The 2005 Shimano Norba National Mountain Bike Series continues this weekend with stop #2 at McDowell Mountain Park in Arizona. The format will be the same as this year’s Norba opener, with pro riders competing for an overall win in a three-day stage race.
Located just northeast of Phoenix, McDowell Mountain Park is a new venue for the Norba National Series. "It is a real and true desert course," commented Race Director Jerry Sieve. "It has a lot of short and intense climbs, and every time you start getting into a rhythm, something changes."
Approximately 1,500 racers are expected to compete in the stage race, marathon, and Super D. Stage race competition begins on Friday, March 18 with the time trial. Riders will race against the clock on an 8.2 mile loop of mostly single-track with short climbs and steep switchbacks. The weekend’s second stage will be the short-track contest on a one-mile loop that winds throughout the venue. The cross-country race on Sunday will be the third and final stage, with single track, fire roads, short steep climbs, and switchbacks.
The 81-mile marathon will see riders duke it out for three laps of a 27-mile circuit over varied terrain on Friday morning. Saturday will mark the season’s first Norba Super D event that will challenge riders to a 10-mile ride through fast, sharp corners with single and double-track. Although there will be a few short climbs, 80 percent of the course is downhill.
Among the riders to keep an eye on will be Adam Craig (Bend, Ore.), who won the overall stage race earlier this month at the Texas Norba National. Geoff Kabush (Can) will also be in attendance as he fights to take the overall win, like he was predicted to do in Texas. Trent Lowe (Aus) and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.) will be strong contenders in the pro men’s field as well. Highlighting the women’s start lists will be Sue Haywood (Davis, W.Va.), Willow Koerber (Horseshoe, N.C.), Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.), and Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.).