Posted by Editoress on 09/14/00
Beyond Thunderdome - The Shep Report
Why is the title of this piece "Beyond Thunderdome", you ask? . Well a posse of Canucks swapped living in an oxygen deprived environment for a bastion of air but total shat hole in Bishop but 40 minutes away. We are the defenders of the sacred air not the sacred gasoline from the movie Mad Max ... protecting each other and wallowing in the despairity of the situation we must put ourselves through! Each day the caravan would roll as one ... running toward the hills trying to avoid nose bleeds, the warrior police who want to ticket us and the swerving winnebagos trying to upset our average speed.
Welcome to the last big race of the year! The course at Mammoth mountain was a figure eight starting at a nice low altitude of 8900ft then climbing to 9500' ..... not for the faint of heart! Doesn't sound too fun, eh? Actually the racing was all good other than the oxygen problem and the party after made all the pain we have suffered this season worth it!
The cross country took off at a ferocious pace up the first climb before slamming into a switch back single track. Near the top I jumped into the lead on the first descent in an effort to recover and not breath dust on the way down. That was my first mistake. Joining me were the likes of (Steve) Larson and (Tinker) Juarez as we started the first of six full loops ..... maybe an early breakaway? Not for me as I lasted one more lap with this group. Larson attacked into the massive headwind like we were all standing still so I faded off and was picked up by the Pavel (Tcherkassov) / Seamus (McGrath) group that was being towed by Jeremy last name I can't spell! (Horgen-Kobelski) A couple laps with these guys and I faded again which had me looking in the back of my jersey for a Mad Max-like cross bow, to shoot at them and tow me the rest of the way! Meanwhile Ryder (Hesjedal) was playing the pacing game and started to drive it with just over a lap to go and joined me briefly before my chain wrapped around my crank and wedged itself between the chain rings .... doooohhhhh! I pulled over and tried to play "Chris the hyperventilating mechanic" while 5 guys worked past me and dropped me into 13th. I eventually caught back up to eleventh in the last 20 minutes of racing. Ryder was steady and ended up 8th. Up front Juarez dropped back while (Dave) Wiens joined Seamus to finish 4th and 5th respectively. Jeremy dropped Pavel on the last climb to take 2nd while Larson stayed away and won. Kudos to Shamoe who finished 3rd overall in the series .... I lost 6th overall because of the 1 min stop and ended up 8th but I was happy with my race to that point. Altitude played an important role in this race with six of the top 20 being lowlanders ....... damn! Welcome to the misery of the high Sierra.
Short "crack" was Saturday and aptly named because you got to smoke crack to get your heart up at this elevation and to want to put yourself through this agony. It was especially brutal because of the tight race for the overall series between Shamoe, Pavel, Ryder and yours truly ..... 28 points between us! Any combo would get the winner into the jersey but with Shamoe ahead of me I chose to repay all his help during my two dirt track wins this year. To the front I went covering the blistering pace and attacks but due to the wind nothing was going to get away or so it seemed. At the half way mark (Andreas) Hestler attacked hard and gapped me but I was able to come off Jeremy's wheel and get to him after about half a lap. Until this point, Ryder had pulled up front, (Andreas) Brenes, and Jeremy with the four of us all in tow. Sorry Dre! Another lap at the front and I needed a break and Carl Swenson saw this .... he jumped us hard and Ryder did not have the gumption either ... off Carl went. Pavel and Shamoe wouldn't chase (as they had the overall title on their minds) so with the help of Ryder we tried to pull the Polo VO2 machine back but to no avail. Carl won, Pavel and Shamoe sprinted for second while I held off Jimi Killen and Ryder (who were sprinting) for fourth. The series went as follows .... Pavel, Shamoe, Ryder, Me, Carl.
Whenever the season ends it is time to party no matter what small little village you happen to be in. The only good bar was crammed full of cross country riders trying to forget those long monk-like months we just endured. The Canucks represented in true fashion with everyone showing up and even taking over a complete section of the bar. Then rolled in all the support sponsors, techs, managers that have made our lives so easy. That means rounds countering rounds creating mayham and of course debauchery! Inhaling sleezy food followed by kick the pint glass, dance and stumble were played in all sections of the bar! After this things get a little hazy but in general will be remembered as a damn good time with great friends I only see for seven months of the year.
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