A rerun of Thursday's stage of the Tour de France was on the television behind the bar as people settled onto their barstools at Three Creek Brewing in Sisters. Sipping a beer, one patron commented that it might have been neat if Lance Armstrong at least won a stage to finish his career.The guy next to me replied, pointing at the television set, "Yea, but hey, Lance's teammate, our local guy, is doing really well."
"Which one is he?" a patron at the end of the bar inquired. And as if on cue, Chris Horner rode across the screen and the guy next to me shouted, "There, the guy in the yellow shoes."
The guy in the yellow shoes was having a tremendous day and Tour, redemption after being snubbed by Armstrong's team for last year's Tour. Horner rode the 2009 Cascade Cycling Classic and gained notoriety for offering fellow racer Bill DeMong a lift across the finish line in the Mt. Bachelor road ride stage after DeMong's bike became unrideable.
Then DeMong went on to win a gold medal in combined skiing at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and Horner is proving yet again that he's one of the world's best road cyclists. So much so, that during this year's Tour, a Belgian sportswriter wrote that Horner was, in his opinion, "the best rider in the Tour."
He clarified that statement by saying that Horner is good in every aspect of cycling from climbing to time-trialing to sprinting, etc. He is, in short, the complete rider.
And a rider, at age 39, who deserves all the recognition he's getting.
Getting Down in Cali
Local pro mountain bike racer Carl "the Deckerator" Decker is currently in L.A. hoping to race in the auto rally event at the X-Games.
A couple of weeks ago he was also down in California, this time for the annual Downieville Classic cross country and downhill mountain bike race, a race that saw him crowned "All-Mountain World Champion."
"I was lucky enough to return to Downieville for the Downieville Classic: a two-day stage race consisting of a two-hour XC loop and a 45-minute downhill run to the same finish line in downtown Downieville," says Decker.
The Classic is limited to 800 cross-country racers and 200 "All Mountain World Championship" riders who do both stages for a combined time. The races fill in minutes, and for good reason. Downieville has at least a mile of raucous singletrack and two good swimming holes for every man, woman and child who call it home.
"I decided to take a chance and run what I was most used to: the Anthem X Twenty-Nine Prototype. The gun cracked, 800 people clipped their second cleats into their pedals, and 50 minutes later, I had a four-minute gap at the feed zone. I did not know this, however, so I pedaled real hard and gave the occasional frightened glance over my shoulder. When the descent came, I was riding better than I had all week. I was jumping and drifting and sprinting and still looking over my shoulder. When I crossed the line, I had nearly six minutes on Adam Craig and a new course record (1:50:50) for my troubles," says Decker.
He finished a couple of minutes down the following day in the downhill portion of the event, but still snagged the overall title.
His overall impression of the event was: "great races in a great place with heaps of fun people. I think this one goes on my short list for 'best weekend of the year.' If you have the chance to go to Downieville and race your bike or just eat a blue-cheese burger and sit in the river, I'd say do it!"