Racers brake through twisty Copper course | SummitDaily.com

Racers brake through twisty Copper course

COPPER MOUNTAIN – Braking was a big deal in race No. 5 of the Summit Mountain Challenge series Wednesday night at Copper Mountain.

The course consisted of mostly narrow climbs and descents on the Boondoggle singletrack and the brand new Elk Alley trail, which made passing challenging and taking corners a matter of speed control.

“It was more climbing on singletrack and more singletrack in general,” said race winner Tim Graczyk of MSO/Ti Amo, who completed three 6.5-mile laps for the expert men class in 1 hour, 44 minutes and 7.83 seconds. “The new trail’s really fun – really twisty and turny. The third lap was kind of hard because it got rough on your hands. It’s a fast course, then, all of a sudden, there’s a hairpin turn and you really have to be on the brakes.”

Team Vail’s Stephen White had the second-fastest time of expert men, winning the 35-plus category with a finish time of 1:44:43.70. Leland Turner finished behind Graczyk in the 19-34 expert class in 1:45:28.52.

Jari Kirkland won the expert women division, finishing two laps in 1:22:10.26, to edge out second-place Rebecca Hodgetts (1:22:58.49).

In addition to sore hands, the race yielded some road rash and technical difficulties. Mary Scheifley and Christine Rasmussen lost their seats nearly halfway through their races and continued standing on their pedals; series leader Tim Faia (1:48:44.66) took a wrong turn; and Matt Powers “escaped death” with nothing to show for it but bloody knees when he hooked a tree with his handlebars.

The road rash could have resulted from the tight corners and passing off the singletrack, where hidden obstacles lurked.

“You have to ride a little more technically and try to get by people really fast,” said expert rider Cindy Burkhart. “You just had this little window of opportunity to pass and then you were back into a super-tight corner. If you were stuck behind someone, it was hard to see, and you just had to go for it when you could. The trail’s fairly smooth, but when you get off it, it’s rough. It looks like grass, but there’s little ditches and rocks underneath.”

The two singletracks at Copper are renowned for their tight switchbacks.

Even on the downhill, this made for more pedaling and less cruising.

“It’s more technical singletrack with lots of technical turns,” said Steve Kintigh, who took second among beginner men (1:31:33.97) behind winner Chris Campbell (1:26:42.30).

“It’s a lot more traversing across the mountain than downhill,” Kintigh said. “The new trail is a little bumpy, being newly constructed, but it’s breaking in nicely. The climb was good – much better than last year, just being on the road, but the trails are definitely tight.”

Annie Black had the best time for sport women 35-plus in 1:33:09.18, while Bridget Puchalsky (1:33:10.36) won for sport women 19-34. Rob Crawford (1:15:49.15) won sport men 19-34 while Kevin Shelden (1:17:41.18) won sport men 35-49 and Howard Norman (1:23:32.80) won sport men 50-plus.

Mike Skellion blew away the sport men on his singlespeed with a finish time of 1:07:55.37 and Richard Banach (1:18:45.80) won for the Clydesdale division.

Holly Tompkins won for beginner women 35-plus, riding one loop in 49:28.72 and 15-year-old rocket Lea Taylor (46:17.46) barely edged out 16-year-old Kate Chapman (46:23.30) to win for beginner women under 35.

Full race results can be found on Friday’s scoreboard page.

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at sfarnell@summitdaily.com.

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