Fist pumped into the air Yannic Eckmann, Hot Tubes of Denver, won the first cyclocross race, Saturday, held at the new Valmont bike park. This was race one of five for the Boulder Cyclocross series.
Yellow tape marked the racecourse. From the start line there was a quick clime that compressed athletes from the dirt road into a fast single-track climb. A right turn and the field crossed the first of two sandpits. Down again, the field stretched as the faster racers moved up front, dismounted their bikes and ran up the 24 steps of the 5280 run-up.
“Those step are really going to tap your tank,” said open class competitor, Mike West.
Competitors come from all backgrounds of cycling, Road, Mountain and Tri athletes. Some train specifically for the cross seasons while others like West carried their fitness over from the proceding season.
In his Mountain Bike season, West finished third overall in the CU short track series after being struck by lightning last summer.
“I’m in the off season,” said West. “I lost a lot of fitness after I was struck by lightning last summer. This course is fast with plenty of opportunity to pass, but it will come down to fitness.”
The first lap was a colorful stampede of dust and spandex as the 55 racers of the men’s open class grunted up the steps, bikes slung over shoulder.
At the top of the step the pack had stretched into a line that snaked down the twists hill then disappeared across the bridge onto back the section of the racecourse.
Enter the Sand Pit. The first few racers tore through the thick pea-gravel that made up the sand box. One, two, then ten racers skimmed over the gravel, out of the pack a bike flew into the air, then another.
“There was defiantly some soft stuff,” Said West. “The sand pits were fun, I powered through those a couple of times but if you faltered you come to a screeching halt. I had to put it into a granny gear to get out.”
Standing on the sideline Lindsy Jones, a three-time cyclecross national’s competitor, cheered and waived as her man passes by in a pace group.
“He is trying to race his cross fitness back up,” Jones smiles as she waves, race number still pined to her jersey.
The couple had moved to Carbondale CO last year from Eugene, Organ, to day they were at the Valmont Park to race cross.
“They are crazy about cyclocross there,” said Jones. “It’s the best and the hardest thing to do on a bike.”
The senior men’s open category raced full out for 50 minuets and the fie;ld of compedetors stretched the length of the cource. Lapped traffic had mixed into the lead group, then the bell rang: last lap, yelled the timer.
After leading a mostly solo race, Eckmann turned the hurt up and dropped any remaining competitors as he floated effortlessly up the steps for one last lap. When he rounded the final corner Eckmann was still alone. The last ten-feet were a celebration as he pumped his fist into the air index finger extended and crossed the finish line first.
“My plan was to sit in, then try something at the end and conserve some energy. Allen had a flat and had to switch tires half way through. I had too much of a gap, I couldn’t stop and wait, so I tried my best to stay away the whole time,” Eckmann told 303 Cycling News after the race.
Eckmann had won the first of the Boulder Cyclocross series, and the first CX race at the Valmont Park. He will go into race two wearing the Verge yellow leaders jersey for next Saturday.
“The course was supper fun I like this kind of stuff, pretty snappy pretty fast, some berms to rail it into,” said West after his tenth place finish. “I was in the second group for a long time we were dicing it back and forth. I was surprised, (to do so well) because I started so far back, but I was lucky enough to get a decent start.”
There was an attack in the second to last lap, “ and that’s when I kind of started hurting, he laughed, then I let go a little.”
He lost a little concentration and crashed once in front of the timers then again in a rut.
“I dropped back to the second guy and chased his wheel before I got caught up in a rut and fell down.”
1. Yannic Eckmann, Hot Tubes of Denver: 52-minuets: 49-sec.
2. Allen Krughoff, Boulder Cycle Sports +00:05
3. Russell Harding, Natural Grocers Cycling Team +00:42
4. Brandon Dwight, Boulder Cycle Sport +01:06