Fairgrounds course, wind challenge cyclocross competitors

Eliza Wiley Independent Record; Mark Brooke leads Landen Beckner up a steep hill Sunday during the category 4 competition in the Last Chance Cross at Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds.

Reprinted from Helena Independent Record
By ANGELA BRANDT Independent Record | Posted: Monday, November 15, 2010 12:00 am

About 45 cyclists from across Montana ascended, hurdled and rode their way through a long but fast course at the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds both days this weekend during the Last Chance Cross races.

“This is a pretty cool course. Going through the grandstands is really neat,” said Rick Finley, the race’s promoter with Montana Velo.

Cyclocross is a form of bike racing that combines the discipline of road cycling with the thrills of mountain biking. The sport began in Europe as a way for riders to stay in shape in the winter and also stemmed from the need for bike racers to thaw their feet while riding the snow and frigid temperatures. In order to warm up their toes, they would run while holding their bike on their shoulders.

Courses are usually about a mile long and filled with obstacles, as well as varying stretches of pavement, gravel and grass. The fairgrounds offered a ride through the stable, a couple straight stretches on the old horse racing track, two short, sandy climbs and a short stair segment up the bleachers.

While the weather Sunday offered brisk air, there was no mud or snow, which was a bit of a disappointment for some hardcore riders, Finley said. This year was the first time the races were held at the fairgrounds, which offered a longer, flatter and windier course than the norm.

The headwinds on Saturday were brutal, Finley said, but even with the cold breeze and two wrecks, he was still able to win the master B race. Team Great Divide sponsored Saturday’s races, which had about 45 participants.

Finley said the teams will likely host a weekend of races at the fairgrounds again next year.

The fairgrounds offered off- and on-road spots along with hurdles and steep, sandy ascents.

Mark Brooke, cyclocross racer and promoter for Team Great Divide, said it was one of the longer courses of the season, which generally runs from September to December.

“It was great,” said Brooke, who also won his race in the men’s Cat 4 Sunday in a sprint to the finish. “You never know what the course is like until you actually race it.”

Amy Frykman of Bozeman won the women’s race on Sunday.

“It’s a fun course. It’s a nice mix of technical maneuvers and long, power stretches,” she said while breaking down her bike after the race.

Frykman said she likes to race in the snow and mud, but this weekend’s winds kept things interesting. The weather can change a race dramatically, she said.

“Sometimes it’s just the cold that’s the factor. Just surviving,” Frykman said.

Reporter Angela Brandt: 447-4078 or angela.brandt@helenair.com


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