Pedals fly at Deer valley stop
At the beginning of the season local pro mountain bike rider Kathy Sherwin set a goal for herself — to make it onto the podium before the end of the year.
After a weekend of racing on her home turf of Deer Valley at the fourth stop on the NORBA National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS), the Ford-sponsored rider got herself that much closer, finishing ninth in Saturday’s pro cross-country race and eighth short-track race on Sunday.
Sherwin had one of her best cross-country races nearing her season’s best finish at the series first stop in Fontana, Calif.
"I had a good day in the saddle," Sherwin said. "I’ve been riding this course for 10 years. That is an advantage."
She was hoping to have a slightly better result in the short track the race in which she feels she has the best chance of getting a podium finish but struggled on course.
"I wasn’t feeling the fire, but I was alright it was a stacked field and was a good race," Sherwin said. "To come out of this weekend with two top 10s I’m pretty psyched."
To grab that elusive spot on the podium, Sherwin will have to catch some pretty talented riders.
Thirty-six-year-old Shonny Vanlandingham (Luna) was able to break away from Heather Irmiger and Willow Koerber, both riding for Subaru-Gary Fisher, to capture the win and maintain her spot atop the NMBS cross-country standings. Irmiger and Koerber continued to battle relentlessly until the race’s end for second and third-place, respectively.
It was no surprise on the men’s side that the male series leader, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, was able to claim the other race title. Riding with a gain of 2,300 feet in elevation, the Boulder, Colo. native was able to use his comfort level with altitude to his advantage.
"I knew I’d feel the altitude, but maybe not as much as the other guys out there. I kind of embrace the feeling of suffering," Horgan-Kobelski said.
But the real drama was in the second and third place race where Canadian Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) and Jeremy Bishop (Trek-Volkswagen) relied on a judge’s call to determine placing. Without a photo finish to draw on, Kabush was given the win, most likely based on his stronger momentum heading into the line.
Another local rider, Austrian-born Thomas Spannring took 22nd in the race. He is still trying to crack the top 20 in the national series, but was happy with Saturday’s result. He will take a break from American riding to head to the Austrian nationals later this month.
Earlier in the day, Tom Noaker of Oakley was able to capture second in the open single-speed race, falling only to John Gallagher, a Park City rider who is about 20 years his junior. Noaker said that too much riding earlier in the week made him a bit slower than normal to start the race and was unable to close the gap in the remainder of the race.
The Young Riders, the locally-based youth team that Noaker coaches, had some success over the weekend in the sport and expert divisions, despite contending with races being moved and changed.
Keegan Swenson, 12, took an impressive third in the Sport 16-and-under. Alex Gordon overcame technical difficulties in the expert 16-and-under to take fourth.
On Sunday, the series started going down hill, literally. Fully armored and ready to attack the treacherous Deer Valley Mountain terrain, Australian teenager Tracey Hannah (Orange), 17, overpowered her more muscle-bound opponents, April Lawyer (Maxxis) and Sabrina Jonnier (Monster-Iron Horse) for first in the pro downhill.
For the men, Greg Minnear (G-Cross Honda), who has won the overall NORBA downhill title twice, was able to beat Sam Hill (Monster-Iron Horse) and Bryn Atkinson (GT).
Soon after, the pros were back at another day of racing on Deer Valley’s short track course.
Kabush was the winner this time, easily breaking away from the field after Ryan Trebon (Kona-Les Gets) dropped his chain after gunning it on the first lap to win an $80 bonus donated by the locally based and Noaker-coached Young Riders.
"It would have been nice to get $80, but the win meant more to me," Kabush said, who has won the race numerous times before.
Horgan-Kobelski took second place using a bike with 29-inch wheels, but Kabush said he felt comfortable using the same bike he had used in the cross-country race
"It comes down to who has the best legs. The bike is secondary," Kabush said.
Barry Wicks (Kona-Les Gets) took third.
In the women’s race, a strong field of Luna Riders dominated by sweeping all three places. Katerina Nash, who is also an Olympic cross-country skier for the Czech Republic, took first followed by Georgia Gould and Shonny Vanlandingham.
"We’re all just synchronized mentally. We don’t play a lot of trickery. We just go hard it worked out for us as a team," Nash said.
There are two more stops left on the NORBA circuit this summer in Snowmass and Brianhead.
For complete race results, visit http://www.norbanationals.com.
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