NORBA Series Round #1

Big Bear, CA, USA, June 1-3, 2001

The Schedule

Day 1 - June 1: Long course XC M/W - 25.2/16.8 miles

Women - Grigson starts well

By Rob Karman, correspondent
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Mary Grigson
Photo: © Rob Karman

With an impressive combination of climbing power and descending skills, Australia's Mary Grigson (Gary Fisher/Subaru) took the opening round of the NORBA National Points Series in Big Bear, CA by over a minute and a half.

The race was animated early on by Colorado resident Alison Dunlap (GT) who took the hole shot after a 3/4 mile fire road start to pull away by 25 seconds up the first climb. "I really wanted to lead up the first climb 'cause Mary's a good descender," said Dunlap. "The 2nd lap, she was just a little bit stronger and I couldn't stay with her. She rode a great race. It was a long, long climb. It was really hot today."

After the first of two 8.4 mile laps, Dunlap led Grigson through the start/finish by 23 seconds with Ruthie Matthes 5 seconds behind Grigson. A chase group containing teammates Amber Neben and Shonny Vanlandingham (Sobe/Headshok) and Jimena Florit (Polo Sport) followed another 30 seconds back.

Up the climb on lap 2 Grigson reeled Dunlap in and went right by her. When asked what she was thinking when she passed Dunlap, Grigson said that she was thinking "she's very strong and she's probably coming back around".

But Dunlap did not come back around and Grigson used her descending skills to put a minute and 40 seconds into Dunlap by the finish.

The race for 3rd heated up as Amber Neben powered past Ruthie Matthes proving that her strong 2nd place showing at Road Nationals last week was no fluke. Matthes came back by her on the descent for the left hand podium spot though and Neben held on to 4th for her best ever NORBA National finish. Teammate Shonny Vanlandingham of Pagosa Springs, CO rounded out the top 5, one place behind her best finish at Big Bear two years ago.

Winners' comments

Mary Grigson (Gary Fisher/Subaru), first place
"I just paced myself, I'm still not great off the start. Ffor me to take the lead early I must be having a strong day. I passed (Alison Dunlap) half way up the climb, I think she cramped... I was killing myself. I crashed, I can ride better than that, I crashed a couple of times."

"My objective for this year is to have fun. Last year with the AIS and Olympic Games I had some good success, but I had a serious attitude and I was not the person I wanted to be — I want to be a happier person."

Alison Dunlap (GT), second place
"She (Grigson) was a little stronger on the second lap. (I had) No problems, I just didn't have strong enough legs today. I'm trying to go for the overall (series) title, but my primary goal this year is Vail (world championships)."

Ruthie Matthes (Trek/VW), third place
"It's good to race with the girls again! I'm not up to race speed yet but I feel OK. Amber Neben was riding great on the climb and she had a 20 second gap by the top, but I said 'I have nothing to lose and I can catch her on the descent.' Then I saw Alison Dunlap ahead, I had no idea what was going on up front, I didn't realize that I was close."

Men - Molday puts one over the rest

By Rob Karman, correspondent
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Kirk Molday
Photo: © Rob Karman

Kirk Molday (Santa Cruz/Sun Race) is the hero of the underdog. After many of the top teams turned him down due to lack of results in the second half of last season, a lack luster 1999, and and a bout with chronic fatigue in 1998, he answered them all with a commanding win in the opening round of the NORBA National Points Series in Big Bear, CA today.

Attacking from a strong lead group of four which included recent World Cup winner Roland Green (Trek/VW) and Gary Fisher/Subaru teammates Pavel Cherkasov and Ryder Hesjedal, Molday put the hammer down on the climb of the second of three laps to open up a gap of 1:35 at the top of the climb on the hard chasing duo of Cherkassov and Green. Seamus McGrath (Haro/Lee Dungarees) dangled in no mans land another minute back with Madrigal Ziranda (Turbo), Steve Larsen (LL Bean/Stairmaster) and Jose Adrian Bonilla (Cafe de Costa Rica) following close behind.

Green and Cherkasov pulled back 10 seconds on the descent, but up the final climb Molday made it clear who was in form eventually finishing 2:40 ahead of Green. Cherkassov rolled in at 3:01.

Molday won at the series opener here last year and followed it up with a second place spot on the podium at Mount Snow, VT, but struggled through the latter part of the season with a knee injury to finish the series in 25th. Then he DNF'd at the World Championships and couldn't get a contract renewal from Trek. Things were not looking good for the 1997 series champion until a friend hooked him up with the folks at Santa Cruz who were happy to pick him up.

Arriving at the finish with dirt and sweat caked on his face, Molday took advantage of the photo op and put in a set of crooked false teeth. Perhaps a comment on the way some potential sponsors looked at him last winter?

Winners' comments

Kirk Molday (Santa Cruz), first place
I can't believe it, it's so cool. I was inside my target heart rate; I know those guys are always over the limit [in the early stages of the race] and I knew it was a good day for me. I have to give credit to Santa Cruz, my full-suspension bike weighs only 21lbs, it's probably lighter than their hardtails."

"[My goal is] full on NORBA, I'm trying to be the USA Champion. I'm not looking as far ahead as Vail [world championships]. This is great for my confidence, especially after watching Roland Green spank everyone in Europe. A lot of people wrote me off. I'll be here for a few years yet."

Roland Green (Trek/Volkswagen), second place
"I can feel the altitude a bit, I'm happy with my ride today. I've had a lot of weekends racing and from three world cup races have a second and a first place, so I can't complain. Being at such a high level for so long, you can't hold it, at some point you've got to come down a bit. I'm thinking ahead to Grouse Mountain now [fourth round of the world cup]."

"Kirk was amazing. I couldn't match his pace — I paid the price for trying to stay with him, although on the last lap I got my legs back."

Pavel Cherkasov (Subaru/Gary Fisher), third place
"I'm really happy, it's a nice start to the NORBA series. There will be intense competition this season and I'm looking forward to it. Definitely Kirk Molday was the strongest today. He went on the climb and no-one could stay on his wheel. I was riding good today, my descending was good — I dropped Seamus McGrath on the final descent. Everybody who tried to stay with Kirk Molday paid a price."


1 Mary Grigson (Gary Fisher/Subaru)      1.28.02
2 Alison Dunlap (GT)                        1.40
3 Ruthie Matthes (Trek/VW)                  1.59
4 Amber Neben (Sobe/Headshok)               2.20
5 Shonny Vanlandingham (Sobe/Headshock)     3.42
6 Melissa Thomas                            4.27
7 Chrissy Redden                            5.55
8 Jimena Florit (RLX/Polo Sport)            6.06
9 Willow Koerber                            6.11
10 Trish Sinclair                           6.41
1 Kirk Molday (Santa Cruz/Sun Race)      1.50.53
2 Roland Green (Trek/VW)                    2.40
3 Pavel Cherkassov (Gary Fisher/Subaru)     3.01
4 Seamus McGrath (Haro)                     3.23
5 Ryder Hesjedal (Gary Fisher/Subaru)       4.37
6 Steve Larsen                              4.54
7 Jose Adrian Bonilla                       5.50
8 Madrigal Ziranda                          5.59
9 Travis Brown                              6.54
10 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski                   7.12

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Day 2 - June 2: Short track XC M/W - 20 min + 3/2 laps

Women - Dunlap unstoppable

By Rob Karman, correspondent
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Alison Dunlap
Photo: © Rob Karman

A sizeable lead group quickly formed as the riders sped out on the half mile technical course and worked well together for the first half of the race. A series of attacks by Jimena Florit (RLX/Polo Sport) then whittled things down to five: Florit, Alison Dunlap (GT), Mary Grigson (Gary Fisher/Subaru), SusanHayward (Trek/VW) and Shonny VanLandingham (SoBe).

With three laps to go Jimena attacked again and got a gap leaving Mary Grigson on the front of the remaining four. Alison Dunlap powered across the gap and the two leaders worked together until one to go. Grigson tried to bridge, but could not close
the gap.

On the last lap Florit attacked but Dunlap brought her back and it came down to a sprint with Dunlap leading through the last hairpin turn. Dunlap took it with ease and Grigson held on for third. Vanlandingham dropped Hayward to take fourth.

Winners' Comments

Alison Dunlap, GT, first place
"I love the Short Track. I knew I would be going for the win, but you never know how your legs will feel. When I jumped across to catch her (Florit) I was seeing stars."

"I suffered, it's hard starting towards the back (of the bunch). Jimena was strong today, I was very impressed, I struggled to stay with her."

Jimena Florit, RLX Polo Sport, second place
"I just felt good and wanted to take advantage of my form. I was glad when Alison Dunlap came up to me, it was too windy to be alone. It was good to ride with Alison, I can learn from her — I am such a fan of hers!"

"The last lap was the whole race. It was 'who gets to the top of the climb first' but she had the same idea and was just faster than me!"

Mary Grigson, Gary Fisher/Subaru, third place

"Jimena rode really well, I was glad she got second, she really deserved it. I was a bit slow off the mark, but that's typical for me - this is not an event I ever thought I'd be good at, so I'm pleased with third place."

Men – Teamwork pays off for Hesjedel

By Rob Karman, correspondent

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Ryder Hesjedel and Seamus McGrath
Photo: © Rob Karman

The same course for the men, plus an extra lap. Animation came early from Frank Mapel (Yeti/Pearl Izumi) who tried to get away halfway into the first lap. He was quickly reeled back in, but continued to lead with commanding power. A front flat after a few laps took him out of contention, but he continued to ride hard until being lapped and pulled.

Gary Fisher/Subaru team-mates Ryder Hesjedal and Pavel Cherkasov used their strength in numbers to great advantage, first with Hesjedal off the front for many laps with Cherkasov blocking the field and sitting on while Jimmy Killen (Schwinn) gave chase. Finally the rest of the field helped in the chase and brought Ryder back only to see the Gary Fisher/Subaru pair trade positions with Pavel off the front.

His moment of glory did not last long and the field was back together with three to go, led by a strong-looking Jose Adrian Bonilla (Cafe Costa Rica/Pizza Hut). Ryder tried to go again with a little over two to go, but the field would have none of it and brought him back in half a lap.

All together again with one to go, the anticipated attack came and found Seamus McGrath (Haro/Lee Dungarees), Hesjedal, and Roland Green (Trek/VW) setting up for a three-way sprint. Hesjedal led through the last corner and easily held off McGrath for the win. Green rolled in third ahead of a smiling Cherkasov who was as happy to have his team-mate win as if he had taken it himself.

Winners' Comments

Ryder Hesjedal, Gary Fisher/Subaru, first place
"I knew I would be able to ride strong, I wasn't over my limit when I got the gap, and I knew if they didn't close it I would have an easy win.

"On the last lap I knew I had the legs to win it. I went past Pavel Cherkasov and thought: 'there's still kind of room (to pass McGrath at the tight corner)'"

Seamus McGrath, Haro Lee Dungarees, second place
"I decided to wait until the end of the race before making a move. I wasn't worried with Ryder out in front, I knew he'd come back."

"When we went into the last downhill I was surprised to see Ryder suddenly there by me, I thought he was four or five riders back. I was a bit disappointed, but that's racing — he made a great move."

Roland Green (Trek/Volkswagen), third place
"I really enjoy this format of racing: it's tough and there's no room for mistakes."

(On the final descent) "I was just behind them (Hesjedal and McGrath), looking for a line to get through, but there was no opening. When I saw them hook up I thought they may go down, but they managed to keep it upright."



1 Alison Dunlap (GT) 24.42
2 Jimena Florit (RLX/Polo Sport) 0.02
3 Mary Grigson (Gary Fisher Subaru) 0.15
4 Shonny Vanlandingham (Sobe/Headshok) 0.23
5 Susan Hayward (Trek/VW) 0.30
6 Carmen D'Aluisio (Volvo/Cannondale) 0.35
7 Dellys Franke (Merida) 0.44
8 Kerry Barnholt (Sobe/Headshok) 0.47
9 Chrissy Redden (Gary Fisher/Subaru) 0.52
10 Ruthie Matthes (Trek/VW) 0.56


1 Ryder Hesjedal (Gary Fisher/Subaru) 24.42
2 Seamus McGrath (Haro/Lee Dungarees) 0.01
3 Roland Green (Trek/VW)
4 Pavel Cherkasov (Gary Fisher/Subaru) 0.04
5 Jose Adrian Bonilla (Cafe Costa Rica/Pizza Hut)
6 Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain) 0.06
7 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (RLX/Polo Sport) 0.09
8 Mathieu Toulouse (Ford/Devinci) 0.18
9 Carl Swenson (RLX/Polo Sport) 0.22
10 Steve Larsen (LL Bean/Mongoose) 0.30

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Day 2 - June 2: Dual slalom

Global warming!

By Rob Karman, correspondent

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Leigh Donovan
Photo: © Rob Karman
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Mick Hannah and Greg Minnaar
Photo: © Rob Karman

Two young guns from the first year Global Racing Team upset a pair of the sport's established stars in the semi-final to make it an all-Global men's final. Greg Minnaar dispatched Brian Lopes (GT/Fox) while Mick Hannah ousted US National Champ Eric Carter (Mongoose/Hyundai) en route to the overall victory. It might also be the first time both riders in a slalom final have been from the southern hemisphere: Minnaar is South African, Hannah comes from Australia.

In the women's race Leigh Donovan (Schwinn) triumphed over Australian Katrina Miller (Jamis).

Winners' Comments

Mick Hannah, Global racing, First place men
"The course here at Big Bear couldn't have been better. I just loved the technical aspect of the course. I felt great on my runs and my bike was working great. We had a few problems with my Rock Shox earlier in the week but it all smoothed itself out."

Greg Minaar Global Racing, Second place men
"The course here was great, not a pedaling course at all which is good because I'm not a pedaler! The bike was working well though looking back I'd have done better to ride my (Orange) Patriot. More power to the ground in the corners and going against Mick you need every bit to catch him! I was glad that it was him I faced in the final. I'd have been too nervous if the final were against someone like Wade Bootes!"

Leigh Donovan, Schwinn, first place women
"Of all my (career) wins, this was definitely the sweetest of them all!"

Katrina Miller, Jamis, second place women
"The course was great! Very technical and challenging. I felt really good out there today."



1 Mick Hannah (Global Racing)
2 Greg Minnar (Global Racing)
3 Michael Deldycke (Schwinn)
4 Wade Bootes (Trek/VW)


1 Leigh Donovan (Schwinn)
2 Katrina Miller (Jamis)
3 Tara Llanes (Yeti/Pearl Izumi)
4 Missy Giove (Global Racing)

Day 3 - June 3: Downhill

Hannah hammers

By Rob Karman, correspondent

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Marla Streb
Photo: © Rob Karman
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Mick Hannah
Photo: © Rob Karman

17 year old Australian Mick Hannah of the Global Racing team bested a field of the world's top riders for the second day in a row at the Big Bear NORBA Nationals today. Seeded halfway through the 103 rider field, Hannah took the hot seat of race leader and had to watch as one rider after another came down the mountain trying to oust him from the top of the leader board. Hannah's countryman Nathan Rennie (Yeti/Pearl Izumi) came within 0·05 of a second with only four riders remaining, but no one could better the youngster's blistering time. Chris Kovarik (Intense) made it an all-Australian podium.

In women's action, Marla Streb (Foes/Azonic) continued her early season success with a triumph over crowd favorite Missy Giove (Global Racing) with Tara Llanes (Yeti/Pearl Izumi) filling out the podium.

Winners' Comments

Marla Streb, Foes-Azonic, first place women
"I felt this morning that I should be able to win if I didn't make any major mistakes. I got the crash out of my system and didn't think about motorcycles at all today. I'm into bicycles now." [Streb was involved in a crash with another motorcyclist last week while training]

"I came here two weeks ago to start acclimatizing. I stayed in a tent and trained for this event. I think being here for that long helped me today."

"As soon as I managed to accomplish the double (jump), I felt really good about the course. I hadn't wanted to try it before this morning, but this morning I felt ready."

Missy Giove, Global Racing, second place women
"I took it easy at first, then ramped the pace up, but messed up the rock section and almost went over the handlebars. I kept on telling myself 'recover, recover' for the jumps. I am happy not to have crashed. Second is not bad, and I'm more consistent than Marla Streb over the course of a season."

"It's good to have the full support of a great team like Global Racing, that makes a lot of difference in being well prepared for an event."

Tara Llanes, RPM-Yeti, third place women
"I really am satisified with 3rd on this course. At first the double jump was intimidating, and it took me four runs to do it, but this course was not as intimidating as some of the World Cup courses we have to race on, with huge wet rocks and tree roots. I thought this Big Bear course was really good — it was tough."

Mick Hannah, Global Racing, first place men
"My favorite part of the course was the jumps. I hit the doubles flat stick, it was such a good feeling flying free through the air."

"I was excited when I first rode this course, I love this kind of terrain. I love the loose, dusty surface, it is so unpredictable, and that's what I love."

"This is the best feeling I've ever had. I can't find words to explain it."

Nathan Rennie, RPM-Yeti, second place men
"I feel great about second place, and congratulations to Mick Hannah. It's a really good course for me - very dusty and difficult, in and out of ruts."

"I'm just happy for Mick, and to have another Australian to meet on the podium. I am interested to see what he (Mick Hannah) is like on a really technical course."

Chris Kovarik, Intense Cycles, third place men
"I was a bit nervous in my run because last year I had a big crash here right before the finish. I just concentrated on getting in clean."

"One of my goals this year is to be more consistent. I've learnt every year to get more consistency. This comes with experience and more confidence."



1 Marla Streb (Foes/Azonic) 3:42.3
2 Missy Giove (Global Racing) 3:46.3
3 Tara Llanes (Yeti/Pearl Izumi) 3:48.0
4 Marielle Saner (Global Racing) 3:50.5
5 April Lawyer (Maxxis) 3:51.8
6 Vanessa Quin 3:53.4
7 Kathy Pruitt (Dirt Works) 3:54.6
8 Leigh Donovan (Schwinn) 3:56.0
9 Katrina Miller (Jamis) 4:01.8
10 Cheri Elliot (ODI/Azonic) 4:04.6


1 Mick Hannah (Global Racing) 3:15.19
2 Nathan Rennie (Yeti/Pearl Izumi) 3:15.24
3 Chris Kovarik (Intense) 3:17.72
4 Greg Minnar (Global Racing) 3:18.83
5 Markolf Berchtold (Global Racing) 3:19.14
6 John Waddell (Sunrace/Santa Cruz) 3:20.03
7 Colin Bailey (Maxxis) 3:20.25
8 Kirt Voreis (Haro) 3:20.63
9 Brian Lopes (GT/Fox) 3:21.58
10 Fabien Barel (GT) 3:21.90

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