This year I had the honor of being a part of the inaugural PikesPeakSports.us Sand Creek Cycling Team. Along with my teammate Tracy Thelen – I participated in the full season of the Ascent Cycling Series under the
direction of Andy Bohlmann and Sand Creek Sports.
Throughout the season I blogged often about the significance of a strong local series and as the year wraps up my views have only been polarized by the success of the 2012 season.
Mountain Biking can be a complicated sport, from your bike set up to trail conditions, from learning good routes to making the time to get away, it can all feel a bit impossible to fit into a busy work week and family life. Local racing like the Sand Creek Sports Series strips away many layers of complications and gets right to the heart of what drew so many of us to this great lifestyle to begin with. Get with a group of friends and ride as hard as you can, nice and simple.
This year’s series was a mix of five races at two separate and uniquely outstanding venues. Palmer Park was the host of two races and Bear Creek Park held three races. The turnouts were good for the series and we often saw repeat racers coming back for more. That is a good sign for further growth of the series because it means that people are enjoying the racing and they will be the best evangelists to convert others.
One of the unique components that the Sand Creek Series brings to the table is the ability to accommodate both the pro racer and the beginner mountain biker at the same event. So often you find races that can do one or the other but it is rare for both groups to feel at home and comfortable but yet challenged. This is an ideal scenario for everyone; sponsors, spectators, and racers.
One of the storylines that stands out to me is the progression of young riders that come through the series. Last season I watched Nick and Nolan Jenkins cutting their teeth in mountain bike racing. I remember Nick coming in from a race totally exhausted and having been worked over by some of the other juniors. He admitted it was hard and he wasn’t happy with how he finished but he told me he was going to train hard. And he did, not only did he take huge leaps forward racing locally but has expanded out and making an impact at races regionally.
Recently we had a contingent of Colorado Springs racers that travelled to Spearfish South Dakota for the Dakota 5-0. Not only did we take the top spots with myself winning and Daniel Matheny taking second in the Pro class, we swept the Junior Podium with Kyle Bloesser winning and the brothers Nick and Nolan Jenkins filling the next two steps. Nolan was the youngest finisher of the race and finished in the top 20 percent overall!
Our Sand Creek Sports series is a major part of the foundation that all of this success is built upon. This trio of juniors is headed in the same direction as local racer and current U23 National Champion Russell Finsterwald. The bar has been set high and the younger generation continues to exceed expectations.
For me personally I use the Series races to get in that midweek hard effort that you cannot do by yourself. My fitness grows much faster by adding in this hour-long super effort and you get the mental edge of going to the start line more times than your fellow competitors around the state.
I've often remarked in post race interviews how I will go to a big race in Colorado and win by
minutes but have to fight tooth and nail to get second place in our Wednesday night races. It was a huge
honor to win the series this year and even cooler that Tracy and I could both win the male and female
Pro classes in the first season of our team.
Colorado Springs is a Mountain bike town. When I think up and down the Front Range, I think Fort Collins
is 'Cyclocross,' Boulder is a 'Road Town,' and Colorado Springs represents mountain biking. The Sand Creek
Sports Series does an outstanding job of upholding that status – catering to and creating the best
mountain bikers in the best mountain bike state in the country.