Posted by Editoress on 04/19/04
The Shep Report
Canuck XC rider Chris Sheppard (Haro-adidas) regularly send us a reports from major events. Todays report is from the Sea Otter Classic
Everyone has been asked the following question, "What kind of a mark are you going leave on this earth". Some choose a skid mark while others choose to make the most out of each day and bring the best out people. I think I fall into the second category but lately I have come to the realization that the mark I've been leaving has been etched in skin. Part of my ass here, a bit of elbow there and after Thursday's race three ounces of flesh just off of Laguna Seca race track! The Sea Otter is the largest race in North America both in number of participants and spectators.
This year, four stages met the racers as we lined up for the Super XC which is a new event that the organizer came up with. Basically it's an hour and a half road race with mountain bike tires although there was about two minutes of sandy, serpentine descending that led the riders back onto Laguna Seca track. Most of the race was strung out single file with a group of twenty or so riders gapping the rest of the field. Most of it was fairly steady with the tempo rising signifigantly on the back climb. Forty five minutes in Green attacked and stayed away for almost the whole gig until a chase group of McGrath, Frishy, Platt, Meirhagre and Kabush came forward. Frishy and Platt snuck away at the end finishing in that order while Rollie brought home the others. I had a good race and was well situated in the group until the above six started to punch it. In my attempts to match pace on a descent I lost my front wheel, uh maybe took a corner too fast or something like that and hit the cheese grater hard. Lost a few ounces of flesh and took the brunt of my crash on my shoulder. Luckily this happened with 15 minutes to go so I time trialed hard to only limit my losses. As I waited for X rays I realized I was one day off of it being one year to the day that I sat in the Monterey Hospital with a broken collar bone! Not broken (this time) but tore my rotator cuff. Ouch.
Day two time trial. Down the hill fast then up the hill fast. Open descent with huge water bar jumps. In the morning Seamus said he felt really good and was "going to take it". He had a hoot the whole way down and was launching airs, enjoying himself, and flying back up climb. Took it by .2 seconds ahead of Liam, then Kaboom @ 9 sec, Frishy 5th. Matt T had a solid ride sneaking in fourth, Rolland in 6th and yours truly in 7th with my wing taped firmly into place.
Next day was the short track race that had us going around and around on an evil , rough, wind infested track. Pinned it on the start and made it through the first couple of corners without getting in trouble. Frishy went down hard and had to chase the rest of the way although everyone seemed to be chasing the whole day. With seven minutes to go, Meirhagre accelerated off the front and won convincingly. Wells took it upon himself to pull hard for a few laps while Seamus stayed in the group and tried to make a late pass but would settle for sixth and leader's jersey! Platt, Rollie, Wells and JHK rounded out the line of riders that extended back to Kabush in 10th and me in 11th.
So after three days of smashing our legs with lactic acid, a short 40 mile cross country would finish the weekend. This one is a classic with extremely fast, slick descents marked by a fifteen minute climb back to the start finish and about ten steep poppers. We hammered off the pavement in an epic battle to hit the single track in half ass OK position. Every year the front group is established on a steep climb just ten minutes into the race due to the excessive winds. Once the group gets away the chasers don't work together and there you have it! Soooooooooo that happened again! Matt put in a hard chase and managed to get on 20 minutes later! I was next and worked with a few U23 US riders but could never quite fill the gap. The entire top ten worked together through the wind while third overall Carl Platt had to chase an entire lap til hooking on with one to go. Roddi Legga chased solo for much of the race and ended up with an impressive 9th. As the group hammered up the TT climb on the last lap, Frishy, Seamus and Rolland fell off the pace. Adam Craig and I eventually caught Frishy and Seamus working together up the last pitch before they left me for dead in 14th. Up front Meirhagre dropped Kabush through the feed zone and soloed for the win. Liam, JHK came in next with Platt in fifth. Everyone took note of the harsh winds and the brutal sand traps. Overall Meirhagre took it and from there I can't tell you the rest as I haven't seen the results. I do know Seamus fell down to 10th after digging deep while coughing up green aliens all week. Hestler and Wedge were no-shows as both were sicker than dogs. So there you have it. Can't say riding with a busted wing was the smartest thing but I survived and will start re-hab tomorrow! Of note my DH team mate Mick took the Dual slalom, the DH and was second in the 4X! Mike put in a 6th, 3rd and a 4th. Next stop is the Tour of the Gila with the Canadian National team on Masi road bikes!..wish me luck to not leave my mark on the pavement!
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