open race. It is a miracle I finished. After the race I realized I had snapped the inner cage of my rear derailleur and also snapped my rear axle of my Mavic Crossmax SLR clean in half!

NS MTB Team-09.12.15_-19

I had a great time racing for the team this year. Next year I plan on doing the 4 xc races Epic Rides puts on, sonomas, big sandy, Ashland enduro, and hopefully the Tahoe 100. Offseason training will consist of skiing and lots of it!


Time to Build that DH 2013 Foundation with Timmy Evens

October 25, 2012

Now that the 2012 mtb season is essentially behind us its time to lay the foundation for a 2013 race season. If you truly aspire to grow as a competitor then you must look at your season objectively and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.


Think back to when you felt strong and those times you came unravelled under the stress of competition.  You might see room for improvement on a number of components. where would you like to see yourself improve? high speed? technical flow? jumping/air? short duration intense fitness? endurance? or is it something more esoteric like your competitive mindset?


Are you someone who “freaks out” the morning of a race and never seem to ride as well in practice as competition? I encourage you to focus on where you want to see the most improvement and come up with an off-season plan.   Now find another sport venue to practice.   We can become stagnant when we drill the same rides/training into our bodies/minds over and over. Whether you’re an XC racer looking for improved output at lactate threshold or a DH racer looking to improve your focus at high speed I encourage you this winter to take up skiing.


Ask yourself what it takes to be an excellent DH racer…intense strength, mental focus, lack of fear, etc…etc, buying a season pass at your local ski hill might be the best thing you ever did for honing your body/mind for the 2013 race season.

I’m going to outline 3 reasons training on alpine skis, and to a slightly lesser extent snowboards, will transfer to better performance on a DH bike:

1. Comfort at speed

DH’ing your favorite course/run may feel like you’re going supersonic but odds are your max speed is nowhere near what you would attain on a clear day of skiing groomers. It’s not uncommon for seasoned skier’s to reach 50mph on a corduroy run. It may feel like you’re going 70 on your DH run but I assure you its very uncommon to reach 40mph on a dh race run. By getting use to seeing lines much farther ahead and anticipating a bigger line you can change your perception of speed. Powder days are the ones we really remember but skiing clear groomer is when we really get to play with speed. Of course I have to remind you to be safe! Careening high speed through a grey haired old lady is a good way to lose your pass and potentially end up in jail.


2. Edge control

Think of the last time you really surprised yourself on a DH run. Having perfect edge control of your tires is something we can all appreciate. To be a serious skier/boarder you must be intuitively weighting and unweighting your front and rear edges to hook up with the perfect arc. If we slow down video of alpine racers and dh mtb ers you can find similarities in the way they use hip strength to feel the terrain and adjust. by simply having fun on ski’s you are prepping your body to develop a better connection between you the bike and the trail.


3. Muscle Strength/Endurance

A typical DH race/enduro stage is somewhere between 2 and 10 minutes. In that time we go from pumped and strong to fatigued, erratic, and potentially out of control. Doing 10-15 runs on your local intermediate/advanced run is a great way to practice being strong and stable with your form. When we fatigue our form changes and control suffers. Be strong and controlled on your ski’s and we not only exercise our minds but develop FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH that we transfer to the bike. Squatting a 5 rep max 2x a week will make you strong but it might not transfer well to sport.


Marathon National Championships – Words by Karin Edwards

October 10, 2012

Race Report: Marathon Nationals – Bend, Oregon
By Karin Edwards  

Women’s 30-39 Podium (from left to right): Karin Edwards, Heather Lyman, Rachel Hadley, Erin Alders, Claire Duncan  

Yet again, Bend lives up to its reputation as ‘Bike Town, USA’.  What it lacks in Tahoe granite, it makes up for in hundreds of miles of fun, smooth, fast singletrack, with more being built every year.

In addition to being an all around awesome town, Bend is a cyclist’s playground – no wonder a contingent of Giant riders live there, including some of our own Ride Giant-Ride Northstar athletes.  I had the opportunity to spend the week before the race hanging out in Bend – and let me tell you, come race day, my legs were probably more tired than they should’ve been (but happy) from playing on the trails all week.

The Marathon Nationals race course itself was a treat.  It was one big figure eight-ish loop between town and Mt. Bachelor, designed to maximize the singletrack with a minimal amount of fire roads used as connectors.

The race was well attended by the who’s who of mountain biking and you could feel the excitement in the air as the gun went off for the pro men and women’s races.  My field – women 30-39 – had some stiff competition, including a few familiar faces from Northern California: Heather Lyman (2nd overall women, XTERRA Amateur Nationals) and Erin Alders (3rd pro women, Downieville All-Mountain).  The pace started fast and just got faster as we pelotoned along a forest service road before crossing the highway and hitting the singletrack.  Knowing that I had 50+ miles left in the day, I finally found my rhythm and spent the next 5 hours grinding away on the climbs and fully enjoying the killer downhill segments with a small group of ladies.  Other than a closer than desired run-in with a manzanita bush, the day went without a hitch, and I ended up placing 5th.  It was a long, challenging day on the bike, but a super fun and well-organized race.

Thanks Bend for a great week!  – Karin Edwards


Trail Spotlight – Team Rider Karin Edwards: Mt. Rose to Toad’s

August 29, 2012

Looking for an epic all-day ride that showcases not only the beauty of Lake Tahoe, but also some of Tahoe’s best singletrack trails?  Then I have the ride for you – ‘Rose to Toads’!  This point to point ride covers 60+ miles of rocky, technical, and exhilarating terrain on the Tahoe Rim Trail, from the top of Mt. Rose Highway to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in South Lake Tahoe.  For those of us who live in Tahoe, this, like the Death Ride, is a kind of rite of passage – and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for an adventure.  If you don’t want to ride the whole enchilada, there are many points to pull out along the way (Van Sickle Trail, Star Lake Connector, Armstrong Pass – to name a few).

Last weekend I rode a slight variation of the infamous ‘Rose to Toads’ ride (  After a 5:30am wake-up call, my friend Ben and I jump in the car and drive from South Lake Tahoe to the top of Mt. Rose Highway.  There, we meet up with a few more friends who live in North Lake.  At 7:30am we start our day, jumping on our bikes to enjoy a nice flowy, speedy, slightly downhill 9-mile segment of the Tahoe Rim Trail.  A nice warm-up to a long day.  The Rim Trail then comes to a 4-way intersection with the old Tunnel Creek dirt road.  Genevieve and I opt to head down the hill, to ride the world famous Flume Trail, with its breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe.  It’s not too often that you have the Flume Trail to yourself, but with our early departure and the sun just coming over the mountains, we feel like we are on top of the world.  After about 5 miles of smooth pedaling on the Flume Trail, we hit the first climb of the day – the Marlette Lake fire road.  At the top, Genevieve and Jim decide to take the less traveled Chimney Beach Trail, while I opt to take the fire road down to Spooner Lake and across Highway 50 to Spooner Summit.

From Spooner Summit, the Tahoe Rim Trail slowly winds its way up to ‘The Bench’.  The Bench is a popular after work trail for us South Lakers, but also literally a bench with an amazing view of the Lake.  After a 6 mile grind, I am rewarded with a rest on the bench, a snack, and a beautiful view.  I jump back on my bike and am again treated with a fun descent full of rock hopping, dropping small ledges, and smooth turns.  After about 7 miles, I get to an intersection and turn right, dropping down towards Kingsbury Grade.  This new 3 miles of trail is super fun to ride, peppered with skinny log rides and a few small rock features.

After a couple of miles on the pavement, I stop at a small market on Tramway – the only place along the route to refuel. After downing a coke, eating a PBJ, and replenishing my water bottles, I take stock of where I am in my day – even though I’m 30+ miles and about 4 hours into the ride, I’m glad my legs are still feeling strong because I’ve got a ton of climbing left to do.  It’s over 4500ft of climbing from Kingsbury to the top of Freel Pass.  After a couple of miles of riding through Heavenly Ski Resort, including contouring around the steeps of Mott and Killebrew Canyons, the trail hugs the eastern side of the Tahoe Basin and I get to enjoy expansive views of the Carson Valley.  This is not the place to fall of your bike, as it drops off quite dramatically to the left of the trail.  Just before summiting Monument Pass, I pick my way through one of the few hike-a-bike sections of the whole ride.  As I summit and begin my descent towards Star Lake, Mother Nature greets me with a torrential downpour.  My original plan was to take a dip in this beautiful alpine lake, however, the rain is still pelting down, so I carry on towards Freel Peak.  The climb out of Star Lake, although somewhat gentle, starts to feel like Everest as I ascend to the highest point of the day.

When I arrive to the top of Freel Pass, at 9,600 ft above sea level, I have cause for celebration – not only has the sun decided to come out, but because I’ve chosen to peel out at Armstrong Pass, it’s all downhill from here for me!  I catapult down the south side of Freel through high meadows and creek crossings, down to Armstrong Pass, where my friend Ryan has peddled up from town and is waiting to ride the last bit of trail with me.  From Armstrong Pass, we ride my favorite backyard trails home – Armstrong Connector, Sidewinder, and Corral.  And suddenly, 8+ hours later, 60 miles and almost 7,000 ft of climbing and 9,000 ft of descending under my belt, I’m done!  What a great day!

If you are interested in doing Rose to Toad’s this year and want to ride with a fun group of people, check out TAMBA’s 2nd Annual Rose to Toads ride over Labor Day weekend –


It’s That Time – Submit Your Cover Letter & Resume

August 28, 2012

Lake Tahoe’s Most Beautiful Ride with Team Manager Justin Swett

August 23, 2012


Welcome to Lake Tahoe’s most beautiful ride. This ride will require you to shuttle cars, first leaving one car at the finish point of the ride on route 28 in Incline Village, NV at the bottom of Tunnel Creek trail head and one car at the top of Mount Rose Meadows at the start point of the Tahoe Rim trail.

Quick Note for this ride is that you can only ride the Tahoe Rim trail junction from Mount Rose to the Tunnel Creek road junction on even days due to heavy traffic. Be sure to yield and ride slow to hikers and other cyclists. Be courteous, say hi and have a great day! Go get your ride on!

Trail Skill Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Bike Type: Hard Tail – 5″ Full Suspension Bike

Terrain: Buff Single-Track of Decomposed Packed Granite Sand to Technical Rocky Sections and Gravel.







Tahoe 100 Race Report | Leadville Here I Come! By Team Rider Karin Edwards

August 9, 2012


I was reminded of three vital elements of racing at the Tahoe Leadville Qualifier:

  1. The importance of having fun. 

  2. The beauty of being inspired.

  3. The value of being goal-oriented. 

My 2011 race season did not begin smoothly.  During the Sea Otter XC race in April, I was ambulanced off the race course, an experience that really shook me up.  After that trip to the emergency room, I took a step back from racing and just focused on having fun on my bike.  The Leadville Qualifier at Northstar was one of my first races back since the Sea Otter debacle and I went into it telling myself, ‘No pressure Karin – stay hydrated, eat enough food, have fun, and just see what happens.’  I followed my own advice and my race went surprisingly well!  I beat my time from last year by almost 20 minutes and placed 3rd in my age category – which automatically qualified me for Leadville.

Lesson #1: I race better if I am having fun.  So, remember to have fun!

Now to be honest, I had no intention of signing up for Leadville.  I really enjoy long mountain bike races and as history shows, the longer the race, the better I tend to do.  But 100 miles at 10,000+ft elevation?  This is where inspiration comes in.  See, the race organizers are smart – they make you decide about Leadville when you are up on the podium receiving your award.  Maybe it was my post-race endorphin high, or maybe it was the fact that 500 racers – including 3-time Leadville winner and current record holder Rebecca Rusch – were cheering me on as I hemmed and hawed on the podium, deciding whether or not to accept, but I accepted with a smile.  How could I say no?  I was inspired.

Lesson #2: Be inspired to get out of your comfort zone.  You are stronger than you think you are.


So now what?  The great thing about signing up for Leadville 2013 is now I have a very concrete goal to work towards over the next year.  So how am I going to prepare for Leadville?  My current training regime is the following: Ride. Often.  For long periods of time. Mostly hills. This generally works for me now, but Leadville is no joke.  I will have to become more scientific about my training and will rely heavily on the experience of my Giant/Northstar teammates and coaches. The following are a few examples of things I plan to incorporate into my training over the next year: racing cyclocross this fall to improve my power and technical skills, skate skiing in the winter to maintain my endurance, and following Tim Evens’ plyometric/balance workout.

Lesson #3: Leadville is no joke.  Be intentional about your training, but don’t forget to have fun and stay inspired!


See you in Leadville! – Karin