cycling utah October 1999

Want to be a pro mountain bike racer

Racing bicycles may seem glamorous on the face but what takes place before the start of the race? What follows is Eric Jones' (Sobe/Head Shock) experience getting to an NCS race earlier this year.

"I get to the SLC airport for my 8:30 a.m. flight only to find out it has been cancelled because of the weather in Chicago. So the airline puts me on a 11 a.m. flight to Denver.

"Now I'm supposed to fly from Denver to Chicago but the flight gets delayed (and later cancelled), so I change my flight and go to St. Louis where I am supposed to catch a flight to Pittsburgh an hour later.

"I arrive in St. Louis and that flight gets cancelled so the only other flight to Pittsburgh leaves at 9:30 p.m.

"So I get on the standby list and wait to take off. The plane finally leaves about 11:30 p.m. and they let me on the plane. I arrive at the Pittsburgh airport about 2 a.m. and my bags aren't there so I find a bench in the airport and get about 2 hours of sleep. About 6 a.m. I ask the customer service people if they can find my bike and bags. They have no idea where they are so I wait for this plane to come in from Chicago at 10:30 a.m. that might have my bike on it.

"The plane arrives and my bags were on the plane. I get my bags at 10:45 and head over to the car rental counter. I get my car about 11:00 and haul ass to the race site which is 90 miles away. It usually takes about 90 minutes to get there, but I made it to the race site about 12:10 p.m., 50 minutes before the start of the race!

"I take my bike over to the truck and have one of the mechanincs put my bike together while I register for the race. I then get dressed and get about a five minute warm-up and start the race.

"I have a good start and I'm in the top 20 after the first half lap. Then my chain comes off and I try to shift it back on, but it bends so I try to fix it but it is taking way too long so I said F*#@+k it!

"The next day I took 18th in the short track XC. Then I attempt to fly back to SLC and don't have much better luck. I was supposed to get into SLC at 2 p.m. but didn't get in until 9:30 p.m. because the weather sucked in Chicago again.

"Then at the Pedalfest race I was feeling great and had at least a six-minute lead going into the final lap and I crashed and broke off the derailleur hanger and bent my crankarm so I had to quit. Then I went to Big Bear for the World Cup. I got a flat the first 100 yards into the race by running over a screw on the ground.

"Let's just say I was not having the best luck during those three weeks."

Sounds pretty glamorous to us. So you still want to be a professional mountain bike racer?

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