June 14, 2014 - Dugway Utah
The 2014 Desert Scorpion was a superb race that, unfortunately, a lot
of bikers missed. Great weather, tough techy singletrack, and a warm welcome
from the US Army.
The course was a 7 mile loop with a stiff climb followed by narrow
challenging singletrack. Climbing was 1000 vertical per lap. The
singletrack was technical enough to keep speeds low, so a typical sport
time for two laps was around 1:45.
The world's most interesting finish line.
||The staging area was on Stark Road seven miles from Dugway's
front gate, with parking on the cheat grass along the road. Two howitzers
(armored self-propelled all-terrain artillery) framed the finish line.
Army personnel provided support for the race. Whether in civvies or uniform,
all were super friendly and almost embarrassingly anxious to please.
The beginner class at the starting line at 10:30 a.m. Small numbers
meant a mass start. Sport and Expert riders started around 11:15.
||After a 1/4 mile sprint down the tank-track along Stark
Road, the course climbed Little Granite, also known as Five Mile Hill. A
bit loose in spots, it was 500 vertical feet over 0.9 miles of grunt
(10.5% slope average). At the radio installation, the course entered fast
and narrow singletrack at 5200 vertical feet elevation.
See the map at the page bottom.
Six UtahMountainBiking.com riders lead the beginner's
group toward the mountain. Gotta like our podium chances. That's Jarin
Kellye Potter, Brandon Dubovik, Jonathan Duncan, Jason Cowley, and Cody
||The downhill singletrack was narrow and twisty. The loose
dirt gave an advantage to tubeless with lower pressure. (After a quick
test-ride, I dropped to 20 psi front and 22 rear.) Sharp rocks waited to
punish riders who tripped up on the tight turns.
Tricky areas were marked and often named. For example, Widowmaker drops
steeply into tight turns on a ridge among rock outcrops. White moondust
with a skid-slot coming into the turns, with a tight 90-degree at the
bottom of the last drop.
Rick Morris hits the finish line, winning the Men 60-plus category
after 14 miles and 2000 vertical.
||The descent was interrupted by quick climbs. A set of turns
at mile 1.8 leading up and over a rock outcrop was where I hit my highest
heart rate at 165, with 80 vertical feet over 350 feet of riding.
After dropping 600 vertical feet of elevation, at mile 3.6 the course
hit a dirt road that had been torn to dust by the National Guard on
maneuvers with tanks last week. It was a 1/3 mile test of sand-surfing
Moon dust on the shin. I must point out that the dust on the knee
was not a crash or dab; it was from kneeling down to take a photo.
||The course then rejoined singletrack to climb through some
switchbacks up to the level of the old Bonneville shoreline. Here was the
only "needs-work" trail section, as a recent re-route left
riders hoofing up and around an unrideable turn.
On the ridges of the west side and on the north side of the mountain, a
sharp north wind made balance a bit trickier on those tight turns.
Corey, John, Christian (hidden), Bruce, and Rick rehydrate and talk
about the race. Brutal but satisfying.
||Generally following the notch on the mountain left by old
Lake Bonneville, the course traversed around the mountain. But there were
still plenty of tight turns and occasional steep plunges. And a sand-pit
After hitting the valley floor, the course detoured away from the
finish line for a mile of sprinting on doubletrack. This brought the lap
to exactly 7 miles.
Jason Cowley, Brandon Dubovik, and Jarin Stevens sweep the podium for Beginner Men as an army
helper tries to duck out of the photo.
||The drive to Dugway is only 90 minutes from the Wasatch
Front. The check-in to the secure area was relatively painless, with extra
personnel coming in on their day off to get riders through security.
Showing driver's license, auto registration, and proof of current
insurance took about 10 minutes at the visitor's entry office.
Although riders were concerned about desert heat, a cold north wind
kept temperatures below 70. I was actually too cold when sitting in the
Awesome day for Jason, Brandon, and Jarin. UMB won five first places in this race.
|Results for UMB team racers:
Brandon Dubovik 1st
Jason Cowley 2nd
Jarin Stevens 3rd
Jonathan Duncan 4th
Cody Dabb 5th
Kellye Potter 1st
Steven Bonney 1st
Rick Morris 1st
Bruce Argyle 3rd
Joe Benson 5th
Sport Men 30-39
Christian Burrell 4th
Sport Men 40-plus
Shae Chatlin 1st
John Twitchell 2nd
Corey Spencer 3rd
|Edited from the official event map to show the deviation
to the east for the final spring. The race ran counter-clockwise. [ Course
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