July 19/99 7:41 am - The Shep Report from Mammoth NORBA
Posted by Editoress on 07/19/99
Two days at Mammoth
Yet another weekend of brown condos awaited us on the fourth round of the NORBA national series. The course was dry,dusty, rough with plenty of long single track descents that let many a rider test their braking limits.
DAY ONE Cross Country
This morning the cross country took place, but instead of the regular line up of north American riders team Specialized (Olympic champ Bart Brentjens, World cup winner Filip Meirhaeghe, and former world Cyclocross champ Luca Bramati) joined the fray of things. From the get go the pace was incredibly hard but containable. Everyone's dilemma was whether or not to go hard and risk blowing or go till you blow. Most chose to pace and the result was the top ten relatively remaining the same through out the whole race.
Bart man took the lead two laps into it followed by Larson, Killen and Tinker....tinker would blow on lap four and drop out although Killen would stay steady until his final detonation on the fifth time up the climb (he would end up just holding onto fourth). Larson flatted on the third lap so Green, and Leuchs attacked and moved into fourth and fifth on lap three...I was with these two but backed off with Filip for fear of blowing on the last one....and that they did so I was happy to pound out the final lap passing some people but missing the podium in sixth. Larson eventually caught back up and worked his arse off to get back up to second....damnnnnnnn! The other big mover and shaker was Peter Swenson who worked from seventh at the start of the fourth lap and finished third by the end. Dre was steady the whole day and stayed in 12th for almost the whole day....likewise for Shamoe in 14th.
The big question mark of the day had to be the fact that when we finished (that is Roland, Swiggers, and me) we were disqualified!!! On the first lap I had followed Roland cutting a corner thus receiving a series of boos from the crowd (this was not cheating though because the corner was marked on the outside) so I figured that cutting it wasn't cool....Roland kept doing it as did Swiggers.....the result was DQ! Our respective managers ended up talking the officials into penalizing us spots so I ended up 8th (down from 6th), Roland went down to 22nd (from 17) and Swiggers fell two to 15th. This whole scenario was a pile of horse shat because we didn't cut the course....the promoter even said that we "beat him" meaning that he marked the course bad! Also we watched half the women cut the same corner all morning during their race...is that fair? Oh yeah the chief official is Jimi Killen's mom.......So instead of being fourth in the series two points behind Jimi's third overall, I am in fifth. By the way I am not in any way saying that favouritism showed it's ugly face here but you know how human nature works? (And getting a podium spot in the crit was some redemption anyways). So here is the scoop:
1st Brentjens 2nd Larson 3rd Swenson 4th Killen 5th Meirhaeghe 6th Brown 7th Weins 8th Sheppard 9th Leuchs 10th Bramati 12th Hestler 14th McGrath 22nd Green
After the previous days death march, most riders seemed unsure of how the legs would respond to 35 minutes of shear torture. The course was by far the best all year due to the flat, figure eight set up the would even allow riders to get some air jumping down the cross over ramp. Once the gun went off it was a dash to see who could finesse their way around the sandy course, conserve enough energy for the final couple laps and not get taken out in the process.
Due to the tightness of the course the race turned into a single file fight right from the start. I grabbed the lead off the start then was countered by Steve Larson and Dre....from this point on the lead changed so many times till round abouts half way when Greg Randlolf attacked and dropped the field. His attack was perfect because no one would work together to chase him down. I tried pulling for a lap but it was a futile attempt, and like I wanted to pull the whole field up, have a counter attack once we caught him then get dropped in the process?
Unfortunately, this was every ones idea so we never saw him again....the fight for the remaining podium spots was all that was left so a game of cat and mouse ensued. Larson, and the Specialized boys worked the front so hard that you couldn't come around....at one point Shamoe joined Filip, Luca, and Larson in a flier but it ended up coming back because no one would work...that was good for me as I moved up from the ten spot and joined the front bunch gapping the field and engaging in a sprint for second. Larson led down the last descent, and held off our surge, I was the trailer and came around the far side making Luca, and Filip throw their bikes at the finish...the result was Filip in third, Luca fourth and me in fifth all separated by a couple tenths of a second! Dre wheeled in to the sixth position, Green in tenth, Shamoe 13th, and teammate swenson in 14th. Green retains the overall lead followed by Larson, me, Randolf, and Killen.