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MTB News & racing round-up for March 22, 2006

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

Six times the challenge in new US endurance series

By Steve Medcroft

And they're off!
Photo ©: Jim Tullis www.jimtullis.com
(Click for larger image)

Five 100-mile mountain-bike race promoters announced the formation of a U.S. ultra-endurance national series this week. Comprised of the Mohican 100 (Ohio), the Lumberjack 100 (Michigan), the Breckenridge 100 (CO), the Wilderness 101 (PA), the Endurance 100 (Utah) and the Shenandoah Mountain 100 (Virginia), the National MTB Ultra Endurance Series runs from June 3rd to September 3rd of 2006 and will be awarding National Series Championships in Open Men, Open Women, Singlespeed and Masters 50-plus categories. As presenting media partner to the series, Cyclingnews will be providing reports and results from each race.

Formed, promoters say, to fill the void in national-level competition for ultra-endurance athletes, contenders for the series will face some of the most challenging and popular 100-mile courses in the country. "Ultra endurance needs to be represented on the national stage,” says Ryan O’Dell, promoter of the Mohican 100, the first race in the series. “And although most of the participants in these events aren't trying to win but simply to finish, there is a whole class of athletes - like Garth Prosser, Jeremiah Bishop, Chris Eatough, Tinker Juarez and Mark Hendershot among others - who have a unique talent to push themselves over greater distances. They deserve a national series as a way to recognize their talent."

Click here for full details.

NORBA marathon series starts this weekend

The NOVA Desert Classic, the first stop on the 2006 National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS), is set to showcase some of the country’s top pro and amateur mountain bike riders at McDowell Regional Park Friday in Fountain Hills, Arizona.

Reborn in 2003 out of the ashes of Arizona’s long-standing Cactus Cup, the NOVA Desert Classic has continued to be a popular early season race for pro riders. With the venue so close to the metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz., the NMBS is making good on their promise to make mountain biking more accessible to urban areas.

“The course that the Marathon riders will race on is called ‘Competitive Track’ and was designed and built specifically for mountain bike racing by the racing community,” said Jerry Sieve, director of Team NOVA, a youth-oriented cycling foundation.

The NOVA Desert Classic encompasses plenty of racing and non-racing events for everyone from kids to the pros. The Marathon race is the only event that will count towards NMBS series points. The National Mountain Bike Series continues May 5-7, in Southern California with a multitude of downhill, cross country, and short track races that will count towards NMBS points.

Pretty special being in Melbourne; Emma Colson Interview

Emma Colson will be representing
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Click for larger image

Emma Colson is one of three Australian representatives for the women's cross country mountain bike race to be held at Lysterfield this Thursday, and as Cyclingnews' Mal Sawford finds out half the fun for this 37-year-old physiotherapist is the fact she'll be racing on home turf, which is something pretty special. He caught up with her at her inner-city Melbourne terrace after a tough Sunday morning training session.

Cyclingnews: Tell us about your training session this morning

Emma Colson: Mountain bike starts are my weakness. I dragged Dave [husband and local MTB guru David Olle] out of bed - we had to get going early because he had to work. We went down and sort of found something that approximated the start at Lysterfield [the Commonwealth Games MTB venue]; a bit of gravel rise then across the grass. He gets me over the first 30 seconds every time but after two minutes I'm past him.

CN: Did you do a few repeats of that?

EC: Yeah, I did six of them this morning and then I went out motor pacing on Beach Road [the popular training route for local cyclists and venue for the road time trial].

CN: Did you bump into Kathy Watt?

EC: No I didn't see her; I didn't see her this time. I see her quite a bit down there. She's quite recognisable - her and Carey [Hall, Watt's coach and partner]. My motor pacer had a nicer bike than Carey has though! The real upright old Vespa, a cool looking thing. I was meant to go motor pacing on Thursday but he didn't turn up - he ended up getting a puncture on the way down there and had to get the thing towed!

CN: Did you wear your Australian team kit when you were out on the road?

EC: Yeah, so you get a few 'Go Aussies' - it's pretty good. I just thought if the cops picked us up they might be a little bit lenient given that we're breaking the law! [The time trial course wasn't scheduled to be closed for practice until the following day, but a number of riders including Kathy Watt hold regular motor paced sessions on Beach Road without interference from the local constabulary.]

Read the entire Emma Colson interview here.

Australia's only completely-solo 24 hour race on for Easter

Canberra Off-Road Cyclists will once again be staging Australia's lone Solo-Only 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race at Majura Pines on the Easter weekend (15/16 April). Staged from the Innabaanya Guide Camp, the 2006 Solo-Only 24 will provide a relaxed race format over some more challenging courses than are traditionally available at the Mont Australian 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championship. Of course, being Easter, lots of people turn the race into a camping holiday in Canberra and promoters expect dozens of bunny tails, fluffy ears on helmets and, of course, Easter eggs on Sunday!

The race starts 1200 on Saturday. The minimum age for riders in the 24 hour solo is 18 on 15 April 2006. The finishing rules are the same as for the Mont – riders must be on course when the 24 hours are up to get a valid finish.

The event offers Open, U23 (18 to 22), 40+, 50+, Open Single Speed ( If there are enough riders) and special U18 contest.

U18 riders must be aged either 16 or 17 on the 15th April 2006 to be considered in that competition. For riders aged 16 and 17, there will be a combined 12 hour (6+6) in which riders race 6 hours on the Saturday (starting at 1200 with the 24 hour field) and then stop after 1800 Saturday. These riders then start again after 0600 Sunday with a staggered start based on the time they finished after 1800 Saturday. In other words, each U18 rider has exactly 12 hours rest between the two 6 hour stages. These riders will then finish with the 24 hour rider field after 1200 Sunday. U18 riders must have signed permission from their parent/guardian to race and their parent/ guardian (or a delegated responsible adult authorised in writing by them) must be on site as a helper whenever their U18 rider is riding in the race.

Prizes will be similar to 2005 (ie heaps - cash, schwag, race goodies etc) but for 2006 they will also include paid entries to the 2006 24 Hours of Adrenalin World Solo champs (Conyers, GA, U.S.A.) for the overall male and female winner.

MTBA follows UCI with mandatory full-face helmet ruling

In line with a recent decision by the UCI on this subject MTBA recently mandated the use of full-face helmets in all DH events at all levels of activity in Australia.

Tony Scott, MTBA EO said, "This move has been contemplated for a few years now, but with the shift in UCI policy we now have a clear directive to protect our members by ensuring that riders in DH events are protected from head injury as much as possible. Full face helmet design has also advanced considerably in the last few years meaning that new lighter weight full face helmets are available and more fully compatible with DH MTB activity."

He added, "The use of full-face helmets will become mandatory as of July 1 2006, but I suspect that this decision will not adversely affect many of our members since, by and large, they pretty much use this type of helmet for DH events anyway. Members are reminded that all helmets used in MTBA sanctioned events must comply with the Australian standard or international equivalent and must have a compliance sticker to that effect. Helmets will be checked for a compliance sticker and will be rejected and entry to an event denied if a compliance sticker is not present."

IMBA and Fox to recognize outstanding advocates

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and corporate supporter Fox Racing Shox announced a new program this week. Called "Fox/IMBA Heroes," the award is intended to honour advocates that are making a significant difference in their local communities for mountain bike trail access.

IMBA and Fox will announce each of five honorees separately throughout the year - four to coincide with each of IMBA's newsletters, IMBA Trail News, and one to be announced at the IMBA Summit/World Mountain Bike Conference in Whistler, British Columbia in June. All Fox/IMBA Heroes will receive a new Fox Racing Shox fork of their choice and an assortment of schwag courtesy of Fox Racing Shox. Winners will be featured in IMBA's newsletter with a short story explaining their mountain bike advocacy achievements.

"Fox Racing Shox's support of the Fox/IMBA Heroes program will help us honour the hard work of five key advocates throughout the country this year," says IMBA's Executive Director Mike Van Abel. "By partnering with IMBA on this project, Fox is further demonstrating their commitment to the people that make a difference every day in their local mountain bike trail communities."

"Ensuring that everyone has great trails to ride is an essential part of our business," says Fox Racing Shox's Marketing Manager, Elayna Caldwell. "By honouring the hard work of key advocates coast-to-coast, we hope to inspire even more volunteerism and stewardship."

DH stars go underground in Red Bull Challenge

Have you ever imagined going down 120 meters - equivalent to a 30-story building – on a bicycle? What about doing that inside a goldmine? Well, then, prepare your emotions because that is going to happen at the Red Bull Challenge in the Goldmine (the “Mina da Passagem” (the Passage Mine) located in Mariana, State of Minas Gerais) March 24th and 26th.

Markolf Berchtold (Santa Catarina, Brazil - Brazil's best-ranked international downhiller), Nathan Rennie (Australia - Santa Cruz Syndicate/SRAM/RockShox), Gee Atherton (England) and Kyle Strait (USA) are scheduled to attend the competition which starts above the mine on a course littered with man-made obstacles. Once into the mine, riders race without sunlight for a 120-meter loss of elevation. “The entrance of the mine and the second curve that gives access to the galleries are the most difficult parts of the competition”, says Tadeu Monteiro, the competition’s technical director.

The circuit’s full length is 650 meters. On Thursday, March 23rd, athletes will map out the route on foot. On Friday there will be an open free practice. Qualifying rounds will be held on Saturday. The ten best mountain bikers will advance to the finals on Sunday to compete for the fastest time. Awards amount to $35 thousand reais (equivalent a U$15,000 dollars)

The Kona Demo Tour hits the road

If you've been drooling over the latest offerings in Kona's 2006 lineup and dreaming about hopping on a CoilAir, King Supreme or Dawg Primo, dust off your planner; the 2006 Kona Demo Tour is coming to a town near you.

More than 60 demos are planned at bike shops, trail heads, known riding areas and of course, Kona Groove Approved Bike parks world over, with more than 50 stops planned for Canada and US destinations.

Demos that take place at bigger events, such as the Sea Otter Classic and Crankworx and Monster Park freeride competitions, will feature Kona Les Gets Factory Team riders and/or Kona Clump riders competing and hanging out in the pits to sign autographs, give hi-fives and make-nice with bike enthusiasts like you.

So, check the list at www.konaworld.com to see when the 2006 Kona Demo tour is coming to your neck of the woods, grab your riding gear and helmet, favorite pedals, credit card and driver's license, and we'll see you there!

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