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MTB News & Racing Round-up, March 11, 2010

Date published:
March 12, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • McConneloug and Broderick safe following Chilean earthquake

    Mike Broderick and Mary McConneloug won this competitive (mixed) division
    Article published:
    March 04, 2010, 12:04 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Cyclingnews bloggers training in the US

    Cyclingnews bloggers Mary McConneloug and Mike Broderick (Kenda / Seven / No Tubes) confirmed that they are safe and sound following the 8.8 magnitude earthquake last weekend on February 27 in Chile. Thanks to some fortunate timing, the pair had left the country to return to the US just prior to the quake.

    "We are fine," they wrote in a email to Cyclingnews. "Made it out of there 72 hours before it happened!"

    The American couple had been racing and training Chile for several weeks before the quake happened. They won the mixed division while competing at the Trans Andes Challenge, and then stayed on for additional time to train in the warmer climate of the Southern Hemisphere and to visit with friends.

    Fortunately, their friends, still in Chile, were physically ok following the quake and resulting tsunamis. "Our friends in Chile are a bit shaken up, so to speak, but thankfully, they are ok. We feel very blessed."

    McConneloug and Broderick were touched by the concern of Cyclingnews' readers who inquired about their wellbeing.

    With the domestic season about to begin in earnest, the two are training in Sebastapol, California. They will begin racing in a few weeks.

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for future blogs from McConneloug and Broderick.

  • NorCal High School League to kick off 10th year

    The Sophomore Boys race start at a NorCal High School League Division 1 race.
    Article published:
    March 04, 2010, 17:33 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Mountain biking popularity among high schoolers keeps growing

    The Northern California High School Mountain Bike Racing Series is celebrating its 10th season this year with a five-race season for more than 500 high school mountain bikers from 40 schools across northern California. Students have been in training, and eagerly await the opening round on March 7 at East Garrison, Fort Ord, near Monterey.

    Brand new executive director Vanessa Hauswald is as excited as anybody. "As expected, more than 530 riders have signed up for this series already, and we may get close to 600 by the time registration closes. This is a 20 percent jump over last year's membership."

    "We're proud to be going into our tenth year with such a strong showing of teams, coaches, athletes and volunteers. Once again we have a challenging line up of courses that suit young riders, and we are really looking forward to watching our athletes enjoy themselves out there."

    The 10th year of the series marks a turning point, necessitated by the popularity of the races. Hauswald said, "Now that we've grown beyond 500 riders, our venues and infrastructure are bursting at the seams. We are looking at options to accommodate the ever-increasing numbers and next year we will implement some changes."

    "In the four years I've been with the League I have witnessed its growth, with each year getting even more fun and exciting than the last," said top ranked returning Varsity rider Will Curtis of San Rafael High School. "The lineup for the courses this year looks awesome! I think it will be a fun year for sure."

    Curtis is confident of his form going into the season and says he hopes to perform to the best of his ability each race. "If that is good enough to win, that would be awesome. If not, I can be happy knowing that I gave it all I have. Can't wait for next weekend!"

    The 2010 series opener is held on a course featuring singletrack through the rolling hills in mountain biking's classic Fort Ord venue. Riders will complete on...

  • Armstrong's coach Carmichael takes on La Ruta de Los Conquistadores

    Chris Carmichael along with client and friend Lance Armstrong
    Article published:
    March 04, 2010, 20:39 GMT
    Hillary Harrison

    50th birthday goal is four-day mountain bike stage race

    Lance Armstrong's coach Chris Carmichael will mark the milestone of his 50th birthday by competing in La Ruta de Los Conquistadores, the four-day mountain bike stage race that crosses Costa Rica from the Pacific to the Atlantic ocean. This year's race is scheduled for November 17 to 20, 2010.

    "I was looking for an authentic challenge, and La Ruta is the real deal. I've done events all over the world, and in my prime I raced the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France," said Carmichael. "Now that I'm turning 50, I'm looking for a different kind of challenge, something that's a very personal challenge."

    Although Carmichael may be currently best known as the coach of Armstrong, he was a talented pro cyclist in his own day. He was a member of the US National Cycling Team (1978-1984), competed in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games and was a member of the first 7-Eleven Cycling Team that competed in the 1986 Tour de France.

    Looking ahead to November, he said, "I'm not so worried about where I place against the competition, because La Ruta forces everyone - from the winner to the person in last place - to dig deep within himself or herself for the determination to keep going."

    "Some people buy a car or a big house when they hit 50, but I wanted to seek out the most significant physical and mental challenge I could find, and I found it in La Ruta."

    La Ruta follows the route of the original Spanish Conquistadores across the mountainous country. The race is well known for its intense challenge. World Cup mountain bike professionals have been humbled and awestruck more than once at the course that boasts 24,950 vertical feet of climbing and red clay mud sometimes too deep to gain enough traction to ride.

    Since his retirement from pro racing, Carmichael has built Carmicheal Training Systems, a successful coaching company. In his usual manner, he has taken preparations for the race to a new level, challenging 10 athletes to...

  • Iconic Karapoti Classic mountain bike race turns 25

    Racers march up, one after another, at the Karapoti Classic.
    Article published:
    March 04, 2010, 22:07 GMT
    Daniel Simms

    Leishman to defend in men's race; Leary favored for women's win

    A quarter of a century ago, mountain biking was a new fringe sport. There were only a couple of brands of mountain bikes available and most races consisted of getting a few mates together. Then one day late in the summer of 1986, Wellington cycling enthusiast Paul Kennett sent 49 hardy souls into Upper Hutt's Akatarawa Ranges for the first edition of the Karapoti Classic in New Zealand.

    On March 6, the Karapoti Classic, the Southern Hemisphere's longest running mountain bike race, turns 25. From humble beginnings, Karapoti became the event that popularised mountain biking in New Zealand. Today, it attracts almost 2,000 entries though the race is limited to 1,000 riders.

    Founded by Paul Kennett and his two brothers Simon and Jonathan, the Karapoti concept revolved around an uncompromising 50km of four wheel drive trails, singletrack, wheel-sucking sludge, raging river crossings, wall to wall wilderness and huge hills.

    When the event began, it was a cutting-edge challenge, which seemed like a major expedition with many competitors sporting bush shirts and backpacks. Simon Kennett, who finished second in that inaugural race, recalls eventual race winner Tim Galloway offering him an apple as they started up the final hill. Since then icon elements of the course such as "The Rock Garden," "Devil's Staircase," and "Big Ring Boulevard," have become legendary, spoken in hushed tones of nervous anticipation and misty, sometimes bloody, memories. Completing Karapoti is a sort of Down Under mountain bike benchmark.

    Between them, the Kennett brothers have ridden every Karapoti Classic. Paul and Simon have both won the race, with Simon being the first to break the magical three-hour mark in 1988. They no longer organise Karapoti, but their names are forever etched into the history of mountain biking with other winners.

    This year Rotorua's Mark Leishman will wear number one as the defending champion. Leishman, a former national rep, was...

  • Reid completes marathon mountain bike hat trick

    James Reid (Specialized / Mr. Price) in action in South Africa
    Article published:
    March 05, 2010, 12:00 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    South African junior excels on and off the road

    A young junior racer, James Reid (Specialized/Mr Price), has been earning high marks on the South African marathon circuit. Reid has scored 100 percent every time he's competed in a mountain bike race.

    Reid started his cycling career as a road cyclist before switching to mountain biking. Last weekend, he completed a hat trick of off-road wins in Sabie by taking the MiWay half marathon series and thereby claiming the title of South African champion. Reid also won the MiWay Attakwas and Barberton races, as well as the first junior race of the MTN National cross country Series.

    During Saturday's race, Reid made his intentions clear right from the start when he took off like a rocket at the boom of the starter's gun. His challenge to the rest of the riders was crystal clear: "catch me if you can".

    Reid's fast pace turned the race into one of elimination, with one rider after another dropping off on the first steep climb. Only Travis Walker (DCM) managed to stay with Reid for a while, but eventually even he had to throw in the proverbial towel of defeat.

    Understandably, Reid thoroughly enjoyed his race. "I slipped and slid through some of the corners and at times nearly crashed, but luckily I managed to stay upright."

    According to Reid he might have had a slight advantage over the other riders. "I had trained in Sabie for four days, which meant that I got to know the route quite well. I just loved the climb and the technical sections. For me it was almost like a longish cross country race with two serious climbs. That is why I decided to make the racing hard right from the beginning."

    Ten days ago, at the South African Road Championship in Klerksdorp, Reid also rode an impressive race. He finished sixth in the junior road race. In typical mountain biking style, he took the race by the scruff of the neck, getting mixed up in plenty of action right from the start. With two laps to go he was still fourth overall.

  • Rain cancels Maremma Cup mountain bike kermesse

    Andreas Kugler (Merida) on the way to a win
    Article published:
    March 05, 2010, 14:51 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Slippery cobbles too risky in Grosseto

    A mountain bike kermesse, part of the Maremma Cup, was cancelled on Thursday due to rain. Riders were to have competed on the cobbled city streets of Grosseto. Maremma Cup President Francesco Cerdini cited the danger of crashing due to the wet cobblestones as the reason for the cancellation. He said he did not want his riders to take the associated risks by racing.

    Cerdini indicated that he was following the advice of technical managers of the Italian Cycling Federation and athlete representatives in making his decision.

    The Grosseto event was the third of four scheduled kermesses as part of the Maremma Cup, which also includes two cross country races.  Andreas Kugler and Rudi van Houts won the first two kermesses earlier this week, while Nino Schurter won the opening cross country event.

    One weekend of competition remains in the Maremma Cup. A festival, including another kermesse, is scheduled for downtown Massa Marittima on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, riders from 15 nations will start the opening round of the Internazionali d'Italia cross country series.

    Miguel Martinez is among the riders expected to attend. The 2000 Olympic Games champion injured himself and sat out the first cross country race of the Maremma Cup last weekend, but he assured Thomas Frischknecht, part of the race organzation, that he would be there on Sunday at all costs.

    Frenchman Julien Absalon, a second Olympic champion, will be accompanied by Orbea teammates Rubén Iñaki Lejarreta Ruzafa, and another Olympic Champion Bart Brentjens will race. Brentjens won the Olympic gold in the same year as women's winner Paolo Pezzo, who will be present, too, on Sunday.

    The start list for Sunday's cross country reads like a who's who with others like World Champion Nino Schurter, Jose Antonio Hermida and Leonardo Hector Paez also ready to race.

  • Giant Factory Off-Road Racing Team presented in California

    The Giant Factory Off-Road Team was presented at Camp Woodward in Tehachapi, California on Monday night.
    Article published:
    March 09, 2010, 7:41 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    New riders added to complement old guard for 2010

    The Giant Factory Off-Road Racing Team presented its 2010 line-up at Camp Woodward West in Tehachapi, California, on Monday night. In keeping with its longstanding approach of starting to support young riders early in their careers and then sticking with them for years, a mix of the team's newer younger and established older riders was introduced to the media.

    Despite the tolls of the recession on the bike industry, Giant is backing a larger team in 2010 than it did in 2009. "We've had a tough year as well, but we're staying committed to racing and development," said Giant's Global Product Marketing Manager Andrew Juskaitis. "We've only added riders."

    The United Kingdom's downhiller Danny Hart and two-time US national downhill champion Duncan Riffle are the team's new, young talent. Longstanding Giant Factory team riders Kelli Emmett, Carl Decker, Jared Rando and Oliver Beckingsale return for another year of racing in blue and white.

    "It's Giant's tradition to hire young riders. We've never been in the business of hiring flash-in-the-pan talent," said Juskaitis.

    Hart and Riffle will both focus on World Cup level gravity racing. Both will enjoy the support needed to compete against the more established riders on the international circuit.

    "Riding Giant bikes has always been a dream of mine. So has riding at Camp Woodward," said Hart, excited at the opportunity he has with his new team. Hart spent the day zipping around the facility's indoor bike park, buzzing up and down steep ramps and pulling tricks.

    Rando will continue to bring the voice of experience to the downhill portion of the team. The downhill and four cross racer splits his time between racing in the US and his native Australia. He's played an important role in the development of the team's Glory bike line-up, a downhill-specific race bike.

    The cross country tradition continues

    The squad's sole female rider,...

  • US 24-hour National Championships at Big Bear cancelled

    The 24 Hours of Moab venue
    Article published:
    March 11, 2010, 17:13 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Granny Gear puts 24 hours of Nine Mile and Big Bear on hiatus for 2010

    The 24 Hours of Big Bear, scheduled to be the US National 24-hour championships in Hazelton, West Virginia on June 12-13, has been canceled for 2010. In addition, the organizer, Granny Gear Productions, also canceled its 24 Hours of Nine Mile event in Wisconsin on July 31-August 1.

    "The cat is out of the bag," said Granny Gear's Laird Knight to Cyclingnews. "The bottom line is that neither of those events is large enough to be financially sustainable, and I can't risk it. I know folks will be disappointed."

    While both events are canceled for 2010, they are not permanently off the calendar.

    "I do have plans to operate those races in the future. I'd like to hit the reset button. That will give me the opportunity to put together a marketing and sponsorship plan that can have events grow to the size they need to be and and get the financial support they need to succeed."

    Knight cited the declining attendance of both races as the reason for the cancellation this year. "A five percent reduction in participation doesn't sound like a lot, but it adds up," said Knight. "When a company like mine operates on a thin margin, even a small decline in participation is a huge hit."

    He attributes the decline in participation to two factors. One is the recession and another is a larger trend in American mountain biking. The recession means less money available for sponsorship and less money available for racers to spend on racing.

    "There is a shift in the demographics in mountain biking. Mountain bikers are getting older and having families. Racing is a self indulgent activity. The market is awash in events. There are a bazillion cross country, 24-hour, 12-hour and stage races out there. We're even competing against things like Little League and the concert happening nearby on the same weekend. People have a lot of choice now in entertainment."

    Knight mentioned that another aspect of his decision is that...

  • Craig optimistic for second half of season following knee injury

    US short track national champion Adam Craig (Rabobank - Giant)
    Article published:
    March 11, 2010, 21:45 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Rehab in progress for American cross country racer

    Following a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his knee, US short track mountain bike national champion Adam Craig has had to alter his racing plans for 2010. The 28-year-old Bend, Oregon, resident will have to miss the entire spring season while he rehabs his knee, but he's optimistic about the second half of the year.

    "I'm just trying to enjoy not riding and not having to do anything. I like doing what I do, but I'm trying to take advantage of the mental recuperation time after being on straight for about 10 years," said Craig, who has consistently raced for years at the international level and as one of the top American cross country riders.

    Craig sustained the injury upon falling while walking across a parking lot after a trip to the grocery store on February 3. "I ate crap in a parking lot, which is excessively stupid and annoying," he said to Cyclingnews at a team training camp earlier this week in Tehachapi, California. "I didn't feel a pop, but I felt an immediate sharp pain and my patella wasn't tracking right." On February 9, he underwent surgery to repair the ruptured ligament.

    Surgeons used a tendon from the shin of a cadaver as a new "tendon" to connect the tibia and femur. "There were two portals drilled in my leg: one vertically through the femoral head and one through the tibial plateau. The doctors looped the cadaver tendon around a pin through the femoral portal and fixed both ends back to the tibia. They did it all with dissolvable screws that will get absorbed by the bone structure."

    Craig had the option to use part of his own hamstring or a cadaver for the procedure. "If you do the hamstring, you have to rehab that, too, and there is only a two percent rejection rate with cadaver tissue." He noted that the general success of ACL reconstruction surgery overall is approximately 85 to 90 percent.

    He can already ride although he's under orders to be very careful and his range...