Race report by Shawn Lortie
BUENA VISTA, CO- With the snow capped Collegiate Peaks as witness, a cruel fall wind battered racers throughout the day at the second annual Cross at the River race. This being the first race of the ACA Colorado Cup series, the racing was full on, as riders fought for valuable points to secure good call up positions at the next Cup race.
With the venue situated in the river park, there was not much shelter from the elements as racers scrambled for a wheel to draft into the brutal north wind that greeted them as they headed up the long and straight backside of the course. “Straight” definitely characterized the course at Buena Vista. A couple tight corners in loose sand, a loose sandy run-up, a set of stairs, a very rideable sand pit, and a double barrier section comprised the technical features of the course.
The majority of time each lap was spent in the head down and hammering mode. Tactics were important as drafting into the wind could save huge amounts of energy. It was amazing how much effort it took to bridge up in the wind. Flying down the river trail in the big ring with a tail wind, racers reached some serious speeds, with the river on one side and a wall of boulders on the right.
In the Men’s Open race, a lead group of 4, including Pete Webber and Brandon Dwight (Boulder Cycle Sport), Matt Shriver (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory), and JJ Clark (Wilderness Sports), had wrung themselves out of the pack. For a few laps each took their turn at the front, but the group stayed together. By the midpoint of the race, Shriver had made his move.
Fighting the wind in a solo effort for the rest of the race, Shriver was able to hold off Webber, Dwight, and Clark as they worked to bring him back. It was an impressive display of power on a course that favored a group mentality. In the end it was Shriver Dwight, Clark and Webber in that order.
In the Women’s Open, Nicole Duke continued her domination of the field with another solo effort of the front. The race for second and third was a heated battle between Margell Abel and Melanie Long (Tough Girls), and Jennifer Tilly (unattached). The three traded places for a lap or two until Abel pulled away to create a small gap.
“To get second, it really helped to have a teammate (Melanie Long) riding with me because she did not work to catch me leaving it up to Jennifer Tilley to do all the work. They were within 5 seconds of me the whole race, which made me really have to focus on not making any mistakes and riding really hard into the wind.” With Duke on the top step of the podium, Abel secured second, with Tilly and Long coming in respectively.
It was a tough day out in the wind on a course that gave racers little time to recover. Hopefully the promoters will use a bit more creativity to design a course with a bit more technicality, as it seems they have plenty of room to work with. Overall it was a great day for the first race of the Colorado Cup, and with three big weekends of racing coming up, the fun is just beginning.