Home Cyclingnews TV   News  Tech   Features   Road   MTB   BMX   Cyclo-cross   Track    Photos    Fitness    Letters   Search   Forum  

Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

 MTB index page for all MTB content

MTB news & racing round-up for April 25, 2008

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

Racers ready for round two

By Luke Webber in Offenburg, Germany

This long switchback downhill
Photo ©: Luke Webber
(Click for larger image)

Just 200 miles away from Houffalize, Offenburg on the edge of the Black Forest in south Germany hosts round two of the cross country mountain bike World Cup. Because of this short distance there has been something of a split in team strategy - some riders deciding to go home, some staying in Houffalize until later in the week and others travelling immediately to Offenburg.

So far conditions have been damp and slightly humid, with rain overnight and low clouds over the hills. Thursday was a big improvement and for the first time, there was a clear view across the vineyards, and a course inspection revealed a mainly dry lap made up of a clay mud base with roots. There is one sticky section but with the good forecast, this should dry out just fine for a fast race. The worst affected sections of uphill have also been treated to a top layer of hardcore to prevent damage.

If the forecasts turn bad, however, and the same conditions should strike as in 2007, expect a lot of running especially through the crowd pleasing sections. Worldclassdrop, Wolfsdrop, Snakepit, Dualspeed and Northshore will all be packed with spectators baying for blood!

Thursday was the first time you could see the magnificent view
Photo ©: Luke Webber
(Click for larger image)

Even though the lap is two kilometers less than in Belgium, start numbers are barely down, so expect a lot of riders exceeding the one lap limit. Those lucky enough to score a top sixty in round one will be gridded whereas the rest will rely on UCI ranking and a pair of sharp elbows. And, while the difference is only two kilometers on paper, there are very few passing places with 90% of the course singletrack and through the trees. While this will give riders at the front with better technical skills the advantage it will cost those outside the top 50.

Fortunately for the US, Adam Craig and Todd Wells prop up the top 15 following an excellent opening round, and this start is just the opportunity they need to support their continued quest to make the US Olympic team. Speaking after the Houffalize race, Craig was well aware the difference a second row grid position can make - last year he had to battle from the back.

Read the complete preview, with startlist, and check out Cyclingnews' coverage of cross country World Cup round one from Houffalize, Belgium, last weekend.

Bike thieves strike at Houffalize

The racing went on despite the stolen bikes
Photo ©: Luke Webber
(Click for larger image)

Thieves struck Multivan Merida Biking Team last weekend before the World Cup race in Houffalize. Sometime during last Friday night, thieves broke into the basement of the team's hotel and took everything they could get hold of. The loss was estimated at about 100,000 euro. Luckily, the team's mechanics were able to come up with replacement bikes before the race.

The stolen bikes included six new Racefullys 96, three Carbon Hardtails FLX and a Carbon Target6. The Racefullys, which are not yet on the market, were limited edition models and specifically tailored to the individual riders.

The World Cup race in Houffalize has a history of stolen bikes, and the Multivan Merida team assumed that professional thieves were at work, since they overcame "extensive security measures". Seven bikes were also stolen from the Swiss national team and also Team GT.

"Unfortunately the teams are left on their own more or less when facing this problem," team manager Andreas Rottler said in a press release. "Especially in Belgium, where this problem has been known for years, neither the organizers nor the police show any reaction."

The team's mechanics managed to pull together another batch of equipment in time for the World Cup race.

World's fastest gravity riders converge at Sea Otter

By Sue George in Monterey, California

Greg Minnaar wheelies across the line
Photo ©: Sue George
(Click for larger image)

Although many of the world's best cross country racers were busy at the opening World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium last weekend, the gravity racers were free to attend the Sea Otter Classic. And they came out in force.

In dry, dusty conditions on a fast, open, non-technical track, South African Greg Minnaar and American Melissa Buhl won the elite men's and women's downhill on Sunday morning. Fionn Griffiths and Sabrina Jonnier rounded out the women's top three while Christopher Kovarik and Justin Leov finished second and third in the men's race.

The KHS rider, who is studying undergraduate kinesiology and pre-med at Arizona State University, was excited about her first-ever Sea Otter downhill win. "I work hard for Sea Otter every year. It's been a goal of mine and last year, I finished third. I think having good fitness helped." Buhl said she bobbled just once early in her run, which cost her some time as she lost speed while in a high gear. "But I think that was probably a good thing as it motivated me for the rest of the run."

Greg Minnaar showed he was clearly over his shoulder injury by taking his second win in the men's race in as many days. The previous day's dual slalom victor was surprised, but happy with his downhill win, with a time of 2.11.21. "I thought I was behind on my training, but I guess not," said the unassuming winner.

While most riders who had choices took the approach of riding a lighter bike with less travel due to the technically undemanding technical nature of the course and the lack of total vertical drop, Minnaar won with the opposite tactic. "[Team-mate] Steve Peat told me a bigger bike seems to win here because you can carry more speed into the turn." At least in the men's race, that seemed to be the case.

"I nailed what I needed to. I went hard further down the course," said Minnaar. "It's unbelievable," he said of his second win in two days. "I would have never expected it." Minnaar took 14 weeks off his bike to let his shoulder heal and got a late start on his training for the northern hemisphere's racing season.

Martinez and Emmett win cross country with strong solo efforts

Kelli Emmett
Photo ©: Sue George
(Click for larger image)

Miguel Martinez and Kelli Emmett won the lengthy elite men's and women's cross country at Sea Otter held late Sunday afternoon. Martinez attacked a group of eight men after the first lap to take the win almost three and a half minutes in front of the young Sam Schultz, who won the previous day's short track.

Both the men and the women competed a gruelling two laps of the 19 mile course, much of it exposed to strong winds and blowing dust and sand. Sections of deep send and loose traction proved the dry conditions don't necessarily make the going easy or fast.

"Sea Otter was one of my main goals. I'm very happy," said Martinez after the finish.

In the elite women's race, Emmett launched a strategic early attack from a group of five women and held her own, riding strongly all the way to the finish. The chase group broke apart on the last lap and from it, Jenna Xander finished second and her team-mate Kathy Sherwin in third.

It was Emmett's best Sea Otter cross country performance and a major victory for the ever-improving Giant racer - in a time of 2.52.58. Her best previous finish was fifth place several years ago.

See full coverage of the Sea Otter classic including the downhill, dual slalom, cross country, super D and short track.

Singlespeeders flock to Rotorua

No word yet on whether there will be any sheep along the singlespeed course
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Over two hundred one-geared mountain bikers will take to the trails in Rotorua's magnificent Whakarewarewa Forest this Anzac weekend for the New Zealand Singlespeed Championship.

"It's great to be in the last couple of days of the countdown to race start on Saturday, April 26," said event director, Dean Watson. "The Speights is on ice for the after-match party, our great team of volunteers is ready to go, the design of the tattoo for the top man and woman is finalized, the official T-shirt is on sale, and it's time to race."

For the winners at least, the race is a step along the way to the World Championships in Napa, California, in August. "The Rotorua Singlespeed Society did some fast talking and managed to secure a place for first Kiwi across the line this weekend," said Grame Simpson.

This New Zealand championship has drawn a wide range of competitors - from long time singlespeeders like Rotorua's Garth Weinberg and four-time US cyclo-cross women's champion, Katie Compton, from Colorado, to top New Zealand pro-elite cross-country riders, Mark "Cabin" Leishman and Annika Smail. "We've even got a few downhill racers entered," said Simpson, "including Craig Pattle from Rotorua who I understand will be wearing something pink."

One singlespeed tradition being upheld is keeping the course a secret till the start. Attempts to find out where and what it is have been met with threats of disqualification. "The race starts at 1:00 pm and we'll have arrows from the main trailheads at Waipa and Long Mile Road to direct spectators to the event headquarters in the forest," says Watson. "This will be a fun event to watch and also a very, very tight race for the titles."

The weekend's events begin before sunrise on Anzac Day, Friday, April 25, with a ride (for all cyclists not just singlespeeders) to the Dawn Service at Ohinemutu Marae on the shores of Lake Rotorua. "The Singlespeed Champs may all be about fun," says Simpson. "However, it'll be great to start the weekend recognizing the sacrifices Kiwis and Aussies have made in the past."

Anzac Day is an Australian and New Zealand holiday to honor Army soldiers who landed at Gallipoli, Turkey, during World War I.

US Nationals bids sought

USA Cycling is seeking host bids for the 2009-2010 national championships. The event is slated for the third week in July and includes cross country, short track, downhill, 4X, super D and trials, but bids will be accepted for gravity-only or cross country-only events.

The national governing body is also accepting bids for the marathon, 24 hour and collegiate mountain bike national events. The deadline for all bids is June 10. For more information, visit www.usacycling.org or contact USA Cycling Mountain Bike Events and Program Director, Kelli Lusk, at 719-866-4668 or klusk@usacycling.org.

Southern California to hold advocacy summit

Shimano and IMBA are partnering to foster the growth of regional advocacy in Southern California with a summit to be held on June 7. The area already boasts a strong riding community and the presence of the mountain bike industry. IMBA state representatives, industry reps and club leaders will be on hand for the summit, to be held at Shimano headquarters in Irvine, California, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Attendees will discuss the potential for mountain bike parks, Wilderness legislation, State Park trail inititiaves, relations with the equestrian community, Forest Service route designation and trailbuilding among other topics.

Attendance is free. Interested riders can RSVP online. For more information, visit go.imba.com.

Mountain bike innovator Mark Reynolds dies at Sea Otter

By Richard Peace

The late Mark Reynolds and his wife.
Photo ©: BikeRadar
(Click for larger image)

San Jose mountain bike racer and innovator Mark Reynolds was killed as a result of head and neck injuries sustained whilst racing in the Sea Otter Classic mountain bike festival in Monterey last Saturday, a Monterey County deputy coroner has ruled.

Reynolds, 48, crashed into a dirt embankment on a relatively flat portion of the downhill course whilst participating in the amateur category for 40 to 49 year-old men and had competed in past years. He was taken by helicopter to Natividad Medical centre in Salinas, where he died. Initial reports that Mr. Reynolds may have suffered a medical problem before he crashed on what was a relatively easy section of the course were incorrect, said the deputy coroner.

The accident happened near the finish line of the downhill course on which cyclists compete one at a time against the clock, usually taking two and a half to three minutes to finish.

Mr. Reynolds, a software developer by profession, was the owner of Wicked Racin, and was probably best known in the bike world as the inventor of the Dualrailleur Guide, that attaches to the front derailleur of a mountain bike to produce smoother gear shifting under race conditions.

His death is believed to be the first in the 18-year history of the Sea Otter Classic, which this year drew around 45,000 fans over the four days it was held this year.

"We're deeply saddened," Frank Yohannan, President of the Sea Otter Classic said. "Mark was an avid cyclist who loved the sport and who was a mentor to a lot of kids. He was a wonderful representative of the sport of cycling."

He is survived by his wife of 13 years, Margo Maida, and by a daughter, Kristin Reynolds.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by BikeRadar

Gilberto Simoni may race mountain bike world's

By BikeRadar.com

Gilberto Simoni
Photo ©: MTB Val di Sole
(Click for larger image)

Italian professional Gilberto Simoni may ride the world mountain bike championships in Val di Sole, Italy, this year. The championships will be held between 17-22 June and for once they are taking place in Simoni's home region of Trentino. But whether the two-time Tour of Italy winner fronts up for the men's cross country race remains to be seen.

"Actually, at the moment it's neither a dream nor a reality," he said after testing the course recently. "Now I have to think about my next races, the Giro del Trentino and the Giro d'Italia. To participate in a world championship organised in the Trentino region, my area, is like a dream, but I want to be sure that it will be a good dream. I don't want to come to Val di Sole just to put a race number on my jersey. On the contrary, I want to be the star and I want the race to finish like my dream!"

Simoni, together with Italian cross country rider Silvano Janes, rode around the course twice. The first to get a feel for it and the second at speed. Simoni's gave his assessment afterwards: "A nice technical course with some difficult sections ideal for making a selection. It's definitely a championship course that will test riders' abilities. Aggression will be critical."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by MTB Val di Sole

Lots of new off-road items from the SRAM family

RockShox expands range of 20mm thru-axle forks

By James Huang in Monterey, California

RockShox has wholly revamped the popular Reba for 2009.
(Click for larger image)

RockShox has focused on its bread-and-butter Reba and Revelation for 2009 with new chassis designs, updated internals and new axle options that are designed to increase their versatility and also improve performance.

The Reba is the more heavily reworked of the two with an all-new chassis that includes a hollow-forged AL-66TV crown and a distinctly SID-like magnesium lower legs with its beefy squared-off arch, PowerBulge lower bushing reinforcements and post-mount disc brake tabs.

As previously reported, Reba will be offered in both standard quick-release and Maxle Lite 20mm thru-axle varieties, the latter of which sheds a significant 50g from the standard Maxle while giving up little in terms of strength or stiffness. Currently, RockShox has no plans to adopt the recently introduced 15mm thru-axle standard that has been embraced by Fox Racing Shox, Marzocchi and Shimano.

Maximum travel has been increased to 120mm (limited to 100mm on quick-release 29" models, though), thus making Reba more of a trail bike fork for this latest iteration. New air spring internals will incorporate a 'floating' negative air chamber and a foam ring-lubricated main piston o-ring to yield a more linear and suppler feel.

Read the complete tech feature and check out full tech coverage from the Sea Otter Classic.

Whiskey Off-Road to honor Janelle

The 2008 Whiskey Off-Road will be held in honor of Mike Janelle
Photo ©: Nat Ross
(Click for larger image)

The fifth annual Whiskey Off-Road, set to kick off April 26, will be dedicated to the memory of Michael Paul "Mike" Janelle, last year's men's open class champion. Janelle died in his sleep last November.

"Mike Janelle represented everything that was good about the sport," said Todd Sadow, president of Epic Rides, which puts on the Whiskey. "In addition to being a tremendous athlete he was a friendly, compassionate person." Held in the Prescott National Forest, the race was one of Janelle's favorite events.

Janelle, one of the top endurance racers in the country, was a three-time Race Across America team champion, two-time US World Championship marathon team member, three-time US National Championship podium finisher and three-time 24 Hours of Moab Champion. His fiancé, Maribel, was pregnant with their baby at the time he died.

Riding in his honor at the Whiskey will be his Gary Fisher/Tokyo Joe's team-mates Jay Henry and Gretchen Reeves, Subaru-Gary Fisher's Nat Ross, and long time friend and mechanic Myron Billy.

Janelle was considered a driving force behind Team Beaver Creek - Catlin, riding alongside his friends Ross, Jimi Mortenson and Zach Bingham. In June, the team won first place in the four-person team category at the 2007 Race Across America (RAAM), their third consecutive victory (riding as Team Beaver Creek/Vail in 2005 and 2006). Last July, Janelle placed fifth at the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Marathon National Championships. Later that month, he came in second in the Breckenridge 100, which was the fourth event in the National Ultra-Endurance Series.

Mike's father, Jack Janelle, and close friend, Jay Henry, will address riders at the pre-ride meeting.

Riders may choose to enter three different distances, from the 15 Proof Fun ride to the 25 and 50 Proof routes that will appeal to more ambitious participants. The "Proof" theme pays homage to the infamous Whiskey Row element of downtown Prescott, an entire city block of watering hole type of establishments; a "proof" in this case represents one mile.

For more information on the event, visit www.epicrides.com. To contribute to a memorial fund established to help support Maribel and their recently born son: Mike Janelle Memorial Fund, c/o 1st Bank of Avon, PO Box 5270, Avon, CO 81620. Donations written to the fund will be accepted at packet pickup and during event weekend.

Festivities begin Friday, April 25, with packet pickup and a mandatory pre-event riders' meeting. Racing will start at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning on Whiskey Row.

24 hours of Vail Lake opens American 24 hour racing season

Granny Gear's American 24 hour racing series will kick off with the 24 hours of Vail Lake on April 26-27 in California. On hand to do battle in the men's race will be 2007 Series Champion Rob Lichtenwalner, Tom Mazaitis, Cyclingnews diarist Eddie O'Dea. In the women's solo division, Terri Wahlberg, last year's runner-up, will return to duke it out with Liz Baumgardt-Kays, Namrita O'Dea and ultra-endurance road rider Shanna Armstrong.

This year's 10.22 mile course, with 1,498 feet of vertical ascent, will feature the return of the Tunnel of Love singletrack. Racers will be treated to spectacular views from the course as well as other singletrack sections like the Funner Downhill and the Ambulance Road. Organizers reported that two hike-a-bike sections and a few ledgy drops have been removed. Lap times are expected to range between approximately one hour for advanced riders and nearly two hours for intermediate riders, with the majority of competitors somewhere in between.

The 24 hours of Vail Lake is stop number one of six for the series which wraps up at the 24 hours of Moab in Utah in October. For more information, visit www.grannygear.com.

NSW & ACT reintroduce dual slalom for gravity series

The New South Wales Mountain Bike Association today announced the NSW/ACT Mountain Cross (Mountain X) and Dual Slalom Championship and Series, which will get underway this month.

"This year, we will revive the short course gravity racing scene and make it more rider friendly. We have relaunched the dual slalom category as another dimension in addition to the Mountain X Championship and Series," said Steve Humphreys, President NSWMTB. The revived dual slalom is intended to encourage more women and young riders to participate.

"With rising participant numbers we have added more classes over the years and this year we wanted to open up the sport to beginner riders and mountain bikers who would like to get into the racing scene." The NSW/ACT Mountain X series was first run in 2005.

The dual slalom series opened at Mt Panorama Bathurst during the Newton's Playground Event with rounds one and two in early March 2008 and continues at Sydney Olympic Park on the Saturday, April 26.

For more information or to register, visit www.rockytrailentertainment.com.

Mountain X Series
April 27: Round 1, Sydney Olympic Park
May 18: Round 2, Goulburn
June 15: Round 3, Ebenezer
July 27: Round 4, Stromlo, ACT
August 3: NSW/ACT Championships, Kurrajong

Dual Slalom
April 26: Round 3, Sydney Olympic Park
July 26: Round 4, Stromlo, ACT
August 2: NSW/ACT Championships, Kurrajong

(Additional reporting and research provided by Susan Westemeyer)

Previous News     Next News

(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)