A Day Like No Other

#sundayfunday started out like most other weekend days - load the car and point it to the mountains to get outta the heat. I had @j_bendzz as my co-pilot today (see previous post as to @jessicambender's whereabouts) and we decided on Deer Valley as our start. We began just rolling along, lower Deer Valley to upper, mid-mountain, @j_bendzz got his first bee sting, Tommy Two Step, Keystone, big 'ol Momma moose and 2 pups (that brings my moose total this year to 18!), Keystone, then down, cue @j_bendzz 2nd bee sting, then climb again 🙄 for what seemed like dayz up Pinecone to the top of Puke Hill. Views were had and pics snapped and then...this Slovakian shows up. Now, for those that enjoy cycling, being the road World Champ is kinda a big thing. This World Champ also just won the green jersey in the Tour De France (last week). This guy is now heading to the Olympics to race, no, not on the road, but on mountain bikes. 😍 I rarely get star struck but this guy - @petosagan - I really enjoy. Like, really, I am a big fan. Wait though, it gets better. So Peter asks "which way back to Park City?" I try to explain, "head down here, take this trail, etc" but then just say "we'll just show you..." So @benderbrosracing creates a patented #bender sandwich and escorts him down to another close-by intersection that he can take down into PCMR. We've still got a ways to go and at this point I'm just over the top. Peter then says, "which way does that go?" pointing in the direction we're heading. I explain and say, "yada, yada, yada, Deer Valley eventually..." 45 minutes and a handful of righteous trails later we drop Peter off in Deer Valley. 😳 Seriously. No, really, @benderbrosracing spent part of the day rallying trail with the best in the world. Oh, and yea, I made a snarly face for the picture. Good luck, @petesagan you just made our week, nah, maybe year!

Words by Thomas Bender

 

Summer Racing

Mountain Bike racing and riding this year was tip top as usual.  Races are held in the desert of St. George, Utah and then quickly move to the Wasatch Mountains of Solider Hollow, Corner Canyon, Snowbird, Solitude, and Sundance Mountain Resort.  These courses offer some epic racing terrain to say the least.  Tom took a little break half way through summer to dial in his cyclocross fitness and Jeff continued to race the I-cup series until August. Jeff wrapped up the season with a solid 3rd place at Sundance Mountain resort which gave him the win for the overall series.  

Jeff also found his way up to the Missoula Pro XCT in Montana with his good friend Kevin Day and also Mountain Bike Nationals in Mammoth Mountain, California.  Neither of those races went his way but that didn't keep him from having fun and meeting new people.  

This year Bender Bros Racing also found there way into doing the Crusher in the Tushar.  An epic 75 mile race that starts in Beaver, Utah.  Burke puts on a stellar race and we can't wait to go back next year.  

Last but not least one of our favorite events of the year was the Chequamegon fat tire festival held in Hayward, Wisconsin. Shout out to good friend and teammate Jill Cederholm for picking us up from the airport and letting us borrow her van for the weekend.  That was such a big help for us! The race was a complete mess, it had poured the day before and all night which made for one heck of muddy race.  We ended up finishing once again together with Tom in 16th and Jeff in 17th. Not our best result but it's always a stellar weekend of racing and seeing family.  

Now it's time to dial in our fitness for our favorite time of the year, cyclocross! 

#SeaOtter2016

Another successful year at the Sea Otter Classic.  Such a great event to see our sponsors and friends from all around the U.S.  Tom ended up doing both short track race on Friday and the XC race on Saturday.  He gave it his all and raced strong with our friend Justin.  Since the XC event was an HC event this year the race was shortened, and we ended up doing about 10-11 minute laps very close to the event area.  This made the course very fast, tight, and spectator friendly. Back row starts for us made it hard but we managed to work our way up a fair amount.  We still ended up getting pulled going onto our 7th lap after an hour and ten minutes of racing.  It sucks getting pulled but at the end of the day thats racing.  It motivates us to work harder for the next races to come.  

It was great seeing all of our sponsors at the event and we can't thank everyone enough for all the support this year.  We would also like to thank our Parents and Tom's wife Jess for the great support and pictures from the race.  

Intermountain Cup #2

A tough race to say the least, but at the end of the day we still enjoyed it. Generally you'll find us always riding,  and training together.  We're not just brothers but you could go as far as to say we're best friends as well. Not only did we drive down to St. George together, we pre-rode the course together, and somehow we ended up racing together for the entire race. Neither of us felt particularly good, but we enjoyed racing together. At the end of the day it still ended up being a competition. We gave the fans what they wanted, a sprint finish. Not one of our favorite races but it was good training leading up to our next race the Sea Otter Classic.  Stay tuned folks.

Tom in a confused state with one lap to go. 

Tom in a confused state with one lap to go. 

#Intermountaincup Red Rock Rampage

Intermountain Cup Red Rock Rampage went down this past weekend in St. George, Utah. The first race is one of our favorites, and usually the competition is pretty darn good. Tom laid down a solid start and held his position the whole race.  He was battling for fourth before an unfortunate chain drop but still landed a respectable fifth place to round off the podium.  Jeff had a rough first couple of laps but was still out there having fun and bringing the pain where he saw fit.  He came in sixth a few seconds back from Tom.  We're certainly stoked that the mountain bike race season has started once again, are you?

If you have not had a chance to check out the Intermountain Cup race series please come check it out if you are local to Utah.  There is a lot of new faces that are trying to grow this great series. 

Alex Grant, Justine Lindine, Chris Holley, Zach Carlton, Tom Bender rounded off the podium.  

Esi Grips

We certainly enjoyed keeping our palms protected in 2015 by some of the best grips on the market. To this, we would personally like to thank ESI Grips for there great support they provided us in 2015. We are also stoked announce that we going to continue growing an even better relationship in 2016. They truly are the best grips and bar wrap in town, with fancy colors, and amazing feel that lasts. 



   

UTCX/State Champs Cyclocross Recap

What a cross season its been. Tom has been absolutely crushing the competition, taking home multiple wins and podiums. Jeff has also been doing pretty well with multiple podiums but no wins. Tom was featured in Cycling Utah after winning a race at Weber County Fairgrounds. He also won back to back races up in Idaho. Some might say he was unstoppable this year in cyclocross. Tom ended up taking the overall in our local UTCX series. Jeff was close behind in second and our good friend Dylan in third.  

Joe Johnson worked super hard this year with Jonathan Page to get a proper State Championship Cyclocross Race in Utah. It truly was a real cross course with sand, run-ups, barriers, climbs, and descents. We could not have asked for a better race, or day for that matter. Jeff raced hard trying to chase down Page but he certainly was flying. He was stoked to be able to come away with second. Tom suffered an early race flat tire but still was able to manage 5th overall. This race was certainly a nice way to end the season.

Cheers to a great season and we'd personally like to thank our sponsors for supporting us through-out the year. We hope you enjoyed our shenanigans during 2015 and we'd love for you to continue enjoying them for 2016. 

Thanks,

Bender Bros.

A Bender Family Classic

One of our favorite races of the year is the Chaquamegon Fat Tire Festival held in Hayward, Wisconsin. Our dad Gary has been doing this race for a little over 20 years now and Tom following close behind that. This will mark Jeff's 4th year doing this race and it has become one of his favorites. A little over 1800 races line up for this race and this year Bender Bros were shooting for a top ten. Jeff Hall took off early on and held the lead the entire race. A group of about 15 of us worked together trying to chase him down but could not close the gap. Right around mile marker 30 the race split up from a climb called the Fire Tower Climb. After the climb Tom and Jeff chased hard but we were cooked. Bender Bros pushed hard to chase down Tilford but could not close the gap. Jeff was able to get 10th overall and Tom followed shortly after in 11th. One of our favorite races of the year not only for the race but to spend time with family and friends that we haven't scene in while.  

Widow Maker/P-Town #1

Cyclocross finally started up, which turns out to be one of our favorite times of the year. P-town cross is put on by Joe Johnson, a local firefighter here in Utah. We just got to know Joe this year and what a rad dude he is. His love for cycling and motivation to grow the sport of cyclocross here in Utah is outstanding. He puts a lot of effort into these races, and if your local to Utah please check out these races during the week.  The races are lot of fun, and the courses are true cross courses. Jeff was able to attend the first P-town race this year and was able to pull off third place.  Not a bad way to start the season. 

We'll keep this one short and sweet.  A 45 minute hill climb from the base of Snowbird Ski Resort all the way to the top called the "Widow Maker".  The name speaks for itself, full gas from eight thousand feet to 10 thousand feet.  Jamey Driscoll and Rob Squire were there and went balls out from the gun. Jeff and Tom tried to hang on but those two were flying.  Jeff ended up taking third and Tom was fifth. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Stay tuned for one of our favorites the Chaquamegon Fat Tire race.  


Last I-cup of the Season

Quick little write up on last I-cup of the year. The last race was held at Solitude Mountain Resort up Big Cottonwood Canyon. It had rained the night before and the race course was in perfect condition. The trails were tacky, and if you know Utah the trails are usually never tacky in the summer. Another strong pro men field with our teammate Chris Holley taking the lead early on and holding it the entire race. Congrats to him on such a strong race. The Bender Bros worked together to chase down first and second. Tom took the descents like a pro downhiller and Jeff led the uphills like a mountain lion. Unfortunately we weren't able to close the gap to second but it sure was a blast to race together from start to finish. Tom let Jeff take third so he could take third overall in whole series. Next up comes one of our favorite times of the year... Cyclocross. 

A little Rest

After Nats it was time to take a little break from the bike and do some other fun activities.  A little rest does the body some good, and allows you to reset before hoping back on.  During this time we usually like to get in some quality hiking.  This time a hike up to the top of Pfeifferhorn was in store with our good friends Cameron and Luciana.  Pfeifferhorn is located up Little Cottonwood here in Utah. It sits at a little over 11 thousand feet and the views are outstanding.  

4th of July + Mountain Bike Nationals

We're back again, this time to talk about our 4th of July Holiday. You will never guess what we did, okay maybe you will... Another local Intermountain Cup race, and this time it was Snowbird Ski Resort. This race had a great turn out, but unfortunately neither of us had a great race. Sometimes the legs just aren't there, and today was just once of those days. We still enjoyed the heck out of it though, and made the best of what was given to us. 

After the race Jeff had about a week and half of good hard training before getting ready to head out to Mountain Bike Nationals in Mammoth, California. Tom was unable to attend, so Jeff found his way out there with his good friend AG. He was also fortunate enough to stay three minutes from the venue with some good friends he use to race against back in Wisconsin. Everything fell together nicely, and turned out to be one of best places he had been to all year. Mammoth is located at about eight thousand plus feet, with gorgeous views all around. The race consisted of a lot of climbing and one awesome descent before you shot back down to the start/finish line area. Jeff was stoked that he was able finish 27th overall on the lead lap for his first pro national race. Hats off to his friend AG who finished third overall in short track and XC race. 

Missoula Pro XCT + Sundance I-Cup

Jeff's trusty 91' Jetta Tdi was packed and ready to rip on a sunny Friday morning in June.  His final destination was Missoula, Montana for the Missoula Pro XCT.  A quick 9 hr drive, and he was on course pre riding before the sun was down. After registration he was able to meet up with a good friend Alex and his teammates for dinner. Race day was a long one, Pro men didn't go off until 7:30 at night. The day consisted of a lot of T.V. and down time.  When the race finally got underway Jeff was able to get a solid 4 laps in until he was unfortunately pulled. Legs weren't quiet there that day for him but you can't always expect to have a great race. Next morning he was able to ride with a good friend Sarah before heading out on the road back home.  

Next up was Intermountain Cup at Sundance Ski resort, Utah.  This is the first time Jeff had raced there but Tom has certainly thrown down here in the past. Jeff was able to get the hole shot and hold a solid first lap before finally getting caught. An unfortunate flat put him out of contention for the top spot but he was still able to hold it off for third. Tom came in fifth shortly after to round out the top five.   

I-Cup - Deer Valley + More Adventures

The next intermountain cup race was held at Deer Valley ski resort up in Park City, Utah.  Always a fun course with a lot of climbing, and descending. Jamey Driscoll showed up which made things interesting. The field split up quickly on the first lap and the chase was on. For three-fourths of the race Jeff raced solo holding onto third position. On the last lap we was caught by fourth and fifth which ended with him rounding out the top five. Tom was able to come away with 7th, a solid result with such a strong field. It was back to training after the race before the next intermountain cup at Sundance, plus Missoula Pro XCT.  Stay tuned ladies and gentlemen. 

Training/Vacation

Nine times out of ten you will find Bender Bros training together around Salt Lake City. If you see us please stop and say hello. Fortunately for Jeff, his job at Gear Rush as the shipping manager allows for him to get all of his training in during his lunch break.  Tom owns and runs a small company called Flint Design Studios which allows him to also do all of his training during his lunch hours. We are unsure how we got so fortunate but we sure enjoy having this break together during the day.

Towards the end of May we took a quick trip back home to Northern IL to visit with friends and family. During this trip we were able to bring our bikes back with us and keep the training going full speed ahead. Only a little time was spent in IL before we headed up to one of our favorite areas in the Midwest called Hayward, Wisconsin. For those of you who aren't familiar this is in an area called the Chequamegon National Forest.  This is also where one of our favorite races of the year is held called the Chequamegon Fat Tire Race.  This area is a mountain bikers paradise, there is an endless amount of tacky single track that you can get lost in all day long.  

Intermountain Cup #3/ Midweek Race

Intermountain Cup number 3 took place at Solider Hollow on a nice sunny morning in spring.  Temperatures were in the high 70's and the course was in great shape.  Unfortunately, Tom was unable to attend due to a nasty flu virus that set him back a few weeks. Jeff was able to hold it down for Bender Bros Racing coming in a strong 3rd place overall in the Men's Pro Field.  A couple days after that both Tom and Jeff attended the second Midweek Mountain Bike race held at Corner Caynon.  Jeff was able to get a gap early on in the first climb and hold it all the way till the end taking home his first win of the year.  Tom followed shortly after in a respectable 5th.  

Sea Otter Classic

The Sea Otter Cassic is a race that takes place at the famous Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. This race has been going on for years and Bender Bros always make it a must to head out to this event. It is an awesome way to meet our great sponsors and friends that we have made through-out the years. The race is always a blast, this was Jeff's first Pro race of the year with many more to come. Tom was the support crew for the race, giving the younger bendzo hand ups when needed.  

Geezy

Early season racing started out in in March down in Saint George, Utah.  If you've never been there, we highly recommend it especially in late winter/early spring.  The Desert rampage was the first race of Utah's Intermountain Cup series.  Only Jeff was able to attend this race with his good friends Alex Grant, and Cameron Hooyer.  He was able to pull off a respectable 7th place in a strong field.  The next race was the Cactus Hugger and both Bender bros were in full swing racing together.  Tom landed second which was first of many podiums of the year.  Check out some rad pics from our adventures below. 

©2016 #benderbrosracing