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MTB news & racing round-up for August 15, 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

Mechanics support US Teams abroad

By Sue George

Calvin Jones
Photo ©: Sue George
(Click for larger image)

When the US National Team travels to a major cycling competition like the World Championships or the Olympics, it means a lot of behind-the-scenes logistics and support to be planned and executed. Calvin Jones, a mechanic with the US Team at events like the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, explained to Cyclingnews how he and his crew keep the athlete's bikes running smoothly before and on race day.

Calvin Jones saw a need for better mechanical support for the athletes representing the US and went about filling it.

"In the first [mountain bike] worlds in 1990 [in Durango, Colorado], I was volunteering for Shimano, and I saw a long line of people like Steve Tilford waiting in line for [mechanical] work. Being an old roadie, I thought, that's not how it should be. So I talked to [USA Cycling's] Brian Stickel, and I proposed that we get some support for them at the hotel."

What Jones proposed decades ago has evolved into a finely tuned support operation for athletes of all ages.

Beginning in 1994 at the World Championships in Vail, Colorado, Jones and his team worked out the approach. "We service any US rider in and out of the hotel. We are neutral support for everyone," said Jones, underlining the philosophy of his talented team of mechanics.

The US Team mechanics had set up headquarters in this parking garage
Photo ©: Sue George
(Click for larger image)

While at non-World Championship events, most riders receive mechanical assistance from their professional teams, or they do it themselves on the road. Some lucky top-level pros can also bring their mechanics with them to the worlds, but lesser known pros and juniors would otherwise have to fend for themselves.

"The US team only exists during Worlds and some people have corporate mechanics, too. But if those riders can't find their person or they need back up or their mechanic needs help, they come to us. We don't charge anything to the US riders."

Jones asks the racers to bring some equipment with them, but the mechanics also come prepared.

"We had a list of spares for all the athletes to bring - like mud tires. We like them to bring some of the spares so we don't have to bring everything, but the reality is that we still bring a lot."

"We brought two boxes of parts weighing 48 pounds each, and we shipped another 28 pounds. Then we had all our tools," said Jones of the trip to the World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy in June. "We can be expert mechanics here, but we need the spares."

Jones, who works for Park Tool, was able to leverage his connections and save the shipping of some items. "We had a Park Tool distributor in Italy who got us all the stands and helped us with tools."

In Italy, Jones headed up a team of four other mechanics, including Brad Cole, a service trainer at Eric's Bike Shop in Minnesota; Than White of Shimano; Chris Magerl, a Utah ski instructor and mechanic for multiple teams; and the recently retired TJ Grove.

Read the complete feature.

Italians maintain lead mid-way through TransRockies

A rider negotiates a water passage in the TransRockies
Photo ©: Dan Hudson
(Click for larger image)

Racers at the TransRockies in Canada are just over halfway finished with their week of racing. After stage four, Italians Marzio Deho and Johnny Cattaneo of Team Olympia have proven themselves the men to beat. They are in the overall lead with a time of 10:06:36. Their next closest competitors are Kris Sneddon and Max Plaxton of Team Kris & Max at 19:37 behind. Stefan Widmer and Marty Lazarski of Team Rocky Mountain - Milliken Developments at 22:47.

On the women's side, Cary Lowery and Lisa Randall (Outdoor Store / Outspokin' Bikes) are leading with a time of 15:18:19. Team Guidi-Up's Amy Guidinger and Meghan Osborne are over an hour and a quarter behind while Angie Bryans and Inga Ivany (Evolution) are in third, just over three hours back from the leaders.

The mixed category is seeing some World Cup women's competitors participating. Wendy Simms and partner Normon Thibault (Kona) are leading with a time of 12:27:46 while Katerina Nash and Steven Wallace of Team Clif Bar are in second, 32 minutes back.

The final stage seven will wrap up the race on Saturday, August 16 in Fernie, British Columbia.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the TransRockies.

Barnes and Gaskell win in mid-Wales

Perhaps the biggest obstacle in last weekend's British National Points Series (NPS) downhill round on August 9-10 was showing up at the proper Moefre in Wales. Apparently, some racers found out the hard way that there is more than one such named town. Then, tough weather conditions only added to the challenge.

Saturday morning saw heavy rains soaking the course and 40-50 mph wind gusts up top, where it was almost impossible to stand upright. Conditions were so tough that the UCI's officials decided to drop the start to a stone alcove 200 yards further down the course - which would give everyone more shelter. The seeding was run through tough conditions - with lots of mist and fog reducing visibility to almost nothing.

Racing took part on Sunday after open practise with full runs all morning. Fortunately, the weather on Sunday was much kinder. The sun shone and the wind was lighter yet still blowing which meant many riders took off their peaks in order to combat the speed destroying gusts that destroyed the legs. The course was 99.9% open to spectators and the elements - making for a high speed course with rolling grass along a Welsh hillside.

Only a handful cleared the huge road gap due to the windy conditions. Natural whoops and greasy corners meant many a comedy moment before the launch off the BC jump and onto flat out wet and grassy corners. high speed right hand corner and a jump led to the finish.

Joe Barnes (MTBcut.tv/Orange) won the elite men's race by just a fraction of a second ahead of Ben Cathro (Mojo Orange) and 1.37 seconds ahead of Matt Simmonds (CRC Intense).

Helen Gaskell (Halfords Bike Hut) took the women's race with a healthy 4.056 second margin over Katy Curd (Giant) and 12 seconds ahead of Haby-Blu Cann (EMBC/CF3).

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the British Downhill NPS round in Moelfre.

Fool's Gold continues NUE Series this weekend

By Sue George

Round six of the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series will head to the mountains of northern Georgia this Saturday, August 16. The second-year Fool's Gold 100 will see racers tackle two loops of a 50 mile course.

In the men's race, Jeff Schalk and Jeremiah Bishop (both Trek / VW) are the two favorites although Tinker Juarez (MonaVie Cannondale) may also make an appearance. Schalk has already won four NUE rounds this season and is well on his way to an overall series win while Bishop won both the US National marathon and short track championships in July. Local Thomas Turner is expected to challenge Schalk and Bishop.

The race will be without 24 hour solo champion Chris Eatough (Trek / VW) and past NUE Series winner Harlan Price. Price recently broke his wrist and will likely also miss the Shenandoah Mountain 100 in two weeks.

In the women's race, Cheryl Sornson is the favorite, but she will face last year's winner Trish Stevenson and Namrita O'Dea.

"We are really excited to be hosting such a talented field of riders for both the 50 & 100 milers," said promoter Eddie O'Dea. "Cheryl Sornson will no doubt be challenged by Trish Stevenson and Namrita O'Dea. Bishop & Schalk could be very surprised by Turner's abilities."

The 50 mile race is expected to draw 200+ racers and more will be on hand to participate in the weekend's festival, which is doubling as a fundraiser for local trails.

"We are stoked about raising funds to help IMBA-SORBA and the US Forest Service build more trails and improve the ones we have. If all goes well, I'll even get join in on one of the festival rides on Sunday!" said Eddie O'Dea.

The O'Deas reported that the weather is likely to be much milder than the inaugural edition in 2007. Forecasted temperatures are for 80 degrees Fahrenheit and a very slight chance of rain.

American MTB Classic draws top talent

The American Mountain Classic is drawing some top American and international talent to Brian Head, Utah for the stage race from August 21 to 24, just one week before the National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) finals.

Riders like current US National Marathon and Short Track National Champion Jeremiah Bishop, along with Trek / VW team-mates Lea Davison, Jenny Smith and Brian Smith have committed to race. Also on the start list are Subaru/Gary Fisher's dynamic duo of Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Heather Irmiger, along with Kona's Ryan Trebon, who won Utah's Deer Valley national cross country race in June. Finally, U23 racer Tim Allen America and Sue Butler of Monavie/Cannondale throw their names into the hat.

Five-time Australian National Champion and Santa Ynez NMBS cross country winner Sid Taberlay and his Sho-Air/Specialized team-mate Costa Rican Manuel Prado will add an international flavor to the race. Prado is fresh off a third place at this year's Leadville 100 last weekend.

Specialized's 24 Hours of Adrenalin World solo champion Rebecca Rusch and three-time La Ruta Women's Champion Louise Kobin of Sho-Air/Specialized will bring their endurance skills to Brian Head to compete for the US$20,000 professional prize purse.

For more information, visit www.americanmountainclassic.com

Stevenson and Passant finish first in unsupported Colorado race

Racers who enjoy the experience of competing over long distances, navigation and riding self-supported, had another chance to compete in late July and August in the Colorado Trail Race, which kicked off at noon on July 28. Ethan Passant and Trish Stevenson were the first to finish the 530 mile event, which started at the Waterton Canyon Trailhead in Denver and finished at the Junction Creek Trailhead in Durango.

Passant finished in five days, two hours and 26 minutes. Jason Shelman was second in five days, three hours and 49 minutes while Chris Plesko ended up third in five days, six hours and 27 minutes.

Stevenson became the first woman to complete the race in a time of seven days, one hour and 46 minutes. She was sixth of the nine total finishers - no doubt her experience racing the much longer Great Divide race paid off.

Trek's best trail bike yet

By James Huang

The Trek Fuel EX 9.5 sits at the top
(Click for larger image)

Trek's full-suspension designs have made giant leaps forward as of late and the carbon-framed Fuel EX can now finally be considered a serious contender. Cyclingnews put one through the wringer for the better part of six months and it still comes out (mostly) sparkling.

Trek's mountain bike lineup has undergone a dramatic transformation as of late with new models that are highly competitive in each of their respective segments, including the Session DH and FR, Remedy, and newly revamped Top Fuel. Leading the charge though, was the 120mm-travel Fuel EX trail bike which was the first to integrate all of the company's new technologies into one platform and is arguably responsible for restoring Trek's reputation as a mountain bike company.

While the Active Braking Pivot, Full Floater or EVO Link features each would have improved the Fuel EX predecessor on their own, the combination yields an end product that is more than the sum of its parts.

Trek's unique Active Braking Pivot places a concentric suspension pivot right at the rear axle, rather than above or below it as is more common. While this still setup maintains the Fuel EX's status as a single-pivot layout in terms of axle path, having the disc caliper mounted on the seat stay effectively yields a built-in floating brake mount that is better able to track the ground.

The Full Floater concept is equally clever. Instead of having one static mount and one dynamic mount for the rear shock, neither mount is fixed in space, leaving new Trek suspension designer Jose Gonzalez more freedom to tune the shock rate at a particular point in the travel.

Tying this all together is a one-piece EVO Link that Trek claims is twice as rigid, twice as strong and yet substantially lighter (and better looking) than the old three-piece bit. Further bolstering things is an asymmetrical all-aluminum back end.

Our top-end, medium-sized Fuel EX 9.5 tester includes a magnesium version of the EVO Link as well as a svelte OCLV carbon front triangle that brings the actual frame weight to just 2.53kg (5.57lb) including the rear shock, bottle cage hardware and seat collar. Add in a gaggle of premium spec from Fox Racing Shox, Avid, SRAM, Shimano and (of course) Bontrager and the end result is a relatively light 11.25kg (24.8lb) package (without pedals).

Read the complete review.

4Xers ready for next British rounds

British 4X riders will head to the UK Bike Park this weekend for National Points Series (NPS) rounds six and seven on August 16-17.

Purpose-built for the NPS, the course is run on a hard-pack stone surface and is fast when dry or wet. It also features a fast and long starting straight after launching from the highest wooden platform in the country. Riders will fly toward a big quad jump before slamming on the brakes and hitting the burm at the end of the longest straight on this year's course. A few corners and hip jump later and riders will be crossing the line to be crowned 2008 Series Champions.

For more information, visit www.nps4x.com.

Juarez to National Mountain Bike Oktoberfest

Two-time Olympian and Mountain Bike Hall of Famer David Tinker Juarez will lead the pack at the Oktoberfest 8-Hour Endurance Race, part of the National Mountain Bike Oktoberfest, at Fisher Farm Park in Davidson, North Carolina, on October 24-26.

The three-day, family-oriented mountain bike festival will include the final race on USA Cycling's 2008 National Ultra Endurance Calendar, as well as a short track, time trials, and children's races. The race venue takes advantage of the early sunset, giving racers the opportunity to ride the trails at night.

The festival will kick off on Friday night and races for kids get going Saturday morning. The featured event of the weekend, the Oktoberfest 8-Hour Endurance Race, will start at noon on Saturday. Time trials and a special combination event known as "the Beast" round out the weekend on Sunday.

"This is a true mountain bike festival with something for everyone with a bike and a little energy," said Taylor Sullivan, president of Cowbell Challenge, a non-profit, which is promoting this event and has also promoted the Cowbell Challenge 12-hour race. "We're designing an endurance course that will challenge the top pros and amateurs, and the whole weekend will be filled with chances to ride for fun and for prizes."

The eight-hour endurance race boasts equal cash payout for men and women in the solo (open) categories. When not racing, participants will be able to participate in a Halloween costume contest and bike demos.

Proceeds from the festival benefit Davidson Recreation & Parks Youth Scholarship fund. For more information, visit www.NationalMtbOktoberfest.org.

Durango to hold trails fundraiser

Durango will host a non-competitive event on Sunday, October 12, to serve as a fundraiser for the Trails 2000 and the Southwest Conservation Corps, two non-profit organizations that maintain Durango's trails.

The tour will feature singletrack including River Trail, Horse Gulch, Animas Mountain, Dalla Mountain Park and Durango Mountain Park. Mountain biking and run/hike options are available in distances of 13, 26 or 32 miles. Participants will finish at a block party in downtown Durango.

For more information, visit www.tourofdurango.com.

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