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MTB news & racing round-up for August 11, 2007

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking. Feel free to send feedback, news, & releases to mtb@cyclingnews.com and results, reports & photos to cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com.

Edited by Sue George

Behind the NMBS scenes

Jeff Frost
Photo ©: Sue George
(Click for larger image)
There are so many acronyms in mountain biking that even the pro racers can't keep them all straight; however, "NMBS" is worth remembering since it represents the highest profile national series of off-road races and the majority of the UCI points-awarding mountain bike events in the US. The series' races comprise the meat of most major domestic teams' programs and are also part of the USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Calendar.

Jeff Frost is main man behind Blue Wolf Events, the company that now owns and runs the NMBS. He's based in Salt Lake City, Utah, but his first taste of the national series came back East.

Frost started his racing career in the Maine mountain bike series. "I started as a sport and then won and upgraded to expert," said Frost. "I raced expert for four to five years in New England."

"My first national series experience was in the expert race at Mount Snow. I just loved it: the music, sounds, competition, and the caliber of the competition. It was great to race the guys from all over the nation. It sold me on the value of the national series as a racer."

"I was working in the ski business and riding in the summer. The ski business was figuring out how to keep people employed year-round. I ended up going into management with something I love. For me, it was mountain biking because I raced mountain bikes. The ski resorts embraced the sport, starting in 1989, at Sunday River Ski resort in Bethel, Maine. We began lift serviced mountain biking in the summer. I ran the New England Mountain Bike Series called Trail 66 for years."

"From my race experience, I learned what I liked about events and what I didn't. I started promoting very grass roots events and working my way up."

In a way, you could say Frost graduated to his current position as NMBS director. "I ran many world cups at Mount Snow. I started with the national series about eight years ago as a crew person - banners, signage, technical director stuff. I've grown with the series as it's grown to the point where I own the property."

When not running the NMBS, Frost spends time working for the Sea Otter Classic. "I've been director of athlete services. I run all the competitive events. It's one of my most satisfying experiences. That's my other hat that I wear."

"In this business, it's difficult to make a living off of one event. You try to put your skill set to use at a bunch of different events. I'm working with the Danskin women's triathlon series and am working to develop an event for the city of San Jose, California."

"I've had to learn the business side. It's been hard for me. I've had to learn that you don't always have the resources available to do all the things that the athletes want you to do."

To read the complete feature, including all about the NMBS, click here.

NMBS Finals head to Snowmass

Georgia Gould at the St. Felicien World Cup (Luna Womens MTB Team)
Photo ©: Frank Bodenmüller
(Click for larger image)

The National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) will wrap up with its seventh and final round on August 10-12 in Snowmass Village, Colorado.

Unlike the last round, held at Sugar Mountain, North Carolina, July 26-29, where wet course conditions helped shake up the overall standings in several disciplines, Snowmass is likely to provide a different kind of advantage to some competitors: high altitude (8,140 feet / 2,428 m) and dry conditions.

Cross Country

The one discipline whose overall podium looks set going into the finals is the cross country, which will see a 13 mile (20.9 km) loop with 3,500 feet (1,067 m) of climbing per lap. The pros will complete 1.5 laps of the demanding course, covering roughly 20 miles (32.1 km) and 7,000 feet (2134 m) of climbing.

At Sugar Mountain, Jeremiah Bishop (Trek/VW) showed great form to hold of the powerful Canadian champion, Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis) and win the race. Last weekend, Bishop showed his form extends to long distances, too, by winning the Wilderness 101. At Snowmass, regardless of his result, Kabush is likely to emerge as the series champion with a commanding 718 points from his four best results. The 2005 US national champion Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher) lies second in the series, with 681 points from his best four races, but that will not likely be enough to surpass Kabush. However, look for a strongly motivated Horgan Kobelski as he will be racing in his home state.

2006 women's national champion Georgia Gould (Luna) has reigned supreme in the 2007 National Mountain Bike Series, winning all five races she has entered so far. Gould's experienced team-mate, Shonny Van Landingham lies second in the series, while ex-pat Czech Katerina Nash, now living in California, completes a Luna Women's team domination of the top three spots. Expect to see VanLandingham and Nash, both with a history of strong high-altitude performances, make the most of the thin air of Snowmass.


Eric Carter
Photo ©: Rob O'Dea
(Click for larger image)

Downhillers will race a new course this year that features a mix of high-speed open sections and narrow, tree-lined singletrack. Australians Jared Rando (Giant/Michelin) and Amiel Cavalier (Giant), have dominated the downhill series, and in all likelihood it will come down to a two-man race. However, recently crowned US national champion, Cole Bangert (Morewood) took full points at Sugar Mountain and will be looking to rock and roll in his home state.

The consistent riding of Melissa Buhl (KHS) has left her with three wins and an almost unassailable position in the series lead. Second and third places are wide open. Lisa Myklak (Leelikesbikes.com) and last year's series champion, Joanna Petterson (Brodie) are separated by just 13 points separate these two entering the final round.

To read the complete preview, including all events, click here.

TransRockies heads in new direction

By Paul Done

Racers gather at the start
Photo ©: TransRockies
(Click for larger image)

In 2007, the TransRockies Challenge will reverse its traditional northerly direction, and will travel south for the first time. After starting on August 12 at Panorama Mountain Resort in the rugged Purcell Ranges of the Rockies, the 600 participants from 25 countries will face 600km of riding with 12,000 metres of climbing over the course of seven epic days before finishing in the historic downtown of Fernie on August 18. During the week on their bike, the nearly 300 teams of two riders will travel through the 3,000m peaks and steep valleys of the spectacular Kootenay Rockies.

"We're really excited to have the finish line in Fernie this year," said TransRockies Event Director Aaron McConnell. "They were one of the first, and have been one of the greatest, supporters of the race. As our start line for the first five years, they have seen the event quadruple in size as it has grown from an idea to become one of the monuments of mountain biking."

Four riders ride amongst a backdrop
Photo ©: TransRockies
(Click for larger image)

Unlike most other endurance events, the athletes of the TransRockies Challenge spend the full duration of the event together -- whether on their bikes, or eating, sleeping and recuperating in the moving rider village which is built and staffed by a dedicated crew of staff and volunteers. The entire infrastructure to support the 1,000 racers, crew members and friends is moved in, built and moved in an enormous feat of logistics. The crew work first thing in the morning and deep into the night, preparing meals, fixing bikes, marking the course, setting up and tearing down tents, and doing the hundred other things necessary for the smooth operation of the event.

To read the complete preview, click here.

Brentjens uncertain for marathon worlds following crash

Bart Brentjens' participation at the UCI's Marathon World Championships this weekend is in question. The Dutch rider broke the head of a metacarpal bone in his right hand after crashing while training in the Belgian Ardennes. The Team Dolphin rider crashed on a descent when his front wheel suddenly slipped away.

Brentjens received treatment and a brace at the Geldrop hospital in The Netherlands, and his bike is being repaired. "But only he can decide whether or not he's able to ride on Sunday." said team manager Ralf van Heugten.

Hoping fill in a gap in his impressive collection of titles, Brentjens had hoped to contest for a win in Verviers. He's previously finished second and third at the marathon worlds.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for complete coverage of the UCI Marathon World Championships this weekend.

Barrel's injury makes worlds downhill questionable

Fabien Barrel (Kona) crashed and injured himself just a few weeks before the world championships in Fort William, Scotland. His participation and level of performance at Worlds depend on a speedy recovery and are in doubt.

"After the race in Crankworx, I stayed an extra two days to ride and enjoy the tracks at Whistler," said Barrel. "But on the last day, two hours before leaving, I came around a corner and two riders were stopped in the middle of the track. I went off the track to avoid hitting them, and when I tried to get back, a rock on the path made me fly out to the other side and onto a bank.

"My right foot hit hard and I broke three of the metatarsal bones. This week can take up to eight weeks to recover, but Worlds are in five."

"The doctors and I agreed to try a three week cast with one week for therapy to get back on the bike for Worlds. The odds are tough, but I am 100% committed to do everything reasonable to make this happen. Adapting to these situations and coming out strong is part of the job."

IMBA warns of possible Continental Divide Trail bike ban

The Forest Service is advocating a new directive that would limit or even prohibit bike access on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), which runs the length of the US, from Montana to New Mexico. Some anti-bike groups have embraced the move.

A statement from IMBA explains the Forest Service's actions, "The CDT is currently managed under guidelines from an outdated 1985 Comprehensive Plan and the agency believes it's time to update that document by clearing up any ambiguity regarding the purpose of the trail and its allowed uses. As part of this effort, the Forest Service is focusing on a hiking and horse-centric vision."

The CDT includes the famous Monarch Crest, many sections of the Colorado Trail, well-known Steamboat Springs singletrack, trails around Butte and Helena and much more.

It is a 3,100-mile shared-use route from Canada to Mexico, traversing scenic high-elevation terrain. Unlike other long distance trails such as the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail, mountain biking is currently permitted on the CDT in most non-Wilderness areas and has occurred on some sections for 25 years. About 70% of the route is completed.

IMBA has called concerned mountain bikers to action by filing comments with the Forest Service, spreading the word, and encouraging riders local to the trail to become involved in caring for it. For more information, visit www.imba.com.

Unhinged movie set for release

Unhinged, the latest addition to the Anti Gravity series, will be released on August 20. The film captures top mountain bikers in action all over the globe.

Unhinged isn't a film about freeride or downhill, it's a film about mountain bikers and flat out riding. It features some of the biggest names in the sport such as Greg Minnaar, Steve Peat, Fabien Barel, Mickael Pascal, Damien Spagnolo, and Matti Lehikoinen. Other riders making appearances include Andrew Neethling, Jonty Neethling, Ben Reid, Oscar Saiz, David Vazquez Lopez, Marc Beaumont, Neil Donoghue, Thomas Braithwaite, Bob Jones, Ralph Jones, Grant Fielder, Lance McDermott, Chris Smith, Jim Davage and Scott Beaumont.

The film was shot in South Africa, France, Italy, Spain, Andorra, Austria, and all over Great Britain. It will be distributed worldwide by Xtreme video and Video Action Sports and will be available at bike shops. For more info, visit www.unhingedthemovie.com.

Gran Canaria cleans up trails after fire

Organizers of the marathon and world cup on Gran Canaria Island report that several forest fires have been overcome. Team Canary-Bike.com and other locals are working to clean up the damage.

"First of all, we will form a group of volunteers that works in close collaboration with the forest and environmental authorities to clean up our forests," explained marathon organiser Petra Wonisch. The "Ciclistas Solidarias" group consists mainly of friends and participants of the Open Gran Canaria mountain bike marathon. "Of course, anyone who wants to help is welcome. Our activity will start in September when all necessary actions have been thoroughly coordinated."

In the fall, organizers will announce whether and how the marathon route has to be adjusted. "We want to work closely with our forest and environmental authorities to determine the perfect route," said Wonisch.

Gunn-Rita diary: back on my bike

Northern Italy and southern Tyrol are fantastic areas for those with a penchant for beautiful nature, mountaineering, wine, cycling, good food and lots of sun. It's paradise for me as I now am back in training and cycling a bit again.

We've already been down here for a week and I'm feeling better every day. We've had one overcast afternoon and a couple of rain showers, but apart from that the sky has been blue with temperatures approaching 30 (degrees Celsius). We're living in the outskirts of Bolzano and we're really enjoying ourselves.

This last week I've been able to exercise for 10-12 hours and at present that's more than enough for me. After two months with almost no exercise, I'm in very poor shape. Even though my latest tests have shown normal levels again, it doesn't mean that I can just start up training as usual. This break has been very long and my body isn't ready for normal doses of exercise quite yet.

The good thing is that I feel great and have made a start on the exercise again. It's difficult to tell whether I'll be able to take part in any races before this season is over. The biggest mistake we can make is for me to start up too hard and get sick again. We're hurrying slowly. If we fall for the temptation of starting too hard, we run the risk of not being able to get going on our winter training programme, which will in turn have grave consequences for the Olympic season.

Even if the result is no more races this season, both of us have at least learned a lot from this experience. When, at the end of May, we decided to suspend the season for a while in order to go home and run some tests to find what was wrong, we imagined it would take a maximum of two to three weeks to get me back on my feet again.

To read the complete diary entry, click here.

Contessa Girls celebrate July podiums

Podium: Women's Duo Team
Photo ©: Mark Moore
(Click for larger image)

The Scott Contessa-sponsored Tough Girl Cycling team spent July racking up their share of podium real estate while making themselves known in Wisconsin, Colorado, and North Carolina.

They started off with two teams at the Wausau, Wisconsin at the 24 hours of 9 Mile for the USA Cycling 24 Hour Mountain Bike National Championships. Janis Sandlin and Amy Robillard completed eight laps each to win the duo women's category and claim the national title. Defending champions in the in the four person team category Lisa Matlock, Jane Rynbrandt, Holly Harveno, and Lynn Bush fought a fierce battle, but came in just short to finish "a respectable second place" according to Tough Girl Team Manager Lynn Bush.

Meanwhile, Sonya Looney finished fourth in the women's pro cross country and third in the hill climb at the Mountain States Cup #5 in Telluride, Colorado. She finished the cross country covered head to toe in mud.

Gravity rider Cathy Cantway logged a third place at the women's dual slalom at the National Mountain Bike Series #6 in Sugar Mountain, despite racing with an injured hand.

Czech 4X cup crosses borders

On August 11-12, the Czech 4X Cup will cross the borders of the Czech Republic, and for the first time, round three will be held on the well-known course in Szczawno Zdrój, Poland.

Three years after his victory at European 4X Championships, Michal Prokop will return to Szczawno Zdrój to challenge current series leader Tomas Slavik of GT Czech, Kamil Tatarkovic of Kona Les Gets and Prokop's team-mate Lukas Tamme to fight for leader's jersey that Slavik captured while Prokop was away battling for another Jeep King of the Mountain victory.

One more spot remains on the Czech 4X team for Worlds - it will be awarded based on performances at Szczawno Zdrój.

The next round is scheduled back in the Czech Republic for August 25-26 as the Prague Polis XIII. For more information, visit www.4x.cz.

King of the Hill brings 4X and slopestyle to the Netherlands

Bikepark Groningen will host the King of the Hill competition on Sunday, August 26. The race will serve as Dutch 4X national championship and Dutch 4X series finale and also include a slopestyle competition. The two 4X races will be run simultaneously, but a new slopestyle course is being built just outside the 4X track. Riders of the King of Slopestyle will be judged on altitude, style, tricks and flow throughout the whole course. The rider that collects the most points will be crowned with the title: King of Slopestyle the First!

For more information please check www.bikeparkgroningen.nl.

Hinze Dam race

Gold Coast Mountain Bike Club will host the Hinze Dam cross country race this Sunday, August 12 in Illinbah. Racers will tackle a new track developed for the Australian nationals round in November. The race will not be run if the track is wet. For more information, visit www.gcmtb.org.

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