NORBA #3 - West Dover, Vermont, June 17-18, 2006
Hi Cyclingnews.com readers, I have returned from five days in the woods of Vermont and I have the insect bites to prove it. I had difficulty getting online at this venue again, so I have summarized the three days of racing with some other tidbits.
We are pitted in the tech area right next to the big Specialized trailer. I feel a little funny as we have the Genius bikes onboard our trailer - Specialized has the patent on the rear end of the bikes so Scott can't sell them in the US; we end up speaking to them very little anyway. The Specialized European-based team is here in preparation for the WC next week in Canada. Their riders Christophe Sauser and Liam Killen add world cup class to field.
The Specialized bikes were worth noting. Sauser's bike weighs less than 21 pounds, for a dual suspension! There are lots of dual suspension bikes being ridden here as the downhills are rocky and rooty. Kelli Emmett (Ford Cycling) will ride the dual suspension Genius bike tomorrow to see if it would be the best choice for the course.
Mike West and Ariel Lindsey (Maverick) blew by me on the downhill during the pre-ride of the XC course over a really rough section. That certainly lent weight to the dual suspension choice. I felt like I was track-standing trying to get safely down some of the sections. By and large the pro riders really like this course; I have heard it described by many of the pro riders as the best on this year's NORBA circuit.
They have changed the start times for the Super D. At the last two events the Super D has been scheduled two hours before the start of the XC, making it all but impossible for the pro XC riders to make both events. Here at Mt Snow, they moved the Super D to 8:00am on Saturday and moved the XC back to 3:00pm, so there were plenty of XC pros trying on the goggles and the six-inch bikes.
One of our riders, Sara Bresnick-Zocchi, is really ill. This is really bad luck for her as this race is really close to her home and she is really itching to deliver a strong result. There is nothing worse for a rider than to get struck down by illness mid-season. The psychology associated with athlete illness is challenging to say the least.
My mechanic friend Zack Vestal (Trek/VW) got out from behind the workstand and hit the semi-pro XC race today. There is nothing harder than working on your feet most of the day and then chamois up and twist the throttle open. Full props Zack. I even made up a sign to cheer him on.
Grip is the key tomorrow. We have been running Kenda Nevegals tubeless with 26-28psi. We have been on the same tires since we arrived on Thursday as opposed to last week. Knobs have proved to be very important here.
I have to give the shout out to one rider on the way up. Mike Raney (NAU) is a semi-pro and today he recorded his first top-five finish. This won't be his last, as this guy has the goods. Watch for him in the pro class soon.No Team Blue Dart here at Mt Snow this year; I kinda miss having those guys around as the gravity racers always seem to have a different take on the venues and the courses. They add some flavour to the events for me.
Today is XC race day. There is a little chaos going on with the start times. NORBA wants to have more racing going on at the same time, so they are starting the Pro men at 3:00pm, the JuniorX men at 3:02pm and the Pro women at 3:04pm - all racing the same course. This leads to lots of bottlenecks on the course and in the feed/tech zone. I witnessed a few occasions when less experienced junior XC men caused accidents in the feed zone when they failed to realize that faster riders were coming behind them. Also, the main feed zone on the climb was far too short to allow enough room for all the feeders in the three racing classes. Feeders were literally on top of each other in the zone. Hopefully this situation will get ironed out at future venues.
The Specialized Euro riders killed it on the day and took the top of the podium, only JHK came close to a place. I have to give props to Barry Wicks (Kona) for being a crowd pleaser. Barry rode a wheelie through the feed zone on the second lap to keep all of us amused. His team-mate Ryan Trebon was having a difficult day and withdrew from the XC after the first lap; a result that would come into play the next day.
On another note, native Vermonter and 'Rookie' on the Trek squad, Lea Davison (Trek-VW), took second in the morning's Super D, but crashed hard later in the XC and did some damage to her elbow. It looks like she will be on the disabled list for a while. It was a hard day with some highs and lows for her.
It was hot, really hot. The forecast called for 92 degrees and by 11:00am it was 96 degrees in the shade inside our trailer. Hot, humid weather with biting insects are not a good combo.
Our girls opted for the super light 345g Klimax tires for the STXC. Ryan Trebon came by to chat before the warm-up and he was on Maxxis 310g tires for the race. He was predicting a really fast lap time. He mentioned that he was feeling better than his previous day's DNF would suggest.
I went to the start line for the rider call-up with one umbrella to try an offer some additional shade for the riders. Dave Meadows, the Trek mechanic, had me beat. He had a tank in his backpack connected to a misting wand. He went around spraying all the female riders with a cooling mist of water. His ingenuity proved to be very popular with the female pros waited to race in the sun.
The highlight of the afternoon was the men's race. It started fast, but began to bunch up at the front at the end of the first lap. Ryan Trebon took advantage of this and launched a massive out-of-the-saddle attack to start the second lap. All the other pro men looked at the Specialized riders, Killen and Sauser, to chase but they hesitated. Trebon worked the lead out to 40 seconds during the next lap and a half, equal to almost half a lap. The race was over. Trebon continued to march out front while the others took turns chasing but it was too late. Trebon took the most decisive victory I can remember in short track history. When in doubt, attack!
The girls head to Mount St.Anne for the world cup this weekend and I get to fly home on Monday and reload for the west coast swing of NORBAs. It will be good to get back to altitude, dry air and a lack of biting insects. Next up is Deer Valley in my own backyard. I am stoked!
Thanks to all that came by the trailer and said hi this past weekend; as always it is a pleasure to meet fellow readers of Cyclingnews.com and learn a little. It really makes the day a pleasure for me.
More soon from Utah,