- Macky Franklin
June 11, 2014, 16:00 BST,
June 11, 2014, 21:50 BST
First domestic race of the year
After close to four months of international travel, Syd and I returned to Taos, New Mexico in early May and were greeted by unseasonably cold weather and snow. It was a bit of a shock, so we spent the first few days recovering from our trip by eating our body weight in green chile to make up for all of the green chile that doesn’t exist in New Zealand, Chile and Peru.
Fortunately we recovered in time to attend the Outside Bike and Brew Festival in Santa Fe a couple weeks later and led the Tour de Brewer, a three-brewery tour ending at Santa Fe Brewing Company, and a trail-speed skills clinic at the La Tierra trails. Our new team kits arrived from Primal just in time for the festivities and we had a blast riding, drinking good New Mexican beer and hanging out with other like-minded people who believe that bikes and beer are an unbeatable combination.
From Santa Fe we headed to Tempe, Arizona (via the Grand Canyon) to visit Pivot Cycles and spent the next few days hanging out with the Pivot crew and a group of Pivot dealers from Colorado, Utah and Texas who were there for Dealer Palooza. Sean, our third teammate, joined us there and we got to tour Pivot headquarters, ride the trails of South Mountain and learn a little more about what makes Pivot such an awesome company. We also got to follow Chris Cocalis, the founder of Pivot Cycles, down some of the more technical trails in Phoenix and I’m fairly certain he puts all Pivot-sponsored athletes to shame when it comes to descending ability.
Once back in Taos, Syd and I spent the next week training in Angel Fire then headed to Durango with thirteen 10 to 14-year-old boys as part of the annual Field Institute of Taos summer mountain bike camp. It was great. The kids rode really well, learned a lot and had a great time despite multiple crashes, turtles, and encounters with spiny, prickly or otherwise unfriendly Durango flora.
We got back this past Thursday, just in time to get a pre-ride in on Friday for our first US race of the season, the New Mexico Enduro Cup in Angel Fire. It was great to race so close to home on trails that we knew and both Syd and I had a successful weekend. I won the pro men’s race by almost 40 seconds and Syd finished third in her first-ever pro race.
Now we’ve got another week of downhill training in Angel Fire before we hit the road for the rest of the summer. First up, the Big Mountain Enduro in Snowmass, Colorado. Can’t wait!
- Macky Franklin
May 01, 2014, 21:30 BST,
May 01, 2014, 20:37 BST
Racing in Peru
The Inca Avalanche is a mass-start downhill race mimicking the format of Mega Avalanche. It starts at the top of Abra Malaga (approx. 16,000 ft) and finishes in Tanccac in the valley below (approx. 10,000 ft) and fastest times are generally around 23 minutes. It's located in the Sacred Valley of Peru (the same valley where Machu Picchu is located) and the race actually goes through some Inca ruins. Aside from the location and vertical drop, another thing that makes this race different is that the entire mountain is fair game, including the paved road, so riders can choose any line to get to the bottom. Admittedly, there's a pretty well defined trail for most of the descent that everyone takes, but the top section is extremely open (and slippery) so the mass start is pretty entertaining!
Unfortunately, this was a bit of a rough weekend for Team Santa Fe Brewing - Pivot Cycles. We flew from Chile to Cusco, Peru on Tuesday and Wednesday morning I woke up with a bad cold. I felt a bit better for our pre-ride on Thursday but Friday was so wiped out that I spent most of the day sleeping. Sean felt good Friday so he decided to do another pre-ride and a few minutes into the course hit a submerged rock and exploded his front wheel. He also double-flatted and hit his leg on a rock.
The next day, Saturday, we had two qualifying runs on the course. Sean woke up feeling sick, not to mention sore, so he decided not to race, so Syd and I headed up without him. This was my best day. I felt good and had two great runs. The first run I finished sixth (in 23:45) and the second I won (in 23:38), solidifying my front-row call-up.
Syd also had a good first run (third), but at the beginning of the second run started to feel nauseous. She started anyway and made it about halfway down the course before pulling off the trail and vomiting until the police escort picked her up. When we returned to our hostel we found out that Sean had also been sick to his stomach all day so both of them were out for Sunday’s finals.
On Sunday the weather was beautiful. For the first time I could see the mountains around the start and the trails were running drier than I'd seen them yet. Unfortunately after a decent start I got taken out into a mud hole and then sliced a hole into my tire due to an extremely poor line choice. At that point I knew I wasn’t going to have a good finish (by the time I got my pack off to grab a CO2 cartridge 30 or so people had passed me) so I took my time fixing my flat and decided to enjoy the course. Apparently I started having a bit too much fun though and wasn't paying attention as I passed someone and ran straight into a huge rock, flipped over the bars and landed on another rock. I also flatted my front tire and without a second tube had to ride the rest of the run with a flat front tire and a severely bruised back.
It has now been a couple of days since the race and everyone is feeling much better. We spent all day yesterday exploring Machu Picchu (and hiking to the top of 11,000-foot Machu Mountain) and are looking forward to exploring some more ruins today, this time by bike!
- Macky Franklin
April 24, 2014, 1:30 BST,
April 24, 2014, 2:34 BST
Leaving behind New Zealand to race with the Santa Fe Brewing – Pivot Cycles team
The rest of our time in New Zealand was incredible. Rotorua exceeded our expectations with great riding, great people and a surprising number of apple pies. We spent a good bit of time exploring the Whakarewarewa (pronounced fak-a-ree-wa-ree-wa) mountain bike park, right in the center of town, as well as some of the less-groomed trails of the surrounding areas. We spent a couple of days shooting with Graeme Murray and he did a great job of highlighting the incredible geography of the Rotorua area. I have to say, Ponga palms are some of the coolest trees ever!
From New Zealand, we headed back across the Atlantic to Chile. We met up with the third member of the Santa Fe Brewing – Pivot Cycles team, Sean Leader, and the three of us spent a couple of weeks in Santiago, riding with some of our Chilean friends and training for the first Enduro World Series.
It is autumn in Chile and when we got to Nevados de Chillan (the location of the EWS) the trees were already changing colors. It was beautiful and the trails were equally awesome. We spent Thursday and Friday pre-riding all six special stages (i.e. timed stages). The trails were an interesting mixture of rocky and loose up high, then soft and tacky as we descended toward the base. The transfer stages included chairlifts, some pedaling and quite a bit of hike-a-bike and after four days (two days of practice and two days of racing) I was pretty beat. My favorite stage was the third one, Candonga, because it had the most varied terrain. The top was fast and rocky, followed by a sandy section, then steep, grippy dirt, and finally a super-fast section with berms and big jumps. And all of this in just over four minutes!
Both Sean and I raced and overall had a very successful weekend. We both had a few small crashes, but walked away without any lasting injuries. We had no mechanicals, no flats, didn't miss any of our starts and got to test ourselves against the best Enduro racers in the world.
I finished 47th out of the 85 Elite Men who started (81 finishers). My time was 40:46.49, just over four minutes slower than the winning time of 36:41.31. My best stage finish was 39th on stage two and my worst was 64th on stage four.
Based on this weekend's race, every minute was worth about 10 spots. So if I want to be in the top three (which I do) I need to get 10% faster. So I'm now working on shaving off one second for every ten seconds of racing. Downhill training, here I come!
Syd deserves a huge thank-you for being support crew this weekend. She did a great job of sending us off on time on each stage, feeding us between stages, shuttling us during practice, taking photos and overall keeping us happy and upbeat. Without her, we would have been much more stressed between stages, not to mention hungrier!
- Macky Franklin
March 06, 2014, 17:40 GMT,
April 09, 2014, 16:43 BST
Riding and racing in New Zealand to kick off 2014
2014 is off to a great start. I'm currently down in New Zealand chasing summer and training for the upcoming race season. I'm excited to be representing Santa Fe Brewing and Pivot Cycles again as well as the majority of my sponsors from last year and can't wait for my first race this weekend.
I made the decision at the end of last year to race only enduros in 2014 instead of splitting my time between enduro and cross country as I did in 2013. It was a hard decision, but it was the right one. I really enjoy the enduro format and always felt that I wasn't taking full advantage of my descending skills when racing cross country. That being said, my descending skills need work and my training recently has been focused on improving them. I'm already noticing a difference in my comfort at speed and in the air with the enduro-specific training.
I'll be racing more internationally this year but will still spend the main part of the race season in North America. After a local race here in Wellington, New Zealand this weekend, I'll be racing four of the seven Enduro World Series races, the Inca Avalanche, the whole Big Mountain Enduro series (including the Crested Butte Ultra), Downieville and the Kamikaze Games.
My time in New Zealand has been spectacular. In late January, Syd and I flew into Auckland and in less than 24 hours had bought a car, got a New Zealand cell phone number and headed south. We spent two weeks exploring the riding on our way to Queenstown then settled in Queenstown for a solid month of training, including multiple days at Skyline Bike Park.
We met up with Bernard Kerr, a fellow Pivot Cycles athlete and World Cup downhiller, and spent some time doing gondola-accessed runs and exploring the trails in the area. If you're ever down there, make sure to check out Rude Rock and the unnamed new trail that drops into Skipper's Canyon. Both are fast and flowy and certainly worth doing.
We're now moving north again, heading towards Rotorua where we'll spent the rest of our time in New Zealand before flying to Santiago, Chile for the first Enduro World Series race. Then we fly to Cusco, Peru for Inca Avalanche before heading back to the States, arriving in early May.
So if you see the Rockmelon (my little orange car) this summer, wave as you go by, or look for me on the trails and we'll do some pedaling!
Visit Macky's website at www.mackyfranklin.com.
- Macky Franklin
October 25, 2013, 18:00 BST,
October 25, 2013, 19:00 BST
The season in numbers
Well, that's a wrap.
As of last weekend, my 2013 season is officially over. Here are some race stats:
Race weekends - 21
Race days - 41
Average place - 14.98th place
Best place - 1st
Worst place - 47th (not including one DNF)
States raced in - 8 (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, California, Texas)
And year-to-date riding stats:
Miles ridden - 3,300
Hours ridden - 318
Feet climbed - 403,428
And some other stats:
Miles driven - 20,000
States driven through - 18 (Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, California, Utah, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Maryland, Nevada)
Nights of lodging paid for - 3
Cacti (physically) encountered - 1
Photo shoots - 5
Visits to Moab - 3
Games of Bananagrams - 25
Honey Stinger chews consumed - 10,000 (approximation)
It was a great season. As mentioned above, I raced 21 individual weekends. My first race was February 16th, and the last was October 12th. That's a time frame of 35 weekends. So I essentially raced two out of every three weekends for the past eight months. And I loved it. I got to race cross country, super D, short track, enduro, marathon, stage and 24-hour races. But there were so many cool races that I had to skip some. 21 race weekends wasn't enough. And it's only going to get worse. With the growth of events like Breck Epic, the Whiskey Off-Road and the Big Mountain Enduro Series, we're going to have even more choices in the next couple of years. That's a pretty cool problem to have.
My last two races were the Big Mountain Enduro finals in Moab, Utah and the Santa Cruz Super Enduro. Moab was, as always, a blast. I got to ride the new Pivot Mach 6 and fell in love with it. It had all the snappiness of a small-wheeled bike and the stability at speed of a big-wheeled bike. In my opinion, the perfect enduro race bike. Unfortunately, I had to give it back to Pivot because it was one of only three large frames in the US, and they needed it for Outerbike the next weekend.
The race itself was also a blast. Three stages on the Magnificent 7 Trails on Saturday, followed by two stages on the Whole Enchilada on Sunday. The top of the Whole Enchilada was covered in snow and the first stage was icy and fun. Unfortunately, I had a bad mechanical on the second stage of the Whole Enchilada, which cost me almost 20 minutes and took me out of the running in the overall. But I still got to race on some of the coolest, most epic trails in the world, so it's hard to complain.
The Santa Cruz Super Enduro was, well, super. The trails were fast and smooth with tight turns and cool optional jumps. Total race time for the winner was just over 20 minutes after three stages of racing. I finished 17th, not to bad for being the only non-California racer in the pro category. And after the race they provided dinner and screened two mountain bike movies, "Arrival" and "Not Bad", which was a great way to relax after the race.
I learned a lot about racing enduro this year and a lot about my own strengths and weaknesses. Admittedly, there were some rough spots this season due to mechanicals, burnout and injuries. But that's a different story that I'll save for another post.
Instead, I'd like to thank everyone who made this year amazing. Thank you to the race promoters, race staff and volunteers who ran the incredible events, all of the people who let me crash on their floors/couches/extra beds and all of my fellow competitors. Thank you to my family and friends for their support, guidance and for believing in me. Thank you to my partner in crime, the lovely Syd Schulz, for making sure I don't take myself too seriously. And thank you to my sponsors, without whom none of this would have been possible. I'd like to mention them all, but instead, let me put it this way. If you're ever wondering which beer, bike, tire, brakes, grips, bag, rack, helmet, power meter, bike stand, speakers, gel, drink mix, coaching, bike wear, water bottle, peanut butter or sunscreen to buy, I should be able to point you in the right direction.
- Macky Franklin
August 26, 2013, 16:15 BST,
August 26, 2013, 18:00 BST
A little bit of everything: enduro, stage race, downhill and cross country
Downieville and Breck Epic are two of my favorite races of the year. And once again they started on back-to-back weekends. I'll admit that driving 2,000 miles in two weeks (from Winter Park to Downieville and back to Breckenridge) was a bit rough, but Syd and I had some good books on tape and a lot of food so we survived it.
This year at Downieville, I raced my Pivot Mach 5.7 Carbon. With 150mm of rear suspension and 160mm of front suspension, it was much more suited to the course than the 120mm Orbea Occam I raced last year. It was a bit heavier (29lbs compared to 25), especially with the downhill tire I decided to run after flatting a lighter one the day before the race but felt much more solid on the descent. Syd and I were also lucky enough to stay with a friend, Erin, at her house in downtown Downieville. The location was perfect for pre-riding and we had plenty of time to hang out, pick blackberries, and swim in the river, which made for an extremely relaxing week leading up to the race.
The cross country went well. I started off strong, slowed down partway through the climb, then came back after the first summit to gain five spots, finishing fourth. Menso de Jong, who finished third, wasn't racing the All-Mountain, so point-wise I was third. My time was just under one minute slower than last year, which I attributed to riding a heavier bike, and I knew that the bike would be more of a benefit in the downhill race than the cross country. Syd raced the cross country as well and finished second in her category, knocking 13 minutes off of last year's time.
The downhill was a blast. It was loose, fast and dusty. My average speed for the 14 miles was 18mph and my max was over 40. I finished ninth, two spots better than last year, but the stiffer competition this year put me in sixth overall for the All-Mountain compared to fourth last year. After the race, I decided that it would have been helpful to have practiced the downhill a few more times, but given that it was my fourth time riding it EVER I felt pretty good.
After racing the 29er hardtail REEB singlespeed at Breck Epic last year, I decided I wanted more suspension and more gears. I also wanted to give the Breck Epic Enduro a shot when I learned that I could race it in conjunction with the overall. So I overhauled the Mach 5.7 Carbon, re-greased all the bolts, replaced the drivetrain and put on new tires. It was like riding a new bike after all of the work and I was ready for the Epic.
Unfortunately my decision to overhaul my bike a few days before the race backfired on the first stage when one of my suspension bolts loosened itself and fell out. The rest of that stage was much harder than it should have been. I couldn't pedal hard in my little chain ring so I had to soft-pedal the climbs and the descents were terrifying. Fortunately, the bolt on the opposite side of the linkage was strong enough to last the day and I finished fourth. If I could have, I would have fired my mechanic. Unfortunately, I am my mechanic so I had no choice but to borrow the necessary bolt from my teammate Karen's Mach 429 Carbon and lock-tight it in hopes that that would solve the problem.
Stage 2 went better except for a flat tire. It punctured about half a mile before the end of one of the enduro segments so I rode it out before stopping to fix it. I lost a couple of spots but kept my fourth place overall. I also found out at the beginning of stage 2 that I won stage 1's Enduro and got to wear the sweet orange plaid leader's jersey.
Stages 3 through 6 were mechanically uneventful, which in stage racing is a big deal. I finished in the top six each day keeping my fourth place overall and, despite winning the stage 3 enduro, dropped into second in the enduro overall. I enjoyed the descents more than ever thanks to my almost-six-inches of travel and loved the 12,000ft bacon feed at the top of Wheeler Pass on stage 5. Syd and her family took great care of me after each stage with good meals, massages and bike cleaning, and I was able to focus on racing.
Unfortunately, I started to get some bad knee pain starting on stage 4. I was able to ride through it but by stage 5, it had spread to the other knee, and I was forced to ride quite conservatively. Then I found out that a friend of my family who was up to watch part of the race was a retired physical therapist. She worked on my quads after stage 5 and taped me up for the final stage so I was able to push harder than I had for two days. The final stage, I finished fifth on the day solidifying my fourth place overall and second place in the enduro overall.
As always it was a spectacular race. This year's edition included some course reroutes that added new singletrack trails and made the courses even better. It rained almost every evening so the trails were in perfect condition and the temperatures were perfect. I've only had a week to recover, and I'm already looking forward to next year.
- Macky Franklin
Mountain bike racer Macky Franklin hails from Taos, New Mexico but has a difficult time answering the question "Where do you live?" Spending most of his time on the road chasing summer or traveling to race he generally answers "my little orange car".
After holding a cross country pro's license for six years, in 2014, he will be focusing on enduro. Read this blog to follow Franklin throughout the 2014 season as he races four of the seven Enduro World Series races, Inca Avalanche, the whole Big Mountain Enduro series, Downieville and the Kamikaze Games.
When Franklin was 13 and learning to ride clipless pedals, he was given the "Turtle Award" as the rider who spent the most time on his back, still connected to the bike. Fortunately, he has moved past that stage and is now focusing his energies on learning to corner like a downhiller.
Visit his website at www.mackyfranklin.com.