Let's Go Ride! - Photo by Dan Cardon
As stated above, it started mostly in college, but a few races date back as far as 2001. Thanks to some good mentors in college, like the Trumpore brothers and Dave Smutok, I was able to begin racing pro downhill by the time I graduated in 2008. Despite going straight into a career in engineering, I was able to balance my work and racing aspirations. Over the years from 2008-2012, I secured several top 10 national finishes and qualification for UCI World Cup Downhill. I never put together a noteworthy run at the few World Cup races I went to "on vacation", but I also never thought I would race at that level as a high school kid hucking stair sets around town. So traveling the world once or twice a year to attend these races was enough of a dream for me. I picked up a trail bike in 2012 and began to get hooked on the daily ride. It only seemed right after a few years to try racing one, so in 2014 I did my first enduro. After a couple years of doing both downhill and enduro, I found myself wanting to ride the trail bike more and more. This also presented new tracks, new series, new competitors, new friends, and new goals. The last 2 seasons I have chosen to focus the competition to enduro, but at the end of the day, I just love riding my bike.
Richmond, Vermont - Photo by Dave Trumpore
There are countless inspirations over the years, from talented riders locally and globally, to the guys with positive and welcoming attitudes. Matt Donovan from Dedham Bike & Leather was an early inspiration in racing and wrenching. Then came the upper classmen of UVM Cycling, followed by those guys at the local circuits that you could never quite conquer even on your best day like Ben Moody, Neko Mullaly and Richie Rude.
More recently, a big inspiration to keep getting after it has been a close friend, Ryan St-Lawrence, who suffered a spinal injury last year. This guy, Ry Guy, was a huge motivator and inspiration for me before the injury. His support for all of us riding this season in the midst of his unmatched determination to heal has been truly impressive. Nothing in my riding career compares to the fire this guy lit under me this past year, actually, funny story about that.....ah we'll save it for the next article.
Living in northern Vermont, the offseason looks long, very long. Most winters, riding a bike is not an option from December through end of April. We have had our ups and downs with snowfall, but splitboarding with headlamps takes the place of midweek spins along with increased gym time. This combo keeps strength, cardio and general fitness high. The weekends are no different. I go play around at the resorts and venturing off into the backcountry on a snowboard.
Adam Sends On A Snowboard - Photo by Ryan Bent
First Pro win was pretty memorable. Any win has always been special for me, but this particular race at Blue Mountain had horrific rain and a few exceptionally talented riders in the mix. Most racers critique their own riding and can imagine their full potential, but usually have some would have, should have, could have moments from any race. This one in the rain was flawless and I was shocked with myself as I crossed that line, only to hear, that my time had an error and was not recorded. I was gutted and couldn't imagine another run, but I went back for a re-run and much to my surprise, came down with another nearly perfect run and secured my first win as a Pro.
New Zealand, Finale Ligure are high on the list, but you can never get too much riding in BC in my opinion, so those are all on the radar for 2018.
This bike has truthfully impressed me in so many ways, I can't say there is anything I don't like.
Yeti SB6c - Photo by Dan Cardon
I have been riding predominantly 4 bar linkage bikes in my 4-5 years of riding trail bikes. I have ridden other platforms in downhill and demos over the years, but every time I get on a new bike (on the trail, not parking lot squish tests), I start to process the differences as they are usually uncomfortable in some way. These little differences are obvious in the beginning, and then you start to settle into those over time.
When I first rode the Yeti SB6, I instantly noticed how well it pedaled on the first climb. Then as we turned to the descent, I began cautiously, looking for those initial uncomfortable differences. After about 3 seconds into the first bit of rocky trail, I let the brakes fly and just started hollering. All I could think about was how fast and dynamically I wanted to ride the trail, not how the bike was going to ride it.
The angles and lengths are where they need to be and the switch infinity is the real magic just above the bottom bracket. This mechanism tracks in multiple directions as you move through the travel. During the initial part of the stroke, it tracks upward, helping with chain growth and counteracting the squat characteristics from the rider which give it a noticeably better feel while pedaling. Then as you get deeper into the travel, it begins to track downward which gives the bike a bottomless feel on the larger compressions.
Yeti Switch Infinity - Photo by Dan Cardon
I won a pair of Box carbon bars a few years ago and was such a big fan of them, that I wanted to get on the whole kit. This is their first year to market with the shifter and derailleur. It has been great to see a well priced alternative to other industry standards. As an engineer, I like to nerd out on how some of the tech works and the shifter still has me scratching my head as to how it works. It is absolutely awesome and uses one lever that both ratchets and slides. Without cracking one of these open, I think I'm going to have to wave in the towel on how it works.
Box Components Cockpit - Photo by Dan Cardon
I have been running different treads in all sorts of combinations, the Mota and Martello. These both feature the 4C compound paired with graphene, which gives a nice soft tread where you want it, but still gives the knobs stability and durability where you want it. These two treads have been great options for the rapidly changing soil conditions we have in the Northeast United States. Mota absolutely chews through the mud and loamy dirt, whereas the Martello is a great all around tire for all the other stuff. It has been great working closely with Vittoria this year as they fine tune the tires from rider input and still have some exciting developments in the works, so keep your eyes peeled!
Vittoria Martello Tires - Photo by Dan Cardon
Vittoria Martello Tires - Photo by Dan Cardon
I have been playing around on both the Slate and Quadiem brakes from TRP this season. I have high recommendations for both of these brakes and could honestly flip a coin when it comes to choosing which to run on my enduro race bike. Ultimately, I settled on the G-Spec Quadiem to get that little extra bite on the back wheel during some of the most demanding enduro tracks. In fact, they are so strong I had to downsize my front rotor when I made the switch! But after 5 months into the riding season, with equal time on each, I have not had to bleed them or change the pads and they feel just as good as the day I put them on. Even when I trimmed the line to run them internally, I just topped the fluid off in the line and slapped em' together!
When you are racing, it is critical to have a bike and build you can trust. Coming from a downhill background, I found the most challenging part of enduro for me was keeping your bike in one piece through multiple stages. We are now halfway through the season and after 4 regional races and a brutal EWS round in Madeira, I am proud to walk away with no flats, no mechanical's, and no injuries in competition this year.
Rider info: 6'0", 170 pounds
Bike: YETI SB6, 27.5, Large, Turq Series Carbon
Fork: Fox Factory 36, 2 orange volume spacers, 72 PSI
Rebound 6 clicks from open
Low Speed compression 2 clicks from open
Rear shock: Fox Float X, 1 large volume spacers, 205 PSI
Rebound... somewhere in the middle that feels good
Tires: Vittoria Martello 2.5 Front, Martello 2.35 Rear (often interchanged with the Mota depending on the soil conditions)
Brakes: TRP G-Spec Quadiem Brakes with 180mm F and 180mm R rotor
Shifter: Box Components .one. PushPush
Derailleur: Box Components .one. 11 speed
Cassette: Box Components .two. 11-46
Bars: Box Components .one. Carbon Trail handlebar cut to 762 MM wide 30mm rise
Stem: Box Components Cusp stem trail stem 45 MM length 20 mm spacer under stem
Grips: Box Components .one. Grips
Cranks: Raceface Turbine 175 mm with 34 tooth Raceface Cinch chainring
Chain Guide: MRP AMG v2
Wheels: DT Swiss XM481
Seat post: Fox Shox Transfer Dropper Post Performance
Saddle: WTB Yeti Edition
Everyone can keep up with Adam's adventures through his Instagram, @morse.ah.