||The 4th cyclocross race of the 2014 UtCX season was held at
Big Cottonwood Park on 13th East in Salt Lake City. The weather couldn't
have been nicer. Beautiful sunshine and pleasant riding temperatures.
There was a good crowd for this race, with plenty of riders to fill out
Jason Sparks rolls a turn in the leaves at the southwest end of the
||The park offered plenty of deep grass on the 1.5-mile race
loop. The C flight at 8:30 found the grass fluffy and very wet. This made
every pedal-stroke an effort. As the day went on, the grass packed down
and dried out for faster riding.
The Men's B flight gets ready to race in the shakeout area for the
second race at 10:30.
||The 1.5-mile course started just north of the west end of
the parking lot. After a shakeout cruise, two hairpin turns and three
rolling turns around trees brought the loop back to the barriers in front
of the judging stand and canopies. From here it was on to the sand pit,
where the deep stuff sucked the life from your legs just in time to hit
the hill leading up to the trees. After some recovery cruising along the
south end, steep
hairpin turns awaited on a down-up-down challenge. Back around to the sand
pit, and on to the finish line.
||The staging strip was back near the sand pit. From here, the
mob of racers began their sprint toward the actual race loop. Within a
hundred yards, riders thinned out from 8 abreast to 3 as they entered the
loop near the wheel pit.
The B's thin out as they reach the race loop. The return loop enters
along the tape at the right side of the photo.
||After curving around the north end of the park, the course
west headed to the far corner to hit the first hairpin turn. Now riders were single
file, but ready to move up and pass as they curved around the first trees.
Dallin Hatch positions the bike for a high-speed turn around the
||After another fast straight section, another hairpin waited,
then a set of turns in the trees. From here, riders sprinted back to the
north end of the park before turning toward the judging stand and heading
Mike Engberson looks for the inside line as he exits the last turn
of a set.
||The only barriers in this race were on the southbound leg,
right across from the judging stand.
Shane Horton hits the barriers.
||Now came the first pass through the sand pit. It was deep
Big puffs of sand behind the rear wheel are impressive, but it means
you just spun the tire -- and the pedal stroke got you nowhere.
||Immediately after the sand, riders headed up the hill into
the trees. It wasn't too steep here -- but it was tough because you'd just
fought your way through the sand.
Dave Benson hits an off-camber turn after the climb up the hill.
||For much of the day, racers were watched by a video copter.
Looking forward to watching some fun footage.
||Roots waited, hidden under the fall leaves. The leaves
themselves made the tires a little insecure on the off-camber turns at the
Dave takes the turn at the southwest corner.
||Now came a long crank eastbound along the south end of the
park, then a drop off the hill. After curving around some trees at the far
east end, the course came back toward the slope on the south end.
Jason Sparks sprints across the grass toward the down-up-down
||Here was a nice challenge. The course dropped to a hairpin
turn that climbed to another hairpin. The drop from the apex led to
another tight off-camber turn before continuing west along the slope.
Jason carves the turn at the bottom of the first drop.
||The turns were a tad slippery for the first wave of
early-morning racers, turning into hard-pack as the day went on.
Mike stands and cranks to get back up to the top.
||The loop now curved around on a long slightly-uphill
traverse back toward the start of the loop.
Dallin (third in this line of riders) cranks northwest, heading back
toward the finish area.
||But here awaited another pass through the sand pit.
There was sand-surfing skill, of course, but your journey through
the Valley of Sand could be interrupted by someone fish-tailing or
spinning out in front of you. Dave is trapped and has to bail.
||A short sprint brought riders from the sand pit to the
finish line for another lap.
Shane hits the finish line for the 6th time. Race over.
||For more photos (in high-res and downloadable), see Bruce's
And for geeks, here's the race loop GPX
Rebecca and Rachel Sparks on the podium. Great work, ladies!