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MTB News & racing round-up for December 8, 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

Landing on her feet: Marks Marino signs with Titus/Kenda for 2006

Marks-Marino smiles
Photo ©: Chris Davidson
Click for larger image

When the Ford Cycling team reorganised a few months ago, 2005 Snowmass Short Track winner Dara Marks Marino was left with what she says seemed like a daunting lack of sponsorship. But, she says in the following press release, she has been overwhelmed with support from the friends she's made in the industry and in just a few short weeks has been able to put together a successful freelance spnsorship group that will allow her to do what she loves to do; race her mountain bike.

Dara Marks Marino has renewed her partnership with Titus Cycles, her original bike sponsor from 2001 and 2002. After her most successful season to date (including one national win and four second places), Marks Marino will return to a grassroots effort with support from the industry's finest companies. Said Marks Marino, "Reconnecting with Titus is like coming full circle for me. The amount of support that I have received from the industry is staggering."

"It is great to have Dara back on Titus. She is an incredible athlete and great representative for our sport," said Chris Cocalis, founder and president of Titus Cycles. "We feel that having Dara on Titus bikes will take her to the highest level of success in professional racing. We are truly excited to have Dara representing Titus in 2006!"

Kenda tires will join Titus as Marks Marino's title sponsor. Sram, DT Swiss, Crank Brothers, Zeal Optics, and Athlete Octane will all be contributing to her program. Specialized will also continue their support of Marks Marino by providing helmets, shoes, and gloves.

Marks Marino will focus on the mountain bike National Championships, NORBA series, Sea Otter, and North American World Cups, with Redlands and other road races rounding out her schedule. Marks Marino will also maintain her role as a community bicycle advocate and mentor to aspiring mountain bikers. She continues to be a writer/rider by launching a new website, www.DaraMarksMarino.com. Along with blogging, the site will be a place for others to ask questions and get answers, learn more about training and racing, link to her sponsors, and contact her.

Michael Prokop helps open four-cross course in Prague

By Steve Medcroft

The Prague 4X course
Photo ©: Michael Prokop
(Click for larger image) The Prague 4X course looks good

An Olympic-calibre four-cross mountain-bike park, designed by 2004 Four-Cross World Champion Michael Prokop, is under construction in the Czech Republic. "They started to build it three weeks back," Prokop said in an email to friends. "Everything should be done by the end of this year."

The course, nestled on a gentle hillside in a Prague residential neighborhood, will be open for competition for the first time May 1, 2006, just a few days before the four-cross World Cup season opener (May 6-7, Vigo Spain). "It should be good race," Prokop says, "with fine prize money (3,000/2,000/1,000/500 EUR) and a big show with bands, fireworks, plus an after party with cute Czech chicks."

Prokop's email was sent as an open invitation to the world-class four-cross field to make a pilgrimage to his new hometown course in May. "Come race and visit beautiful Prague," he said.

Interested racers can contact promoter POLIS Productions at info@polis.cz.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Michael Prokop

Canadian college to offer MTB operations course

Capilano College (Sunshine Coast Campus) in British Columbia, Canada, will offer a "Mountain Bike Operations" Certificate program in September, 2006. The program is a full-time, eight-month program (26 credits) and covers courses in tourism, risk management, event planning, first aid, mountain bike skill development, trail design and trail building.

Author Bike Challenge set for 2006

The Author Challenge, a six-stage mounatin-bike stage race in the Polish and Czech mountains, is back on the schedule after a successful 2005 event. Organized by Grzegorz Golonko (organizer of the biggest Polish marathon series – Intel Powerade Bike Maraton) and well-known Czech marathon rider Vena Hornych (Rock Machine Cyclomax), the race is scheduled for July 24th through the 29th and will both start and finish in Duszniki Zdrój, a health resort famous for the International Chopin piano Festival.

Some of the highlights of the 350km (with 7,500 meters of climbing) route are “Podziemne Miasto Osówka”, a complex of the post-German tunnels built during WW II (riders will ride several kilometers under ground!), a famous uphill to Okraj pass and some of the most technical trails riding the Czech Republic has to offer. Riders will also pass through three national parks: Park Narodowy Gór Sowich, Karkonoski Park Narodowy and Park Narodowy Borumovskie Steny, one of the most beautiful places in Poland and Czech Republic with hundreds of marked mountain bike trails.

The rules of the event are simple and similar to other races such as TransAlp or Cape Epic. Teams composed of two cyclists compete on the stages, the fastest wins. Teams will compete in following categories:man, woman, mix (man and a woman) and masters (two person whose total age is over 80). Registration is opened until 30.06.2006, discount entrance fee (330 Euro per team) will be due before 28.02.2006. Race will be opened and closed with a traditional pasta party.

2006 Author Bike Challenge stages:

Prologue - 24.07.2006: Duszniki Zdrój (Town center) - Duszniki Zdrój (Jamrozowa Polana), compulsory for all teams,
Stage 1 - 25.07.2006: Duszniki Zdrój - Police n/Metui (the Czech Republic),
Stage 2 - 26.07.2006: Police n/Metui (the Czech Republic) - Gluszyca,
Stage 3 - 27.07.2006: Gluszyca - Karpacz,
Stage 4 - 28.07.2006: Karpacz - Teplice n/Metui (the Czech Republic),
Stage 5 - 29.07.2006: Teplice n/Metui (the Czech Republic) - Duszniki.

For more information at www.bikechallenge.pl.

BBC Midlands honours Rachel Atherton

The awards keep coming for Great Britain's first ever World Champion in Downhill racing, and why shouldn't they! After a stellar season that saw not only the awarding of the Rainbow stripes, but also an international presence that had Atherton rattling the cages of the best World Cup elite riders like Anne-Caroline Chausson, Sabrina Jonnier and Tracy Moseley, the awards and recognition are greatly appreciated.

This time it was the BBC Midlands Sports Awards, which are held annually for outstanding sporting achievements by those who reside in the region where Atherton lives. Like the previous award from the Sunday Times, Atherton won for the category of 2005 Young Sportswoman.

The event was held last night at the National Motorcycling Museum in Birmingham and was jam packed with sport stars from the Midlands, including Olympic medallist Denise Lewis and cricketer Ashley Giles who was recently part of the great Ashes win for England.

Atherton, who celebrated her 18th birthday last week, said "I was totally surprised by winning as the other nominees were really strong. Not a bad birthday present. I'm honoured to be recognised like this and can't wait to race again next year."

The awards will be on shown on BBC Midlands at 6.30pm throughout the coming week.

New Arrivals - Cateye Double Shot & Triple Shot

Cateye Double Shot
(Click for larger image) Cateye Double Shot  - for handlebar or helmet mounting, with two 3W LEDs to light the way

Cateye revolutionized mountain bike lighting a few years ago with the Stadium, the first ever HID mountain bike headlamp. With a beam equivalent to an 80 Watt halogen bulb from its 20 Watt Xenon lamps, the Stadium put out more light than just about anyone could actually use and quickly found itself competing with less powerful but substantially lighter HID systems, usually based on 12 Watt HID systems.

The Triple Shot and Double Shot are effectively Cateye's replacements for the Stadium. Instead of going for ultimate power this time, Cateye has tried to strike a balance between light output and weight, so the Shots use rapidly emerging white LED technology to put out the light, powered by NiMH battery packs. Double Shot has two three Watt LEDs and is intended for helmet of handlebar mounting, while Triple Shot has three LEDs and no helmet mount in the pack. Both units come with the same 2700mAh battery pack which gives a claimed run time of just over three hours for the Triple Shot and five for the Double.

Cateye Triple Shot
(Click for larger image) Cateye Trile Shot has three 3W LEDs and is claimed to put out enough light for 24-hour racing.

In our 'point the light at your colleagues' tests in the office, both Shots produce significant spots before your eyes and throw a bright beam that's easily seen even under strong indoor lighting. We like the look of construction details such as the locking plug and socket connecting battery and lamp, and the universal charger that will run off just about anything and charge the battery in three hours. More when we've had some night-time trail time.

More info: www.cateye.com

See the rest of the New Arrivals in the tech section here.

Kona designs AfricaBike

The Kona Bicycle Company has always designed bikes for specific riders' needs. Kona bicycles have been piloted to World Championship titles, National Championships titles and World Cup victories. But, in partnering with Bicycling magazine’s BikeTown Africa project and Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Secure The Future program, Kona has embarked upon the design of what could be the most important bicycle the company has ever developed.

The Kona "AfricaBike" will address the unique needs and demanding conditions that health care workers will face in treating HIV and AIDS patients in two Botswana cities, Bobonong and the capital city of Gaborone. More than 200 of the specially-designed will be delivered in late March 2006.

The research, design, development and delivery of the Kona AfricaBikes will be documented at www.konabiketown.com. Kona’s Design Group has assembled a bike that will address the challenges southern Africa presents, including rough, unpaved roads, diverse terrain, long distances, thorns, and general lack of service personnel and facilities.

The AfricaBike will be a 26” wheeled, single-speed, step-through frame design, with a Shimano coaster brake, chain guard, comfort saddle and basket. As well, Kona is working with Kenda to develop a special edition, puncture-resistant tire that will withstand the rough terrain the bicycles will travel over.

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