||At West Valley city park on Saturday September 27, the
weather gave us the perfect welcome to the 2014 Utah Cyclocross season.
Race number one was held on slippery grass, as one of the year's biggest
rainstorms soaked the state.
Dave Benson zips downhill around a slimy turn as the rain adds a fresh
dose of slippery.
||Not far from the traffic of the busy city, this beautiful
park served up some great cyclocross terrain. The loop was just under 1.5
miles in length, with some real challenges loaded into the first 1/3 mile.
Looking west, in the direction we'd head to finish the race.
||Here's the course layout. From the Start-Finish, the race
ran west counterclockwise. There were three run-ups (some experts were
able to clean two of them on the bike) that were exhaustingly steep and
slippery. There were three tricky greasy turns that put quite a few riders
on the ground. There was only one barrier to jump, at the start of the
||The first wave lined up at 9:30, only to be told to chill
while five cars of the West Valley City police department investigated a
complaint. Rumors of a double-booking and concerns about the wet grass. Confirming
the permit and authorizing the race to proceed took an
The Masters 55-plus group waits at the front of the crowd.
||There was a little break in the rain for the first wave of
Men C, Masters 55-plus, and Clydes. This group got in four laps, as their
race was shortened by a few minutes so subsequent waves could get a bit
closer to schedule.
Christian Burrell sprints out in the middle of the C flight.
||After passing the start-finish and curving around to the
southwest corner, a quick turn put riders on a short but steep rise to the
top of a grassy ridge. For most of us, this was our first run-up.
Christian runs to the top of the hill.
||At the top of the hill, riders tried to get clicked in
quickly as they faced a long side-slope ride on slippery grass. This
traverse took riders back toward the start-finish area and downhill again.
Rick Morris tries to keep the tread holding as he passes another
rider on the side-slope.
||Here run-up number two awaited. A 90-degree turn led into a
steep and slippery 30-foot grunt. I saw a couple of racers actually clean
this by picking the outside line right on the edge of the tape.
Joe Benson (red shirt) is chased up the hill by Christian.
||The descent from the run-up gave riders only about 30 feet
before a turn into the only barrier. Some riders coasted down and around
the turn; many simply continued to run their bikes to the barrier.
Christian jumps the barrier.
||As the racing progressed, the surface got more and more
slippery, as mud coated the wet grass.
Dallin shoulders the bike and hops across.
||The run-up after the barrier was about 40 feet long and
challengingly steep and slippery.
Dave heads up toward the top of the hill.
||Your choice of pushing vs shouldering the bike depended on
how you wanted to fall when you slipped. Did you want to fall on your
bike, or did you want the bike to fall on top of you?
Christian gets low as he grunts up the hill.
||Riders now pedaled along the top of the grassy ridge back to the
northwest, where a very slippery steep off-camber downhill turn awaited.
After a short traverse south, the course hit a tricky little uphill turn around a
Dallin Hatch powers through the final pitch of the turn. Control was
key here -- a little bobble or uneven power on the pedals meant you'd lose
||Most riders were able to clean this little pitch. But as it
got slimier, more and more riders had to bail, or went down quickly.
After an abrupt dump onto his back, Dave Benson gets up and grabs the
concentration of tough challenges in this first section of the course, riders
were exhausted. But now the tricky and hard stuff was over for a while. The next mile was sprinting on the flats around the
baseball diamonds, with frequent hairpin turns.
Rick Morris closes on Bruce Argyle. For this season, riders will be
wearing floppy numbers pinned to their right side, rather than number
plates on the bike.
||Returning to the start-finish zone, racers climbed onto the
shoulder of the grassy hill so they could face another slippery off-camber
Jason Sparks hits the downhill turn.
||If you couldn't keep the tires pinned to the ground, the
momentum would carry you down the hill on your hip.
Dallin Hatch hits the tape.
|| This is not another view
of the above crash. Another lap, another slip-and-slide into the
course marking tape. Still moving as the tape stretches.
This turn had Dallin in its crosshairs.
I hear he had to clean bits of worm out of his drive train.
||A quick turn, and a final sprint to the finish line for
another lap. The rain has picked up now, and most shutterbugs are hiding
their cameras under jackets.
Dave powers past the photographer as he approaches the judging
||This race was great fun. Exhausting and challenging, it was
a good introduction to the 2014 season.
Bruce passes the timing stand to complete six wet miles.
||Like to see more photos? 180 of them? Click
And for wonks, a GPX
track of the loop.
These tires never left the ground, but the brakes and drive train
are still gooked up with loose grass.