By Mike Childers
24-hour nationals tries again for Winter Park
The 2001 24 Hours of Adrenalin NORBA National Solo and Team Championship. The name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but what that longwinded tag is trying to say is that, for the second straight year, NORBA will sanction a 24-hour off-road national championship event. This year’s event will be held August 4-5, at Winter Park, Colorado.
Last year’s championship was also scheduled for Winter Park, but that event was derailed when local U.S. Forest Service officials refused to grant Winter Park Resort the permits needed to run the event. In the scramble to find another venue, event organizers Trilife Sports International made the decision to reschedule the race by combining it with the already-scheduled World Solo Championship event, for which riders had already qualified at previous 24 Hours of Adrenalin races.
Under NORBA rules, any professional rider can enter any sanctioned national championship, which would have meant NORBA pros could have raced the world championship event without qualifying under Trilife rules. So a pro rider could have won the event and been national champion but not world champion because of the rules created by Trilife. Feeling this was unfair, Trilife cancelled the solo category national championship.
“I was super disappointed,” said Gary Fisher rider Nat Ross, who had focused his entire season on winning the stars-and-stripes jersey.
The scheduling of this year’s event could help attract big-name pros. “With no major races scheduled two weeks prior to or after the [24-hour nationals], it will give industry teams the opportunity to compete for the new title,” said NORBA director Eric Moore.
In fact, with an anemic five-race national series, no major stage races, and a generally flat feel to major mountain bike racing in the U.S., the hottest growth segment in off-road racing could prove to be NORBA’s savior.
— Mike Childers
More mountain cross?
Nothing’s been confirmed yet, but there’s a good chance mountain cross may show up at one or two NORBA events this year. The gated four-rider gravity race had its latest showing at the Sea Otter Classic in April. Now there’s talk of doing it again at Mammoth, California, or Mount Snow, Vermont, the last two stops on this year’s five-stop NORBA calendar.
“We’re definitely behind it,” said NORBA director Eric Moore. “It’s a cool discipline and it’s a great opportunity to showcase our sport. It’s just a matter of finding the money.”
Indeed, mountain cross’s biggest drawback is the amount of cash required to put on a race. “It’s not cheap to do a mountain cross correctly,” said Rick Sutton, president of GaleForce Marketing, the organization that has taken over promotional duties for the NORBA series. “A 40-second mountain cross can cost between $25,000 and $50,000, depending on construction costs, prize money, permits, sound, fencing, et cetera. Plus you have to return the land to better-than-before status.”
Sutton added that a final decision on if and when mountain cross events will be added to this year’s NORBA calendar would likely come by the middle of June. Racing at Mammoth is slated for July 19-22. The Mount Snow event is scheduled for August 16-19.
As for the future, Sutton believes mountain cross could eventually become a full-fledged NORBA event like cross-country and downhill. “I believe that initially everyone is quite excited,” Sutton said. “But we need to run a few more races to get a complete buy-in…. The hope is to have it be a part of the national scene.”
Cross country and cross dressing
What do mountain biking, flower-print dresses, and rainbow wigs have in common? Well, nothing usually. But on the last day of the 2001 Twilight, that was the attire of choice for many of the riders — men included — taking part in BreastFest, a charity event that benefited a local breast cancer awareness center in Athens, Georgia.
But before the sundresses and sandals came out, there was some pretty good racing too, as AMBC stop No. 5 touched down at Hawkes Creek Farm. There, riders took on a tight 5-mile single-track loop with lots of slimy roots and short climbs.
The pro and expert men put in 25 miles on the warm spring day. When the dust settled it was Canadian Dave Irving coming out on top, posting a blistering time of 1:51:21. Nearly a minute behind in second was another Canadian, AMBC No. 4 winner Julian Heins. Third place went to Harrisonburg, Virginia’s Jeremiah Bishop.
On the women’s side it was SoBe-HeadShok pro Lisa Matlock putting up the best time of the day. The Prospect, Kentucky, resident covered 20 miles in 1:49:05, 39 seconds ahead of the day’s second-fastest woman, Geri Laverty. Kyia Malenkovich (Team Dogfish-Trek) was third, 1:27 back of Matlock.
The win on Sunday capped a big weekend for Matlock. On Saturday she qualified for the Fat Tire Criterium by posting a sub-26-minute mark in the dirt time trial, then became the first woman to ever finish the race in the evening. “Last year was the first time a woman ever qualified for the Fat Tire crit and she only lasted two laps,” said Matlock of the open-gender criterium, where mountain bikes with slicks take to the streets of downtown Athens. “They say its like a men’s (Cat.) II/III road crit and I finished it.”
AMBC NO. 5, ATLANTA CYCLING TWILIGHT CROSS COUNTRY, Athens, GA, April 29.
1. Dave Irving (Can), Sunshine-Porterfield, 25mi in 1:51:21; 2. Julian Heins (Can), Gears Racing, at 0:54; 3. Jeremiah Bishop, K2-DD, at 0:55; 4. Luke Stockwell, Zaxby’s, at 1:38; 5. Ryan Trebon, K2-DD, at 2:42; 6. Charlie Storm, HCT-Highlands Ski & Outdoors, at 2:53; 7. Peter Wedge (Can), at 3:01; 8. Dave Frye, Diamondback, at 3:02; 9. Jason Jones, Atlanta Cycling-Cannondale, at 3:05; 10. Andy Johnson, CDH-Thomson, at 3:46.
Expert women (age group results combined):
1. Lisa Matlock, SoBe-HeadShok, 20mi in 1:49:05; 2. Geri Laverty, at :39; 3. Kyia Malenkovich, Team Dogfish-Trek, at 1:27; 4. Caroline Duncan, at 1:37; 5. Linda Gabor, at 3:33; 6. Rachel Massey, Ford No Boundaries, at 5:28; 7. Jody Koch, Ford No Boundaries, at 6:15; 8. Bree Ettinger, at 6:25; 9. Erin Winter, Zaxby’s, at 7:28; 10. Rachel Rittgers, Zaxby’s, at 7:29.