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Craig, Mann rip it up at Ray's Indoor Invitational

The purest form of bicycle racing is the individual time trial (ITT). It's an elegant event with one person, one bike, a specified course and, of course, the clock. While downhill racing is a pure form of an ITT involving tons of skill, fitness and even luck, cross country riders can time trial, too. The second annual Pro Cross Country Time Trial event at Ray's Indoor MTB Park in Cleveland, Ohio, proved there are different ways to approach an ITT. You don't have to have a "silly" helmet and wind tunnel-tuned parts.

On Saturday, a few top cyclists were invited to participate in the cross country indoor invitational. Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park served as the perfect venue, with literally hundreds of lines and features to ride including jumps, bridges, whoops, skinnies, berms, and even climbs! With equal payout, $5,000 in prize money, and killer unique "Leg" trophies, the event was quite a show.

At the end of the day, Adam Craig (Giant) and Allison Mann (Specialized) walked away with the wins and a pocket full of cash.

The course

The course was just long enough to test a person's ability to pedal as hard as possible and to go really fast. It was technical enough to create a chance for errors. If an error was made, of course, there were time penalities. Added in were a bunch of screaming fans, some jumps, berms, drops and a whole lot of cowbell.

Riders were allowed a rolling start, tripping a beam to start the clock. First, riders dropped off the GT platform and onto the "Prologue" line with a tricky turn, some 10-inch high speed skinnies, through the "Whoops", two fast corners then out onto the "XC Loop". The "XC Loop" started with a quick up, a tricky left, then a drop into a big left hand berm. Option lines abounded on course as one could choose to ride a "plateau" with speed bumps or drop into a "Rock Garden". Then all lines went over a table top jump and up a ramp into the rafters. Dropping out of the rafters, the racers flew through left, then right-hand berms, over another table top jump, and into the "Beginner Room".

At the entrance to this room, a high speed left-hander led to a ramp back up toward the rafters, then a treacherous downward sharp right hander. A short sprint through a hallway led to a sharp 90 degree right and a steep up onto a platform. Dropping off the other side of the platform threw the rider into a right-hand berm and an option to jump the table top to the right or roll it to the left, carrying speed the riders flew through a hard right, then a left and sprint to a 180 degree uphill turn through a doorway.

After negotiating this speed-robbing turn, the riders sprinted off a three-foot drop into a right/left option. The left hand line was higher and took more energy, but set up the next corner with more speed. The proper technique and a bit of risk taking made the right hand line very fast as well. Another right-hand berm and then the racers faced the horrible leg-burning climb into the rafters. It was tortuously steep, and they were forced through a momentum destroying tight 180-degree switchback midway. A narrow catwalk provided the racer with a moment to reflect on their new found max heart rate and the pain in their legs and lungs before dropping from the sky into a series of left hand berms and high speed rollers and finally back to where they started.

At this point, the course was not really done as riders had to make three complete circuits of the "XC Loop" and in between each had to ride two of the six "Technical Lines". These "Technical Lines" consisted of bridges and skinnies and other obstacles that can be tricky when fresh, but when your eyes are blurred from sweat, and your heart is trying to jackhammer its way out of your chest (not to mention lack of mental function due to oxygen debt) it gets really interesting.

To make these lines even more treacherous, 15 precious seconds were robbed from each rider's elapsed time for an "Incomplete Line". A slip of a tire or a dab of the foot, or worse yet a full on yardsale crash, could spell disaster for a race run.

The racing

The male contestants came in all forms and on all kinds of bikes, including Scott's Aaron Snyder on a full suspension Scale with an integrated seatpost (this alone was a feat of courage on this course), local neo-Pro and fast man Kyle Spisak on a Cannondale Scapel, with Trek's Tyler Morland (the Canadian National Downhill Mountain Bike Champion) and Giant's Adam Craig (an Olympian, and holder of both National and World titles!) rocking hardtail dirt jump bikes. A last minute addition allowed Rock N' Road Cyclery's Justin Mann - this report's author - to race with the big boys on a Rental 26" dirt jump bike courtesy of Ray.

Competing for the women, the only returning contestant was Lindsey Bishop, representing Mafia Racing and rocking a SRAM XX equipped Felt full suspension race rig. She was up against some stiff competition. Rock N' Road Cyclery's Allison Mann also rode a full suspension bike - a full carbon Specialized S-Works Epic. Lizzy English and 15-year-old local ripper Lyndsey Prososki joined the fun, too, racing hardtail dirt jumpers.

Adam Craig showed in dominating fashion how to rip up a course with skill and power and win despite a 15-second penalty. His time without the mistake would have blown away the course record previously set by nearly 15 seconds.

Allison Mann showed off not only the power to speed to a winning time, but the skills to make a flawless run to the top of the women's podium.

Out of this mayhem, the winners were awarded their $1,000 prize purse in $1 bills and a full mannequin human leg trophy custom painted for the occasion.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Adam Craig (Giant)
2Kyle Spisak (Canondale)
3Aaron Snyder (Scott)
4Tyler Morland (Trek)
5Justin Mann (Specialized)

#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Allison Mann (Specialized)
2Lindsey Bishop (Felt)
3Lizzy English (Giant)
4Lindsey Prososki (Gary Fisher)

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