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MTB News & racing round-up for April 6, 2006

Edited by Steve Medcroft

Sea Otter Classic mixes cross-country, gravity and road racing

By Steve Medcroft

Geoff Kabush and Liam Killeen in the 2005 Sea Otter
Photo ©: Rob O'Dea
Click for larger image

The Sea Otter Classic, a Monterey, California-based cycling festival and racing venue, got underway Wednesday morning as more than 250 vendors claimed their expo spaces and dozens of pro road and mountain bike teams made camp, dirt jump and trials exhibitionists dialed in their workstations and event organizer's prepared for expected crowds of over 50,000.

Held on the Laguna Seca Recreation Area (home of the Laguna-Seca auto raceway), the event is traditionally the launching pad of both the 2006 U.S. mountain-bike season and an opportunity for the cycling industry to release it's newest product lines.

Mountain bike stage race

Pro mountain bike racing begins Thursday with a sixty-minute Super XC; a multi-lap circuit race held on a mixture of dirt tracks and Laguna Seca raceway's famous corkscrew turns. Followed by a two-mile time trial on Friday, short track on Saturday, the MTB stage race (which will be scored as a points-bases omnium) culminates with the marquee pro cross country races on Sunday.

At last year's Sea Otter, Canadian Geoff Kabush (Maxxis/Turner) and Englishman Liam Killeen (Specialized) went one-two in Sunday cross-country race. Both went onto to success in 2005. Kabush pretty much dominates the U.S. scene while Killeen focused on international competition; scoring his first-ever world cup win in the marathon in Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec. The same pair have been making news already in 2006, although not for the same reasons.

Click here for the full Sea Otter preview.

Eatough off to China

After several days of non stop action in Monterey, Trek/VW pro Chris Eatough will not be heading home from the Sea Otter to prepare for NORBA XC #1 in Fontana, CA in a few weeks. Instead he will be hopping on a plane to Pudong, China to race in the first ever Zhongkun Huangshan MTB Festival. Eatough, the 2005 NORBA Marathon Series Champion, six-time world and two-time national 24 hour solo champion, will tie in some visits to local Trek dealers in town and also make a stop at the Shanghai Bike Show – the equivalent of Interbike in China. The marathon event there expects to draw the fastest distance racers in the East.

The official name of the race in China is the Zhongkun Huangshan MTB Festival”; the event is organized by CCA, Huangshan Municipality Government and Nordic Ways. Please visit www.huangshanbike.com for more details on the event.

Hans Rey wraps up latest 'Adventure'

Hans Rey
Photo ©: Marco Toniolo
(Click for larger image)
Hans Rey
Photo ©: Marco Toniolo
(Click for larger image)

Freeride pioneer Hans 'No Way' Rey just returned from a two-week trip to the Phillipines. On hand at the Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival, one of the biggest cycling events in Southern Asia (held in Manila), Rey took time out from a schedule of trials shows to explore the country on film for his next Hans Rey Adventure television special.

"This wasn't a typical "Hans Rey Adventure Team" trip," Rey said by email this week. "It was more like a road-trip, consisting of several mini-adventures."

Accompanied by Italian photographer Marco Toniolo and a local videographer traveled north of the festival site to the Mountain Province and the world famous Banaue Rice Terraces, considered the 8th World Wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage site. "We toured to the remote village of Batad, where, for the past 2000 years, locals had carved beautiful rice terraces into the surrounding hillsides. It looked a lot like the terraced Inca hills near Machu Picchu, Peru."

Rey says the group rode the treacherous footpaths of the terraces to "a place called Echo Valley, site of the 'Hanging Coffins" a sacred burial area surrounded by limestone cliffs. After my experience with the spirits several years ago in Borneo, I was extra cautious and respectful. Some of those coffins are 500 years old!"

In a second adventure, Rey ascended the Phillipines largest mountain; an active volcano with a crater lake called Taal. "We had a fun descent to the edge of the first lake. This volcano is on and off active, and we could see the smoke from several cracks in the earth and smelt the sulfur in the air. Four local riders joined me on this trip. The downhill was a good laugh and worth the efforts."

Besides the adventures, Rey spent some time giving trials demos in support of the festival. He says he felt like a start in Manila. I did a show in one of the biggest shopping malls of Manila. The turnout was incredible, I couldn't believe how big and enthusiastic the local biking scene was. The people were so happy to meet me and have their photo taken with me - I found out, many of my past adventure team trips are constantly being televised on the Discovery Channel Int.and other TV networks. People brought all sorts of foreign, especially american, biking magazines to be autographed, it was quite nostalgic to see some of the 10 - 15 year old features and ads."

The trip left former trials world champion Rey enthusiastic about the country. "This place is beautiful," he said. "I used the opportunity for my non-profit charity, 'Wheels 4 Life' (www.wheels4life.org), and presented 12 bikes to the Bishop of Southern Leyte who will distribute the bikes to some of the survivors of the recent devastating mudslide, where the majority of the villagers (over 1000) were buried alive. I also gave some more bikes to families in need of transportation near Ormoc where we had the festival. For me it was a great joy giving these bikes out personally, especially since it was the first time since I had started my charity. I hope many thousand's of bikes will follow these ones."

Rey will next appear at this weekend's Sea Otter Classic.

Whiskey Off-Road 50-miler set for May 13th

Promoter Epic Rides (www.epicrides.com) expects more than 400 mountain bikers at the third annual Whiskey Off-Road endurance event May 13th in Prescott, AZ - a middle distance endurance mountain bike event that starts on the famous Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott.

This event is designed to accommodate all skill levels; advanced, stronger riders will find plenty of challenges on the 50-proof (50 miles) ride; the 25-proof option, at half the distance but with challenging climbing and descents, will suit strong intermediate riders; and the 15-proof course will appeal to people not up for the longer distances and more challenging climbs and descents.

“The Whiskey is the perfect season opener for mountain bikers from outside the state because it will allow them to check their early season fitness as the National mountain bike calendar gets underway," says promoter Todd Sadow (who also promoted the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo and Soul Ride 100-miler)."

Those attending will have opportunities to win prizes with a total value in excess of $10,000.

US Gran Prix of Cyclocross revamps its marketing for 2006

The US Gran Prix of Cyclocross announced a partnership with g4 Productions Partners to produce and promote the 2006 Gran Prix. A sports event company specializing in marketing, technical planning and operations of professional and amateur cycling, running and endurance sports, g4 Productions will collaborate with the management team of the Gran Prix and local race promoters to provide unified branding and marketing strategies, secure additional sponsorships and expand on-site hospitality and expo areas for the series, now in its third year.

“We are very proud of what we have accomplished thus far with the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross – the premier ‘cross series in the United States,” said Bruce Fina, Marketing Director, U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross. “By partnering with g4 Productions, we are leveraging their professional event production and promotion experience to help us take the sport of cyclocross to the next level in America.”

“Our partnership g4 will increase our ability to produce a world-class series, attract new fans, athletes and sponsors to the exciting sport of cyclocross in the United States,” said Geoff Proctor, Technical Director, U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross. The partners of g4 Productions bring to the partnership over 50 years of collective experience in sports marketing, technical planning, operations, sponsorship and integrated hospitality programs.

“The Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross represents the best of the sport in this country and provides an excellent springboard for U.S. athletes headed to Europe to perform on the world stage,” said Robin Morton, Partner, g4 Productions. “The management team and local race promoters have done a terrific job of creating a fun and exciting series for the athletes and fans of the sport. g4 Productions is excited to help develop new strategies to promote the series and enhance the value of cyclocross for its many sponsors.”

Teaming with prominent promoters in strong cycling markets and working in conjunction with USA Cycling and the UCI, the Crank Brothers US Gran Prix of Cyclocross attracts the best riders in North America to the series. The 2006 Crank Brothers US Gran Prix of Cyclocross schedule includes six days of racing, four of which are in new venues this year.

2006 US Gran Prix of Cyclo-Cross schedule

• October 7 – 8th Gloucester, Massachusetts
• November 4th Longmont, Colorado
• November 5th Boulder, Colorado
• November 18th Lacey, Washington
• November 19th Portland, Oregon

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