Saturday, April 25, 2009

Scoping out the Sand Creek Invitational Course

This weekend I've had the pleasure to make the trip down to Colorado Springs and take some time to scope out the trails that the Sand Creek Invitational will be held on as the 4th stop in the US Pro XCT. It is definitely going to be interesting for sure. For the most part the course is pretty fitness based. You spend a fair amount of time climbing but there are a lot of short punchy climbs within the consistent climbing making for short little lung and leg busting efforts to get you plenty tired.

At first when I showed up and started cruising around the trails I was getting a little worried, as I had only found buffed out what looked to me like cross country ski trails, and are probably used for that in the winter. But after finding some of the higher trails, after a fair bit of climbing, the wide and open trails make a lot of sense, especially if we have 100+ people jockeying for position during the start lap, it is going to be nuts!

Upon getting towards the top of the mountain the trails definitely show the climb was worth it. Big rocks to get over. Soil instead of pebbled up granite over hard pack, and well pretty much a ripping good time to be had. I definitely think that these trails are going to be super interesting to rip in a race. A few photos from higher up where the soil was good and the rocks were a plenty:
Here is a map of the trails at Cheyenne mountain state park. The course starts at the Day-Use parking lot heads up Talon and then right on Zook Loop to immediately hop onto medicine wheel, crazy technical, bring your skills. After picking your way through medicine wheel you hop on to Blackmere loop going right first and then left. Follow this around to Cougars Shadow. Cougar's Shadow back to Blackmere onto Boulder Run (a ripping hard but fun trail). From Boulder Run you take a short left onto Coyote Run and then pop onto the road back to the Day Use parking lot. About 5 miles of challenging riding!

A huge plus to this ride, and I know I've already given them a plug, but they are a great company and a great sponsor to work with was my new set of WTB nanoraptor 2.1's I have. For Sea Otter I was running the Vulpine on the rear, but as I don't have any major races coming up and semi-slicks have a short life spand I pulled the Vulpine off and threw on another nanoraptor. These tires are the best fast rolling dry condition tire I have ever used. It doesn't slip on slick rock, or gravel over hard pack, you pedal and it keeps letting you forward. They are definitely a great choice for all around dry and fast riding. Hopefully I get a chance to play with them in the wet soon, that is always the best test for a tire.

After getting back to my hotel and looking at the exact course description and the map I grabbed when I arrived at Cheyenne Mountain State Park I have been able to competely recon the whole course and all I can say is the start is going to be KEY. After not even a mile of open riding you hit the first singletrack which is crazy technical and will cause mad log jams. If you are in a large fiedl, all but guaranteed with the new USAC category changes, you might be hiking through Medicine wheel while the top 5 guys are booking it up the Blackmere loop climb.

this race is definitely going to be interesting and not for the weak technical rider or rider with weak fitness. You have to be a great all arounder on this one.

Should be a good time and hope to see you out there!

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