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Sunday, May 7, 2000 -- Philadelphia, PA
Fairmount Classic Mountain Bike Race
Story and photos by Matt Marcus

[Details] [Coverage]
[Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]

Fairmount Classic
Mountain biking in Philadeplphia?
How do you put on a one-day mountain bike race for about one thousand people in the middle of a major metropolitan area? Ask Ernie Martin, director of the Trek Volkswagen regional factory teams, or Lauren Grafton of Bike Line. Ernie, Lauren and their crews were the ones who were working non-stop on Saturday and Sunday to set up, produce the event, tear it down and pack it up before dark. On top of all this plain hard work there must have been a mountain of red tape to cut through to pull it all off.

The course was even faster than the 1999 edition with the initial "hill" and the real messy section of singletrack being cut out. The four-mile loop featured mostly high speed rolling bridal trails and dirt roads. Sport and expert riders were routed onto a quarter mile section of tight narrow singletrack laced with log hops, mud holes and slick rock bars.

Fairmount Classic
Chrissy Redden was fast
It wasn't the course that made this race challenging, it was the competition. Trek and Gary Fisher pro riders were flown in pretty much insuring continued dominance of this event. On the men's side, 1997 National Championship Series winner Kirk Molday and the 1999 junior World cyclocross champion Matt Kelly were on hand along with the winner from the last two years David Duvall, all riding for Trek.

Gary Fisher was represented by Andy Bishop and, on the women's side, by Canadian National champion Chrissy Redden. 1999 Fairmount winner Katie Compton was back along with Trek teammate Sue Haywood.

Pro men started with the senior experts but the field was quickly divided at the start by a pile-up, which allowed the front line of pros to immediately establish a gap on the experts. During the first of five laps for the men the course was clear and Molday began to lose his chasers-Andy Bishop, K2/ Newsun pro Jeremiah Bishop, Kelly and Duvall. Regional star Jeremiah Bishop was afraid of starting too fast after bonking the weekend before in Athens, Georgia and initially stayed with Fisher's Andy Bishop and Trek's Kelly. After Kelly suffered a mechanical and dropped out, Jeremiah surged ahead of Andy Bishop but could never close the gap on Molday as the pros passed through lapped traffic for the remainder of the race.

Fairmount Classic
Nick Waite and Brett Hixson
Meanwhile the real battle was raging for third between Fisher's Bishop and Trek's Duvall with Duvall finally powering away for third. Eric Kiem, also riding for K2/ Newsun, helped to break up the Trek/ Gary Fisher party taking fifth ahead of Trek up and comer Paul Buschi.

Another factor in this race was the heat, which hovered above 95 degrees for most of the day. Comments frequently heard during the race included, "I can't breathe" and "I can't go on" or the near death croak "water?" It didn't seem to give anyone an advantage though since no one has experienced these kinds of temperatures since last summer. The mentally strong riders persisted even though it seemed like they were riding in slow motion especially on the grassy climbs in the sun.

Fairmount Classic
Heavy traffic on a 4 mile course
In the women's pro expert race Chrissy Redden started out in front but was challenged for the entire first lap by Sue Haywood. The women's start was five minutes after the men but the top riders were into lapped traffic by the second of their four laps. This is where Redden pulled away from Haywood never to be seen again but by that time they had gapped the rest of the field for good. Compton who said she was "riding within herself" rode the entire race alone in third with the only real fight going on behind her for fourth place between Tiffany Kenny and eventual fifth place finisher Sobe-Headshok rider Charmian Breon.

Both pro winners looked calm and composed after the race. Both of them thought that the course was fun but Molday said "It was definitely hard because it was hard to get into a rhythm because the climbs were so short and there were so many people out there we had to pass". After an early season crash on the road Molday scrapped his World Cup plans and will focus on the NCS and a possible trips to the world championships in Spain this June and the Olympics in September.

Fairmount Classic
Andy Bishop enjoying the heat
Redden on the other hand has already earned an Olympic berth for Canada and will be going to the worlds. After the first two rounds of the World Cup in Napa and Mazatlan she was ranked fourth in the world but did not travel to Europe for the next three rounds focusing instead on the NCS, worlds and the Olympics. The end of the race found her searching for a computer to see the results from the World Cup and hurrying off to the airport to catch a flight home. Both pro winners received $400 and a pair of sweet JBL speakers.

In the short track event later in the afternoon Molday scored another win and another pair of JBL's. Sue Haywood will also be jammin' some tunes taking the speakers home after an easy cruise in the short track while Redden fought her way through traffic to the airport.

The end of the day was similar to last year with mass confusion surrounding the race results and the harried NORBA official leaving the scene early under a barrage of protests. This race is supposedly part of the new NORBA ranking system unveiled earlier this year. Don't hold your breath though as NORBA has come up with nothing but promises for the last couple of years leaving us with the perennial question "what do you get for your $35 membership fee?"