Posted by Editoress on 05/23/03
Haro Lee Dungarees rider Chris Sheppard gives us an insiders view
Finally my three week adventure into the realm of thin air is over. We (National team) started out in Silver City, NM for two weeks of altitude with the added bonus of a five day road stage race. Most of the race was a struggle for me as I tried to gain strength after my Sea Otter incident but Andreas managed to stay up there every stage and finish fifth overall. Seventy eight headrushes, six bleeding noses and two pints of sand-like spit later we had our tails between our legs running across the desert to Big Bear.
The Big Bear cross country was a trip back to the olden days. Men and women raced on the the course at the same time but luckily the route had been expanded. This year our lap consisted of 2750 ft of climbing per big 13 mile lap with a 10 mile loop to start us off. This was by far the longest cross country race we have competed in over the last three years with a winning time of 2:25. The pack rolled out safely with no real nervousness or crashes outside the usual elbow battle. Initially the pace was driven by Ryder, Kabush and JHK but this swelled to include Wells, Rolland, Seamus, Bonilla, Ziranda, Brown and Swenson. Not knowing where my legs were, I settled into a pacing strategy. I had the dubious distinction as being the guy who never caught on lurking about 3-400 yards behind for the first 2 hours. So close yet so far away. Damn that sucked!
On the second lap the group stayed somewhat intact with Brown coming off first then Bishop. Bishop would end up joining a hard-charging Dre and yours truly but we would never quite close the gap. Ryder punched it towards the top of the climb then attacked the descent. He put a good 25 seconds on the rest of the pack. From this point he stayed away solo with Seamus and Kabush the only ones powerful enough to give chase. These two worked together and gapped JHK, Wells and Rolland. Two thirds of the way up Rolland dropped out due to a slow recovery of his torn biceps. I could only imagine how his arm felt every time down our ten minute long rocky, rough single track. Ouch. Final results was Ryder take it, Kabush and Seamus battled it out finishing in that order(20 sec back) then JHK, gap to Wells, bigger gap to Bonilla, Ziranda, Swenson, Walker (drove past us in the final 15 min) Dre, Bishop and yours truly in 12th. Other notables were Toulouse in 14th and a best ever 15th for Federau.
Thank God for the ability to recover. After serving up bloody boogers on my pillow all night I was ready to take on a technical, sketchy short track. The start was an eight up sprint for position in the hairpin but everyone kept it upright even while shoulder surfing through the corner. Green was a man possessed as he drove the front hard feeding off the agony he was causing. Once again Ryder pursued followed by Seamus, Wells, Bonilla, Kabush, Me, JHK and Hall. Too many vested interests brought Rollie back within 5 min although Ryder did the majority of the work. Both these two fell off the group around the 10 min mark while the group swapped charges at the front. Attack after attack were answered, although; Bonilla went with two to go creating a 20 ft gap. JHK drove through the lap towing Wells, me, Seamus and Hall back to Bonilla. Entering the second to last corner of the lap I gambled and carried too much speed thus crashing onto my side. This screwed my team mate and gapped him off and thus thwarting both of our chances going into the last lap. Bonilla held off JHK with Wells with Seamus and Hall finishing 4th and 5th. I struggled around the last lap getting passed by Rowney and Swenson finishing 8th. Bummer.
Well now I'm back in Asheville getting ready for the long summer road trip. Instead of travelling with the national team over to Scotland I have decided to stay at home and train for the next three weeks. Next big one is Snowshoe WV in a month.
Take er easy Chris
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