more good news from the cycling club and a wrap-up on their season..its long but it'll keep ya amused!! have a great day!! =) sydney CANADA: A Short Cut to the Midwest What happens when you combine 6 Vermont students, 1 mini-van, 6 Mountain bikes, 16 wheels, 2400 miles of driving and 4 separate national championship races. Well, you get the National Collegiate Mountain Biking Finals and UVM's participation in them. This year UVM's revitalized Cycling Team dominated Mountain biking in the East by fielding a solid team of mens and womens riders in all categories. These riders were successful in maintaining a lead in the overall standings throughout the season, from the opening race at Syracuse through our own event at Catamount to the end of the regular season at UMass. This combination of strength and numbers helped place UVM in the top three at every regular season race they competed in. The only stumble came at the Regional Championships at UNH where Vermont was relegated to 4th Place by very strong squads from Penn State, UNH and UMass. This aberration from the rest of the season did not dampen the spirit of our riders and when the team for the nationals left from the circle in front of Patrick Gym Thursday afternoon they had nothing but high spirits for the upcoming races. The 6 men who competed were Jason Baer, John Berlinger, Shawn Durkin, Bill Lockwood, Larry Perarra and Issa Sawabini, of these men none had been to finals before and all expected to have as much fun off of the bike as on. From the beautiful and sunny (compared to Wisconsin) Vermont the riders headed west, way west, all the way to the land of Cheese curds, Great Lakes and cows, but before they got to race they had to travel through 6 states , one foreign nation and numerous "rest stops". The drive out was a long one with the 6 riders alternating in pairs between trying to sleep and driving, luckily the guys never fell asleep when they had to stay awake and were able to sleep when they shouldn't be staying awake. Some of the best parts of the trip were experienced on the Intestates and in the van. Its amazing how well you can fold 6 guys up and all there cloths and blankets and music and fast food trash and still have room for warm soda, day old bagels and too many boxes of TIMBITS. For those of you who have no idea what a TIMBIT is imagine yourself in Canada, any where in Canada, and you want Dunkin' Doughnuts, well you don't go to Dunkin' Doughnuts because it isn't there so you go to Tim Horton's and buy stuff that looks, acts and generally tastes likes Dunkin' Doughnuts except "Fred" never thinks its time to make the doughnuts and they call munckins, TIMBITS. Maybe because of the rude Border guard on the way into Canada or maybe because it was between 3 am and 6 am when we drove past the flat, boring, nearly treeless expanse or maybe because gas is about 65 cents a liter and nearly 2 dollars a gallon (if you can figure out how to convert liters to gallons and then multiply by the price and finally factor in the exchange rate) and how you still get your change in Canadian money, even if you gave them a brand spankin' new 20 dollar bill, or maybe it was because the only vehicles on the road were Big Rigs with 11 axles and tons of cargo that always seemed to drift into your lane on that narrow bridge that the title for this story was though of, but it happened none the less, for us Canada was, "A Short Cut to the Midwest." But what a short cut it was because we were able to arrive at "Devils Head Resort and Convention Center" with plenty of time to check in, scoff at the sign that stated "No Bikes in Rooms", adopt the lone rider form Notra Dame, pre ride the Cross Country Race Course, go to Ponderosa for a big "all you can eat" meal and then head north to HO-CHUNKS Casino and win some money in the quarter slots. For any one who has never been to a Casino, it's a blast, but only if you have the brains and will power to leave the ATM card in the van and only allow 5 or 10 bucks to surface from you pocket. With this night on the town over the next order of business was to sleep, and sleep is what happened, for the next day would begin the racing with the Duel Slalom National Championships starting at 9 am sharp. To begin the morning the "B" riders, men and women, were briefed on the rules for the Duel Slalom competition and then were sent up the hill to start the racing. For most of the Vermont team and especially its B-Team of Issa Sawabini, John Berlinger and Larry Perrara this race would be the first real Duel Slalom event. Earlier in the season at UMass there was a Duel Slalom race, but the course was short, tight and boring here was a course worthy of a National Championship and the team attacked it with a variety of techniques. One was to almost crash at every turn and end up finishing 28th (out of about 100), the other was to race against a team mate, do fairly well and finish in the top 15 and the other was to decimate the entire field of riders and win by over 2 seconds and become the Men's B National Duel Slalom Champion for 1997. The first rider was John Berlinger, the second was Issa Sawabini and the final rider was Larry Perarra, for his accomplishment he received a gold medal and the satisfaction of knowing that his times would have placed him third in the Men's A field, which had its fair share of guaranteed Pro racers. In the "A" race of 204 racers, Vermont kept up its dominating way and fielded three more riders, Bill Lockwood, Shawn Durkin and Jason Baer. Bill ended his day of Duel Slalom racing with the biggest rooster tails of dirt, mud and grass seen all day, Jason was smooth and fast, but for Vermont it was Shawn Durkin who surprised everyone, and him self, by qualifying for the Finals. His time placed him into the last round of head to head competition, because of the inverted order of running he raced against the fastest rider of the day and was beaten, but only but 1.5 seconds. For his strong ride and smooth times early in the day he is now one of the top ranked College Duel slalom racers in the country ending up where he started the final round, 32nd in the nation. With the duel slalom race over and the awards presented it was time to prepare for Sundays Cross Country race. Since the fields would range from 100 to 180 riders it was key for the course designers to shatter the pack into smaller groups before they would enter the tricky single track sections of the race, to do this they used the geography and placed the start at the bottom of the biggest , steepest, longest hill at the resort and instructed us to go up. This climb is what made legs buckle, breath disappear and riders stumble. This climb was a focus of much discussion and strategy, but essentially when the watch ticked down and the starters voice went up thinking went out the window and the mad scramble for the top began, it was this start that set the stage for the rest of the race. Again the day was divided between the A and B races with the Men's B starting at 9 am. The starting positions were selected randomly by school with Vermont being drawn 57th out of 62 schools, pretty poor luck but it matter naught once the race began. The B's all finished in the top third of the field surprising themselves a little bit and ending up 32, 26 and Larry Perarra again showed the nations riders what it takes to be a mountain biker and he was able to finish the race in 6th place. His strength on the climbs, speed in the descents and skill in the technical parts helped him to ride over, around and through all the hills, holes, mud and muck. He represented the school and its team better than any one had expected or hoped and since he won on Saturday and finished so well on Sunday he became the Men's B Over-All Champion and won for his hard work and fast times a brand new top of the line GT frame. The Men's A race began at 2 pm and Vermont's riders were up against some very stiff competition, included in the field were riders who race professionally as well as on the collegiate circuit. This fact put into perspective how tough the field of 180 riders would be. From the start it was an all up hill struggle for Vermont. Half way through his second lap Jason Baer began having mechanical troubles, his front shock (which had misbehaved in the Duel Slalom race the day before) up and died on him leaving Jason with out a functioning fork and in for a rough ride, but while this was not a terminal problem his chain self destructing was. In the most technical section of the course the chain snapped and left Jason with no alternative but to end the day standing on the side line and cheering on his teammates. Bill Lockwood and Shawn Durkin were left to represent the school and this they did, though both had troubles. Bill ended up stopping once to have his cycling tights cut off of his body because they had become so torn that they got caught on his seat, which he later shattered in a crash that left him with a broken seat and no water bottle cage. These difficulties definitely slowed Bill, but didn't stop him and he rode strong all the way to the end of the race. Shawn Durkin was not having as strong a day as he had with the Duel Slalom, but he rode through serious troubles to finish the race well and salvage some more points for the squad. Incidentally both Bill and Shawn had raced earlier this semester in Costa Rica in a 300 mile stage race. They competed for three days and rode against some extremely talented international teams, they did this under the UVM banner and gave our team some international exposure. With the final race of the weekend over, all that was left was to clean up, eat up, party and drive. One interesting event at the banquet that saw the Cross Country Champions crowned and the over all winners presented with there medals and frames was the streaking of the whole party by six members of the Fort Lewis College team from Durango, Colorado. Three guys and three girls bared all but their faces to bolt before the yelling cheering mass of riders, officials, mechanics, coaches, parents and friends. This final act topped off a great weekend and led nicely into the drive that was ahead. About 9:30 Sunday night the team was at the van saying final good bye's, checking the wheels and frames on the roof one final time, and loading up to head all the way back here to Vermont. With everything tight it was off on another 1200 miles and incidentally Canada is not only a great short cut to the Midwest its also a great short cut back to Vermont. Gordon "Humble Servent of the People" Daniell "Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live." -- Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle"