An Adventure to Gooseberry Mesa with Cannondale Bikes
Story: Rodney Wills
Photos: John Cary & Rodney Wills
Sometimes all the stars align and fun happens!
I’ve known Mark Weir for a while now. He’s been asking us to get together and make some collaborative fun happen. Mark Weir is not from the R/C industry, but he has a lot of fun with his rigs. It’s what Weir does in his full-size world that has a lot of our attention as he is a bit of a celebrity within the bicycle industry. In my digital rolodex, I label him “TOUGH GUY!”
Photo Credit: Ale Di Lullo www.aledilullo.com
His place of work, Wilderness Trail Bikes [WTB], described Mark as a well-rounded rider who specializes in suffering. Mark Weir, age 43, has remained a successful and dominant force in downhill and endurance racing throughout his career.
There are numerous interviews with him, just type in “Mark Weir MTB” and you will find plenty! Now that you’ve done your who’s-who-research, on with this moment in time.
While Mark and I have been plotting for what seems like years, we discussed it a little more seriously at #AXIALFEST2015. The stars finally aligned and planning started to happen with a window of opportunity! Phone text messages turned into emails, email chains started adding more recipients, and dates and plans were laid out into a bonafided plan!
With all the plans laid out, it was time to GO!
LOCATION: GOOSEBERRY MESA, UTAH
I’m making notes on paper maps with details to a location I have never been to and most likely will be arriving at this location in the dark! I need details.
Why yes, I should be using GPS… but I’m OLD SCHOOL!
On the road again! The local mountains are already showing signs of snow and as we traverse through the Cajon Pass, we see a little sugar sprinkles of snow.
We start making the long grade in route to Las Vegas on the 15FWY.
It was sunny all morning… then it gets cloudy… and then it starts sprinkling.
It’s one of those moments and you think you’re ok with it all… then you notice that tell-tale sign… those sprinkles are hitting your windshield in a way that makes you pay a bit more attention. I ask my co-pilot, “do you see that?! I think its going to snow on us!” You can see the snow is covering the ground and is snowing hard! It’s hard to show it in the photos, but it’s coming down!
You can see the snow flying in the air as I shoot out the side window. The ground was covered!
First dirt road I could find. I’m overly excited to get some photos of the ADV80 in the snow! Yes, living in Southern California, I don’t see too much snow, so I am easily excited! That’s John Cary’s rig behind me with its factory white-camo paint scheme to blend in to such environments.
Snow is still falling and we are making our own little fresh two-tracks. We are looking for enough space to get the R/C rigs out!
Who’s from Southern California? Shorts in a snow storm.
This looks like a great road to come explore, but that will have to be another day! We don’t have too much time to mess around as we will already be landing in our destination after dark.
Here I am getting some images of our rigs in the snow.
Guess who is wearing flip flops and it’s not me or John Schultz. Yep, John Cary is the culprit! I also find myself surrounded by JK’s!
The Axial SCX10 just looks so at home in the snow!
John Cary is looking not so at home in his short sleeves and shorts with flip flops… in the middle of the desert… in the middle of the snow…. But he’s a trooper!
The ADV80 showing just how serious the snow is in such a short period of time!
The Axial YETI SCORE® TROPHY TRUCK® sitting in the snow. Hmmm, I wonder… I wonder if it has ever snowed at any of the Baja events as they do have some serious mountains to cross.
By the time we get to Las Vegas the sky is clearing up a bit. No stops here, we keep on trucking!
We make our fuel stop at Muddy River Bar & Grill in Moapa, Nevada. This kind of fuel!
Hamburgers with bacon and egg and IT WAS GOOD!
It’s a process….
I say it every time I pass through here… I need a couple of days exploring all the little dirt roads I see alongside the 15FWY outside of Littlefield, NV as it crisscrosses over the Virgin River. There is a little campground called Virgin River Canyon Campground that might make for the first night’s stop. Simply need more time to explore and so-so many places to see!!! But once again, carrying on… mission ahead.
We stop in to visit with Dixie 4Wheel Drive in St. George, Utah as they have been carrying our product for a while now!
This is Sharlett Thompson and her and her husband Milt along with the Wada family have built Dixie 4 Wheel Drive into a nationally renowned Off-Road Store, modification, and repair facility. They are located on the same property purchased in 1948, Dixie 4 Wheel Drive operates out of a 12,000 SQFT state of the art off-road facility.
This is a full size hobby shop that also carries our toys! If you are passing through St. George, it’s always great to know a good off-road / RC hobby shop! You never know when you need help even if they specialize in Jeep & Axial products.
It’s not the fact that this wheel failed, you wonder what forces where at play to make it break! That is some serious load!
The Dixie guys invite us out for a quick trail run just minutes from the shop!
EPIC TRAIL that we must come back to!
While we would love to spend more time here, we simply have to get going as we have our main mission ahead of us!
Just outside of Hurricane, Utah we are in search of a little dirt road. We found it and had a few choices in dirt roads along the way, but we eventually found our location!
Once we arrive, we want to light our area so we go for the RIGID scene lights so we can see what we are dealing with.
Then we start the unpacking process!
RIGID scene lights lighting up our work area!
Once camp is set, its food time and the JetBoil stove with Mountain House food has been our staple for a many adventures!
Mountain House’s Beef Stroganoff seems to be the group’s favorite, but the Spaghetti with Meat Sauce is my favorite.
Camping just requires a fire and a big foot sighting!
Speaking of big foot, John Cary and myself are impressed with John Schultz’s idea of a one-man tent! Look at that foot print!
The ADV80 is not afraid of, but regularly participates in IH8MUD.com’s forum. Yes, it’s a Land Cruiser thing…
Camping, bikes, 4X4 1:1 & R/C are in store for this outing!
Daybreak reminds us just what we had encountered coming in under the light of stars. We just didn’t see how red the mud is here!
Now we know where the graphic theme came from! While it doesn’t look like much, it was more sticky-snotty than splashy-mucky.
JetBoil repeat but with the added help of the AeroPress coffee maker! This time we only use the JetBoil for heating coffee water…
BECAUSE JOHN CARY IS A CHEF!!! John Schultz is his assistant sous-chef.
We are NOT going hungry out here in the wilderness!
This yurt is what we had to find in the middle of the night to know we were at the location spot!
Regardless of a yurt though…
When you wake up and see this!!!
And we see a bunch of these guys popping out from behind the trees and bushes.
Preparation quickly begins early in the AM as the Cannondale MTB team has descended onto the Gooseberry Mesa from all across the USA through the night.
We need more artists in RC! This is such the cool piece of art.
Marco Osborne begins his bike preparation. Mark has told us to keep a keen eye on this one… Jake Hamm (camera) “is my studio set up yet?”
IFHT film’s Matt Dennison is on site to do his creative video action!
Matt stated, “Let’s see how many MTB’er can bunny hop over this box!”
Marco Osborne, the SHREDDDER! yea.. we’re FANS!!!!
Jason Moeschler, OEM Sales at WTB, but also a powerhouse on the pedals fresh from his 2015 All Mountain World Championship and some other obscure event that was simply a climb-fest! http://www.wtb.com/blogs/wtb/39760644-jason-moeschler-2015-all-mountain-world-champion
Mr. Ben Cruz, this would be our first real-world experience with Ben. Mark Weir was asked to write and intro for an interview by PinkBike on Mr. Cruz.
Weir stated, “When I think of Ben, I think of myself, never to think that this was his intention but things that he does seem to leave you unbalanced with self-position. Some of the best times in my life have been with him, what’s crazy is that those best times came to us in places when we had the worst things happing. Like I said it’s all riddles.”
Go read the whole enchilada on Ben Cruz: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/ben-cruz-getting-to-know-interview-2016.html
Nick Dru, he likes to pedal and flow, that’s all you need to know, so follow him at https://www.instagram.com/nickdrumtb/
Bart Gillespie, the “working man pro” as he does not work for Cannondale, but works with, rides and races with them. You can think, if he can do it, so can I, but you better be DEDICATED! Read more on him: http://www.cyclingutah.com/commuting/bart-gillespie-how-bike-commuting-fits-into-family-work-and-professional-racing/
Bryn & Lauren Bingham are some fast kids! Their family was special guests of Cannondale as they like to scrutineer new talent first hand.
Jake Hamm, studio photographer for Cannondale. His job is to make our mouths water and our brains lust. His studio photography is certified Cannondale classic!
Matthew DeLorme action photographer extraordinaire, hence his https://www.facebook.com/MatthewDeLormePhotography/
He was pedaling with the crew and hauling his gear along! He bike-packs his gear into the action and comes home with the stellar action photos! He was shooting for an article on PinkBike for this trip, but here is an interview on him: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/behind-the-lens-matt-delorme-2015.html
Matt Ohran, AKA “THE HANDLER!” He is loosely wrangling this lively bunch for the weekend… but his big mission is the director for the Cannondale, 360Fly North American Cross-Country Mountain Bike Team, powered by SUGOI. http://www.cannondale.com/en/USA/News/News/2016/02-February/360fly%20Announcement.aspx
Matt Ohran – “Who is running this operation?! I’m the one with pink tape, you have the pink bike with the pink bar tassels only because you cut my course!”
But lets get down to why are we all here? Because of this man, Mr. Mark Weir! If you forgot already, scroll back to the top and start all over…
Camelback is continuous in their development of hydration systems!
The team would take off from our camp location and myself and the media crew would hop into the ADV80 and meet them at the next location. Oh, I guess this is a good time to tell you what is about to go down. It’s the end of the season for the riders, but Matt wants to squeeze a friendly competition out of them! Notice the number plates on the bikes? A get-together-fun-ride, but with points for bragging rights! WITH A TWIST! Axial scale trail action is going to be apart of the wager! A few of the guys are into scale trailing and the others have never touched an R/C car before! This is going to be interesting! But end of the day, its all about fun and working together!
Mark Weir = BRAAAAP!
Keegan Swenson is so fast we did not catch a profile photo of him at the beginning of the event, so we will just kick off right here! He’s only been racing professionally since 2013 and already has a top-10 finish at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cups! Follow him at: https://www.instagram.com/keegels99
Bart Gillespie on the move!
Mark Weir, Marco Osborne, Ben Cruz and Keegan Swenson discuss the fine art of of being fast and the benefits… we get to sit and wait.
3-2-1 GO! Matt is timing everything!
DeLorme is like, “Where’s my talent?!” I got action photos to shoot!”
Lauren Bingham, just point your camera right here sir!
Chris Bingham, “My kids are so fast!”
Keegan Swenson is a CX machine!
Jason Moeschler simply out for a good time at speed!
Nick Dru BRAAP bombing.
Ben Cruz, “They went that way… yep! That way….”
Bryn Bingham getting his action on. I met him on this trip and have had the pleasure of following him on Instagram and have seen so much progression from him in just this year – he spends a lot of time on the back wheel these days learning his manual craft! Check him out: https://www.instagram.com/brynnerthepinner
He puts a little English on it…
Mark Weir throwing rocks at John Cary’s camera and body.
Bart Gillespie knows its all about time and is not playing around!
Marco Osborne showing the science of speed.
Matthew DeLorme showing how to stylize a photo with the tongue out, or is it exasperation from hauling camera gear at speed?
The ADV80 hauls all! Aside from the media crew, its hauling food and drinks for the crew.
This was an awesome moment! You are never really lost… You are just temporarily displaced. You are always somewhere on the map…
While positioning myself next to a rock to shoot the riders coming through, I look over and see this little mystery of nature. WIND-WOOD-ROCK. This is going to be an interesting thing to see in like 20-years.
Day-1 is done and Marco looks to be sitting in the lead. But things could easily change tomorrow… maybe the terrain, maybe the rules… who knows… it’s anyone’s game!
After some riding, it’s lunch time! Anyone recognize this guy from #AXIALFEST2016? Yes sir, that is Chris Cru Jones of Altra Running shoes.
Fuel for athletes.
Scale trail time! For most in this bunch, it was their first time ever on the R/C controller!
After the R/C scale trail session it was dinner time, fire side chat time to hear some great stories from Mark Weir and Jason Moeschler.
Then, it was time for our favorite scale trail time!!!! NIGHT TIME!
This was by far my favorite time as I get to participate with my buddies. I get to wheel as well! Usually I have the big camera in my hands. Sometimes the cell phone images have to work, because, believe it or not, I actually like to drive too! We had a great night wheeling! I think this is the moment that “clicked” for all of those who had not been wheeling before.
Back to camp in the wee hours and a little late night snack… Wood fired pizza…
The Mark Weir way!
Moments like these make memories and friends forever. It may be years before we get to do this again with each other, but we will forever look for the moment again!
When I told you Matthew DeLorme is the camera guy who hauls his own weight, we’re not kidding you! That is a heavy lens and Matthew does not hold tightly on the brakes!
The road literally stops here! But the MTB trails rolls right off the side and DOWN!!!
There is a small discussion about how the day went and who stood where in points.
The group gets ready for the next portion of the event and John Schultz goes over how the scale trail portion of the event is about to go down. While they were out on the pedals, Schultz designed a 100+ trail marked course for these guys to drive through.
OH IT’S OFFICIAL!
And Ben Cruz is chomping at the bit to get on trail.
Customization is important, even at an impromptu event such as this one! Bragging rights is a high-stakes claim! Bart knows the game! “I may not be an R/C regular, but looking factory is key! See, I got my personal name stickers for everything! Mostly to keep Mark and Ben off my stuff! I’m not as factory as they are, so I have to keep’em in check!” hehehe
Mark Weir set’s off on the trail first since he is the most vet of his bunch.
Marco Osborne sets off in chase. Some do-ball with the video camera is in the way of the photographer… oh, that’s me! OOOPS sorry John!
Bryn Bingham is learning the fine art crawling and having a blast very differently from his high-speed point-and-shoot R/C rigs.
Nick Dru doing what Nick does… speed and style as he quickly approaches Bryn. It’s very interesting to see how each individual approaches the trail. Some love the low-speed technical approach, others like the “rock race” approach. Not that one is better than the other, it’s just shows personal temperament and personality.
Jake Hamm is into 1:1 wheeling and is totally enjoying the relationship of Axial’s real esthetic and drivability. Note his heat regulation beanie. He said it’s how he blocks the open window wind noise. Matt Dennison of IFHT shooting his mini-classic.
Mark Weir is such the enthusiast, encourager, heckler, and is simply passionate about his hobbies. He finishes his lap and comes back to Jason Moeschler who started after him, to see how he is doing on his lap.
Jason Moeshcler is a technician on the pedals and the steering wheel! I think mountain bikers just naturally understand and enjoy the pursuit of scale trailing. Along with motorcyclists, 4X4’ers, dentists, doctors, fabricators and badminton instructors. Yep, everyone!
Chris Cru Jones is totally into the scale trail action as well. After meeting him this weekend is when I began to share with him the ideas for the first ever Ultra 5K Enduro at AXIALFEST2016. If you were there, you know he works for the adventure running shoe company, ALTRA. Hence the ALTRA ULTRA 5K Enduro!
Mark is very proficient with R/C and has found our format of scale trailing suited to his outdoor activities.
Mark Weir and Nick Dru getting the scale trail fix on!
R/C & MTB on the Gooseberry Mesa.
This is not an easy task, egos and reputations are at an all time high! Controversy is created for creative strategy haggling!
Hold on kids… I may be a high-poster, but….
The overall winner is…. MARCO OSBORNE with Keegan and Weir flanking him.
IFHT-Matt telling it from his lens-view perspective.
Things started to get a little blurry around the fire on the last night of our trip.
And then… Mark has an announcement to make and John Schultz is armed with the gift-ammo in the background. Let’s get it straight, Mark Weir is a certified R/C nut and he wants to share his hobby with his riding compadres! We love him for his enthusiasm as he brings infectious fun!
Marco Osborne – congratulations on the first place finish and showing us the awesome dirt whips! As you can see here, he is a little speechless!
Keegan Swenson – congrats on the second place finish!
Nick Dru – best sportsman!
Matt Dennison of IFHT, just because he hates all! hehehe
Jason Moeschler is simply gifted!
Mark Weir is taking his time on this one… building the anticipation…
Ben Cruz is simply stoked on life and we love him for it!
I simply can not leave out our man!
So Mark, come on back up here!
Mark made a special announcement recognizing John Schultz for all his hard work!
It took all this so I could finally hang out with my buddy, but what better way?!
Then I have to ride back home with these two John’s… John Cary on the left.
Then I have to ride back home with these two John’s… John Schultz on the right…
And that’s a rap from Gooseberry Mesa!
Atop the ADV80 is Will Dennison of IFHT working on his film. With no further ado, here is his film account of the time spent on Gooseberry Mesa.
“ALL IN THE NAME OF FUN”
The dirt chairman Mark Weir – also on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mark_weir_mtb/
We are out of here!