RACE REPORT: KENDA CUP #1 MTB CROSS-COUNTRY
MARCH 1-2, 2014, TEMECULA, Calif. Words and images by Phil Beckman/PB Creative — Do you believe in miracles? Yes! After two years of virtually no precipitation in SoCal, leaving regional trails even more baked hard, sandy, rocky, dusty, dry-slick and grayish beige than usual (which is most of the time) an unexpected winter storm finally broke through and soaked the area with up to eight inches of rain and a coating of snow on nearby peaks.
Two days of sometimes heavy, flash flood-spawning showers took place just before round one of the 2014 Kenda Cup Series presented by the Sho-Air Cycling Group, raising considerable concern about course conditions. Would it be a mudder? What tires should I mount? Do I really want to subject my brand new carbon fiber steed to a couple of hours on a grinding wheel?
Thankfully, the thirsty soil soaked it up like a Scotch-Brite pad that’s been hiding under the sink for a decade or two. As a result, the 8.5-mile course laid out by the Team Big Bear and SoCal Endurance crews at Vail Lake Resort consisted almost entirely of hero dirt. Velcro.
An impressive turnout of competitors proved that mountain bike riders are not easily intimidated. It was gloomy, overcast, humid and cool enough to see your breath, but enthusiasm ran high and the mud factor low. In the midst of a winter that was very similar to summer, this was a miraculous turn of climatic events.
The French must love these sort of conditions, because there were two of them in the top three at the end of the three-lap Pro Men’s race. Twenty-three-year-old Julien Bourdevaire and younger brother Jean-Louis — both wearing freshly unwrapped Blackstar Racing kits after being recruited to the powerhouse team only days before — finished the season opener in first and third, respectively.
Jean-Louis set an inflammatory pace that shredded the field during the first two laps, then “Jules” took over and took off on lap three. Jason Siegle (SDG/Felt) was one of the shredees early on, but was sensible enough to avoid the red zone and ride his own race. Siegle gradually worked his way back into the picture and then all the way to second place, but at the line he was still 42 seconds in arrears of the elder Bourdevaire.
Fourth place fell to the veteran John Nobil (Bear Valley Bikes), while Mexican Miguel Oregel (Buena Park Bicycles) rounded out this cosmopolitan podium.
“I’m super happy,” the winner said later. “I didn’t know the names of the other racers except for my brother. I’m new here, since January. On the second lap my brother did the job for me. He went to the front and was pulling hard. Then I just had to sprint and finish the last lap as fast as I could. There were no problems at all. I am planning to do all of the U.S. Cup races until June, then my brother and I go to South Africa because we’re both qualified for the Marathon World Championships.”
An unfamiliar name ended up at the top of the Pro Women’s results sheet as well. Jen Todd (Platinum Performance), had little trouble dominating the small field, with Deya Guerrero (Veloz Team) and Kata Skaggs (Adventure Bicycle Co.) trailing by many minutes after three laps.
As we learned at the awards ceremony, Todd is a former Pro mountain bike racer who has been active in the sport of XTERRA racing since 2006. In fact, she is the reigning World Champion in the 35-39 age group.
“This is my first race back in about six years,” she revealed. “I didn’t really know what to expect. It was a great course; I couldn’t ask for better conditions. It was great being out there again. I forgot how much I love it. Everything went as smooth as I could have hoped for in my first race back. I think the stars were aligned for me. I’m planning of doing most of the series if it doesn’t conflict with the XTERRAs. That is still my first priority.”
A five-lap endurance race, run concurrently with all of the day’s foray, was once again the domain of mountain bike legend Tinker Juarez (Sho-Air/Cannondale). The Energizer bunny of MTB racing topped Danny Munoz (B-Rads) by just under three minutes to take the Open Men division in a time of 3:07.54. Nevada’s Timari Prius (Kenda/Pivot/Wins Wheels) rode over four and a half hours to take the Open Women win.
Six races remain in the 2014 Kenda Cup Series, with five of a rider’s best seven events on the calendar counting for the final standings. For more information, full results and more, visit uscup.net.
A full photo gallery can be found at pbcreativephoto.com.
Fledgling cycling club Team Ninja announced today it will host its next mountain bike event, the USAC-sanctioned Ninja Night Race, at 7:00 p.m., January 16 2014 in San Diego’s popular Balboa Park.
“Judging by the feedback and excitement we had after our first event, the only thing speedier than a ninja in the dark is how fast this event will sell out,” said Team Ninja captain Richard La China. “We’re very proud to be working with terrific sponsors like Zumwalt’s Bicycle Center and Sock Guy to stretch the Ninja Night Race events into a series.”
The first Ninja Night Race was held late-October at Lake Hodges and will go down in history as the first-ever USAC-sanctioned after-dark race. Now, returning with their second venue, the Ninja Night Race organizing team, as well as the enthusiastic racers themselves, are hopeful more trails will be open to the thrill of night racing.
“The thing we really like about Balboa Park is how spectator-friendly it is,” said Michael Whitehurst, course director with Ninja Night Race. “With short laps, a central location, and the festive vibe we try to bring to all our events, racers and their friends and families alike can look forward to a really fun night out.”
“I had such a blast at the first event there’s no question I’ll be first in line for the next,” said cat 2 racer and Team Ninja member Kristen Gross. “There’s nothing like the feeling of racing in the dark — cool night air, easy-to-spot competitors, the adrenaline boost you get when your light catches some glowing eyes just off course, and of course, having the tamales at the end was an awesome touch.”
Registration will open on December 15, 2013 at midnight. To sign up to race or volunteer, please visit ninjanightrace.com. Though racers do not need a license to participate, USAC licenses will be available at the venue, or racers can get licensed online by visiting usacycling.org. Licensed racers will be competing for points, and if racing in the cat 1/pro categories, there are cash prizes for podium finishers. Proceeds from the event will help support the San Diego Monarch School.
Mountain bike racing legend David “Tinker” Juarez taught the kids a thing or two at the Mt. SAC Fat Tire Classic presented by SC Velo. If class had been in session, he would have been the dignified man at the board in the front of the room wearing a bow tie and tweed jacket with leather on the elbows, holding an unlit cherrywood pipe in one hand and a piece of chalk in the other. “And this, students, is your lesson for today.” If, that is, professors had dreadlocks.
The Fat Tire Classic has been taking place on the grounds of Mt. San Antonio College for some 22 years, making it one of the longest-running races in the sport. For an “off-season” event, a respectable turnout of 164 athletes took to the six-mile course featuring two steep climbs, one harrowing descent and two tunnels per lap. Their eyes were on the prize of beautiful brushed-steel trophies handcrafted by the Mt. SAC Welding Dept. Some came to bring closure to their three-race Triple Crown Series campaign as well.
It would have been a surprise had Juarez not dominated this year’s Fat Tire Classic, which was held under ideal racing conditions. Riding for powerhouse Team Sho-Air/Cannondale, the 52-year-old Juarez is a multi-time cross-country champion, a two-time Olympian and a member of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame since 2001. These days he’s nearly unbeatable in ultra-endurance MTB events.
Juarez shot out to an immediate lead in the Pro Men’s field and slammed together five laps in just 1:46:35. Finishing runner-up nearly nine minutes later was Alfred Pacheco (Buena Park Bicycles), while Chris Heinrich (The Path Bike Shop) rounded out the podium in third. Pacheco’s performance was strong enough to clinch the overall Triple Crown Series title.
Nancy James was in a class of her own at the Mt. SAC Fat Tire Classic—literally. She was the only Pro Woman to participate. Sadly, no Pro Women completed the three events needed to qualify for Triple Crown honors. So instead we’ll give a tip of the helmet visor to Shannon Vandevelde, who captured all three races in the Expert Women Open division.
For full results and more, visit here.
A full photo gallery can be found at pbcreativephoto.com.
This unique 69 mile course starts in quiet downtown Beaver, Utah and finishes at Utah’s newest ski resort, Eagle Point. The course features a nearly perfect 50/50 split between pavement and dirt fire-road sectors which allow riders to explore the stunning back country of Utah’s little-known Tushar Mountains and Fishlake National Forest.
27 LEVI LEIPHEIMER Pro/Open Men 39 M SANTA ROSA CA Clif Bar 04:06:16 1 1
1 TYLER WREN Pro/Open Men 30 M SALT LAKE CITY UT Jamis/Hagens Berman 04:16:01 2 2
51 BARRY WICKS Pro/Open Men 31 M BEND OR Kona Bikes 04:16:05 3 3
13 JAMEY DRISCOLL Pro/Open Men 28 M PARK CITY UT Jamis/Hagens Berman 04:16:36 4 4
45 ROB SQUIRE Pro/Open Men 24 M SANDY UT Amore Vita 04:17:22 5 5
18 ALEX GRANT Pro/Open Men 31 M SALT LAKE CITY UT Cannondale 04:17:35 6 6
36 JONATHAN PAGE Pro/Open Men 36 M FRANCIS UT Fuji/Spy 04:26:12 7 7
87 JUSTIN LINDINE Pro/Open Men 29 M NEW SALEM MA Seattle Bike Supply 04:32:29 8 8
29 JEFF LOUDER Pro/Open Men 35 M SALT LAKE CITY UT A Little Bit Louder Now 04:39:57 9 9
39 LEROY POPOWSKI Pro/Open Men 38 M COLORADO SPRINGS CO juwi-Slipstream 04:41:59 10 10
5 BENJAMIN BLAUGRUND Pro/Open Men 40 M BOULDER CO Team juwi solar / First Solar 04:44:29 11 11
30 CHRIS MACKAY Pro/Open Men 25 M PARK CITY UT Competitive Cyclist 04:50:38 12 12
304 FRANK OVERTON 40-44 Men 42 M BOULDER CO Fascat Coaching 04:51:12 13 1
20 ERIK HARRINGTON Pro/Open Men 37 M SALT LAKE CITY UT RMCC 04:52:12 14 13
17 ADAM GAUBERT Pro/Open Men 40 M DURRANGO CO Team Wooly Mammoth 04:53:40 15 14
50 NATE WHITMAN Pro/Open Men 37 M LOS ANGELES CA Herbalife24 04:54:40 16 15
280 LINK KING 40-44 Men 43 M PHOENIX AZ Bicycle Haus 04:55:24 17 2
269 TY HOPKINS 40-44 Men 42 M AMERICAN FORK UT 4Life/Maddog Cycles 04:55:36 18 3
260 RYAN HAMILTON 40-44 Men 40 M BOZEMAN MT Team Rockford 04:57:37 19 4
19 CODY HAROLDSEN Pro/Open Men 34 M SALT LAKE CITY UT Ski Utah – Markestar 04:58:18 20 16
WILLIAMS, GUERRERO SCORCH SYCAMORE CANYON US CUP
Words and Photos by Phil Beckman/PB Creative
APRIL 28, 2013, Riverside, CA.— Sponsors may have looked on in bewilderment at
fifth round of the 2013 Kenda Cup West Series, held on a sultry Sunday at Sycamore Canyon Park. Jersey zippers were falling faster than congressional approval ratings, displaying not corporate or team logos but pasty white skin, heart rate monitor straps, chest hair and sports bras.
Mother Nature decided that it was time for summer in Southern California and turned the thermostat up past 90 degrees with very little wind to provide relief. A zipped-up jersey was not going to be a priority for anyone grinding up the sauna-like canyons, especially as the blazing sun reached its zenith.
Casey Williams (Whole Athlete/Specialized) handled the toasty conditions like it was just another day at his mountain home in nearby Big Bear. This 19-year-old up-and-comer has been on fire this season, posting several impressive rides against the best in the country in his quest to be part of the U.S. team competing at this year’s World Championships in South Africa at the end of August. Williams has trained and raced there before.
Macky Franklin Fontana Race Report
Saturday’s cross country race started off hard and fast. By the time we hit the paved climb, I had made my way from the third row to somewhere in the top 10 and tried to settle in to maintain that position for the rest of the race. I quickly realized that one weekend off from racing had not been enough to recover from racing the previous five consecutive weekends.
For the next couple of laps, I did my best to lose as little time as possible, but I slowly moved backwards until I was riding in the low ‘teens. I was gaining time on the riders in front of me during the descents, but struggling on the climbs and I kept losing more than I gained every time the course started climbing. On the third lap, I started feeling a bit better and caught TJ Woodruff at the highest point of the course. But after letting me lead the descent he passed me on the next climb and I couldn’t keep up.
Epic MTB Ride with Lopes and The Kids by Sten Kramer
Brian Lopes, the most decorated male mountain bike racer in the history of the sport, is well known for his amazing versatility in bicycle racing. Whether you’re talking about flawless technique and flow on the downhill, super-efficient cornering and speed pumping in XC and cyclocross racing, or twelve cylinder turbo power sprint speed on the road bike, Lopes is legendary in his dominance. Lopes is also well recognized for his unparalleled fitness, so when longtime friend Troy Lee asked him to help out of couple of his young motocross racers with their training, Brian took on the challenge.