At a time of year when most bike racers start thinking of ’cross, or even the off-season, college students from around the country start gearing up for the collegiate mountain bike season. This weekend, Colorado State University hosted the second round of racing in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference at Beaver Meadows Resort, about an hour north of Ft. Collins. The event hosted a short track cross country and downhill on Saturday and concluded with a cross country on Sunday morning.
Racers were greeted with cloudy skies and warmer than average temperatures on Saturday morning as racing began with the Men’s C category at 8 am. As temperatures failed to pick up, a stiff west wind did, leading to strategic racing in many of the categories. In the Women’s A category, Abby MicKey and Katie Sodergren, both of the University of Colorado quickly gapped the field on the 0.75 mile loop and worked together against the wind to establish a lead no one was able to close. MicKey eventually attacked with two laps to go and soloed to victory. In the Men’s A race, it was a one man show with Fort Lewis College’s Howard Grotts, fresh off an eighth place finish at Junior World Championships and a recent transfer from the School of Mines, quickly distancing himself from the field and lapping all but a handful of riders. He described the course as “the most fun short track of the year.”
The day continued with the downhill on a track that was described as ‘very un-Colorado’ and ‘east-coast like’ with tight trees and plenty of rocks and roots. In the women’s race, Christin Boyer of School of Mines took the victory in 3:48.44 beating out Jill Behlen of the University of Wyoming who crossed the line in 3:53.46. On the men’s side, it was a battle of keeping the bike upright with many of the favorites falling victims to crashes. Emerging with the fastest time was Taylor Boruki of FLC with a time of 2:35, beating out Michael Taylor of CU.
Sunday morning brought the cross country race contested on a 8.2 mile loop that is known as the most technical of the collegiate conference races. While there were few sustained climbs, the course was constantly undulating, serving up plenty of rock gardens, roots, and stream crossings that took their toll both on the riders and their bikes. In the women’s race, it was Sodergren emerging with the win seemingly uncontested and smiling. The men’s race saw a repeat of Grotts’ domination as he finished several minutes ahead of his FLC teammate. A sophomore, Grotts seemed to be thriving in the collegiate racing atmosphere that he described as “more laid back and not quite as serious” as racing at the UCI World Championships.
Racing continues at Sol Vista next weekend hosted by the School of Mines.