MTB news & racing round-up for June 6, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
Emmett hits her stride
By Dave McElwaine
Kelli Emmett wins her first NMBS
Kelli Emmett (Giant MTB Team) is enjoying one of her best years ever as a professional
mountain bike racer. Now in her second season with Giant, the team is a
good fit for her. A few weeks ago, she notched her first-ever National Mountain
Bike Series (NMBS) cross country victory at the Santa
Ynez Valley National, and took second in the short track event. She
started off her season with an impressive solo cross country win at the
Sea Otter Classic, and followed
that up with a super D victory at the NMBS
race in Fontana, California.
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
For years, American Kelli Emmett has been known as a serious threat in any
super D race, but this season she's shown proof that she has matured into
an all-around racer who can win domestically at any distance and on any
terrain. While forgoing many of the World Cup events this year, the 31 year-old
Emmett is concentrating on races in North America.
Not part of the chase for a spot on the US Olympic team, she currently
is preparing for the gruelling seven-day BC Bike Race in early July in
British Columbia, Canada, which will take her and team-mate Sara Bresnkick-Zocci
from Victoria to Whistler Mountain.
Cyclingnews: You appear to be having more fun this year than ever
before. Is there less pressure on you, or is winning just more fun?
Kelli Emmett: Of course, winning is more fun. But, I have been
mixing things up this year. I did more snowboarding this winter and have
been riding motorcycles a lot this spring. I just got a new KTM and it
is so much fun to ride. I was hoping to race some enduros this summer
but since the season is going so well, I will wait 'til this fall when
I am done with the mountain bike racing. In years past, I was so strict
with training and racing that I didn't do much else but ride my bike.
I think I was consistently over-trained and mentally burned out.
CN: What were your goals at the beginning of this season?
KE: The biggest goal for me this year was to have fun. The past
two years have been really tough for me, and I felt like I wasn't able
to race at my full potential. I had a couple of injuries and my father
passed away in March of last year. So, at the beginning of this year,
I was really questioning my desire to even race. I just decided to not
put any pressure on myself for results and create a schedule that allowed
for a little more time at home. Winning a NMBS has always been a dream.
CN: During the past year you have won at super D, cross country,
singlespeed, and came very close to winning a short track race. Which
event do you enjoy the most, and why?
Kelli Emmett leads a long train
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
KE: That is a tough question... I enjoy them all. But, I would
have to say cross country is what I enjoy the most. I like longer events.
They suit my riding style better. I usually will say to people that I
have a diesel engine. I need to ride for a while before I can get my speed
up. Doing well at shorter events has not come easy for me. I have struggled
with short track for years. This year I decided to spend less time riding
and more time focusing on shorter interval training to help improve my
power for short track. It also seems to help out my super D racing as
well. Singlespeed racing is just plain fun. Not serious racing but just
CN: Do you intend to defend your Single Speed World Championship
(SSWC)? If you win, will you add another tattoo?
KE: Good question! No, I don't think I will do the SSWC this year.
I still have nightmares from getting the tattoo last year. Man that hurt!
I really had a great time in Scotland last year but unfortunately it will
not fit in the schedule for me this year.
CN: When did you discover that you like to go down hills fast?
KE: I think my first year riding I realized I liked going down
hills. I didn't fear crashing all that much and was completely focused
on keeping up with my brother. He has great technical skills and still,
to this day, he can drop me on a downhill.
Read the complete
Olympic course gets more technical
When it comes to the Olympic mountain bike course, everyone's been talking
about pollution as a potential major influencing factor - especially after
last fall's test event
saw many racers drop out. But in the meantime, the UCI has been working
to make the course more technical.
Two of the governing body's experts, Mountain Bike Sports Coordinator
Peter Van den Abeele and 4X Designer Phil Saxena, visited Beijing from
May 8 to 15 to finalize details of the course for the Olympic Games in
August. Van den Abeele said racers would encounter a more technical and
more physical course than the one they rode at the test event in September.
Dutch racer Bart Brentjens previously described the 4.3 km with circuit
with 250m of climbing per lap. "The course has small steep climbs and
not too technical descents...a good course for 'power' riders like me."
Since then, five new sections have been added and five others have been
made more technical. Cameras have also been installed along the course
so that Beijing Olympic Broadcasting will be able to capture all the action.
Juarez to tackle his first Big Bear
Photo ©: Dirt Sweat & Gears
The third round of the Suzuki 24 Hour National Points Series of endurance
mountain bike racing heads home to West Virginia at Big Bear Lake Camplands,
near Hazelton on June 7-8. In effect, the NPS's roots began seventeen
years ago as the 24 Hours of Canaan, the brainchild of Davis' own Laird
Knight and his event company Granny Gear Productions.
Round three is drawing long-time endurance pro Tinker Juarez for his
West Virginia NPS racing debut. "I'd always wanted to do the 24 Hours
of Canaan or Snowshoe, but never had the chance during my pro career.
I'm excited about coming to Big Bear, and I've heard it's a fun, great
course," said Juarez.
The Southern California native feels more at home in the arid conditions
of California courses than the sometimes-wet, wooded and technical east
coast courses exemplified by Big Bear Lake, but he'll be fairly freshly
practiced in East Coast riding after a recent appearance at the Dirt Sweat
& Gears. "It's true that I've held back coming in the past because
the conditions often don't suit me, but at the same time I'm looking forward
to the challenge. Toward the end of the 24 hours, those technical sections
could get really interesting and be a real challenge."
Racers will tackle oa 12.2 mile course with gradual climbs, abundant
singletrack, large embedded rocks, tight slaloms and challenging rock
gardens. "It's rolling - without any huge, steep climbs - and almost
all singletrack," said Granny Gear's Knight. "With the shade
from the beautiful rhododendrons lining the course and the altitude, it
remains cool in the heat of summer." A heat wave is expected to settle
in over the East Coast this weekend, with high temperatures and humidity.
NPS Director to speak at IMBA World Summit
The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) is celebrating
its 20th anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion, US National
Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar will give a keynote address at the
organization's 2008 World Summit. Bomar is one of the most senior officials
charged with managing federal lands.
IMBA and the National Park Service are in the fourth year of a formal
partnership to consider new opportunities for mountain bicycling on NPS-managed
lands. As leader of the National Park Service (NPS), Bomar is responsible
for 391 sites and a team of 20,000 employees.
The 2008 IMBA World Summit will be held in Park City, Utah, June 18-21.
Held biannually for more than a decade, IMBA Summits bring mountain biking
advocates, land managers, ski resort professionals, trailbuilders, park
and urban planners, tourism officials and the bike industry together for
collaboration, planning, and celebration.
IMBA has been working in support of the NPS Centennial Initiative, a
campaign to boost funding for the agency's 100th anniversary in 2016.
Over the next decade, the project would dedicate an additional US$100
million a year for park operations, and $100 million annually to match
donations to the National Park Service for centennial projects and programs.
The Centennial Challenge matching fund legislation must be approved by
Congress, and IMBA has mobilized mountain bicyclists to support the campaign.
This spring, more than 500 cyclists took this message in person to Capitol
Other IMBA summit speakers include Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Trek President
John Burke, Australian trailbuilder Glen Jacobs and senior recreation
officials from the National Park Service, US Forest Service, US Bureau
of Land Management, and Parks Canada.
Partners join forces to support historic Eastern trail system
The 2008 Fool's Gold Mountain Bike Races & Festival has teamed up
with the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA) to create a one-of-a-kind
festival in the southeastern US. The two partners, along with two bike
industry companies, are working together to support improvements in the
existing trail system in the Bull Mountain area of Dahlonega, Georgia,
as well as to support development of new trail to an already epic area
of the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Fool's Gold promoters, 55nine Performance, will make a cash donation
to IMBA-SORBA's Land Access Fund to support the Bull & Jake Mountain
trails, the site of IMBA's first Epic ride. In addition, Ergon will give
out a limited number of grips to riders who sign up as IMBA/SORBA members
at the Fool's Gold, where a Vassago Optimus Titanium 29er frame will be
raffled off in support of the local trails.
"The Fool's Gold MTB Races and Festival rides travel this historic
trail system and showcase some of Georgia's most epic riding. 55nine Performance,
along with the USFS and IMBA-SORBA, recognizes the opportunity for improvements
to the current trails and the need for opening additional trails in this
area. We are creating an event that brings together a national caliber
race, recreational riding and trail advocacy in a way that will generate
revenue to build and maintain trails. It's a perfect circle." said
Race Director Eddie O'Dea. The Fool's Gold, the sixth stop on the National
Ultra Endurance (NUE) series, is part of a festival the weekend of August
Commenting on the joint efforts of an event promoter, industry and advocacy
organizations, Tom Sauret, SORBA Executive Director said, "These
partnerships bring together the bicycle industry, event directors and
advocacy organizations are at the core of the bike culture movement. Working
together in this manner will grow our sport and increase mountain biking
opportunities in the Southeast."
NorCal racer earns trip to worlds
The NorCal High School Mountain Bike League represents a fun way for
many students to mountain bike for their schools, and it's also a place
to look for future mountain bike champions.
The League's 2008 Varsity Champion John Bennett, from El Cerrito High
School, qualified for a spot on the US National Team headed to Val di
Sol, Italy for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships on June 16-22.
Bennetts victory at the Santa Ynez NMBS on May 17, secured him his place.
His berth on the team is a first in League history.
"I decided that I wanted to take a chance at qualifying for worlds
about a week before the Santa Ynez race. [My coach] Dario [Fredrick] changed
my training a little for the race which included some brutal intervals,"
said Bennett who also credited his parents and high school coaches for
At the start line of the qualifying race he said he had been particularly
nervous when faced with top competitors from all over the US who were
also going for the worlds team. "When the race started I was in the
back of the pack."
Things started looking up before long. "After the first set of climbs
I had made my way to the front and most of them had fallen behind. I was
left with two other riders, Nate Byrom and Robby Squire. At the start
of the second lap we had left everyone far behind. We all stayed together
until about three miles from the finish," said Bennett. "On
one of the climbs after the feed zone I attacked."
O'Dea diary: Home field advantage
Eddie O'Dea rides the granite
Photo ©: Carl Mesta
We didn't have to travel far to join the second race of the Granny Gear
24 hour National Points Series with the race at the Olympic Mountain Bike
course in Conyers, Georgia. This is known to be one of the most demanding
and brutal courses for a 24 hour solo race, according to the pros and
the weekend warriors, alike. That was likely one factor in the solo field
being quite small in this race. Being that this is our "home"
course, there was a bit of pressure riding on both of us for this race.
This would be my fourth time racing a solo 24 hour at Conyers, while
it would be Namrita's first. My best finish at Conyers was second place
up until 2008 so this time I was fighting some personal demons and looking
for victory once and for all. Rob Lichtenwalner and Chuck Wheeler were
not racing, so a win for me would move me into the lead for the points
series. Namrita was coming to Conyers already in the NPS lead after her
victory at the 24 hours of Vail Lake just three weeks earlier.
Jimmy McMillan took off like he was on fire, and I followed. I felt great,
the legs were moving with ease and there was no stress that this guy was
attacking from the gun. I know this course like the back of my hand, and
I used that to my advantage, taking all the smoothest lines and maintaining
as much momentum as possible off the many short descents. Jimmy put a
minute or two into me on the first three laps, and still I was calm. Finally
on the fourth lap two of our crew let me know that I had passed him in
the pits and he was backing off.
This meant that could I ease up on the pace just a little to be more
consistent through the night. By nightfall I was just starting to feel
the effects of the Conyers course. The millions of little stutter bumps
that slowly wear you down. I was eating well (unlike my experience at
the 24 hours of Vail Lake) and when my parents showed up with pizza, I
quickly scarfed a piece down and then stopped myself short of eating another
knowing what that would feel like out on the course.
Read the complete diary
Dutch 4X series
The Dutch Fourcross Series 2008 will kick off Sunday, June 15 in the
bike park in the city of Groningen, The Netherlands. Organizers report
that the track has undergone several changes to make it more fun to race
and watch. The second race of the series will be held on September 20.
For more information, visit www.bikeparkgroningen.nl.
Mountain Lake to host Dirty Dawg
The Mountain Lake Conservancy will host the Dirty Dawg Cycling Weekend
June 13 - 15 in Pembroke, Virginia, near Blacksburg. Returning after a
successful first year, the second annual Dirty Dawg race is expanding
into a weekend of activities. A bonfire will kick off the action Friday
night and on Saturday, attendees can look forward to guided rides, live
music and other activities. The racing action is scheduled for Sunday
with a 30 mile XXC event and an Olympic-distance cross country race. For
more information, contact Mountain Lake Conservancy Director of Recreation
Ben Brown at (540) 626-7121 ext. 444 or visit www.mtnlakeconservancy.org.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)