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The Final Shoe Falls?

The Road to the Val di Sol Starting Line doesn't end at a point on a map. The words with an arrow saying YOU ARE HERE don't guarantee that you are; certainly not on this trip. It is not enough that travel was encumbered due to all the lame airline snafu's you could think of but it's effects were taxing. John made it to the Relay and put in a fine effort in his first race at such an ethereal level. He did us proud but felt in his heart it was not this best effort.

John said that this course was the most technical he had ever raced. He said it just "chews up bike parts". I looked at the photos and the riders looked pretty clean to me but I'm not there. Actual pictures of the course are clearly not up to NorCal standards. In any case John is the one riding, not me. There are some on-course photos away from Start Finish here:

http://valdisole2008.pentaphoto.it/

and here:

http://www.mtbvaldisole2008.it/interne/cross_country_interna.ashx?id=7259

Tuesday night was slated for full-on Olympic style sleeping and I'm sure that was welcome. However, there is more to this story. Lest you think all is calm there was some alarming news. Upon close inspection John's Orbea frame appeared to be cracked in the rear triangle. Fortunately the Orbea folk were on hand and gave him a new frame and the bike was built up. They were at a loss to understand the damage or its cause. For my part I still suspect the customs guys manhandling the bikes in transit. That is my story and I'm sticking to it!

Anyhow, John went out with the other Juniors for some old fashioned mountain biking. Joining him were Kerry Werner who won the automatic spot with his victory at Greenbriar, with Robbie Squire (Sandy, Utah) and Seamus Powell (Round Top, N.Y.) who raced at Greenbriar and Santa Ynez. The weather is dryer with temps near 80 degrees with occasional clouds. There was post-ride napping and later, cheering the Under 23 and Under 18 Girls races. Junior Deirdre York represented in a 3 lap race on the same course as the Relay yesterday. A whopping 6 Dnf's were recorded out of 45 young women. Deirdre started slowly but pulled back in laps 2 and three to finish 33rd. Columbian Laura Abril took the victory. Jill Behlen was slated to start 16th for the 18 unders but I saw no data that she ever hit the starting line.

John said that the course was drying but there were places where the girls ran their bikes through mud. He says that the best place to do any passing is on the climbs (how many times has Matt said the race is won on the climbs?) and the downhills don't offer much for passing. I imagine that those Euro boys can climb but if John says that is where he is going to try to pass I believe him. It should be a very exciting race. By the time we wake up tomorrow we should have some results of John's race.

All our best wishes go with him. NorCal and El Cerrito Racing represent at the Worlds!!!!

Michael Mejia
 

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