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Feedback Cup illustrates the local foundation of cyclocross

November 5, 2014
Team Small Batch rider on the Feedback Cup course, near the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center fencing

Team Small Batch rider on the Feedback Cup course, near the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center fencing

[updated 11/10/2014]

Sunday’s Feedback Cup ‘cross event provided an outstanding reminder of what cyclocross is all about.

Sure, ‘cross is about physical achievement as well as a life lesson in taking bad luck with the good. But even more so the Feedback Cup in Golden, Colorado exemplified the sport’s community foundation and the dedication of people who commit personal resources to elevate local bike racing to a high quality level. Golden-based Feedback Sports put on the event. The company makes and sells bicycle work stands and other accessories.

Those familiar with the course sandwiched between a youth detention center and golf course near the foot of South Table Mountain found something new: a long pit of sand entered after a strategically-placed ninety degree turn. One after another of the guys scheduled to start the elite men’s race scoped it out, trying to ride it. Almost all of those who could pedal through it – and they were in the minority – ground away in slow motion as tires lost traction in the silty stuff.

Leaders in the elite men's race run the Golden sand

Leaders in the elite men’s race run the Golden sand

According to Tim Allen, Feedback Sports employee and ‘cross team member, the sand was donated by Jay Kenney of the Kenney Brothers Foundation. Lee Waldman and the Feedback Sports crew installed a dozen or more railroad ties to contain the new feature. Kenney joined them to distribute the sand.

“That sandpit blew Valmont’s away,” said Allen.

He was referring to Valmont Bike Park in Boulder. An awesome space for a cyclocross race with diverse features, it hosts local races, but it’s designed to hold world-class events, like the Boulder Cup UCI contest and cyclocross nationals, which touched down in Valmont last January.

So there was something very sweet about a local course adding such a stellar feature, courtesy of a benefactor. The addition tops off years of course design supplied by Waldman.

That feel-good aurora stands in stark contrast to what must happen in the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center adjacent to the course. In late August four male teens between the ages of 14 and 17 escaped from that facility. On their way out they assaulted a 65 year-old employee. A press release from the City of Golden Police Department about the incident read: “Attempted Homicide and Escape at Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center.” The four teens were caught the next day.

A Denver Post article about the break-out said, “Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center is described by the Department of Human Services as an ‘intensive’ treatment program for up to 130 ‘highest risk’ male juvenile offenders committed to the facility by the courts. The agency says that up to 75 percent of those in the facility have been diagnosed with mental health issues, and more than half have substance-abuse issues.”

It’s hard to stand in the shadow of the Youth Services Center during a cyclocross race at the Golden course and not wonder a few things. Are some of those kids watching from a window behind the high security fence surrounding the building? Did they ride bikes when they were younger? Did any of them grow up in a safe, friendly community like the greater cyclocross family present at the Feedback Cup?

Sometimes we cyclists can be so devoted to our sport we become a bit insular. The Youth Services Center stands as a reminder to not take our cycling community for granted and to share its benefits with anyone we think might need some family love.

Now back to the race.

Feedback Cup elite women’s race action

Kristin Weber (Boulder Cycle Sport) unleashed another fiery start and captured the holeshot. Caitlyn Vestal (Feedback Sports) and Erin Huck (Scott-3Rox) tailed her along with the rest of the field.

Kristin Weber aces the holeshot in the elite women's race

Kristin Weber aces the holeshot in the elite women’s race

The new sandpit appeared near the end of each lap. Aside from riding into it during lap one, Vestal ran it.

“You could make it like half-way [riding] through, but it’s just an energy sapper,” Vestal said. “But I think Erin Huck rode it through the whole way a couple of times. That’s sweet. She was on her mountain bike which is awesome.”

When the women arrived to tackle the new feature for the first time, Weber and Vestal crossed in the lead together. Kate Powlison (Evol Racing) and Kristal Boni (Rapid Racing) pursued 20 seconds later. Next was a large group led by Feedback Sports’ Lisa Hudson, containing six riders with Huck now near the back. But the new Scott-3Rox rider wouldn’t stay there for long.

Erin Huck finished second in the Feedback Cup on a mountain bike

Erin Huck finished second in the Feedback Cup on a mountain bike

Although pretty new to ‘cross, coming into the Feedback Cup Huck had already finished top five in four of five local cyclocross races this season.

Why is this year’s number two in the USA Cycling Pro XC Tour and world mountain bike championships pick racing cyclocross? In a Twitter exchange she explained: “for a new, fun challenge – lots to learn!” In those five previous races she competed on a ‘cross bike. She chose fat tires for Golden because she desired a “refresher on the mtb” before starting Iceman Cometh on November 8 in Michigan.

By lap three Huck was in third and chasing down Weber on the loose, dry course while up ahead Vestal had pulled away with a 30 second lead. Coming into the sand Huck moved into second on course. She couldn’t catch Vestal who would win with a gap of over a minute, but she collected another cyclocross podium place to add to her growing collection.

Weber finished third. Megan Carrington (Naked Women’s Racing) surged in the final laps and arrived fourth with Powlison in for fifth.

Caitlyn Vestal makes it a two-for-two winning weekend at the Feedback Cup

Caitlyn Vestal makes it a two-for-two winning weekend at the Feedback Cup

Vestal’s victory was number two on the weekend; the day before she won Schoolyard Cross. Right now she’s one of the Front Range’s most winning elite women. How has this lady with a full time job been so successful? She attributes it to sixteen years of racing experience and her training program.

“I’m doing a lot of high anaerobic threshold workouts. I also rest really hard. I take rest really, really seriously and I know my body needs about two days fully off the bike a week,” she said. “I run and I lift. I try to keep it really balanced because I just feel a lot better when I do that. So just really strength based workouts seem to help me a lot.”

Feedback Cup elite men’s race action

After Allen claimed the holeshot a group of five leaders quickly formed with Allen at the front. It included Chris Baddick (Boulder Cycle Sport), Spencer Powlison (Evol Racing), Brady Kappius (Clif Bar), and Garrett Gerchar (Clif Bar Devo Cyclocross Team).

A mechanical dispatched Baddick from the race. Gerchar dangled then dropped off the lead group.

Bryan Alders and Taylor Carrington on dip #2

Bryan Alders and Taylor Carrington on dip #2

Near the beginning of lap five Allen washed out at the bottom of the first of two consecutive sharp descents on the opposite side of the course from the sandpit. By the time he ran his bike up the hill, Kappius and Powlison had flown beyond reach, however he maintained a lead over Gerchar. Next on course were Taylor Carrington in a Feedback Sports kit and Bryan Alders (Marin Bikes Factory Team); they carried on as a duo and eventually passed Gerchar.

As Kappius and Powlison approached the climb leading into the sandpit it seemed the winner would be decided in a sprint to the line. But the presence of a lapped 35+ rider in a corner – that field started a minute or so after the elite pack – became as decisive as that climb.

Powlison later explained what happened. The lapped rider “didn’t understand where he needed to be, so he was on the inside corner where we needed to be riding.” Powlison swung wide around him. “I slipped out because I was in a totally different line than I was accustomed to. I kind of put my knee down then popped back up but Brady passed me and I could never come back after that.

“It’s just really frustrating. I think they need to start pulling lapped riders on the final lap because it’s just pointless. It wouldn’t have made any difference [to the 35+ rider] – there was no one in front of him and no one behind him.”

Spencer Powlison and Brady Kappius climbing out of dip #1

Spencer Powlison and Brady Kappius climbing out of dip #1

Kappius entered the sand first and won. Powlison arrived twelve seconds later. Allen came in third. Alders finished fourth with Carrington next in fifth. Gerchar finished sixth.

Did bad luck alone siphon off Powlison’s chance for a double win weekend, or was it Kappius’ plan for how to shake him? It’s hard to say.

“There were definitely some fast sweepy corners where Spencer was on the edge, taking it a bit faster than I wanted to. So I knew as long as I could stay with him on those that when we got to this last climb I’d be able to try to do something there,” Kappius said. “Unfortunately we got a little bit of lapped 35+ traffic and probably it should have been a little closer at the end…” The veteran Clif Bar rider especially enjoyed winning that day in the presence of his family.

Brady Kappius wins the second Feedback Cup

Brady Kappius wins the second Feedback Cup

Regarding the sandpit, Kappius said he ran it every lap and offered praise for the new obstacle. “It’s sweet. I like having ones that are hard enough that you actually have to think about riding it or not.”

Then he commented on making the decision about dismounting to handle an obstacle. “I think lately I’ve been kind of conservative on my ‘should I ride it or should I run it’ deals; I didn’t even ride the barriers the first lap then I saw I was getting gapped so I went for it again. On those kinds of things, my train of thought is, unless you can do it 99 percent of the time, the amount of time you gain isn’t worth screwing up that one time.”

See the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado website for full results from the second edition of the Feedback Cup.

Feedback Cup men's elite podium (l - r): Taylor Carrington 5th, Tim Allen 3rd, Brady Kappius 1st, Spencer Powlison 2nd, Bryan Alders 4th

Feedback Cup men’s elite podium (l – r): Taylor Carrington 5th, Tim Allen 3rd, Brady Kappius 1st, Spencer Powlison 2nd, Bryan Alders 4th

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One Comment
  1. Thanks for the great read!

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