Sep 7, 2003

The latest from the PR machine that is me . . .


BIG BEAR, CA, SEPT. 6 – Ran on the new UCI World Endurance Championship standards, the 75 mile Big Bear Epic got underway at 7 a.m. and it didn’t take long for Canyon Velo’s Matt Freeman and two-time U.S. Olympian, three-time National XC Champion Tinker Juarez to drop the rest of the brave field. Nearly ten minutes into the race, Juarez, who recently earned a silver medal at the World 24-Hour Championship in Whistler, Canada, went off the front of the pack, taking Freeman with him.

The two racers rode together for a short time before Freeman gave up the chase, in order to save his energy for the long day ahead. Regardless, Freeman kept Juarez honest until about the midway point of the grueling race when the course headed up Radford Jeep Trail, an hour-long rocky climb that begins at approximately 5600 ft. in the Santa Ana River bottom and ends over 2000 ft. later on the east side of Big Bear’s Snow Summit.

“Tinker put a lot of time on me going up Radford, but I wasn’t worried so much about him as I was about my own legs,” said Freeman, who is fresh off his round seven California State XC win and plans to enter the Fall Classic on October 12 as a Semi-pro. “As if the climb isn’t bad enough, we had gnats swarming around our face for the first half of the climb. I probably wasted a lot of energy just waving them away.”

Freeman survived the bugs and the Radford climb, but lost valuable time to third place Cliff Clairmont, when confusing course markings toward the end of the race found him riding in circles. “I was comfortable with my lead over third place until I made a wrong turn and lost the course markings,” said Freeman. “I turned around and went back to where I’d made the wrong turn, but I still wasn’t sure I was in the right place. I think fatigue had a little bit to do with my confusion. When I finally figured out were to go, about five minutes had passed so it made me a little nervous.”

From there it was a big-ring sprint back to the Start/Finish, which took place at Big Bear Lake’s Whaler’s Pointe. Freeman crossed the finish line in six hours and 37 minutes, 32 minutes behind Juarez’s winning time. Third place Clairmont capitalized on Freeman’s late-race confusion to pull within a minute of the new 30-39 class champion.

“I wish I could have kept Tinker a little closer, but cramping a little bit around the five-hour mark forced me to spin in easier gears,” said Freeman. “Still, I’m honored just to be standing on the podium with him.

“Winning the California State Endurance Championship in my age division is a great way to end my career as an Expert racer,” continued Freeman. “Hopefully I can carry this momentum into the Fall Classic next month when I make my Semi-pro debut.”

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