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Up, down, repeat: 2014 Colorado state cyclocross championships course

December 13, 2014
The long run-up on Rhyolite Park course pitches up more at the top

The long run-up on the Rhyolite Park course pitches up at the top

Obstacles add spice to a cyclocross race. Run-ups and barriers force cyclists – with certain exceptions – to dismount and carry or push the bike. When sand is rideable the minute grains can seize control of some racers’ bikes while others sail through.

But sometimes topography generates the most difficulty in a race. The Colorado state cyclocross championships venue falls into that bucket. The course at Rhyolite Park straddles a narrow hollow and winds up and down hillsides on three sides. Repeated climbing and descending wears riders out, making the contest ultimately a test of fitness, says Pete Webber. Webber, a masters national cyclocross champion, coaches the Boulder Junior Cycling team whose members competed today.

Colorado state championship racing continues tomorrow. Here’s a look at the major challenges elite and other riders will face.

The start

A long uphill drag on wide pavement followed by a turn onto a dirt lane quickly separates the field.

Men's 55 plus field starts at the 2014 Colorado state cyclocross championships

Men’s 55 plus field starts at the 2014 Colorado state cyclocross championships

West hill climb

Coming after the longer run-up, the S-turned uphill trail can sap a rider’s resolve in the final laps.

South section of the west hill at Rhyolite Park

South section of the west hill at Rhyolite Park

Off-camber high line

A short steep rise after descending the west hill leads ‘crossers into two tricky off-camber U-turns as the course drops back downhill. Lined with parched grass, this slippery when dry section could turn into a skating rink tomorrow if enough rain and snow falls. Weather predictions mention rain until early afternoon followed by a few inches of snow.

Forced into an outside line, Eric Brunner slid out on this off-camber turn

Forced into an outside line, Eric Brunner slid out on this off-camber turn

Short steps

Riders pass the pit then ascend the west hill again. The journey takes them up three to four railroad tie steps.

Kristin Weber on the short steps in the 35 plus race

Kristin Weber on the short steps in the 35 plus race

Sand bend

A long undulating descent and straightaway leads into a sweep of sand. Racers can get caught behind riders who falter here. Today most spun through with their egos intact as they approached Saturday’s one wet spot on the course.

Dawson School rider aces the sand

Dawson School rider aces the sand

Mud dip

Whether full-speed-ahead or tentative, the majority remained upright through the mud dip on Saturday. An unfortunate few took a bath.

Utah junior takes the middle line through the Rhyolite mud dip

Utah junior takes the middle line through the Rhyolite mud dip

Triple barriers

A slightly uphill jaunt that veers north then south carries riders into a twisty section that slows them down before a set of three barriers. The course designer must be keen to find out if single speeder Nic Handy or elite riders Tim Allen, Brady Kappius, Allen Krughoff, and Spencer Powlison will remain on their bikes and hop over them.

The barriers are top right in this view into the heart of the Rhyolite course

The barriers are top left in this view into the heart of the Rhyolite course

Field day

A few tight curves mixed in with long bends through a field of tall grass drops riders at the end of the paved finish straight. Fast curves and another pass by the pit leads into the longer run-up and then the west hill climb.

What's left from the men's 55 plus start clothing toss

Leftovers from the men’s 55 plus start clothing toss

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From → Cyclocross

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