September may mark the turning of the seasons in the northern hemisphere—that point when the leaves and mercury begin to drop, but it’s still a hot and heavy month for racing with both World Champs and the Enduro World Series making crowning their winners.
Who was this September kind to? All sorts of people, naturally. Cecile Ravanel blazed her way to another decisive EWS overall title at Finale... Nino Schurter walked away from Cairns with yet another rainbow-colored sausage suit... ditto for Loïc Bruni. Two other racers' stories, however, truly stick out in September. I'm talking about Miranda Miller and Sam Hill.
Finishes her first full-ride season as World Champ.
Miranda Miller, stood atop the podium at Cairns. No mean feat, given that Tahnée Seagrave and Tracy Hannah were blazing their final runs… until crashes took them out of contention for the top spot. Miller, however, had an undeniably strong race, edging out 2017’s World Cup overall winner, Myriam Nicole, by a tenth of a second. That's all good and well, but how sweet must it be for Miller, who just made the leap this year from working full time (shout out to Corsa Cycles in Squamish) to focusing purely on racing? Miller transitioned in 2017 from the privateer life to the full factory ride. The new gig with Specialized Gravity was a big step up for Miller and she's clearly made the most of it. A good month for Miller? Hell, yeah. In fact, it's been a good year.
Still kicking arse.
Sam Hill. That’s right—Sam Hill. For all the naysayers who counted Hill out as a competitive racer, I point to him straddling his prototype Nukeproof Mega 275C
enduro bike at the Downhill World Champs and finishing sixth. Wait, did Hill even race DH this season? Just one other time (Fort Bill), because he’s been focusing on the Enduro World Series. Why didn’t Sam ride a full-fledged DH bike? Because he’s SamDamnHill, that’s why. A true honch. Okay, sure, Cairns isn’t exactly Val di Sole and, yes, the whole riding your enduro whip in the World Champs DH event has been done before (Jared Graves raced his Yeti SB66c to a third place finish at Pietermaritzburg in 2013), but, still, it’s always awesome to watch a man lay waste with a knife during a gunfight.
And then there’s Sam wrapping up September as the 2017 Enduro World Series Champ. Again, for all the people who said Hill's glory days were over. Boom. Mic drop.
Thirty-two years old… flat pedals… bushy, defiantly un-aerodynamic eyebrows… first full EWS season. And just crushing it.
Call me nostalgic, but it’s good to see Hill on the top step again.
The Rumor Mill
Word has it that Shimano XTR will go 12-speed
Shimano-philes who’ve been jealous of the 50-teeth of hill-taming freedom enjoyed by SRAM Eagle-riding types had reason to rejoice in September. Why? Because the rumor mill was rife with reports that Shimano is working on a new 12-speed version
of XTR that’ll sport a, wait for it, 51-tooth granny gear.
In case you somehow missed the obvious, that's one tooth more than Eagle.
Tit meet tat.
Shimano, to be clear, has not
confirmed said rumor and is undoubtedly annoyed that we are talking about 12-speed XTR yet again, but since a whole lot of my conversations of late with other industry types have included sentences where the speaker says, “You know when Shimano finally rolls out 12-speed XTR…”, it feels silly to not
mention what seems like an inevitable response to what SRAM has been doing these past couple years.
Anyone Who's Been Waiting for a Carbon Process
It's here. Finally.
People have been clamoring for lighter, carbon versions of Kona’s Process bikes since, well, since late 2013; back when the company first rolled out their aluminum 153, 134 and 111 models. While rumors and spy shots have been floating about the Internets machine for months now, September was the month when Kona went and got all official
, with the debut of two carbon-fiber 153 CR 27.5 Process models. In addition to going plastic fantastic, the new Process models receive a new shock orientation, bigger bearings (at the rocker and main pivots), more anti-squat and a bit more progressive suspension feel.
If you were hoping for carbon versions of the Process 134, no dice. Not yet. Likewise, the company rolled out a 153-millimeter travel 29er (big news in and of itself), but it’s an aluminum-only 29er party. For now. But, hey, after four years of waiting, a lot of people are going to be happy that carbon Process models exist at all. Of course, if you still hate composite frames, you can also rest happy in the knowledge that the same design tweaks are available in more affordable aluminum iterations of the Process 153 27.5.
Martyn Ashton rides Whistler.
Look, there are a lot of reasons to not be stoked with the state of the world today: threats of a nuclear showdown, hurricanes, madmen with automatic weapons, polar bears eating polar bears… chances are you can name something that craps all over your inner unicorn.
Fortunately, there are also seemingly small moments that make you realize how strong some people are and how awesome our world can be. Like this one.
I’m just going to park this video (which rolled out in September) here.
Martyn Ashton, a living legend and a man of incredible strength, is still out there riding and living life to the fullest; all this despite an injury that would stop 99 percent of people. If this doesn’t impress the hell out of you or get you a little misty eyed, I question whether you have a beating heart. Check it out.
Another injury takes her out of the running.
Well, you can’t stay on top forever and Rachel Atherton’s record-breaking World Cup winning streak (10 consecutive), couldn’t go on forever, but still… 2017 has been a bit rough for Atherton. That dislocated shoulder at Fort William effectively banjaxed her season. Yes, the five-time World Champion returned in time for Vallnord and is still fast as all hell (she’s been in the top five all season), but wrecking during a practice run
at World Champs this month, resulting in a fractured clavicle, had to be a cruel blow as Atherton was clearly back in winning form.
Injury ends Aggy's Rampage quest. Again.
Graham Agassiz and the Red Bull Rampage have this trying relationship; it's a relationship in which Aggy keeps being a contender for the top spot—and keeps getting derailed by injury or less-than-perfect performance on his final runs.
Sadly, an ankle injury that Agassiz incurred back in April in taking him out of contention this year.
Here's hoping that Aggy recovers fully and gets his chance for a win at Rampage 2018.
That Guy Who Lies About How Rad His Last Ride Was
Technology measuring your actual "radness" is coming.
There’s always that one guy who talks an impossibly big game about how awesome his last ride was. The trail was always “super gnarly” and he was always “ripping” or, alternately, “schralping” it up. And the hang time? Insane. Absolutely insane. Like, totally, Joyride levels of air time.
Well, was that ride, objectively speaking, truly that awesome? Until now, most of us were content to shrug off the answer. In September, however, we learned that Science—in all its pocket-protector-loving glory—has delivered us a device that can accurately measure the precise radness (or lack thereof) of your last ride.
ShredMate is being touted by its developers as the first mountain bike cyclocomputer capable of measuring your air time, the G-forces you experienced upon landing that huge jump, your speed and the roughness of the trail. How does it do all that? If you want to read about motion sensors, algorithms and telemetry, check out the story here
The people developing ShredMate have raised more than 75 percent of their Kickstarter campaign target. Their product is now available at a discounted rate of £60 ($77 USD, $97 CAD).