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MTB News & racing round-up for August 10, 2005, part 2

Edited by Steve Medcroft

Welcome to our regular round-up of what's happening in the dirt. Feel free to send feedback, news and gossip to mtb@cyclingnews.com

Pro bikes: Cameron Chambers’ Two Niners

By Steve Medcroft

Cameron Chamber’s Gary Fisher Sugar 292.
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Cameron Chambers and his Gary Fisher Rig
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Gary Fisher introduced its first 29-inch wheeled mountain bikes in 2002. The concept had just started to gain popularity throughout the industry. In an article titled ‘The Effects of Mountain Bike Wheel Size on Performance in Uphill and Cross-Country Cycling’ by J.T. Herr and Holden S-H. MacRae of the Department of Sports Medicine at Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA (found on the Bontrager Web site at www.bontrager.com), the case is made that two-niners roll better over smaller obstacles, are more efficient for sustained climbing and take nothing away from a rider’s efficiency on neutral or technical terrain. The authors propose that there’s a four percent increase in efficiency to be had just by switching to a 29-inch wheeled bike.

The format is even approved for UCI cross-country competition - so why doesn’t everyone do it? Probably for the same reason so many of use one company's computer operating systems: 26-inch tyres are deeply entrenched, there are fewer two-niner bikes and components choices and it’s not seen as the commonly-acceptable style of bike.

But Fisher, among other manufacturers, is solidly behind two-niners. To help promote its line, Fisher opened up a couple of sponsorship spots just for two-niner riders. In 2005, one of those riders, Cameron Chambers of Great Bend, Kansas, rode his Sugar 292 to victory in the NORBA Solo 24-Hours National Championship.

Chambers has two choices of two-niners when he races. The full-suspension Sugar 292 is his standard bike but for special occasions, or for a course that suits it, he can pull out the Pearl Purple Rig Two-Niner Singlespeed.

See the entire article here.

A very different prologue - Keith Bontrager Diary

August 7, 2005

Hi from the Canadian wilderness and the TransRockies Challenge.

For those who do not know what this event is, it's a seven day long MTB stage race held in BC and Alberta. There is lots of climbing, some very juicy singletrack, bears, and occasionally sleet and snow. The complete, official and very accurate description is on www.Transrockies.com and I'll leave it to them to fill in the rest of the gory details.

The novelty of this event and events like it is that it is open to pros and amateurs. If you have ever wondered what it feels like to race hard, day after day in some very beautiful and often severe terrain, this is the way to do it. Then, if you are successful, or insane, you can do it again and again, in Europe (Transalp), South Africa (Cape Epic) or a shorter but no less severe version in Costa Rica (La Ruta de los Conquistadors).

As you probably guessed, the reports will be written from the perspective of an amateur. I'll be the first to warn you that this is not going to be as dramatic as the diaries that the pros submit to Cyclingnews. I'll also warn you that I have never tried to do this sort of thing after very long stages in the heat. It is not certain that I am going to be very well connected with anything resembling wit, or intellect, the English language, or my fingers for that matter, so this may get even more spotty than normal as the week progresses.

Keith Bontrager's complete diary

Niki Gudex diary - Back in the US

As I write this I am back on US soil and although it will be mid September before I see my family, Grant and Pushka again, I must admit that this trip was the most relaxing in a long time as one of my major accomplishments for the off-season was to organise a US Athlete Visa. For anyone who has ever attempted to do this, it is generally not a quick process. I have to send a huge thank you to Blick, Pat and Cuan at Oakley for their help, which really made a huge difference.

I am spending the first week here in the US at Laguna Beach, catching up with everyone again at Oakley and Intense. From here I head to Colorado, which will be my base for this season. I am looking forward to this, because prior to this I have never had a base and just stayed on the road the whole time. I will also have a road bike over here for some fun road rides. I know it has been a while since my last update, so I will try to keep this one to a few of the more cycling-related updates.

SRM Power Team for 2005

There is no bigger issue to start with than my team plans for 2005. It's been a long time getting to this point, but I am very happy to say that I've signed to be part of the SRM Power Team, becoming the first female member in the team's four-year existence. As part of the SRM Power Team I will maintain my bike sponsor from 2004 and continue to ride Intense bikes.

Niki Gudex's complete diary

Jeep KOM finale set for Blakeslee, PA this weekend

August 14 Race in the Pocono Mountains to Include Appearance from Skateboard Legend Tony Hawk and Concert from Gavin DeGraw

After two nail biting races in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Grand Rapids, Mich., the only certainty surrounding the upcoming grand finale of the 2005 Jeep King of the Mountain series is that there are no certainties when trying to predict who will win.

Heading into the final race of the three-event summer series, set for Sunday, August 14 at Jack Frost Mountain in Blakeslee, Pa. (Pocono Mountains), there is no clear-cut frontrunner from the men’s or women’s rosters primed to nab the top share of the industry’s richest prize purse, which includes a cash payout topping $100,000 and the keys to a new 2006 Jeep Commander. Adding to the intrigue of the chase for the Jeep King of the Mountain is the scoring system, which offers double points in the culminating event.

As if the pressure of competing against a line-up of the most decorated athletes from across the world while also battling a racecourse known simply as “The Y” weren’t enough for the Jeep King of the Mountain racers, they’ll be performing in front of thousands of cycling enthusiasts and Camp Jeep® attendees, as well as one of music’s hottest young performers, Gavin DeGraw, and the godfather of skateboarding, Tony Hawk. The star-studded event will air on CBS Sports on Sunday, October 9.

On the men’s side, Michael Prokop of the Czech Republic, mountain bike racing’s 2004 world champion, holds the top spot following with first and second place finishes thus far in the series. Close behind is Brian Lopes of Trabuco Canyon, Calif., mountain bike racing’s career victories leader, and Australia’s Wade Bootes, the defending Jeep King of the Mountain champion. These three athletes have placed in the top three of each event thus far, and are strong candidates to bring home the coveted crown. Also in the hunt, however, are San Diego’s Mike King, a former World Champion who has amassed 67 career top-three finishes, Chris Powell of La Jolla, Calif., and Bas deBever of the Netherlands, a two-time World Cup titlist and medalist in the World Championships.

On the women’s side, Jill Kintner of Seattle, Wash, who has amassed an astounding 70 career BMX titles before taking up mountain bike racing, stands in first place. This winner of the 2004 NORBA Championship and the 2005 Sea Otter event has a first and third place finish under her belt and will anticipate a strong push from Tara Llanes of Los Alamitos, Calif., a four-time Winter X Games medalist and 2003 U.S. Mountain X Champion who has earned second place in each of the events thus far. Close behind is a cluster of challengers, including Anneke Beerten of the Netherlands, number one overall at the 2004 World Cup; Katrina Miller, the defending Jeep King of the Mountain champion and winner of three World Cup championships; England’s Fionn Griffiths, the 2003 NORBA Champion; and Melissa Buhl of Chandler, Ariz., a five-time National BMX Champion and winner of the 2002 U.S. National Mountain Cross Championships.

Big field for Australian MTB Epic

With a few days to go before entries close, the Flight Centre Peppers Hidden Vale Cycle Epic in South-East Queensland, September 3-4 has reached over 800 entries, according to the organisers. The event is the latest beneficiary of the rapid growth in popularity of endurance mountain bike racing in Australia in the last year or so. Events such as the Working Week Series of eight-hour races have also seen record attendances this year, while the 2005 edition of the daddy of Australian endurance events, the Mont 24-Hour, filled up within eight days of entries opening.

"The growth in the Epic has been unprecedented and goes to show it's really struck a chord with local and interstate competitors," event co-manager Peter Creagh said. "We've locals, people from all over Queensland as well as one New Zealand rider who is going to do the entire course on a unicycle."

This year's Epic has expanded to provide events for younger riders and families on the Saturday and co-manager Tod Horton puts the event's growth down to the increased variety of racing on offer. "While the event is anchored by the 100 kilometre race, we've worked hard to expand the Epic to make it enjoyable for everyone involved - from family and friends to support crew and sponsors," he said.

Entries for the Flight Centre Peppers Hidden Vale Cycle Epic close 5PM, Friday 12 August. For more information see www.cycleepic.com.au.

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