Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cyclists savor local sponsorship

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is cooking up more than toffee, peanut brittle and Belgian white cocoa these days. The current recipe mix includes one sweet cycling team.

Grant Berry, Trevor Krueger, Frank Mapel, Matt Shriver, Mike Nunez, Mitch Moreman, Ryan Barthel and Ned Overend, sometimes, are touting local sponsors, racing, training hard and enjoying success as Durango's only locally sponsored bicycle squad.

Berry, 29, who works for Zuke's Performance Pet Nutrition, and his good friend, Nunez, 24, were kicking around the idea for a team last year.

"We wanted to showcase Durango, local riders and local sponsors," Berry said.

There were just a few small things missing: other riders, sponsors and a formal plan.

Berry approached Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and they agreed to become the team's first title sponsor.

"RMCF was excited and committed right away, and then other sponsors came on board including Spine Colorado/Durango Orthopedics and Mountain Bike Specialists," Berry said.

Berry was careful in picking his teammates.

"I wanted racers who would bring good results, but I also wanted people who were approachable, friendly and would represent our sponsors well," Berry said.

Nunez, 24, likes having the ability to advertise local businesses and forming closer relationships with sponsors and teammates, but he also loves being part of a team and using different tactics while racing on the roads.

"It's easy to do when you have a large team," Nunez said. "We'll usually work for the strongest rider and send some of our riders to the front, slow the pace and try to tire out other teams so that when it counts our strongest rider can come out on top."

Conservation of energy is all-important.

Krueger, 25, has similar feelings.

"It's amazing that all of the local sponsors are so passionate about riding and racing," Krueger said. "They are so interested and excited, and that helps fuel the motivation of the riders on the team."

RMCF has been busy this year and has already ridden in Vuelta de Bisbee, Tour of the Gila, Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Tour de Nez and numerous other events.

Moreman, 25, a Durango High School graduate, finished second at the Iron Horse and the Durango MTB 100. When he's not busy training or racing, Moreman works with his father at Animas Valley Windows.

Shriver, 25, a Fort Lewis College student, has been racing for 11 years and keeps a busy schedule.

"When I'm not riding, I am usually studying, working or resting," said Shriver while he wrenched a bike at Mountain Bike Specialists (MBS).

Overend, seemingly ageless, mostly wears his Specialized Team jersey while racing but occasionally dons the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory duds.

"Specialized doesn't mind because RMCF is one of our grassroots teams and they are using Specialized bikes, helmets and shoes," Overend said.

Last weekend was the Taos Stage Race. Saturday morning was a 70-mile road race, Saturday afternoon was a 9.5-mile uphill time trial and Sunday was a criterium.

Overend, who will celebrate his 50th birthday Saturday, finished in second place, only one point off the winner.

Shriver was fifth. Moreman finished eighth and Krueger, Berry and Barthel all finished tied for 20th.

While in Taos, the team made a last-minute visit to the Taos Rocky Mountain Chocolate location.

"The owner of the store had a tent set up at the criterium," Berry said. "We helped promote some of our other sponsors, talked to a lot of people and just had a real positive experience."

Other sponsors for the team are Spinal Reflex Analysis, Boure Sportswear, Coca-Cola of Durango, Bread, Maxxis tires and DeFeet socks.

Key Jobson and Bryan Merryman are both avid cyclists and work for Rocky Mountain Chocolate.

"Having the team this year has exceeded our expectations," Jobson said. "It's real exciting and satisfying to be involved, and it's cool to see the nice jerseys around town."

Upcoming events for the "chocolate boys," as Jobson likes to say, include the Colorado State Championships, Gore Pass Road Race and the Tucson Bicycle Classic.

Berry is pleased with his team's first-year success.

"It's all about community support, and we love what we are doing," Berry said.

The future of the team?

Seems like the sky's the limit.

"We're a growing program but we wanted to be careful our first year," Berry said.

"Someday we'd love to have juniors and women riding for us."

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Rain, mud take toll on mountain bikers

PURGATORY - With rain, mud, cold and never-ending climbs, it was a trying day for most of the mountain bikers at the Durango MTB 100, 100K (62 miles) and 50K (31 miles) on Saturday at Durango Mountain Resort.

Durango's David Drake pedals into the finish line Saturday to win the 100-mile mountain bike race, the Durango MTB 100, at Durango Mountain Resort. Drake won the event for the second consecutive year.The 100-mile riders were attempting three laps; the 100K riders were doing two laps while the 50K riders were trying for one.

Each lap had an elevation gain of more than 6,000 feet and took riders on singletrack and logging roads around the Lizard Head Wilderness, La Plata Mountains and the Needles Range.

An aid station and checkpoint was located at the Graysill Mine while each lap finished in the base of Purgatory, near Hoody’s Base Camp.

Josh Tostsado, from Boulder, who was riding in the 100-mile event, was the first casualty.

He cracked his bicycle frame just a few miles into the race.

Julie Lindstrom, 38, from Jackson, Wyo., was also planning to race 100 miles. She dropped out after the first lap.

“I had fun out there and it wasn’t a waste of time, but this is a really hard, technical course,” Lindstrom said. “The Leadville 100 mountain bike race was easier than this one.” The casualties continued to accumulate.

Kris Quandt, Lindstrom’s friend who signed up for the 100K, dropped out after one lap.

“It was just a bad race,” Quandt repeated – three times.

Jason Maloney and Tracy Jones, flatlanders from Houston, Texas, signed up for the 100K and sat for 15 minutes while deciding whether or not to try for a second loop.

With a little bit of encouragement from their support crew, Maloney and Jones eventually made it out of the DMR aid station.

Both turned back after 30 minutes.

“We were going to be out here for a while and then it started thundering and lightening,” Maloney said. “We got the better of ourselves, but we just needed some more power in our legs.” Jones had similar feelings.

“Should we be out here doing this?” she asked.

“We were crawling and we had a lot more climbing to do.” It wasn’t all frustration at the weekend’s events.

David Drake, last year’s winner, won the 100-mile event again this year, in nine hours and 56 minutes.

Race director Will Newcomer was offering $500 to the first racer to break nine hours, but with course conditions as they were, no one would go home with the money this year.

Durango’s Mitch Moreman, riding for Health FX, finished second in the 100-miler.

Christy Kopasz, 35, of Telluride wonthe women’s 100-mile race in 12 hours, 30 minutes.

Lydia Hill of Grand Junction won the women’s 50K.

“The flowers are amazing, and I definitely stopped to check them out,” Hill said.

“I didn’t think it would take me this long, but there was 8 inches of mud out there in some places and it was slowing everybody down.” Guillaume Belin, visiting from France, won the men’s 50K in 4:11. Belin’s father, Jean-Paul, also raced the 50K.

Ted Compton, 35, from Durango, won the men’s 100K.

Compton fell while riding the Colorado Trail on the first lap, but he said the hardest part of the course was riding up Bolam Pass.

“It just kept on getting steeper and steeper, but there’s no excuse not to ride it,” Compton said. “I’m pretty familiar with this race, I’ve been on all parts of the course and I just wanted see if I could handle it or not.” Compton did, but, just barely, by his own admission.

Kelli Jennings won the women’s 100K in 9: 02.

Besides the competitive types, many riders were just trying to have some fun.

Dolores’ Thomas Miller, 35, rode the 50K on a mountain unicycle and only had one hand plant.

“I got off of the bike a lot, walked and ran, but I didn’t have any major falls,” Miller said.

Tom Sr. waited for his son at the top of the ski area with another unicycle.

“I wanted to have a different bike with a smaller wheel but a fatter tire for better control while descending,” Miller said.

Golden’s Phillip Baker, 43, took a nasty fall midway through the second lap of the 100K and tore up a new pair of $100 bike shorts.

“I’ve got some battle scars and bleeding, but it’s all part of the sport and it builds character,” Baker said. “I appreciate the local folks putting this event on.” Newcomer will be putting on the event again next year.

“Even when people drop out they have a good time, and that’s why we do these races,” Newcomer said.

For complete race results, see www. gravity play.com/MTB100/index2.htm.