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2013 Huntsman World Senior Games
Mountain Biking

The Huntsman World Senior Games (HWSG) are open to mountain bikers over age 50. Day one features the Hillclimb and Downhill time trial competition, with cross-country racing on day two. The 2013 games were held on Monday October 14 and Tuesday October 15.

The Start-Finish area of the games. Here Steve Washburn of the Mad Dog team has almost caught his minute-man as he approaches the finish line of the Downhill event.

The first step of registration must be done at the Dixie Center, where riders check in for the games. Racers must purchase a USA Cycling license to participate. Sport and Beginner competitors can pay $5 per day for a single-day license. Experts are required to have the $60 annual license.

On raceday morning, racers pick up their race plates at the race site.

At 8:30 in the morning, Gatorade and fruit await racers as they get their racing numbers from the volunteers.

Morning temperatures were in the upper 40s, warming rapidly in the bright St. George sunshine. There was plenty of time to check out the bike. There was even enough daylight to test-ride the hillclimb and downhill before the first rider headed uphill at 9:30.

Joe Benson sets his tire pressure.

When you think about the loose rock and ledges of Green Valley, you don't say "perfect spot for old people to ride bikes." But these are tough competitors. The ambulance crew sees some action every year, but you don't hear as much whining as when young guys crash.

The medical team is expecting some business.

Both the Hillclimb and Downhill were done as time trials. Riders had an assigned start time. For the Hillclimb, riders were staged 30 seconds apart. The gap between riders increased to one minute for the Downhill -- because of the hazards of trying to pass on high-speed singletrack.

Racers check the roster for their assigned start time in the Hillclimb.

The races have tight rules. No make it up as you go stuff. The event is well organized and run with military precision.

The tight organization allows racers to lay back and have fun. There are racers that you see every year. And riders from other state events. Plus riders from around the country. California, Nevada, and Colorado are always well-represented.

The race clock shows 20 minutes to the Hillclimb start as race announcer Ralph creates the Start-Finish line.

The Hillclimb started southwest along the doubletrack of the race loop, then crossed the wash to a fairly steep climb. Once the route veered
onto the downhill race loop, the climbing wasn't quite as brutal. The route kept left where the Green Valley race loop merges to the right,
joining the uphill doubletrack just before the fork to the Barrel Trail. It ended at mile 2.0 on the cliffs above Stucki Springs, where there
were great views of the crisp fall day in all directions.

The Downhill started about 1/4 mile downhill from the end of the Hillclimb, where the singletrack intercepted the doubletrack. First the DH back-tracked the Hillclimb route. At the spot where the doubletrack climb first veered onto singletrack, the course forked to the right to stay on ST. This led to The Plunge, the steepest spot of the downhill singletrack. It rolled over the slickrock as in the cross-country Green Valley loop before heading over the rise back to the finish zone.

Joel Quinn finishes his Downhill with second place in the Expert Men 70-74 category.

The race announcer kept everyone updated. It was nice to hear rider's names and home towns. If you were lucky enough to be the first to head downhill in your category, you'd immediately know everyone else's time.

As the first rider down the mountain, Rick Morris has finished his blazing sub-six minute downhill run to win the Expert Men 55-59 category and post the fastest time of the day.

Riders were staged first by Expert vs. Sport vs. Beginner. Within each of these divisions, groups went in order of age. This gave the "youngsters" an open mountain, with the more-careful older riders coming after. Still, there was an occasional rider who had to make a pass on the downhill.

Joe Benson hits the finish line in the Sport Men 55-59 category.  Hillclimb  Results:
Expert Men 55-59
   Rick Morris 3rd place
Expert Men 60-64
   Bruce Argyle 1st place
Expert Men 70-74
   Joel Quinn 1st place
Sport Men 55-59
   Joe Benson 6th place  Downhill Results:
Expert Men 55-59
   Rick Morris 1st place
Expert Men 60-64
   Bruce Argyle 1st place
Expert Men 70-74
   Joel Quinn 2nd place
Sport Men 55-59
   Joe Benson 7th place
Day 2:   Cross Country
The temperature was a chilly 35 degrees as racers stepped out of their cars, but by race time the sun had warmed the desert into the still-cool mid-40s. Blue sky and yellow fall sunshine made it a nice day for riding.

Some riders participated only in the Cross-country event. Volunteers registered the new riders.

The course followed the Green Valley race loop, but with a couple of tweaks. Because some of the older racers had struggled in Keyhole Wash in past years, the course skipped this fun but challenging piece. And in place of the tricky climb just after exiting the wash, the course detoured along (and into) the next wash to the south, meeting the trail a bit further uphill. There was also a new ride-around in Rock Wash that bypassed the big ledge.
The changes made the loop a bit shorter, faster, and less technical. A lap was 6.0 miles with 820 vertical feet of climbing per lap. The beginner loop was two miles of doubletrack on the lower mountain.

Before the XC race, riders check the results of yesterday's Hillclimb and Downhill time trials.

Distances varied by division and by age. Rick and Bruce, as younger experts age 50 through 69, went three laps. Joel hit the age break where the expert distance decreased to two laps. (Experts over 80 did one lap.)

Looking west, where The Plunge is seen as a slash on the hillside. Bruce's IV stand is ready with a water bottle for lap 2 and for lap 3.

Red Rock Bicycle provides a lot of logistical support for the mountain biking portion of the Senior Games. Overall, 2,500 volunteers helped the 10,000 participants at the Games. Glen Ames (race director for the ICup St. George races and original founder of Red Rock Bicycle) directed race timing and scoring for all three events.

Ralph again performed the play-by-play announcing of the race. For years he's been the voice of mountain biking at the Huntsman World Senior Games.

Ralph welcomes riders to the morning's racing.

Near the end of lap one, I got a quarter-inch slash where a shard of glass penetrated the rear tire. The Stans slowed the flow but didn't completely stop it. The tire lost more air whenever chunky rock deformed the tread. It held up through one slower-than-planned lap. But after the final loose descent into Rock Wash, the tire couldn't be pedaled further. Time to pull the wheel and throw in a tube. Unfortunately, my single CO2 cartridge left the tire dangerously squishy. The remaining half-lap required slow and careful riding while leaning forward over the handlebars to put the weight on my front tire. But hey, turns out there was nobody else in my racing category. First, and last.  Cross-country  Results:
Expert Men 55-59
   Rick Morris 3rd place
Expert Men 60-64
   Bruce Argyle 1st place
Expert Men 70-74
   Joel Quinn 1st place
Sport Men 55-59
   Joe Benson 7th place

Joel is on top of the podium with first places in Hillclimb and Cross-country for Expert Men 70-74.

After the XC race, racers reassembled at 2 pm at Tonnaquint Park in St. George for the Sport Social. Red Mountain Spa provided a Texas Roadhouse dinner.

Here medals were given to the top three finishers in each category for Hillclimb, Downhill, and Cross-country.

Rick gets the Gold in Downhill Expert Men 55-59, with the fastest time of the Games for the Downhill.

For every category, points were awarded to the top six finishers of each race. These points were tallied to determine an overall category champion. Joel took the Overall Championship for Expert 70-74 and Bruce got the Overall for Expert 60-64. They were awarded a Huntsman World Senior Games cycling jersey.

Bruce (back, 4th from left) and Joel (back, 3rd from right) pose with their championship jerseys.

Curious about the courses?  GPX file for download has tracks for HC, DH, and XC races:  Download.