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MTB News & racing round-up for July 21, 2005

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.

Taberlay tangles with bear on training ride

By Steve Medcroft

Sid Taberlay, sans bear at the Willingen World Cup
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Click for larger image

"I'm generally good, except my backside is a little raw," is all Australian Olympian and former Cross Country National Champion Sid Taberlay (Specialized) can say three days after a bizarre training accident at the Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho NORBA cross country race. Taberlay collided with a full-grown wild bear while riding his road bike around the resort's exposition area.

"I headed down the hill from the tech site on my road bike early Friday morning (July 15)," he explains. "I was moving pretty quick, trying to get my legs warmed up. About a mile down the hill, around a right hand corner, there was a bear running across the road from left to right.

"I was moving too quick to make it past him on the outside, so I tightened my line and hit the brakes." The bear, he says, was so focused on crossing the road to a spot directly in Taberlay's trajectory, it never even slowed to acknowledge the speeding rider.

"The bear went straight through me," he added. "I went over his back. My bike went flying over my head. I'm not exactly sure how I landed; it all happened so fast. I smashed my helmet, lost a lot of skin on my backside and a little on my back and left elbow."

Taberlay says the bear didn't make a sound during the encounter and all the rider could hope as he scrambled to his feet was that the bear hadn't decided to come back and confront him.

"I got up and the bear was gone."

As for the exact type of bear Taberlay hit, there are two candidates; although both the American Black Bear and the Brown Bear (also known as the Grizzly) look similar. In fact, the only real difference between the two is that Grizzlies have humped shoulders and slightly shaggier fur. Could Taberlay tell what kind of bear he stumbled across? "No way," he says "It all happened too fast. All I know is that on four paws, it was about the height of my bike."

Taberlay says he hopes the run-in was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. "I've never seen a bear before. I never want to see one again. I'm from Tasmania; the worst things we ever have to worry about there are snakes." And that's the way he likes it.

The Australian recovered from his crash enough by Saturday's cross country race to place 10th, seven minutes off the winner. From Schweitzer, Taberlay heads to the Aspen, Colorado NORBA and then home for three weeks before returning to the States to finish off the NORBA series.

Internet giveaways not just for Tour fans

By Steve Medcroft

When Rufus Staffordshire researched all the associated cycling giveaways related to the Tour de France, he came up with an impressive list of swag; more than a million U.S. dollars worth. Which is great for roadies but what about the knobby-tired world? Don't we deserve similar opportunities?

One Google search later and the answer is yes: Canadian clothing and equipment manufacturer Race Face has a quirky promotion running called Win the Crap on My Desk.

"It really is just crap in my office - and I use crap I a loving way," said Race Face marketing manager Marshall Rutman, the brainchild of the promotion. "It's all actually very cool stuff," he added. Stuff like the crank set Steve Peat used in the 2004 World Championships, for example.

"The idea for the giveaway came from looking at the stuff piling up in my office. Rather than give them to industry insiders, we realized that the average mountain biker would love to get their hands on it all."

Rutman had been with the company four years when he put together the first contest and has run giveaways for a little more than a year now. Each giveaway begins with a animated Flash cartoon launched on the Race Face Web site. "We thought it would be sort of funny to put up the animation. We have an in house graphics designer who breathers life into the episodes. I write a script, do the voice, hand him an MP3 and he takes it from there."

Web site visitors watch the video and are given instruction on how to enter that episode's contest. "We ask for something: an answer to a question or for someone to send us an email - it varies every episode." The winner is either picked from the entries or the prize is given to the first person who answers that episode's question correctly.

An example: "In the last Crap on My Desk," Rutman says, "we asked people to guess Steve Peat's favorite type of sandwich to win his World Cup DH-winning Diabolus cranks. We received hundreds of guesses with the most popular being the barley sandwich." But this wasn't a trick question and Andrew Dye from Sheffield, UK was the first person to correctly guess that Steve's favorite snack food was the bacon and egg sandwich.

New episodes appear irregularly. "When work gets a little slow, we find some time to come up with something new," Rutman says. "Whenever the crap builds up."

"The next giveaway is an amazing, one-off custom bike barbeque that one of the competitors in our Ultimate Free Ride competition made for us. He's a gas fitter in Tennessee and sent us this little barbeque that mounts into a head tube. And it works; it's ridiculous. It's too good to not do anything with."

The next episode should appear on the Race Face Web site "in a month or two," says Rutman.

Schweitzer Mountain NORBA wrap up

By Steve Medcroft

It was a weekend of excitement and surprises in Sandpoint, Idaho at the Schweitzer Mountain NORBA National Series race.

Following last year's dry, hot and dusty competition, racers were surprised to suffer hailstorms and thunderous rain showers at this year's event. Jill Kintner crashed in the four-cross preliminaries and missed the rest of the weekend. Overtaking a hard-charging Adam Craig, Liam Killeen (Specialized) upset the men's cross country field to win his first NORBA series race. A South African other than Greg Minaar (Team G-Cross Honda) won the downhill event (Minaar stumbled on his final run to fall second by one-tenth of a second to countryman Andrew Neethling (Turner - Honda). As mentioned above, Australian Olympian Sid Taberlay (Specialized) collided with a bear during a training ride.

Only Shonny Vanlandingham's (Luna Chix) win in the women's cross country race defied the weekend's pattern of unexpectedness. The win, Vanlandingham's second in a row in the NORBA series, shows that the Luna Chix racer hasn't lost a step in form after winning the series in 2004.

The NORBA series moves next in Aspen Colorado's Snowmass Village Resort July 22 - 24.

Schweitzer Mountain reports, full results & photos

Race 1 - July 16: Super D
Race 2 - July 16: Cross country
Race 3 - July 16: Four-cross
Race 4 - July 17: Marathon
Race 5 - July 17: Downhill
Race 6 - July 17: Short track cross-country

IMBA testifies in U.S. Congress on California wilderness bill

By Steve Medcroft

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) was asked to provide testimony July 14th before the U.S. Congress regarding the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act (S.128/H.R. 233); a bill that threatens to ban mountain biking from 180 miles of singletrack on California's coastline.

IMBA representative Jim Hasenauer, 56, of Woodland Hills, Calif., a Professor of Communications Studies at California State University at Northridge and former IMBA president, spoke before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Forest and Forest Health.

"The committee was considering three bills," said Hasenauer about the meeting. "We were concerned with HR 233, which designates a Wilderness area in California." The designation limits the use of 300,000 acres of land prime for mountain biking. "Under the designation, there can be no roads, no structures, no motorized vehicles, no timber; not even chainsaws for trail work."

The protection is mean to preserve land in its most primitive state. So why does IMBA not support the bill? "We would love to support the bill but we can't," Hasenauer explains. "The way it stands, 180 miles of trails that would be closed to bicycles. Closed because bicycles are currently included in the list of activities banned from protected wilderness."

"Mountain bikes weren't specifically banned by the original Wilderness Act of 1964," he says. "We were affected by legislation in 1984. At the time, mountain biking was relatively new. The (Specialized) Stumpjumper was only four years old. Nobody knew who we were, whether we would be environmentally oriented."

IMBA hopes that its invitation to lobby the bill will result in changes before the bill becomes law. "We're hoping the current bill gets changed to protect some of the land with mechanisms that allow biking. Or grandfather bicycling in. Either way, we want to tell the story that mountain bikers are conservationist and believe that we can ride in a way where we don't do damage."

IMBA's impact on the bill won't be immediately known. "It's not like they listen to what you say, crack the gavel and vote - it will be a couple of years before the bill takes its final shape," says Hasenauer. "Until then, we'll keep working with other activities like letter writing and publicity campaigns."

Inaugural Breckenridge 100

By Steve Medcroft

The inaugural Breckenridge 100 was won by Colorado local riders Josh Tostada (Breckenridge, Colo.) and Rebecca Hodgetts (Dillon, Colo.).

In the women's race Hodgetts, who is originally from New Zealand, said "That was the stupidest race I've ever done," after more than eleven hours of extremely tough racing. "I wasn't sure where I was going (at times)," she said.

Tostada, a former winner of the endurance mountain biking classic Montezuma's Revenge, was able to hold off Subaru/Gary Fisher factory team rider Nat Ross in the men's race and agrees with Hodgetts' assessment of the race as tough. "I could barely breathe and my feet were really hurting. It was just surviving."

"It was a really, hard, hard race," Nat Ross said from his home after the event. "We rode on the Colorado Trail, started in town at 9,600 feet and immediately climbed to 12,400. By 6:45 in the morning, we were at 12,600."

Organizers designed a clover-leaf course of three loops and didn't provide technical support stations other than at the base of the loops."

"The whole course was up and down," said Ross. "We were above the tree-line probably twenty percent of the time and the course rolled so much you couldn't really race it - you just had to settle into your own riding style and do your own thing."

As an endurance racer with a long history in 100-mile events, Ross says the Breckenridge 100 was a success. "For its first year, it had a great turnout. They had a relay option which made it an attainable race for more people than just the ultra-endurance racers."

Tostada won the men's race in 9 hours, 13 minutes and 19 seconds. Ross, who used the racing as training leading up to next week's Aspen, Colo. NORBA Marathon race, came in forty-five minutes later.

Hodgetts, with a time of 11 hours, 44 minutes, beat former World Solo 24-Hours of Adrenilin World Champion Christina Begy by just six minutes.

Full results

Trans-Alp Challenge

By Steve Medcroft

The Addidas Bike Trans Alps Challenge is underway in the German Alps this week. The UCI-accredited endurance stage race pits unsupported teams of two racers who must ride together (and stay within two minutes of each other through all race checkpoints) over eight stages for more than six hundred kilometers of trails and over 15 thousand meters of climbing.

Among the 524 teams, participants include former Olympic Champion Bart Brentjens (Netherlands, racing with Austrian Martin Kraler in the men's division) and Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain Business Objects, racing in the mixed division with Elite mountain bike pro and fellow Canadian Andreas Hestler).

The first stage was held Saturday, July 16; a 111 kilometer ride from Mittenwald to Mayrhofen, Germany which offered more than two thousand meters of climbing to warm the race up.

In the fifth stage (Sexten - St.Vigil, July 20), the South American Banano de Costa Rica team attacked the men's race and held an early seven minute advantage all the way to the finish. The effort wasn't enough to take over the race lead from Carsten Bresser and Karl Platt (Rocky Mountain Team) though.

In the women's category, Esther Süss and Anna Enocsson (Ghost Int. Racing Team) extended their stage-race lead to 1 hour, 36 minutes over Gretchen Reeves and Lesley Tomlinson (Rocky Mountain Business Objects).

Ghost International Racing Team's husband and wife team Jörg and Anna Scheiderbauer won the fifth stage in the mixed competition and retain a twenty-five minute lead in the series over Hestler and Sydor.

The 2005 Trans Alps Challenge ends Saturday, July 23. The remaining stages in this year's race are St.Vigil to Alleghe, Alleghe to Belluno and Belluno to Jesolo.

British Downhill and Marathon National Championships

Steve Peat and Rachel Atherton took the top honours at the National downhill championships at Bringewood. On a swelteringly hot day, beneath clear skies, the competitors had to tackle a tight, technical and very dry course, with deep dust gathering on the lower sections and making the going unexpectedly slippery.

In the inaugural Marathon National Championships, Caroline Jackson & Nick Craig defied the hot competition as well as the fierce heat, and rode into history, claiming the first National Marathon Championship Jersey's.

Marathon results & report
Downhill results & report

She's back! Paola Pezzo wins Italian MTB Championship

Tim Maloney, European Editor

12 years after her last Italian cross country mountain bike title, Paola Pezzo rode to her third career maglia tricolore in Sarentino, just north of Bolzano. Riding for U.C. Saccarelli, her victory was the 39th career win for La Pezzo. The 35 year-old mountain biker, who will be 36 on August 1st, must have the 2008 Olympics in Beijing on her mind already. It could be Pezzo's fourth participation in the Olympics should she be selected for the squadra azzura. Local lass Eva Lechner (Colnago Arreghini) was the winner in the Italian Women's U23 Cross Country title. Marco Bui took the Italian Men's Elite Cross Country title in Sarentino for Full Dynamix, beating runner-up Martino Fruet by 1'08" to pick up the title.

Across the Alps in Bourg-d'Oisans, France, Julien Absalon has won the French Elite Cross Country championships for the fourth straight year. The 25 year old Bianchi-Agos rider, who was Olympic and World MTB champ last year cruised home 0'40 ahead of Lapierre's Jean-Christophe Peraud. Scott-Les Deux Alpes's riders François Bailly Maître and Séverine Hansen respectively took the U23 and Elite Women's Championships in Bourg-d'Oisans.

Polish National Championships

Tomasz Piechal, Polish Olympic Foundation

Magda Sadlecka (Lotto) won the Polish Women's National Mountain Bike Championships Championships Sunday in Olsztyn near Czestochowa. Lotto teammates Maja Wloszczowska (2004 national champion) and Ania Szafraniec placed second and third respectively.

Pre-race favorite Marek Galinski (PSB-Atlas-Orbea) won the men's championship although not without a challenge from Lotto rider Dariusz Batek.

Full report & results

Jeep KOM gets ready for round two

Mountain Biking's big-money, made-for-T.V. event, the $100,000-plus Jeep King of the Mountain series, is heading for its second stop July 23 at Grand Rapids, Michigan's Pando Ski Area. Brian Lopes and Jill Kintner, both Americans, won the first round in San Louis Obispo, Calif.

The three-year-old Jeep King of the Mountain series features the world's top male and female mountain bike racers competing head-to-head to capture the King of the Mountain title for their country, as well as a cash payout that tops $100,000 and the keys to a 2006 Jeep Commander. Racers compete on a Y-shaped course where racers begin on separate prongs of the Super-D-style Y then come together for the final section down to the finish.

Each event in the Jeep King of the Mountain Series events will be broadcast to a national television audience. Two one-hour specials will be nationally syndicated during the June, July and August time period. The finals will air on CBS Sports on October 9, 2005.

The season will conclude with the grand finale at Jack Frost Mountain in The Pocono Mountains, Pa., on August 14.

Sydney gets Mountain Cross Park

Sydney's newest professionally-built mountain cross (aka four-cross) park is to be constructed at Sydney Olympic Park, the site of arguably the most successful Olympic Games ever, according to Bicycling Australia

All the environmental hurdles have been addressed and all the applications made. Start of construction is likely to commence in early August and is expected to take about 6 weeks and will include landscaping the area.

The first major event will be the first round of the national 2005/2006 MTNX series which will be held in conjunction with the Bicycling Australia Bike Show, 21 - 23 October at Olympic Park. Details of the Bike Show are available at www.bicyclingaustralia.com.au.

SE Queensland Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships

Over 150 cross country mountain bike riders are expected to ride in the South East Queensland Mountain Bike Championships on Sunday 24th July at Karingal Scout Camp, Mt Cotton. Racing starts at 8.30am.

US team for Marathon Worlds

USA Cycling has announced the final team that will compete at the 2005 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships in Lillehammer, Norway on August 20. Three men and two women will represent the United States in the 68-mile off-road race later this summer.

For the men, Jay Henry (Avon, Colo.), Michael Janelle (Avon, Colo.) and Cameron Brenneman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) will compete, while Gretchen Reeves (Boulder, Colo.) and Melissa Thomas (Boulder, Colo.) comprise the women's squad.

Henry earned an automatic nomination as the winner of the NORBA National Mountain Bike Series marathon at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Idaho on July 16. Janelle and Brenneman were discretionary selections. Reeves and Thomas were also discretionary selections.

Other riders who met the automatic selection criteria but declined their spots are Chris Eatough, Adam Craig, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Todd Wells, Monique Sawicki, Mary McConneloug, Kelli Emmett, Willow Koerber, and Sue Haywood.

US team for Trials Worlds

USA Cycling has announced the athletes who earned automatic nominations to the 2005 UCI Trials World Championships in Livigno, Italy Aug. 30-Sept. 4, 2005. They are:

Junior 20in: Ryan Cecil (Ashville, N.C.), Ian Poor (Bowling Green, Ohio).
Elite 20in: Brian Yezierski (Middletown, Conn.).
Junior 26in: Cameron Kowall (Gates Mills, Ohio), Edward Gildea (Westfield, Mass.).
Elite 26in:Jeremy VanSchoonhoven (Williams, Ore.).

Australian Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day: October 2, 2005

Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) has designated October 2nd as "Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day". As in most of the rest of the Western world kids in Australia are suffering from inactivity.

The number of overweight and obese Australian children and adolescents has doubled in the last 15 years. It is estimated that between 20 and 25 percent of children and adolescents are now overweight or obese. More concerning is that being overweight and obese are major risk factors for chronic diseases including diabetes, heart attack, stroke and some cancers.

"Mountain biking is an activity that can help reverse the trend toward childhood obesity," says Tony Scott, president of MTBA. "Mountain biking is a great physical activity and the perfect way for adults and children to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise together."

He added, "Mountain biking builds self-confidence and offers kids and adults an adrenaline-packed adventure while giving them an effective, low-impact workout. It's a great way to spend a day focusing on positive, fun outdoor experiences for children, while teaching valuable lessons about living a healthy lifestyle, personal responsibility and environmental awareness."

The promotion of the "Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day" will be funded by MTBA and we will be helping all our clubs Australia wide have special events on the 2nd October specifically aimed at kids. If clubs already have events scheduled for this day MTBA will help them fit in special activities for kids so that they can experience the joy of mountain biking.

Organisations other than MTBA affiliated clubs are encouraged to contact MTBA if you have an event on that date or if you provide specific MTB activities for kids. Let MTBA help promote what you are doing to help stem the tide of childhood obesity.

Clubs and other organisations that will be participating in this special day will be listed on the MTBA website closer to the day, so make sure you pencil in the date: 2nd October 2005 and drop by again to check out the special activities in your area.

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