Rainy mountaincross kicks off Keystone Climax
KEYSTONE – Picture a Motocross race with no motors and full-suspension mountain bikes piling around mud walls and kicking their rear wheels sideways as they soar off of jumps. That was the scene Saturday at the Keystone Climax mountaincross, which kicked off a full weekend of Mountain States Cup finale events.
Mud and rain put some extra slick on the course for the mountaincross finals Saturday evening, but local racers fared well against regional competition.”It’s tricky because all the lines are different, and everything you practice doesn’t count,” said Keystone’s Pedro del Busto, after he won the men’s sport division during the downpour. “It’s all about staying on the bike. It doesn’t matter if you clear the doubles. It’s just as long as you stay on the bike … it’s all about finishing when you get weather like this.”Not all racers were so lucky. After the rain began around 5:30 p.m., the relationship between wheels, jumps and turns began to loosen. In one of the final runs, three of the four riders on course piled on top of each other and into the side of the mountain around the first turn, and others were sucked sideways on their landings. The red flag (which indicates a rider down) was prominent during the race and many riders ended their runs before they crossed the finish line. In a 20-second mountaincross race, especially given the wet conditions, racers said there is only so much strategy to employ. “Get off the gate as soon as possible,” del Busto said. “If someone’s chasing, it’s harder to pass later on the course than it is to get out fast.”
Each racer’s position on the course was determined by a random selection of golf balls before his or her run. The balls gave a position from the inside to the outside lanes, inside being the most desired.Vail’s Jamas Stiber took the win for pro men, even after being dealt a bad ball.”I wanted the inside lane, but I got the outside and started last but finished first,” said Stiber, who was competing in only his second race since recovering from shoulder surgery. His first race upon recovery was the national championships in Durango last month, where he finished seventh. Keystone local Julie Larson just went pro this summer, and despite a loose pedal problem after the semi-final heat, took fourth for pro women. Larson, who, like most Summit County pro athletes, has to balance a full-time job with her athletic career, said that the slight representation of expert female racers in the Keystone race could be attributed to conflicting engagements.”We’re hurting this weekend because the World Cup Championships are next week in France and a lot of the pro girls are there,” she said. “But the beginner-sport category is huge compared to what it was. For mountaincross you have to have really good bike-handling skills and you have to be in good shape because there’s a lot of ramping and a lot of pedaling. The course is slippery right now, so we’re pretty cautious.”
Some riders, however, threw caution to the wind. Among them was 16-year-old Summit sport rider TJ Fisker, who won his 18-and-under sport division. Fisker raced for local team Gravity, as did Lindsay Emore, who finished third, and Tyler Krahulec, who took fifth in the category Fisker won. Other local results included those of Matt Mazzaccaro, who won the 19-29 sport category, and Tim Muller, who took fifth in sport 30-39. The 18-and-under beginner and sport male categories contained the largest number of riders, and the children bouncing over the berms with enormous, Darth Vader-like helmets bobbling on their shoulders spoke to the future of mountaincross racing.”I think it’s awesome,” Fisker said of the up-and-coming young mountaincross field. “They’re out there doing stuff and trying new things. Every year, more and more people show up to ride.”
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