Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Colorado Cross Cup sweep

Although the bikes have been washed off and put away weeks ago (if not longer), the Colorado 'cross scene wrapped up the season in style at its awards party on Saturday.

There were plenty of pink jerseys atop the podium at the evening event in Denver. As was the case in 2013, Evol Racing won both men's and women's overall team competitions in the Colorado Cross Cup. With 126 racer starts, the team was in for the long haul in 2014 to claim the two titles again.

In the individual Cross Cup categories, the Evol team did one better over last season, when Ken won the men's open title. In 2015, the team claimed both the men's and women's open individual titles. Spencer won the overall men's title after placing second in 2012 and 2013. Melissa earned her first Cross Cup as well. She was fourth in the overall standings last year.

"It's a really tough feat to win the overall," Spencer said. "There were times in the past couple years when I thought I had it sewed up, only to have someone come on strong in the final month of racing. It's great to take the series title and to share the podium with my teammate, Ken." Ken was second overall in the series.

Photos: Justin Tamplin

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Melissa wins Rocky Mountain regionals

Photo: Justin Tamplin
Melissa put together the race of the season to win Rocky Mountain regional championships in Longmont, Colorado on Saturday.

Right from the gun, she rode an aggressive race. "The holeshot was a left turn on to loose dirt, so I knew there was the potential for carnage," she said. "I gunned it off the line, got the holeshot and push hard up the first hill."

She was in the front for the first lap, followed closely by teammate Kate and Feedback Sports' Caitlyn Vestal on a fast, grassy course that had several extended power sections and a tricky sandpit.

"Near the middle of the race Caitlyn closed the gap to about five seconds," Melissa explained. "However, I was able to gain a little time back by riding both sandpits and pushing hard on the climb. I dug deep and tried to squeeze out every extra second I could by being consistent and smooth.

"People all around the course were yelling encouragement and giving me splits. By the last lap, I was holding a 15-second lead and starting to realize that I might actually be able hold my lead."

And she held it, with Caitlyn finishing close behind, and Kate riding home to third place.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Winter arrives in the Rockies

Conditions finally delivered across the Rockies this past weekend with arctic conditions prevailing in Boulder and a proper dose of the cold, rain and snow in Utah. After a night of mixed precipitation and the season's first full dip into freezing temps, the Utah State Champs course at the Mt. Ogden Golf Park was in prime condition. Grassy areas developed a well worn center track and the leafy paths and singletrack sections were greasy and muddy by mid-afternoon when the Men's race started under clear skies.

Here's the play by play from Josh, who finished 2nd on the day to mountain bike ace and Sho-Air Cannondale pro Alex Grant:

From the gun, I made my way up to a front group of 8 riders, and after the second lap we had stretched a good gap on the rest of the field. The course was actually really good, featuring a mix of grassy off cambers, and a few fast descents, a big high step barrier and two steep and divisive climbs followed by some tight singletrack that featured that elusive Belgian-like mud. Still fairly tame by Colorado standards but every now and then the courses here in Utah surprise, delight and challenge, and this was definitely one of them.

By the 3rd lap, two riders were off the front and I began to pick my way up through the 3 riders that were each 5-10 seconds up the course. Power was in the legs and I was super motivated, and was able to latch on to their wheels, sit in through the fast sections or where there was a headwind and then attack, using the climb as a way to bridge to the next rider. With 4 laps to go, I was in a solid battle for the last step on the podium, trading pulls to distance ourselves from the 2 chasers while also trying to catch 2nd place. We both put in some digs but were glued to each other. Then as we hit 3 to go, I saw the two chasers were within seconds of catching us so I gave a desperate attack and suddenly was alone. The timing was perfect, the two chasers were at their limit to catch back on, and had no ability to double dig. With 2 to go I had a 10 second gap and began thinking about whether I could make a run for 2nd place, as he seemed to be fading as I was gaining. Sure enough through the barriers on the last lap I'd caught up and then used the steepest hill to my advantage and completely buried myself nearly fading to black. A few fast and loose corners, staying steady and collected and I surprised the announcers and folks cheering us on to the finish. One hand in the air for a brief salute and a big, deep, cold breath of satisfaction.

Stay tuned for a report from the snow & ice battle at the Boulder Reservoir where Spencer took 2nd to flying young gun Gage Hecht, Ken rounded out the podium and on the ladies side Melissa led our team with a 4th place finish.