MTB news & racing round-up for February 16, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
Rebecca's new adventure
By Sue George
Photo ©: Nate Galpin
When Rebecca Rusch lost her sponsor for her adventure racing team late
in 2005, she had no idea her next career would be in endurance mountain
biking. In 2006, she finished second at the 24 Hours of Adrenalin World
Solo Championships in Conyers, Georgia. In 2007, at Laguna Seca she won
her first title.
Coming from adventure racing, 24 hour races are a whole different kind
of experience. "The intensity is way higher - it feels hard for me,"
said Rusch who calls Ketchum, Idaho, home. "The pace and speed are
so much faster than a seven day adventure race. A winning team in an adventure
race often goes from five to seven days, so you're really pacing yourself.
You're also changing sports."
On the other hand there are some advantages. "It's almost easy because
a crew takes care of my food and equipment. All I have to do is ride my
bike and help them get there. In adventure racing no one clean your dirty
socks or lubes your bike chain. You do it yourself. Even though it's solo
mountain bike racing, there is so much of a team. I feel like a princess."
Referring to the many racers who transition to 24 hour races from Olympic-distance
cross country racing, "I come to it from the opposite end. I tell
myself, 'It's just one night and I can sleep in a bed tomorrow night and
take a shower - that's so cool.'"
The Red Bull / Specialized rider will show up to defend her title at
the 24 Hours of Adrenalin World Solo Championship this summer in Canmore,
Making the leap
Rebecca Rusch racing at night
Photo ©: Chris Baker
"I lost my team sponsor at the end of 2005 for adventure racing.
That was a big blow. I had managed a team for years and we had it dialled,
but the sponsor got bought out by another team and all the sudden I was
out of team in November," said Rusch.
"It ended up being a blessing in disguise. I asked what I could
do - I thought maybe I'd be a free agent in adventure racing."
But thanks to a positive experience with some girlfriends racing as a
team at the 24 Hours of Moab the previous month, Rusch thought she could
try some solo mountain bike races. "I ended up being fastest on my
team and got the fastest women's lap overall. It was a huge boost of confidence.
I went there for fun and I had a great time."
"I knew I wasn't ready to not be an athlete any more. I knew I was
good at endurance and I had to figure out what to do. I thought about
ultra endurance running." But her friend Matthew steered her toward
bike racing. He told her "You have the engine for it, you can learn
how to ride the bike."
Read the complete
24 Hours of Old Pueblo draws more riders
Tinker Juarez keeps moving at the
24 hours of Old Pueblo
Photo ©: Dennis Gray
More riders, more singletrack and more fun are on tap for riders and
spectators at the Kona 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, which will take place
February 16-17 near Willow Springs Ranch, north of Tucson, Arizona.
Now in its ninth year, the event is a winter mountain bike destination
for many North Americans. The race features fast and flowing singletrack
and a festival-like atmosphere in Southern Arizona's Sonoran desert landscape.
An anticipated 1,650 riders will compete in the event, 200 more than
the 2007 race, and a huge increase over the 176 contestants in 2000, the
24 Hours in The Old Pueblo's first year.
Promoter Todd Sadow said this year's event will incorporate another three
miles of singletrack, utilizing existing trails "improving safety
for the riders and others in the area while ramping up the fun factor
Racers bolt around a corner
Photo ©: Dennis Gray
Among the elite riders drawn to the desert for some warm-weather racing
are past solo winner and national 24 Hour solo champion Cameron Chambers,
who will join a four-person singlespeed team and former 24 Hours. Former
winner Tinker Juarez (Siemens Cannondale) will also race Mountain Bike
Hall of Fame member and 2007 Leadville 100 winner Dave Wiens, Team Kona
riders Barry Wicks, Matthew Slaven and Kris Sneddon and Team Cyclepath's
Nelson Snyder, who will be tuning up for his adventure racing season.
Snyder won the singlespeed solo category in 2006.
In the women's race, former national short track and Super D champion
and 2007 La Ruta winner Sue Haywood (Trek / VW) will take on US National
24 hour solo champion Pua Sawicki (Team Ergon-Ellsworth).
The ninth annual event is dedicated to Mountain Bike Hall of Fame member
Richard Cunningham, founder of Mantis Bicycles, whose contributions to
the sport include being a mountain bike editor, advocating for mountain
bike access, and making innovations to mountain bike design.
In its first eight years, the event raised approximately US$65,000 for
various non-profit organizations, plus more than 10 tons of food for community
food banks. For more information about the event go online to www.epicrides.com/twofour/24.htm
and stay tuned to Cyclingnews for race coverage.
Subaru-Gary Fisher stays strong for 2008
Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
The Subaru / Gary Fisher Team retains the core of its team for 2008 including
Olympic hopefuls Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Willow Koerber, and Heather Irmiger.
They also kept their title sponsor, Subaru, who re-signed for an additional
three years. For 2008, the team will be split into two divisions - a National
Team and a Global Team. The National Team will race largely in North America
with a focus on the National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) events, World
Cups, premier domestic events, and select international races.
In 2007, Horgan-Kobelski captured another first place cross country finish
at the Deer Valley, Utah, NMBS. Koerber stood on two World Cup podiums
and five domestic podiums while finishing the season as the top-ranked
American woman in the World Cup rankings. Nat Ross pulled in the overall
USA Cycling National Point Series endurance title for the second year
in the row, and Heather Irmiger stood on three domestic podiums.
Horgan-Kobelski, Koerber and Irmiger will be aiming to make the US Olympic
Team by competing in World Cup and World Championship races throughout
the first half of the season.
Former U23 US National Champion Sam Schultz will be looking to make his
place among the elites after a strong showing at the UCI World Championships
in 2007 where he was part of the bronze-medal winning relay team. Schultz,
a Missoula native, will base himself in Colorado Springs.
The longest standing member of the team, Nat Ross, captured the USA Cycling
Ultra Endurance series title in 2007 in addition to competing in the Race
Across America (RAAM) for his second consecutive year. Ross is aiming
to defend his series title in 2008.
Britain's Jenny Copnall will continue to ride for the global squad with
regular appearances at UK and World Cup events. She'll be joined by 22
year-old Ken Onodera, a pro from Japan, Swedish marathoner Asa Erlandsson,
and Israeli racer Dror Pekatch.
Fisher (US) National Team: Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Willow Koerber, Heather
Irmiger, Sam Schultz, Nat Ross
Fisher Global Team: Jenny Copnall, Ken Onodera, Asa Erlandsson, and Dror
Spitz training for Beijing
By Susan Westemeyer
Sabine Spitz (Germany)
Photo ©: Didier Weemaels
Mountain biker Sabine Spitz has been working hard all winter, with one
goal in mind: the Beijing Olympics. She is determined to win a medal,
and has her training all planned to deliver herself in the best possible
shape. Her successes in 2007 gave her additional motivation for the Olympic
After a break in October, the German started her training on the island
of Crete, putting in lots of time on the road. Then she went home for
additional training, followed by altitude training in St. Moritz, working
in both the mountains and the weight room. The 36 year-old then did cross-country
After all that snow and cold, she was ready for the sun and warmth of
the Canary Islands but not the beach. "I'm an active person.
Not someone whose only activity at a beach vacation is to change their
position on the beach chair every 15 minutes. I need movement." She
and her husband/coach Ralf Schäuble are putting in long tours on
Gran Canaria, with about 2,500 climbing meters each day.
Spitz will start her season with a stage race the end of this month,
to be followed by the Schönbuch-Klassiker in Schönaich bei Böblingen
on Easter Monday. After these road races, she will return to mountain
biking with the race in Münsingen, also known as the "Paris-Roubaix
for mountain bikers."
Blenkinsop inks two year deal
Photo ©: Mikkeli Godfree
New Zealand's Sam Blenkinsop, one of the youngest riders to hit the World
Cup circuit, signed a two-year deal with the Yeti / Fox Shox Factory Team.
The young Blenkinsop emerged on the scene at the World downhill championships
in 2005 in Italy, where the skill and riding style of the then 16 year-old
stood out on the challenging Livigno course. The following year, Blenkinsop
took the world racing scene by storm with silver medal on his home turf
at the 2006 UCI World Championships in Rotorua as a junior, even after
an over-the-handlebar crash. More recently, he finished ninth in the elite
ranks at the 2007 UCI World Championships in Fort William, Scotland. He
was in the top 25 of the World Cup overall rankings within his first year
of turning pro.
"Yeti has a long legacy of grooming young talent," said Yeti's
president Chris Conroy. "Sam is a very exciting rider and we are
looking forward to see him progress to the top ranks of the sport."
Just last week, Blenkinsop proved he's off to a good start for 2008 when
racing head-to-head with team-mate and compatriot Justin Leov in the New
Zealand North Island Downhill series. The pair will wrap up racing in
New Zealand and then head off for the World Cup series.
"With team-mates like Jared and Justin," said Blenkinsop, "I'm
going to learn heaps this year, can't wait to get racing on the new rig."
Joining Blenkinsop and Leov will be Jared Graves (Aus) and Ross Milan
(USA) on the global team and Rich Houseman (USA), TJ Sharp (USA), Chris
Boice (USA), and Rudy Unrau (USA) on the US-based national-level squad.
Ergon signs two mountain bike legends
Dave Wiens at the Leadville 100
Photo ©: Wesley & Garrett Geer
Five-time consecutive Leadville 100 winner Dave Wiens and Mountain Bike
Hall of Famer Hans Rey signed with Ergon USA for 2008. While preparing
to go for win number six in Leadville, Wiens will serve as the company
spokesperson, product tester and member of Team Topeak-Ergon.
Rey will represent Ergon as he heads to Africa to work his Wheels 4 Life
non-profit charity. He'll be working his "Wheels 4 Villages"
Film project in Tanzania and then will circumnavigate Mount Kilimanjaro.
Then he's off to the Philippines for the first descent of the Mount Mayon
Volcano, some exploration on the Alta Rezia Trail, and a search for Noah's
Ark in Mount Ararat, Turkey.
Pros throw down tricks at Ray's
Last weekend at Ray's MTB Park in Cleveland, Ohio, pros came together
for a competition similar to the basketball game of H.O.R.S.E. Athletes
paired up, and competed by drawing from a specially designed deck of cards.
Each card featured a unique trick, and teams tried to out perform the
other by throwing down the trick anywhere inside the park. When a team
was unable to perform the trick, they earned a letter.
In the final round, Thomas Hancock found himself out of action after
a bad spill, so Branden Semenuk stepped in. The newly formed team of Adam
Hauck and Brandon Semenuk took the overall win and title of 2008 Ray's
MTB B.I.K.E. Champions. Greg Watts won the "Best Trick" award
with a back flip, double bar spin.
Stage racing spreads to India
The growing trend of multi-day mountain bike has spread to India with
a nine-stage race called the MTB Challenge Race 2008 on March 3-14 in
Sikkim. The race is being organized by Sikkim Tourism and will span 495km
and 14,000m of climbing. For more information, visit sikkimadventures.com/events.html.
MTB Challenge Race
Stage 1: Gangtok - Ranka - Rumtek - Sang
Stage 2: Sang - Martam - Rabong
Stage 3: Rabong - Kewzing - Tashiding
Stage 4: Tashiding - Phamrong Fall - Yuksam
Stage 5: Yuksam - Darap - Pelling
Stage 6: Pelling - Dentam - Hee Bermiok
Stage 7: Hee Bermiok - Kaluk - Soreng
Stage 8: Soreng - Sombaria - Daramdin
Stage 9: Daramdin - Jorethang - Namchi
Stage 10: Namchi - Namthang - Rongpo
Australia selects junior team for worlds
Cycling Australia selected the juniors who will race for Australia at
the Junior World Mountain Bike Championships in Val di Sole, Italy on
June 16-22. Elite and U23 men and women cross country, downhill and 4X
riders will be selected by May 20. More juniors may be picked depending
on performances following the Oceania Championships next month.
Australian Junior Worlds cross country team
U19 Men: Charlton Durie, Luke Fetch, Robbie Hucker, David Johnston
U19 Women: Rebecca Henderson
Australian Junior Worlds downhill team
U19 Men: Dylan Prohm, Matthew Vincent, Shaun O'Connor
U19 Women: Caroline Buchanan
Sea Otter caters to all disciplines
Scheduled for April 17-20, the Sea Otter Classic at Laguna Seca Recreation
Area in Monterey, California, is readying for the onslaught of thousands
of racers. France's Sabrina Jonnier will be among the international competitors
returning to mix it up in the dual slalom. Jonnier will be aiming for
her fourth consecutive victory on the course built and designed by Keith
For 90 percent of the 1,500 downhill racers that show up, it might be
the only time during their season that they race downhill. This course
continues to evolve for 2008 with an improved top section with a new line,
a mix of jumps, turns, pedalling sections and hi-rev speed traps.
The Super D will return for its second year. The hybrid downhill and
cross country race will require not only power, but also a finely tuned
descending strategy to win. It's the opening event on Friday for three
days of mountain bike racing. The 2008 edition will be a combination of
fast fire road and singletrack descents and maybe a few short double-track
climbs - all of which follow a LeMans-style, mass start race by category.
The short track and cross country races are scheduled for Saturday and
Sunday respectively. The cross country course will take riders all over
Fort Ord. Maps with the route will be available March 14.
This year's event will benefit the Davis Phinney Foundation, which supports
Parkinson's disease research and wellness, and IMBA California, which
organizes advocacy and trailbuilding efforts statewide and strengthens
California mountain bike clubs. For more information, visit www.seaotterclassic.com.
GHORBA & SORBA among Bikes Belong grant winners
Bikes Belong awarded six grants to grassroots groups in Colorado, Georgia,
Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington to help build new bike paths and
The Greater Houston Off-Road Biking Association (GHORBA) received US$10,000
to expand the trail system at Double Lake Recreation Area. The Bikes Belong
grant matches a Recreational Trails Program grant and will enable the
group to hire professional trailbuilders to help the all-volunteer group
with their work.
The Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, Woodstock Chapter (SORBA
Woodstock) also received US$10,000 to expand the Blankets Creek Trail
in Georgia. Plans include extending the beginner loop and creating an
advanced loop with technical terrain.
Other grants went to the Whatcom Council of Governments for the Coast
Millennium Trail in Bellingham, Washington; the Centerville-Washington
Park District for the Iron Horse Trail near Dayton, Ohio; the Trails and
Open Space Coalition for the Pikes Peak Greenway/South Tejon Street Connector
in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the Yukon BMX Parents and Riders Association
for Track and Trail Enhancements in Yukon, Oklahoma.
Mike & Mary diary: Staying on in Chile
The view of Santiago,
Photo ©: Mike Broderick & Mary McConneloug
When our planned flight back to Boston departed from Santiago, Mary and
I were checking our tire pressure, filling water bottles and getting ready
to go out on another epic mountain bike exploration mission here in Pichilemu.
Not sure how it happened but once again we took advantage of really not
living anywhere and decided to just stay where we were. In this case to
live and dedicate our winter training out of this dusty little coastal
town in Chile.
This place just kind of lured us in as we were based here competing
in some late season mountain bike races during the quiet time from November
through December. At that time, we enjoyed a flowery desert spring, quiet
beachfront living and out of the way styles of town. Now in late January-February,
it is mid summer for the Southern hemisphere and a hectic carnival feel
has taken overalthough we still find ourselves loving much of what
we have discovered. We are definitely influenced by the long lines at
the grocery and the increased traffic on the single tar road linking town
to the real worldbut it seems a small price to pay for how sweet
it is here.
The only guy
Photo ©: Mike Broderick & Mary McConneloug
The vast rolling hills where we train remain mostly unchanged, big open
dusty and completely remote. The kind of place that's so quiet you could/can
rail through a blind left hand corner in the inside lane rather than touch
the brakes, though you know you really shouldn't!! Also the kind of place
where you can look up to spot the peak of the massive climb from your
vantage point at the very bottom, and you just have to take a look at
what you are getting into, though you know you really shouldn't.
Mary and I are certainly among the first mountain bikers to ride many
of the trails that we have been frequenting. With a good bit of trail
work and countless hours of exploration we have linked miles and miles
of quality forest service terrain that has seemingly laid dormant, maintained
only by cows, horses and the few farmers that scratch a living out of
the dusty soil. Once you learn and commit to the proper duck and roll
under the rusted barbed wire and don't mind a few extra repetitions of
lifting the bike over a few gates, this place gives up some remarkable
Read the complete diary
24 Hours of Kellevie to celebrate second year
The Hobart Dirt Devils Mountain Bike Club 's Kellevie 12/24 hour mountain
bike race will return to the Kellevie Mountain Bike Park in the municipality
of Sorell in Australia for its second year on March 29, 2008. Last year's
solo champions Andrew Fellowes and Eleanor Patterson will be on hand to
defend their titles. Solos, teams of up to six and schools will compete
a track that's been lengthened by nine kilometers.
"We are looking forward to another great event that occurs as a
result of the generosity of the land owner and support of the mountain
biking community," said Duncan Giblin, Race Director.
Last year's riders braved strong winds and a storm to ride through the
night and into the next day. This year, the male and female winners of
the fastest lap will earn AUS$250. Overall male and female solo winners
will be awarded $750.
Registration closes March 7. For more info, visit www.kellevie24.com.
24 Hours of Rotorua to serve as Worlds qualifier
The solo category of the 24 Hours of Rotorua on February 23-24 will serve
as the New Zealand qualifier for the 2008 24 Hours of Adrenalin World
Solo Championships in Alberta, Canada.
"This is great news for our event," said Rotorua race director,
Those not quite up for 24 hours will be able to race a 12 hour version
of the event starting at midnight. For more information, visit www.n-duro.co.nz.
Midwest Fat Tire Series
In its 15th season, Midwest Fat Tire Series in 2008 will feature seven
races in Missouri and Kansas. Racers who compete in 70% or more of the
events will be eligible for the series. For more information, visit www.midwestfattireseries.com.
Midwest Fat Tire Series
March 9: Race #1 - Ride with the Devil - Clinton Lake State Park, Lawrence,
March 30: Race #2 - Rim Wrecker - Council Bluff Lake, Potosi, Missouri
April 20: Race #3 - Tour de Tick - Neosho, Missouri
June 1: Race #4 - Rhett's Run - Cosmo Park, Columbia, Missouri
July 13: Race #5 - Lunatic Fringe - Smithville Lake, Smithville, Missouri
July 27: Race #6 - Show-Me State Games - Rock Bridge State Park, Columbia,
August 31: Binder Lake 6 Hour - Binder Lake Park, Jefferson City, Missouri
September 21: Race #7 - OZ Epic - Trail of the Four Winds, Lake Ozark,
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)