"Rubbing is racing’ in mountaincross | SummitDaily.com

"Rubbing is racing’ in mountaincross

Shauna Farnell

COPPER MOUNTAIN – Pads and helmets don’t mean much for downhill riders on the mountaincross course, where one mistake means the end of the race.

Mountaincross was the signature event for spectators at the Copper Cup Saturday, which featured mountain bikers from throughout the nation competing for regional points as part of the Mountain States Cup Series.

Mountaincross was also the highlight for Ross Milan, who won the event.

Milan, who also won the national championship in Durango last weekend, came up with no crashes Saturday, despite the high-contact nature of mountaincross racing.

“In downhill, there’s a longer period you need to focus on, and you can make a mistake and still do pretty well,” said Eric Jean of Cycle Cyndicate, and Copper Cup organizer. “In mountaincross, it’s a much shorter course, and you need to be perfect.”

Falling into the unfortunate category of not-quite-perfect, Vail’s Doug Klacik crashed in the semifinal round of the mountaincross event Saturday after shaking himself up in the earlier qualifying round. Klacik has been the regional points leader for mountaincross all season, but says the event requires a lot more concentration than most mountain bike disciplines. In mountaincross, four riders start down the 600-yard course, which is laden with giant berms and jumps, and the first finisher wins. Also, as Klacik pointed out, “rubbing is racing. As long as you’re not killing somebody, anything goes.”

“You just have to pedal hard and make it through,” he continued. “It’s comparable to BM racing. And stuff happens. Especially with berms like these. You’re going to see guys go flying off the top of them. Once you have four guys all going one way, something’s got to give. It makes you think of a lot more things when you’re on the bike. It’s like driving in traffic in downtown Pittsburgh or something.”

Gail Galagher won the women’s mountaincross event, which featured a small field of only eight competitors. There were significantly more women competing in the Copper Cup cross country race Saturday, which also featured several pro riders from throughout the region. Mary Gratcheson won the event for the women with a time of 2 hours, 20 minutes and 27 seconds, and Jason Tullous was the overall winner with a finish time of 1:56.49.

The Copper Cup continues today with downhill racing beginning at 9 a.m. and observed trials starting at 10 a.m.

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

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