MTB news & racing round-up for December 7, 2007
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Edited by Sue George
Mountain biking's second coming
By Sue George
Gary Fisher on a ride
Photo ©: Sterling Lorence
Gary Fisher has seen a lot of change in mountain biking. During his time
in the industry, mountain bikers have graduated from rigid forks and frames
and pedals with toe clips and straps to lightweight, plush, full suspension
Like any sport, the popularity of mountain biking can be expected to
rise and fall, but Fisher, one of the pioneers of the sport in its early
days, thinks we may be onto another growth spurt of the relatively young
cycling discipline. "Overall sales of mountain bikes are up double
digits this year [as of the summer]. It's amazing. It could be we're seeing
a second coming of the sport."
Fisher said that in his home state of California, mountain biking is
on the rise. "Being a lycra-clad cross country geek was about the
uncoolest thing a teenager could do a few years ago. Sometimes something
has to hit dead bottom before it can be cool again, and I think we've
Even though retired Trek superstar Lance Armstrong spent very little
time on a mountain bike, he may still have helped the sport. "I think
Lance brought a lot of legitimacy to the entire sport. There's been no
time in last 80 years or 100 years that Americans respected a cyclist
like they do today," said Fisher despite the current doping scandals
raging at the pro level on the road side of the sport.
"I think mountain biking is starting to mature," said Fisher.
"The different sides of it are starting to be well-developed. It
sort of started as what I like to call a motor-based sport, with human
being as a motor, and it made a definite offshoot into skills-based which
is where the jump scene and the free ride scene come in. They both have
their absolute legitimacy, and we see that the racing scene is starting
to get sorted out - what's popular, what's fun, what people like to do."
More places to ride
Photo ©: Sterling Lorence
Fisher is encouraged by the rejuvenation of the younger side of the sport,
and his company is piling the resources behind it. "With kids getting
more involved and the proliferation of trailbuilders in the North America
and the world, the future is looking golden." In fact, Fisher points
to trailbuilding initiatives as the key to bringing the sport to locales
never previously associated with mountain biking.
He credits the increase in professional trailbuilders nation and worldwide
with the increase in the sport. There are more places for cyclists to
ride off-road. Fisher couldn't name one favourite place to ride, but pointed
instead to fun riding experiences he's had in Crested Butte, Moab, California,
the Dolomites and lesser known local spots in Houston, Texas, and Florida.
"The technology of trail building has paid off in spades. If you
have great trail, it doesn't matter what bike you have, it's so much fun
To read the complete feature, click
Sydor still going strong off-road
Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain Haywood)
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
41 year-old Alison Sydor is one elite cyclist who keeps going and going.
Formerly a respected road racer, the three-time world mountain bike champion
is also racing cyclo-cross and shows no signs of slowing down any time
Instead of following the World Cup mountain bike circuit this year, Sydor
raced a full schedule of stage races and marathons world-wide. She and
Rocky Mountain / Haywood team-mate Carsten Bresser won the mixed category
at the TransGermany and the TransAlp this summer. This fall, Sydor made
several trips to the cyclo-cross podium and finished second overall in
the USGP after last
weekend's final rounds in Portland, Oregon.
"It was a nice surprise," she said of her 'cross racing performance
to the Vancouver Sun. "I was just doing it for fun."
The 1996 Olympic silver medalist (in mountain biking), who lives in British
Columbia, attributed her enduring success across disciplines to "good
luck and good genetics". She's also finished in the top five at the
Olympics in Sydney and Athens. In 2008, Canada will send two female mountain
bikers to Beijing, but Sydor said she has not yet made a decision about
an attempt to qualify.
"I have to get a few things straightened out, sit down and see if
that's what I want to do. For sure, whether I'm looking at the Olympics
or not, I do want to do more stage racing. Everything is still possible,"
Sydor has been in the right time and place to experience the meteoric
rises in popularity of both mountain bike and cyclo-cross racing. "When
I came into mountain biking (from road cycling), there was a real excitement
being part of a young sport that was changing all the time. I've seen
significant changes over the years. It's not just same old, same old all
the time. It's a sport of revolution, not just evolution."
The British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame will induct Sydor as a member
in May 2008.
Australian cross country NMBS heads to Threadbo
Aiden Lefmann at round two
Photo ©: Evan Jeffery
Round three of the Australian National Mountain Bike cross country series
heads to Thredbo Village, NSW, during the weekend of December 8-9. Saturday's
racing will feature the Olympic-style cross country event and a short
track race is set for Sunday.
National marathon champion Rowena Fry will battle Zoe King for the lead
in the series. The two are currently tied although King won the most
recent event convincingly. They'll be chased by Queensland champion
Jodie Willet, who sits in third place in the series, National cross country
champion Tory Thomas, Dellys Star and Rosmary Barnes.
Series leader Aiden Lefmann should be on hand to defend his series lead
following his win at the last race on the Gold Coast. Sitting second overall
is Shaun Lewis and Australian world championship team member Dylan Cooper
is not far behind in third. Cal Britten is equal in points with Cooper,
but he's also leading the Under 23 division series. Dave Whitney will
be looking to better his performance after a crash in the last series
After this Threadbo event, the cross country series, which is being used
to select the one male and one female Australian Olympic team members,
will have just one more event remaining. It will return to the very same
course in Threadbo in March after the Oceania Championships.
Next weekend, Thredbo will also host round three of the downhill national
series and round four of the four cross national series. For more information,
BC Cycling awards MTB honors
BC Cycling awarded their male and female mountain bikers of the year
for 2007. Top honors went to Jeff Clarkson and Miranda Miller.
Clarkson is the 2007 Canadian Junior National mountain bike champion
and the British Columbia road and mountain bike champion and has been
the British Columbia Cup champion for three consecutive years (2005-2007).
This year, he represented Canada at the World Mountain Bike Championships.
Miller hails from Squamish. The 17 year-old downhiller also raced for
Canada at the World Championships and collected the BC junior champion's
"I am really pleased," Miller said to the Squamish Chief.
"It has been an exciting year of racing, but I was badly disappointed
at my two most important races when I flatted at the Nationals
and broke my collarbone at the Worlds. To be given this kind of recognition
is very encouraging. It is so good to know that the hard work and effort
riders put in for the whole season is appreciated too and people are looking
beyond just whether you podium or not."
Miller is on literally on the road to recovery; she's out of her sling
and back on a road bike. "I hope to get the go-ahead to get back
on a cross-country bike and to head to the velodrome in a few weeks. Meanwhile,
I'm supplementing with basketball and some swimming. My surgeon is strict,
but that's because she knows about athletes."
BC Cycling also awarded Steve Sleep as mountain bike volunteer of the
Felt signs Zink
American gravity rider, Cameron Zink, who is perhaps best known for his
slopestyle and freeriding ability, signed with the Felt team for 2008.
Zink has won a US National Championships, been a member of his national
team and finished first at the Crankworx Slopestyle event in British Columbia.
The 22 year-old from Reno, Nevada, is in the final stages of a knee
repair and is looking forward to the 2008 season which he will kick off
at the Sea Otter Classic in April. Zink will also race the five-event
Qashqai Urban Challenge Series throughout Europe, as well as the Adidas
Slopestyle in Austria, the Crankworx in Colorado, the TEVA Mountain Games
in the US and the Kokanee Crankwork and Bearclaw Invitational in Canada.
"I am super-excited to be heading to Felt," said Zink. "After
speaking with their design and engineering group, it is very clear to
me they really know what they are doing and are into continually developing
their bikes and ideas with direct rider input. Look at what they have
done in other areas of the sport. The whole thing is a bit of a dream
Zink also suffered a ruptured
spleen in August that brought a premature end to his season.
"Cam is an excellent fit for us and I am sure will be a tremendous
ambassador and source of ongoing feedback. He is young, talented and understands
what it takes to be a pro a winning recipe," said Felt USA
Marketing Director, Doug Martin.
La Ruta organizers to explore possible changes for 2008
Climbing at La Ruta
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Organizers of La Ruta de los Conquistadores have announced some route
changes for the 2008 event, set for November 12-15. Course Director and
Race Founder Román Urbina, together with Race Director Luis Víquez
and Marketing Director Luis Rueda, are exploring some options to modify
the first and final section of day two's route.
"We had some little problems while trying to get out of El Rodeo,
at the start of this
year's new stage. A bunch of vehicles [were] parked outside of the
race venue along the main road, which complicated the pass of the cyclists
at the very beginning of the stage."
"We will see if there is an alternative that allow us to avoid
the traffic and at the same time to eliminate the first climb to this
day's first check point, however this is not secured yet. First of all,
we have to see if it is doable, logistically speaking, and then if it
is acceptable in racing terms. We don't want to make this day even harder,"
As for the final muddy-climb section of the same second stage, the organizers
will look at an option that might turn the "Camachón"
cross into a trail through nearby coffee plantations.
"Most of the people told us about the beauty of the "Camachón
Hill" and that's very important for us, since our race is not only
about winning but knowing our country's most stunning places. Nevertheless,
we still have to see if this coffeetrail is a good-looking scenario as
well and an easier pass too," Rueda said.
The other three stages will likely remain the same. Day one will begin
at the Best Western hotel in Jacó Beach and will finish at El Rodeo.
Day three will start at the Terramall Shopping Center, and will end in
front of the Aquiares' Church in Turrialba. Day four will keep the changes
implemented for 2007, which turned part of the train tracks into a seven
kilometer fast, paved highway, between Matina and Estrada. It will also
take out the "Puente Negro" train-bridge, over the Matina River.
On the final day, there may also be a new segment from Siquirres to Indiana
Dos, going over the Pacuare river bridge, on the main highway to Limón
(National Route #32).
For more information, visit www.adventurerace.com.
Sea Otter to celebrate 18th year
Kiara Bisaro (Opus)
Photo ©: FJ Hughes
Sea Otter has been a fixture on the cycling calendar since 1991. It often
serves as a springboard from which companies launch innovative products
and athletes boost pro racing careers. Riders like Tom Boonen and Olympic
gold medalist Julien Absalon have attended in the past.
"The Sea Otter Classic is a big classic at the beginning of the
season, same as Roc d'Azur in France is a classic at the end of the season,"
said Absalon. "We don't have a lot of races in the US. Sea Otter
is the only international race of the season, so maybe it's the only chance
to race in the US for European riders."
In 2008, the event is scheduled for April 17-20 and will feature road
racing, recreational rides, a demo area (including a new pump track) and
various kids' events. Unfortunately the date clashes with the UCI World
Cup opening cross country round in Houffalize, Belgium. Sea Otter does
not conflict with a gravity World Cup, but some Olympic cross country
contenders, especially those still battling for a spot on their nation's
Olympic team, may opt for the World Cup as their top choice for that weekend.
"Because of the importance Sea Otter has as an event, it is often
more than just racing to the athletes," Wendy Booher, Media Coordinator,
said to Cyclingnews when asked about the scheduling conflict. "For
some, it is their only North American stop in a packed racing calendar
and, while it is an unfortunate coincidence that Sea Otter falls on the
same weekend as a World Cup cross-country race, the roster of events plus
the quantity of participants as well as its venue and location should
be attractive to racers both old and new."
Cyprus Sunshine Cup set for 2008
The five-race Sunshine Cup in Cyprus will happen between February 23
and March 16 and give the opportunity for some cross country pros and
motivated amateurs to tune up their fitness with some early season racing.
The five category one UCI events will offer racing opportunities for juniors
and award prizes of 5,635 Euros for the men and 1,580 Euros for the women.
First up, is a point to point race departing from the village of Tochni
and covering some hilly terrain. Rounds two (another point to point) and
three (an Olympic-style cross country) are also part of the Afxentia 08
stage race in the Macheras mountains in the heart of Cyprus.
Round four, a cross country, moves to Limassol-Yermasogia, with its small
hills and usually warm weather next to the sea.
The last event in the Sunshine Cup happens at Voroklini over a challenging
course for a final test prior to the World Cup season. This course is
reportedly fast with one long climb at the end and views of the sea.
"I think we are offering a attractive package in beautiful locations,
which for the pros also means an adequate module in their preparation
[going] into the Olympic season," said organizer Michalis Hadjouannou.
Sunshine Cup 2008 Schedule
February 23: Tochni Village (XCP)
February 29: Mantra-Kionia-Mantra (XCP)
March 2: Mantra tou kampiou (XCO)
March 9: Limassol-Yermasogia (XCO)
March 16: Voroklini (XCP)
Mike & Mary diary: Off road in Chile
Mike & Mary
Photo ©: Mike Broderick & Mary McConneloug
Getting stopped by the police in Chile is pretty common, though the style
of pullover here is different than in the [United] States. No cruisers
stashed behind the hedge waiting to chase you down hot pursuit style.
In Chile it is all about the random checkpoint. You see (a group of) police
standing on the sides of the road, slow down as you enter the gauntlet
and either drive right on through or they wave you in for a little chat.
It seems totally random whom they decide to pull over but one sure way
to increase your odds for selection is to drive fast and pass a city bus
on a single lane street while swerving drastically to avoid a cavernous
pothole and most importantly all within view of the checkpoint. In our
case all papers were in order and we were not doing anything terribly
wrong so the pullover was just a minor delay and we were off, still on
schedule to make it to our race on time.
We were excited when we finally found the race venue as this was our
first experience racing in Chile and we couldn't wait to check out the
scene. Just to the east of the city of Concepcion we came upon a city
park set on a hill so steep that it effectively stopped the urban sprawl.
It was actually big and steep enough to host a downhill race that same
weekend. We found ourselves surrounded by giant trees as we wound our
way our way up the steep cobble drive into the center of the park and
breathed a sigh of relief as we came upon the familiar scene of the bike
race. And a cool scene it was, Race Director Juan Pablo Santiagos (of
Santiagos Productions, www.santiagos.cl) and his slim crew of staff put
on a great event! Racers, family and fans were in good supply and the
media presence brought nothing less than four professional videographers
who documented the races. We were pleasantly shocked that these film crews
attend all the national level races and develop high quality presentations
that are featured on Chilean television.
Mike finishes up his last lap
Photo ©: Mike Broderick & Mary McConneloug
The day was blazing hot. Luckily the majority of the course was on tight
shaded singletrack and provided some shelter from the heat and feeling
of being right in the city . The majority of the track was quite fun with
challenging singletrack segments linked together by steep fireroad climbing
to give equal advantage to skill and fitness. One beef would have to be
that the juniors, masters, pro women and men all raced simultaneouslymaking
for some tricky and potentially dangerous passing situations, though repeating
phrases like "pista por favor" (track please) or "a tu
derecha" (on your right) was good for my Spanish practice.
I battled it out with two of the top Chilean riders for the majority
of the eight laps of the race. I momentarily regretted focusing the majority
of my recent riding on my base training for next year as the longer/ slower
hours have taken a bit away from my race day punch. Still I ended up second
and I was happy with my performance since these Chilean guys rode really
strong and it was a good tight race for the top three spots. I had the
opportunity to pass Mary during our coinciding races and it was fun to
watch her for a moment as she was on her way to decimating the slim pro
women's field and making lots of masters and juniors question their fitness
along the way. Unfortunately she didn't block for me like I was hoping
To read the complete diary entry, click
Nick Martin diary: Rhymes with "carriage"
Nick & Tracy
Photo ©: Kristian Olson
It is amazing how fast a season can fly by. It was already a year ago
that I announced my engagement to my now wife, Tracy. What was meant to
be an end of the season invitation to the Trek headquarters from the legendary
Zap Espinoza, turned out to be a life changing 72 hours.
For my team-mate and best man "Rad" Ross Schnell and I, the
weekend was going to be a celebration after a hard earned season and a
chance to get things lined up for the upcoming year. Our conversations
on the plane ride to Wisconsin centered around how good if felt to be
single and free. Nothing but our bikes and travels to occupy our time.
Life was simple, life was good.
Once arriving at Trek's homeland, we were greeted by Zap and his gracious
family, given the VIP tour of Trek's headquarters, and we socialized with
Trek dealers from all over the country. Free food, free housing, great
company... Life was good.
Bike racers are simple creatures, especially mountain bikers. In an effort
to prolong the real world for as long as possible, we will literally work
for next to nothing for the chance to wake up in the morning and simply
ride. If wealth was measured by the amount of free time one has, then
as a cyclist, I was one of the richest men alive.
To read the complete diary entry, click
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)