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Olympic mountain biking.

Monday, August 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

August
13
2012
One of the few really technical section of the 2012 Olympic MTB course claimed a few bodies.

One of the few really technical section of the 2012 Olympic MTB course claimed a few bodies.

Watching Olympic mountain biking over the weekend was really entertaining and exciting. I found the course to be very non-technical for the most part, which was surprising: I expected the best of the best to be presented with more difficult challenges.

I commented on Facebook that a couple of the climbs looked pretty tough, and was promptly made fun of by some of my friends who bike in more mountainous regions than I do. 🙂

Not only did I enjoy watching some of the world’s best XC mountain bikers compete, there were some really inspirational stories there…

Emily Batty, a phenomenal Canadian mountain biker who I admit to having a slight crush on, took a terrible spill a couple of days before her race during a training run. She was doing about 40 KPH on a rocky downhill and went OTB. She broke her collarbone and bruised or cracked some ribs, but she still raced! I’ve cracked ribs before, and the pain is unreal. I can’t imagine racing two days after cracking a few ribs and breaking my collarbone! That’s the heart of a real champion.

Spoilers in this next bit.

The men’s race was really exciting, especially the final lap. I was watching the race streaming live on my computer, and there was no commentary in that feed. Towards the end of the race I saw something fly off the Italian Marco Fontana’s bike. At the time Fontana was right there with the leader and making some strong moves, but he started to fall behind. I couldn’t tell what fell off his bike, but it didn’t look like a water bottle. Turns out his seat post snapped in half, and he finished the race with no saddle, taking the bronze medal. What I liked best about this unfortunate event is the way he handled what must have been a huge disappointment: he didn’t whine or complain about his bad luck, and was very gracious. Win, lose or DNF, that’s how a true athlete behaves. I can’t stand the bloated egos so prevalent in many professional sports, and that’s why I don’t watch baseball, basketball or football.

After watching all that racing I am really in the mood to ride this morning (I also spent a couple hours yesterday giving my bike a complete tune), but I’m buried in work. No chance of hitting the trails today, but maybe I’ll be able to go out front and practice some skills over my lunch hour.

John Stone Fitness Comments

9 Responses to “Olympic mountain biking.”
  1. When I was last out at Santos, Flex gave me a demonstration of how to climb over big scary rocks like that. I admire his skill in making it look easy, but I wasn’t about to try it myself. I’m sure I would have ended up like Batty did.

    I’ve broken both a collar bone and a rib. The amount of pain when the broken ends of bone grind together, is enough to take your breath away. If she was racing in that condition only days later, she must have been on pain meds powerful enough to knock out an elephant.

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    • She said Advil only, that’s it–no kidding. As I understand it the break was such that the bones were pressing together and not grinding. She also took a hard and bloody fall in the race itself and kept going. Amazing.

      My brother broke his collarbone early this year, and it was one of the most painful things he’s ever been through (and, as a former skater, he’s no stranger to the ER). He’s still not fully recovered from the break, and has decided to sell his mountain bike. 🙁

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      • As much as I hate to see someone give up the sport, I understand exactly where your brother is coming from. My clavicle broke into three pieces when I landed on pavement from a height of about ten feet. I swore I’d never ride a motorcycle again, and wished I’d never started. It took almost a year for the memory of all the subsequent pain and misery to fade sufficiently to get back in the saddle. My broken femur, while being a much more serious injury with life altering potential, was a cakewalk by comparison.

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  2. Hats off to Emily Batty, that takes guts. I think the last couple of Olympic MTB courses have been man made courses. Until we see the summer games at venues near mountains, that’s what we are going to get. It was basically a dirt criterium. It totally favored the roadie types, not the strong climbers like Geoff Kabush and Todd Wells. My local race series is on courses much harder then that course. They need some sustained climbs that last 20-30 minutes, rough techy sections, technical climbing, and different dirt conditions to truly test these guys. That course was basically a freeway, even the rocky sections had perfectly placed rocks and a definite line. But to build a course that offers great TV coverage, I think they did a great job. The NBC commentator kept saying how technical and hard the course was, like he was trying to convince everyone, that got old so quick.

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    • Craig, I couldn’t agree with you more. I wonder if 2016 (in Rio) will have a more challenging course? There are certainly plenty of mountains there!

      From what I’ve heard from my friends who watched the men’s race with commentary (I think they said it was the BBC feed) the broadcast was pretty annoying. Someone mentioned that one of the commentators couldn’t understand why Fontana was falling behind, oblivious to his missing seatpost.

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      • I unfortunately missed the whole thing! I’m hoping they’ll make a DVD set of the 2012 Olypics so that I can watch the events that actually hold my interest, including of course the bike races.

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    • According to people I know in Britain, they plan to keep the Olympic course and make it available for public use. Apparently there are plans to eliminate the more dangerous portions of the track, but it seems to me that would only make an already tame trail as bland as dish water.

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