This August the Cyclismo Youth Foundation has been putting on a mountain bike race series in Lory State Park just west of Fort Collins. Every Tuesday night in the month of August mountain bikers can strap on their helmets and race the trails at Lory for fun, and to help support youth cycling. They have classes for Adult Beginners, Juniors (9-13 years old), Sport, High School, Open, Expert, and Singlespeed. They even have something for the little kiddies at the pump track.
This past Tuesday I strapped my bike to the top of my Rav4 and made the quick drive to Lory State Park. I arrived about twenty minutes before my race started, but since I had already registered online I didn’t have to rush.
I warmed up for a bit before lining up with other Sport racers next to the corral. The airhorn blew and we were off. We battled on the road for about .3 miles before it turned to singletrack and started climbing Timber. Timber is a long, gradual climb with lots of switchbacks and rock gardens. I snaked up the side of the mountain while my lungs burned from the exertion.
I’ve ridden this particular trail plenty of times, but never at race pace. Being in a group of racers really takes your effort up another notch. After climbing up from the valley floor about 500 feet we turned off on Kimmons for the descent all the way back down. Kimmons is a blast, with quick turns, flowy lines, and rock ledges to get some air off of. The switchbacks near the bottom keep you honest, but in no time at all we were back down in the valley.
We headed south down the Valley trail. The trail here isn’t technical at all. Lots of smooth singletrack with some tight turns over bridges and sandy corners to wash out in. At this point I had been red-lining it for almost half an hour, but my legs still felt good. We reached the southern end of Lory State Park and then headed back north on the East Valley trail.
At this point I was in a battle for third place with a couple other riders. Battle is a relative term. This race was just for fun. No prizes, no podium, only bragging rights. Still, I wanted to do the best I could.
The trail turned sandy and loose as we climbed back up the valley. Again, not very technical, but the sand added an element of difficulty. We reached the southern parking lot and had only a couple miles left to race. I tried to push myself more, even though I had been maxed out almost the whole ride. I hurt, but I was having a blast. I love being on my bike.
I climbed up from the last ravine, turned toward the pump track, and crossed the finish line in third to hand claps and cowbells. After a quick cool down, I loaded my bike back on car and drove home.
I can’t believe there are things like this so close to where I live. Having mountain bike races in my own back yard make Fort Collins that much cooler.