"Bonelli is like the 100 meter Olympics of mountain biking," proclaimed a fired up, dust-crusted Kris Sneddon.
"It seems like a crazy way to ride a bike," replied endurance connoisseur Cory Wallace as he listened to the other three Kona boys describe the events of the previous weekend.
Fast, crazy, frenetic, aggressive, exciting - there are many words that can describe Round #3 of the US Cup at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, CA. Thanks in no small part to the organizational efforts of Scott Tedro and the Sho-Air Cycling Group, some 85% of the world's top-twenty ranked XC mountain bikers (and 100% of all top North Americans) were on the start line for Saturday's cross country race. This included reigning World Champion Catherine Pendrel in the women's race, and perennial heavy hitter Nino Schurter in the men's race.
"It's like having Wayne Gretzky show up to your Duffer's league," jokes Canadian Kris Sneddon. "Actually it's more like showing up to a major swim meet with Michael Phelps, or having Michael Jordan at your basketball game...that was the most competitive field I've raced against in a regular season North America race since the NORBA days in the early 2000s"
With the literal momentum of these early season races, it's easy to forget that the 2015 is race season is just getting underway. The Kona Endurance Team now has three major Olympic XC events behind them, with much more racing to go. I brought it home this weekend in Bonelli with a satisfactory 17th, 5th for the U.S. Barry and Kris battled from back row starts and churned out finishes in the top half of the internationally stacked field.
Up next is the cycling industry mega-show at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California, where both the Endurance and Gravity Team riders will be on site to shred some sunny California hills and the odd trail. The same international fields will be at the start line, and it's sure to be another good show.