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MTB news & racing round-up for May 19, 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

Craig & Decker singlespeed to victory ahead of local Cascade challengers

Adam Craig
Photo ©: FJ Hughes
(Click for larger image)

If you're a pro racer with a weekend off from national-level competition, what do you do? Racers like Adam Craig and Carl Decker don't just sit around waiting for the next NMBS event or World Cup.

In the name of good fun and training, Team Giant's Craig and Decker tackled the 10th Annual Cascade Chainbreaker mountain bike race near their hometown of Bend, Oregon last weekend. As if the race itself would not have been hard enough, the duo elected to race their singlespeeds for a little extra challenge.

"It's good for your legs," Decker told The Bulletin. "It's a better workout.

"I was pedaling at a million rpm's," Craig said. "That was a lot of work. I haven't done an effort like that in awhile. That was some getting in shape - just waiting for the last 20 minutes and going really hard."

The singlespeeds didn't slow either racer down too much. Craig took first place ahead of Decker. The two stayed together for awhile, then Craig stopped for a nature break, he caught back up. With a few miles to go, Craig pulled away for a victory in 2:27:38. Decker followed 44 seconds back. In his trademark fun-loving approach to racing, Craig crossed the line while doing a wheelie.

Ross Schnell (Trek / VW) and local Brig Brandt, last year's winner, were the only two to challenge the Giant riders. They often caught the lead duo on the descents because they lacked the large gears, but they would fall behind on the climbs.

"That was a bit demeaning," joked Schnell to The Bulletin. Schnell is staying with Craig during his visit to Bend.

Simmons visits Nepal

Rocky Mountain Freeride Pro Wade Simmons spent two weeks on a photo and video adventure trip in Nepal. Fresh off 16 days of riding in Costa Rica, Simmons was joined by two mountain bike legends, Hans Rey and long time friend and former teammate Richie Schley, photographer Blake Jorgenson and a UK film crew consisting of Seb Rogers and Rob Summers.

Late winter weather thwarted some of the group's plans to tackle one of highest passes in the world, Throng la, in the Annapurna region. Instead they started on the west side of the pass and landed in a town called Jomosom. From there, it was 1000m up to Muktinath, at 3768 meters, toward the pass. The group executed a plan to head up over a southern ridge topping out at 4100m before dropping into a parallel valley back to Jomosom.

Simmons said, "This route, according to our guides, had never seen bikes and they were a little wary because none had been this way, but the map never lies right? And the route was chosen. The trail ended up being the best of the trip: tight foot-wide single track contouring the slopes and an exciting visit to Lupra, a rarely visited medieval hamlet."

Another day, the group passed through the Valley of Marpha, a place you don't want to be during monsoon season. The Annapurna range was on one side, with Annapurna 1 at 8091m, and the Dhaulagiri range was on the other at 8197m.

Simmons said he rode the biggest bike of the group, but he was glad to have erred on the conservative side. At one point, "The trail consisted of 500m of the sweetest trail anywhere, followed by 300m vertical descending stairs that caused even trials guru Hans Rey to walk. Just to be followed with 200m vertical ascending stairs with again the sweetest single track peppered in between."

The Annapurna leg finished at the town of Beni. The group also visited the Langtang region, a lesser known trekking area than the Annapurna or Everest but equally spectacular. There they charted a helicopter and did a run off Kyanjin Gompa, which measures in at 3730m.

While on the trip, Hans Rey and the group gave away 30 bikes from Rey's Wheels 4 Life charity.

Route set for inaugural Trans Germany

Racers enjoy the scenery at events like the TransRockies
Photo ©: Dan Hudson
(Click for larger image)

One month before the start of the new Trans Germany event, promoters have announced the route. The first-ever German mountain bike stage race will take participants from west to east in eight stages spanning 800km and 18,000m of climbing.

Race director Uli Stanciu said of the course, "It demands not only muscular strength in the legs but also brain." Every stage is different, ranging from flat passages, which will encourage drafting, to lonely singletrack, gravel roads, and even some pavement.

One highlight of the race is the "Eselsweg," an old road was used for transports that won't pass a single village for more than 40 kilometres. Others include the "Rennsteig," an old carrier route, and the "Fichtelberg" mountain, at 1214 meters above sea level. The race finishes in Oberwiesenthal.

It took Stanciu twelve months to set the course, verify infrastructure, and get towns to buy in. With many details to be sorted out, the route actually grew longer with time. "Every detour has enlarged the original planned stage courses. We started the route setting with an average of 80 kilometres for each leg and ended with an average of 100 kilometres," said Stanciu.

Registration for the event is still open. Visit www.bike-transgermany.de for more info.

British National 4X series round postponed

British National 4X series organizer Chris Roberts has postponed the round three event at Bridgnorth due to recent bad weather. The event was originally scheduled for May 20.

"The track is very wet and muddy and rather then risk running event on what would be a very wet weekend we have taken the decision to postpone until June 2-3. We want everyone to enjoy themselves at our events and feel that spending the weekend in a very wet muddy field is not going to be fun for anyone, least of all the all spectators and riders," said Roberts.

"I know some would of you would love the race in the rain, but with this being a new track, we really want to save it and for it to be an amazing weekend on racing on a really dry and sunny June 3rd! We are sorry for any inconvenience caused and will transfer or refund any entries already received."

New York City gets more trails

New York City and mountain biking are two words not often occurring in the same sentence, but New Yorkers will soon have a new place to practice dirt jumping at Inwood on Manhattan, a new three-mile trail system.

"On the face of it, it sounds preposterous," admitted city Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe to the New York Daily News. "But we really do have it, and it takes advantage of the terrain that was always there. It's probably the only mountain-bike course in the country you can get to by subway."

The trails are result of 18 months of work and a US$100,000 state grant. They are aimed at BMX jumpers, casual riders, and hard-core experts. The Parks Department was looking for an area appropriate for cyclists.

"It's pretty impressive for mountain biking in the middle of New York City," said Jamie Bogner of the New York City Mountain Bike Association to the New York Daily News. The club helped plan and build the paths and will host a cross-country race Sunday after the trails open Saturday. "We look for the longest way from point A to point B, with every technical obstacle we can find."

The Fort George Hill Trails twist and turn through a section of Highbridge Park once considered unsafe by park goers and littered with stolen cars.

New York City Parks Department officials are also looking at trail opportunities at Cunningham Park in Queens and at capped landfills in the Bronx's Pelham Bay and Staten Island's Fresh Kills.

NMBS Round #4 to head to Angel Fire Resort

A hot and dusty start in Angel Fire World Cup 2005
Photo ©: Marek Lazarski
Click for larger image

Next weekend, May 23-28, the National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) makes its fourth stop of the 2007 calendar at the Angel Fire Resort in New Mexico.

The event is the 19th annual Chile Challenge, although it's the first year the event is included in the NMBS. The Chile Challenge is one of two new events brought into the series for 2007; the other was the Firestone Classic (NMBS #2) in Santa Barbara, California. The two events split the NMBS points across the disciplines after the Sonoma NMBS was cancelled. The Chile Challenge awards NMBS points to the gravity events (mountain cross and downhill) while the Firestone Classic awarded NMBS points only for the endurance disciplines.

In addition the NMBS-sanctioned gravity events, the Chile Challenge will offer a full suite of endurance events, including a cross country, a short track, and a super D. The race doubles as the second stop on the Mountain States Cup Series.

At 11,000 feet elevation, Angel Fire previously hosted the World Cup in July of 2005. While many top gravity racers are expected to attend the late May event, most endurance pros will be in Offenburg, Germany contesting the World Cup.

After Angel Fire, Deer Valley, Utah will host round #5 of the NMBS, a joint gravity and endurance disciplined event.

Nick Martin diary: 30 square miles surrounded by reality

Testing the prototype
Photo ©: Nick Martin
(Click for larger image)

The more I travel, the closer I hold true the timeless saying, "There is no place like home." If only these carbon soled Nikes could harness Dorothy's magic powers. Somewhere in between my road trip to NORBA's opener (Note: The series is now called the National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) - ed.) in Arizona and my 40 hour round trip trek to the infamous Sea Otter Classic, I lost my travel legs (despite the efforts of our new Volkswagen Touareg?).

Maybe I am getting soft and old at the ripe age of 28, but after only a month of racing I have opted to abort my original plan to drive to most of the NORBA's and take the path of least resistance, United flight 1161.

Home for the past three years has been one of America's cycling paradises, Boulder, Colorado. From the parking lots littered with roof racks to the hundreds of miles of bike paths that are plowed before the city streets, cycling is in this city's blood. So much so that it is the only place I have ever been where it is border line acceptable to sport the casual chamois in the grocery store (For the record, I don't condone such behavior).

To read the complete diary, click here.

Barb Howe diary: NMBS #3 - Out of the frying pan into the fire

Finding the candy
Photo ©: Barbara Howe
(Click for larger image)

The second NMBS race had been rescheduled from Sonoma to just north of Santa Barbara or in terms of temperatures out of the frying pan and into the fire. Nationals in Sonoma last year were toasty and so was this race.

I enjoyed a leisurely drive down to Santa Ynez with Rachel Lloyd (winner of the pro Super D) of the Proman team. This was the second time I've used my newly installed Craig's List special roof racks. If at all possible I put my bikes inside my little Honda so as not to ruin the gas mileage, also I prefer not to use the A/C but sometimes it's inevitable.

We made it to the venue on one tank of gas and the very first thought upon stepping out of the car was that it's a bit warmer here than at home. The bowl shaped valley reflected the heat from the hills into the exhibition area.

After picking up our numbers Rachel and I went to check out the course. I had raced here a few years ago, it was my last race as an expert and the course has changed a bit. The start was in a new area and there's much more single track than before. About fifteen minutes into our ride we hit the first little hill; it was steep with a few switch backs. It was at this time that I noticed a ringing in my ears and a rather uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. Not good signs; my legs didn't want to work either.

To read the complete diary, click here.

Marathon Challenge visits Offenburg

Anna Enocsson of Team Ghost International
Photo ©: Team Ghost
(Click for larger image)

One week before the World Cup comes to Offenburg, Germany, more than 2,000 pros and amateurs will get to race the Worldclass Marathon Challenge May 19-20. The marathon covers 110km with 3,300m of climbing, and will be documented by film-makers.

Anna Enocsson (GHOST International) and Sansdra Hober are among the favorites for the women while Swiss riders Peter Roman, Sandro Späth, Thomas Zahnd, Lukas Kubis are among top picks for the men along with Lukas Kubis.

Winning times are expected to be about four hours for the men and under five hours for women, but all participants will win free entry into next weekend's UCI World Cup.

Lisboa Downtown goes urban

Marcio Ferreria
Photo ©: Lisbon Downtown 2007
(Click for larger image)

The neighborhood of Alfama welcomes the Lisboa Downtown, an urban downhill race, on May 19

Steve Peat, five-time Lisboa downtown champion, #1 ranked Sam Hill, and Cedric Gracia are some of the sixty racer expected to contest the Portuguese race. They will be joined by Cláudio Loureiro, the best Portuguese rider in the world ranking and compatriots Márcio Ferreira, Emanuel Pombo, and Paulo Domingues.

On the women's side, last year's second place Fionn Griffith will match up against Sabrina Jonnier, ranked #2 in the world and the winner in 2002 and two-time winner Marielle Saner. Portuguese rider Margarida Algarve will get lots of support from her home crowd.

23 teams head to NorCal High School Mountain Bike State Championships

Oakland, California's cowbells will be rung loudly by parents, coaches, and cycling fans alike Sunday, May 20 to cheer on the high school teams that compete at the NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing League's State Championship and Series Final. Starting in early March, this six-race series began in Monterey and has seen tremendous growth of new teams and tight competition across eight boys' and girls' categories.

Sarah Ely
Photo ©: John Mallory
(Click for larger image)

Each race this season, at locations including Grants Ranch and Folsom Lake, has been a unique test of skill and endurance. While some riders preferred flat and fast, other prevailed on the courses with major hill climbing, and still others found their glory in the slick mud at Angels Camp. Both the team and individual competition will come to a head on the longest and most rugged course of the season at Boggs Mountain Demonstration Forest north of Calistoga.

Division I has been dominated by the Miners (Nevada City) led by the stellar performances of Sarah Ely who's been undefeated this season and also Nate Byrom, the League's first sophomore to compete at the varsity level.

Miners Coach, Jason Moeschler said, "The final race is the most suitable course to our kids' riding styles, and they all know that. The kids are amped to make an attempt at winning finals. Harbor High School (Santa Cruz), has been at their heals all season long, but a start line mishap shuffled the results at the last race giving reigning State Champs Drake High School a renewed taste for victory."

Jesse Nickell, coach of the nascent Division I Harbor High team commented "We have had an awesome season so far and I could not have asked for more from our small power house team. Everyone has been riding at their best and I am proud of them all. Both Berkeley High and Los Gatos High have also been coming into great form and should be watched closely."

In Division II, the Calvary Chapel Warriors have gone undefeated all season long as Nick Kintz made an incredible come back after breaking his collarbone on a December training ride. Coach Mark Kintz said the Boggs course "has heaps of variety and a whole chorus of strategic risks and opportunities" and will have to watch out for Sierra Foothill Composite (Colfax) and Tamalpais High (Mill Valley) who have also been on the podium all season long and hoping for a State Championship title.

Escape from Granogue

The Mid-Atlantic Super Series heads to a hilltop estate north of Wilmington, Delaware, for the Escape from Granogue race. New this year is a four-hour enduro to compliment the Olympic-style cross country races for pro and amateur categories. Races will be held rain or shine.

The event is held to honor and celebrate the life of Delaware resident, racer, and bike mechanic Andrew Mein, who perished in a hit-and-run accident while cycling home from work in nearby Newark in 1998. Though he characterized himself as grumpy, his friends remember him as someone who very funny, yet with a serious side that always encouraged other riders to be ambassadors of the sport. According to the event's promoter, Marc Vettori, "Andrew was warm and caring; a budding trials rider who won his intermediate class in mountain bike trials (earlier) that spring."

A portion of every entry fee will go toward the HERA Women's Cancer Foundation.

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