Today's stage in Squamish totaled 31 miles with 4,500 feet of climbing. It was also a day the team was looking forward to because most Canadians in attendance said it featured some of the best trails of the event, a sentiment the Cannondale OverMountain team of Mark Weir and Jason Moeschler both agreed on.
Getting to these nectar descents required a lot of climbing. On the smooth fireroad sections the team ran their bikes in short travel Elevate mode. Interestingly, in this 90mm setting there's no adverse effect with a 150mm travel fork. "Elevate shortens the amount of sag and travel in the shock. That actually raises the rear of the bike and slightly steepens the geometry even with a long travel fork," explained Jason.
"I don't even lock out the fork unless it's a totally smooth road," continued Mark. "In Elevate this pushes your weight a little forward to actually increase fork sag to improve handling and front traction while climbing steep sections."
When the climbs get technical it's back to the 150mm setting. "Anything that's slick or rocky or loose you can just hammer up in any gear with the suspension at full travel, said Mark. "And, when you're tired it allows you to have less control when you apply power. You can just mash on the pedals and not spin your tire as easily as if you're on a hardtail or even a short travel full suspension bike."
Early on there was a timed downhill section for special awards but unfortunately it came too early in the stage before traffic thinned out. This prevented the team from utilizing their Jekylls to full extent.
Past that, the guys rode their own pace with Mark leading the way early, going out ahead of Jason. One of the OverMountain team's competitors was climbing with Mark but couldn't hold the pace and soon enough Jason blew by them on another climb as he worked solo to reel in Mark like a fish before the finish.
"When I caught that team I was in Elevate Mode and as I went by I swear I clicked up two gears," proclaimed Jason.
Mark for one was impressed how the plan worked out. "I couldn't believe how quick you came back up. It was so fast," he remarked. "I usually just race to the finish line on my own to make him speed up and it seems to be working. When he catches me I have to increase my speed to match him."
Throughout the stage the team kept the pace high on both the climbs and the descents to capture another fourth place finish on their all-mountain Jekylls amid a field filled with hardtails and short travel, cross-country specific bikes.
Next up is the final stage in Whistler to cement final GC positions. With a good ride again, who knows how far the team will move up.