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MTB news & racing round-up for September XX, 2008

Date published:
January 06, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • SoCal Interscholastic League gets off to flying start

    Article published:
    January 06, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    James Huang in Boulder City, Nevada

    The cycling community and industry has been quick to back the fledgling Southern California...

    The cycling community and industry has been quick to back the fledgling Southern California Interscholastic Cycling League (SoCal League), which has made rapid progress since the announcement of its formation on August 4.

    Matt Fritzinger, founder and director of the NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing League, and now also director of the SoCal League, said, "It's amazing what has happened since our original announcement and launch of the SoCal website. So many teachers, potential coaches, parents, and students have contacted us. Because of the newly formed and enthusiastic founding committee, and receptive bloggers, the word has spread fast. Last week while scouting venues for camps and races, we kept running into mountain bikers of all ages that already knew about it. With this kind of growth potential we are grateful to have so much industry support."

    Easton Sports Development Foundation II provided the seed money for the new league, and other companies, including Clif Bar, Specialized, Trek Bikes, Wilderness Trail Bikes and Crank Brothers, have not hesitated to come to the party.

    "It's very exciting to see the cycling community come together so quickly and so generously, so that high school students from Southern California have an opportunity to compete in a school-based sport that has been so successful in Northern California," said Jim Easton, head of the Easton Sports Development Foundation II. "Future competition, not only between the schools but between the best riders in Northern and Southern California, can only increase the interest and growth of high school cycling."

    Working closely with Fritzinger, the SoCal League president, Quintin Easton, has already gathered a founding committee, and identified 15 prospective teams, including the Rim of the World High School, which already existed and had been preparing to join the NorCal League.

    "There's a lot of singletrack right out the back of our school, so it made sense...

  • US Forest Service issues guidance pertaining to mountain bikers

    Article published:
    January 06, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    James Huang in Boulder City, Nevada

    The US Forest Service issued an agency memo that could benefit mountain biking in American National...

    The US Forest Service issued an agency memo that could benefit mountain biking in American National Forests. The memo, written by Deputy Chief Joel Holtrop, "clearly defines mountain biking as simliar to hiking and equestrian use, and activity to be managed separately from motorized travel," according to IMBA. Previous studies have shown similar impact among hikers and mountain bikers and both user groups share many common objectives.

    Forest Service director for recreation, heritage and volunteers Jim Bedwell, made the announcement at the IMBA World Summit and said the document has been distributed to agency staff regionally and locally.

    "I want to emphasize that mountain biking is a non-motorized use of National Forest System trails, along with hiking and horseback riding. In our planning and policy documents, a distinction between mountain biking and motorized uses...should be made," said Holtrop in the memo. This guidance could aid the efforts of mountain bike advocates involved in National Forest planning and management processes.

    According to an IMBA statement, "Bedwell's announcement comes at a time when some national forests have applied similar restrictions to bicycles and motor vehicles. IMBA believes most Forest Service staff understand bicycling is a quiet, non-motorized, low-impact activity, and hopes the letter provides the guidance necessary for consistent treatment of mountain biking on every national forest."

    The memo also recognized the importance of the partnership between IMBA and the US Forest Service. The two parties work together under a Memorandum of Understanding that has been renewed three times thus far.

  • Trail Tune-up grants awarded

    Article published:
    January 06, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    James Huang in Boulder City, Nevada

    Six recipients of the 2008 USA Cycling-International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Trail...

    Six recipients of the 2008 USA Cycling-International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Trail Tune-Up Grants were announced Thursday. A total of US $3,500 was awarded to groups displaying the highest need for trail improvement projects with an emphasis on trails used for racing.

    Recipient clubs, who had to be members of USA Cycling and IMBA, were chosen from Alabama, California, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia.

    The New York Mountain Bike Association, based in New York, New York, was awarded $1,000 to be directed toward trail signage, the building of new trails and maintenance of old. The funds will also help complete a permanent race loop within the Highbridge trail system.

    Five $500 grants were also awarded, including two to Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition will use their funds for trail improvements and maintenance on the western slopes of Massanutten Resort in order to raise trial quality and ensure better racing conditions. The funds awarded to Page Valley Cycling will help the Page County-based organization purchase hand tools for construction and maintenance on the Big Gem Mountain Bike Trail System and a BMX pump track.

    In Massachussets, the North Atlantic Velo/NEMBA will rebuild bridges and add signage along race courses.

    In Alabama, the grant went to the Lake Howard Trail project in Greater Sylacuga.

    Finally, Roaring Mouse Cycles in California will begin construction of a small pump track as well as upgrade and realign the trail system in San Francisco's McLaren Park.

    The grants were funded by USA Cycling members who donated funds to land-access uses when renewing their memberships.

  • O'Dea Diary: Fool's Gold behind the scenes, Sponsor change, and Racing again

    Namrita and Eddie O'Dea
    Article published:
    January 06, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    James Huang in Boulder City, Nevada

    The second ever Fool's Gold MTB Races and Festival was an amazing success. We were just beginning to...

    The second ever Fool's Gold MTB Races and Festival was an amazing success. We were just beginning to recover from our trip to the US 24 Hour Nationals when it was time to start the final preparations for the event. Namrita & I went up to Dahlonega, Georgia, on Wednesday with a truck load each of prizes, a PA system and various other supplies. We then spent some time planning out how to mark the 50 mile course and set up the start/finish venue. We ran out of daylight quickly and headed for downtown Dahlonega to have a few beers with Jason Mead of Pivot Cycles.

    On Thursday, Namrita drove and marked the first 12 miles of the course while Dave Muse, our course designer, marked the Bull Mountain section and Jason & I marked the finishing singletrack sections. I borrowed a demo Pivot Mach 4 for the ride and really pushed it hard (when I was not dropping course marking arrows all over the place). Two hours into the ride, we saw a large black bear just 20 yards to the side. All three of us (Jason, I, and the bear) stopped and stared for a brief moment, each contemplating our next move.

    The bear exited noisily into the brush to our left, but only 30 feet or so. I was not about to continue until he was far enough away that I could not see or hear him. I began yelling to scare him away, "That's right and don't come back!" Smack talking the bear seemed the most appropriate thing to do for some reason. We continued this display of false confidence for a few minutes and heard the bear move further and further away. Finally, we rode on, still yelling as we went. The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, but I ended the day with about nine hours of riding and at least three more hours of other manual labor.

    The participants started rolling in early on Friday afternoon, some just to check in, and others to stay for the weekend. My brother finally arrived with his two sons and that was huge relief. They put in so much work over the weekend, taking a...

  • Interbike Tech Coverage: Felt unveils a new arsenal for 2009

    Lower-end Virtues now receive an aluminum rear end
    Article published:
    January 06, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    James Huang in Boulder City, Nevada

    By James Huang in Boulder City, Nevada The carbon hardtail lives For whatever reason, carbon...

    By James Huang in Boulder City, Nevada

    The carbon hardtail lives

    For whatever reason, carbon hardtails seem to be making a comeback and Felt throw its hat into the ring with the new Six Team. Based on the Nine Carbon introduced at last year's show, this new 26" version shares many of its features but delves even further into the full-on race bike category.

    The frame uses Felt's Ultra High Modulus carbon fiber blend and one-piece seat stay and chain stay assemblies along with beefy head tube and bottom bracket areas for precise handling and drivetrain rigidity. Claimed frame weight for complete bikes is just 1200g while the higher-end frame-only configuration is said to knock off another 150g. Complete top-end bikes reportedly weigh less than 9.5kg (21lb).

    The frame tube profiles scream ‘fast and rigid' to us and the parts spec similarly makes no illusions as to the bike's intentions. The RockShox SID fork is set to just 80mm of travel, the carbon handlebar is both flat and narrow, and the Sun Ringle Black Flag wheelset certainly strikes us as better suited to flying uphill than bombing rock-strewn scree fields.

    The new Six Team might not be a versatile trail bike but if racing is your gig, this might be a good tool for the job.

    Substantial changes to Virtue and Compulsion platforms

    Speaking of trail bikes, the 130mm-travel Virtue and 150mm-travel Compulsion platforms both get major updates for '09. Stiffer front triangles improve handling precision, especially in rougher conditions, while a more compact Equilink suspension layout with beefier linkages offers similar benefits out back. Slacker head tube angles all around make for a more stable feel, too.

    Both also get semi-interrupted seat tubes similar to that used on the burlier Redemption which allows the use of a more conventional high-clamp front derailleur (last year's bikes used E-type mounts).

    Last but certainly...

  • Hill to Specialized and Beaumont to GT

    Sam Hill (Monster Energy)
    Article published:
    January 06, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    By Callum Jelley, BikeRadar 'Tis the season for rider transfer news, and this week it comes from Sam...

    By Callum Jelley, BikeRadar

    'Tis the season for rider transfer news, and this week it comes from Sam Hill and Marc Beaumont.

    Australian downhill star Hill will join the Specialized team next season as confirmed by BikeRadar at the Interbike tradeshow in Las Vegas.

    The Aussie will be riding a Demo to start with but Specialized is planning to develop a new bike with Hill in the not-too-distant future. This marks Specialized's full return to World Cup downhill racing, and with Trek promising to sign new riders to race the Session '88, it promises to be an exciting year for gravity racers.

    In addition, Marc Beaumont will ride with GT for 2009. The Steve Peat prodigy and current Team Santa Cruz-Bikeradar rider has always been a prominent force on the World Cup circuit as well as being a brilliant ambassador for the sport. With a new full carbon downhill bike in the prototype stages, GT needed the best to test and develop this machine and get it up to World Cup racing standards; Beaumont was their choice.

    On the other hand, GT is losing two of their other top gravity riders: Australian Bryn Atkinson and American Jill Kintner. Their next destinations have yet to be confirmed.

  • Team Monster Energy reflects on 2008

    Article published:
    January 06, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    As the 2008 season comes to an end, Team Monster Energy's riders and manager reflected on their...

    As the 2008 season comes to an end, Team Monster Energy's riders and manager reflected on their final performances in 2008 and the upcoming 2009 season.

    While the team's biggest star rider Sam Hill didn't take home the World Cup title, he remains philosophical about the season and that last race.

    "I wasn't too happy with my result in qualifying at the World Cup finals," said Australian Hill. "I found myself riding tight and slow which was disappointing because I was really trying to get maximum points for the series overall."

    "I was really stoked though that (teammate) Brendan (Fairclough) qualified in second. He has more speed and skill than pretty much everybody out there so it was cool that he put it together. My race run just didn't really feel right at all. I was riding too cautious and then when I did try to go a bit faster I just kept making mistakes. I had four big saves during my race run and that has never happened to me before. I was pleased to finish second with the run that I had and this season has motivated me a lot for next year."

    Looking at the season as a whole, Hill said, "Overall with my season I have mixed feelings. Some races have been good and then there are a lot I would rather forget about. I think I have learned a lot this year and hopefully I can turn the negatives into positives for next year."

    Meanwhile, teammate Brendan Fairclough had a season of highs and lows, ranging from injury at the Andorra World Cup to some great moments at the Bromont World Cup and a second-placed run in qualifying at the Schladming World Cup. Unfortunately, his wheel then washed out in finals and spat him down the track just moments after what would likely have abeen a career-best result.

    "It felt good to be up there after the semi but it didn't really feel that good beating Sam," said Great Britain's Fairclough. "It meant that his points were down so I felt a bit bad for that. I knew that my run was really chilled in...

  • USA Cycling unveils 2009 Mountain Bike National Calendars

    Article published:
    January 06, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    On Thursday, USA Cycling announced the 34 races that will comprise the third annual USA Cycling...

    On Thursday, USA Cycling announced the 34 races that will comprise the third annual USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendars (MBNC) in the three disciplines of Cross Country, Gravity and Ultra-Endurance.

    The calendars were intended to provide more accessible opportunity for top-level events in the United States that have not traditionally been part of the national series model. USA Cycling described the concept as "compatible with a variety of event models" and said it "provided professional and elite-level athletes with consistent, top-quality racing opportunities across all disciplines of mountain biking".

    In 2009, the cross country calendar features a more logistics-friendly travel schedule and a higher cash purse minimum, meaning fewer total events. The calendar includes the new, proposed US Cup and more UCI races.

    Consisting of 19 events across 13 states, the cross country calendar will kick off with the Fontana round of the US Cup in Fontana, California on March 20 and will once again stretch seven months until the last weekend in October when the Piney Hills Classic in Ruston, Louisiana. Over the course of the season-long calendar, athletes will accrue ranking points as they pursue overall titles in men's and women's individual and team categories - much like USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar model in road cycling.

    Each of the 29 events on the cross country calendar is categorized according to the amount of overall ranking points available. Three category-1 events offer the most points - the Sea Otter United States Cup in Monterey, California, the US National Championships in Granby, Colorado, and the Mount Snow round of the US Cup in West Dover, Vermont. The cross country calendar includes two category-2 events, three category-3 races and 11 category-4 events.

    The eight-event gravity calendar, which features downhill, 4X, super D and dual slalom events, will span five states, with similar category designations....

  • Wells & Stander to Specialized

    Burry Stander (South Africa)
    Article published:
    January 06, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    For 2009, Specialized has signed American Todd Wells and South African Burry Stander, former...

    For 2009, Specialized has signed American Todd Wells and South African Burry Stander, former teammates at GT Bicycles. The two riders will join cross country World Champion Christoph Sauser, who will remain with the team for 2009.

    "We believe that in terms of young talent, Burry is the guy for the future," said Ben Capron of Specialized. "In terms of team chemistry, he and Christoph are close friends. They started the Cape Epic together last year and have trained together in South Africa." The pair had to pull out of the Cape Epic before the finish due to a knee injury sustained by Stander. However, the injury didn't slow down Stander for long. He was runner-up at the U23 World Championships in June.

    "Christoph was instrumental in the recommendation of Burry," said Capron. "And Burry and Todd are really close, and we've always respected Todd's abilities. He's had his best World Cup season ever and is getting faster every year." Wells also represented the US at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

    On the women's side, Norwegian Lena Byberg will continue as a member of the team.

  • UCI releases 2009 calendar

    Article published:
    January 06, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Callum Jelley, BikeRadar

    At the UCI Road World Championships, in Varese, Italy, the UCI Management Committee met and approved...

    At the UCI Road World Championships, in Varese, Italy, the UCI Management Committee met and approved the UCI Mountain Bike Calendar for 2009. Major events, including World Cups, Continental Championships, and World Championships are listed below. A full schedule of UCI categorized events will be coming soon.

  • American mountain bike series struggles into the future

    Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) winning - a familiar sight at the NMBS races
    Article published:
    January 06, 2009, 0:00 GMT
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    By Sue George With the demise of the National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) held annually in the...

    By Sue George

    With the demise of the National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) held annually in the United States, North American mountain bikers were left wondering 'What's next?'. Going into the 2009 season, Team Sho-Air's Scott Tedro has stepped up to lead an effort to create a new national-level series: the US Cup. What remains to be seen is if Tedro and other advocates for the series can muster enough sponsorship to support the series. Although the members of the cycling industry have voiced general support for the new US Cup, sponsorship dollars have been slow to materialize.

    The proposed US Cup would include races in Fontana, Laguna Seca and Los Olivos, California; Fountain Hills, Arizona; Angel Fire, New Mexico; Windham, New York; and Mt. Snow, Vermont, many of which were popular NMBS venues. Nearly all of the races, running from late March through early August, would award UCI points. Furthermore, the series would pay equal prize money to elite men and women and aim to provide a "very rewarding" experience for amateur racers.

    Sponsorship woes

    When Tedro put out the full series proposal and an initial call for sponsorship to monetarily support the new national-level series, a deafening silence followed.

    "It is like beating my head against the wall. We are far away from our goal," said Tedro to Cyclingnews in early September. "Although everyone seems to want the series, not enough are stepping up."

    Creating a series to replace the NMBS came with some baggage. Reading recent conversations on public forums, it's clear the NMBS has had its problems. In its later days, it seems not to have served the amateur racers as well as in past days, and many categories showed poor attendance at some venues.

    "For the first 30 days [after proposing the US Cup], everyone could only say what was wrong with the NMBS," Tedro said. He wanted to move forward, taking what worked from the NMBS,...