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MTB News & racing round-up for August 26, 2005

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

Single Speed World Championships Wrap Up

By Steve Medcroft

Men's winner Jesse LaLonde
Photo ©: Ryan Atkinson
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Over four hundred singlespeed bike riders showed up in State College, Pennsylvania this past weekend for the Singlespeed World Championships (August 20). But before we move on to the Cyclingnews race report of the event, there are a few things you need to know.

Firstly, Singlespeeders are not the mainstream of mountain biking therefore you should not expect a race report for the Singlespeed World championship to look like a mainstream cross-country race report. What we mean is that singlespeed mountain bikes are a fringe passion. The people who ride them say that removing gears takes the bike out of the equation and reduces riding (and competition) to just the marriage of the athlete and the terrain. A singlespeed bike is often the antithesis to the five thousand dollar mountain bike; the one with a high percentage of carbon and every technological advantage bike and component manufacturers can offer.

Abby Hippely celebrates
Photo ©: Ryan Atkinson
Click for larger image

Singlespeeders, by average and not rule, are the punk rockers of mountain biking. They represents the image of the hardened, tough-as-nails, ride all day with no food, drink all night, ride all the next day kind of mountain biker. This image is partially myth though; singlespeed mountain bikes are popular among people as varied as downhill legend Marla Streb to U.S. Elite Road National Champion Carl Decker. The guy who fixes your bike at the local shop and the woman who tears the legs off the men on your Wednesday night mountain bike rides are probably singlespeeders. Enough said?

Also, The race is not a sanctioned world championship. Promoter Eric Roman, part owner of Nittany Wheelworks in State College, Pennsylvania, says that he earned his bid to host the Worlds by simply asserting himself as the host whenever spontaneous discussion formed around the subject. “We just kept telling people it was going to be here whenever anyone asked,” he said. The race became the world championship because everyone who wanted to race in the Worlds agreed that this was where it would be held.

Read the complete Singlespeed World Championships report here.

Your Ad Here: Monique Sawicki interview

By Steve Medcroft

Born in Hawaii
Photo ©: Team MATA
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With her win at the Snowshoe NORBA, Monique Sawicki locked up the National Marathon Series title for the second year (an incredible track record since she’s only been racing as a licensed NORBA pro those same two years). She carried a four hundred-point lead after racing five of the seven marathons and the title was virtually assured. In order to claim the title by the rules though, Sawicki, who also won the NORBA Solo 24-Hours National Championship in Spokane earlier this season, needed to compete in six of the seven total races.

Since she missed the Brian Head, Utah NORBA (for financial and time-related reasons), her last chance to get her sixth event was the marathon finals in Snowshoe. Unfortunately, although she is producing the kind of results that sponsors know will get her (and them) press, she didn’t have enough backing to pay her travel expenses. Which meant that she and husband Ron had to find a way to pay the bill themselves.

How is it that an athlete of world-class calibre, who has visibility and publicity to offer sponsors, has to work full-time to afford to compete in our sport? We talked to Sawicki (or ‘Pua’ as she's known to friends) to try and understand.

Click here for the full interview

More singlespeed wonders: Keith Bontrager diary

Singlespeed World Championships - August 24, 2005

First I wanted to finish off the last post by adding some of Rudy's art and a shot of Ivan. Check the photos. Rudy is good. Ivan rules.

Back to the race.

Some of Rudy Nadler's art
Photo ©: Singlespeed Fellowship
Click for larger image

The rest of the prologue legs were uneventful and quiet for me, though there was some mayhem downtown. I managed to escape the serious drinking by staying 20 miles from the pubs in an old beat down 4H camp with some of the folks I'd been staying with in Pittsburgh. Secretly I had hoped for something like this because, as much as this goes against the traditional pre-race programme laid out by the Mullahs of the One True Single Speed Jihad, starting a hard, technical, three hour race, with lots of climbing, in heat, with only one gear, while feeling bloated and hungover just seemed like the wrong way to go about it. I know some folks that can do it that way, but I have never been able to. Dunno - maybe I won't make the cut for martyrdom...

Anyway, the only pre-race highlight was the last six miles of gravel road that led to the 4H camp. I drove it at night even though the Chevy I got from Avis was very underpowered with a strange automatic transmission that wouldn't stay in the lower gears. The evening there was quiet except for a ping pong death match that went on pretty late.

The woods around State College are laced with singletrack. If the devil rides, and I am pretty sure he does (when he is not running along chasing pros up the cols in summer) it is very likely that he had a hand in laying these out. They are about as rocky and evil as they can be and still be called trails. In fact, it is occasionally not obvious that they ARE trails. There are a few big rock gardens that make one think they must have taken a wrong turn - the trail just seems to stop at this big pile of rocks... Then with a closer look, the trail doesn't stop. It goes out the other side, so these rocks are part of it. It just goes straight into those rocks, intentionally.

See Keith Bontrager's entire Singlespeed World Championships diary here.

Polish Worlds Team

The Polish Cycling Federation has announced its roster for the 2005 mountain bike World Championships. Team members are already in Livigno, Italy training at altitude in preparation for the Championships, which begin with a team relay race on Wednesday, August 31st.

Maja Wloszczowska (Lotto), who will be fighting to better her silver-medal showing in the 2004 race in Les Gets, France. There are also junior contestants showing a lot of promise (Aleksandra Dawidowicz - Lotto and Marlena Pyrgies - Polish Cycling Federation Team). They properly won the silver and the gold medals during European Championships this year.

On the men’s side, fifth place 2004 finalist Marek Galinski (PSB Atlas Orbea) is Polands hope for a medal in the men’s competition. He also will play one of the most important roles in the relay race team (Poland has won both a gold and bronze medal in this discipline in the past few years).

Polish Cycling Federation Team for the MTB World Championships 2005:

    Seniors – women: Maja Wloszczowska (Lotto), Anna Szafraniec (Lotto), Magdalena Sadlecka (Lotto).
    Juniors – women: Aleksandra Dawidowicz (Lotto), Magdalena Pyrgies (PCF Team).
    Seniors – men: Marek Galinski (PSB Atlas Orbea).
    U-23: Dariusz Batek (Lotto), Kryspin Pyrgies (Lotto), Pawel Szpila (reserve - Lotto)
    Juniors – men: Adrian Dzialakiewicz (Optex Opoczno), Daniel Zywer (Lotto), Karol Sroka (reserve - Optex Opoczno).

Bush Rides IMBA-Built Singletrack in Idaho

President George W. Bush spent a vacation day mountain biking at the new Tamarack Resort in central Idaho this week. The 25-mile Tamarack trail system was designed and built by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

The president rode 16 miles, sampling many of the singletrack trails that have earned Tamarack a reputation for world-class mountain biking. Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne joined the president for a ride that included dirt roads, singletrack, a tour of the golf course and a visit to the mountain bike challenge park. The president skipped the dirt jump park and lift-serviced downhilling trails, although members of his security team rode the challenging terrain earlier in the week.

IMBA's work at Tamarack is led by the IMBA Trail Solutions program, which offers professional trail design, construction, and consulting services in a fee-based format. The Tamarack project is IMBA's largest private trail work contract to date. Veteran IMBA trail expert Joey Klein manages the multi-year job that also includes professional trail builders from Arrowhead Trails Inc. and Trail Dynamics, LLC.

"I heard the president really liked our trails," said Klein. "The security guys told us he had a blast riding the berms and drop-offs on the Culebra Loca trail, and that he headed back there for another ride early this morning. I think he was impressed with riding purpose-built mountain biking trails."

In a brief press conference, the president said, "I made a mistake in not coming here earlier... This is a spectacular part of the world."

Bush's passion for mountain biking has resulted in unprecedented media coverage for the sport. Nearly every major U.S. newspaper, magazine, and T.V. network has covered the president's riding. The exposure has raised awareness for mountain biking and generated a positive buzz for the sport that is already enjoyed by over 40 million Americans.

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