ROAD SEASON PREVIEW

Road racing alive and well as evident in event calendar

BY DAVID R. WARD

There is an exciting and full slate of road racing action for 1998. Following is a preview of many of the major road racing events scheduled for 1998. First, however, mention should be made of a couple of significant race series.

The Rocky Mountain Raceway Criterium Series begins on March 7, and will be held each Saturday in March, weather permitting. This series will move to Tuesday evenings in April. In addition to this, beginning in April there will the biweekly (Wednesdays) Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) Criterium Series, and a biweekly Time Trial Series which will run on alternate Wednesdays with the DMV Series.

For the rider for whom the more competitive and intense weekend races are either not possible or not enticing, these series races allow one to still enjoy the thrill and excitement of racing. They take only a couple of hours on a weekday evening, and can thus be combined with an otherwise busy schedule. They are also less expensive than the weekend events.

Nevertheless, the major weekend events are where the major action is. Every racer, whether low key or intense, should participate in at least several of this yearÕs offerings.

Former United States Cycling Federation (USCF) District Representative Del Brown continues to promote the successful Chums Classic Stage Rage. Scheduled for April 4 and 5, this features the Gunlock Road Race, Hurricane Time Trial and Red Rocks Mall Criterium.

The road race climbs and descends through scenic desert countryside, with an especially thrilling descent through Snow Canyon State Park. The criterium is technical, fast and fun, with most of the action being visible to spectators.

Brown's next race is the Antelope Island Circuit Race on April 19. The course is deceptively difficult as it rolls around the Antelope Island State Park. Being at the start of the season, this is usually a good draw and an opportunity to race in fairly large groups.

In Utah, May centers around the Cycle Salt Lake Week events. Beginning May 9 and continuing through May 17, this nine-day event features two races. First, there is the traditional EinsteinÕs Downtown Criterium with top racers from around the region. This is always fast and exciting racing, a good event for spectators as well as racers.

The second race of the Cycle Salt Lake Week is scheduled for May 10 at Research Park near the University of Utah. Though details are still not finalized on this, the race course is a favorite training ground for doing hill intervals.

Over the Labor Day Weekend, May 23-25, the Seventh Annual Twin Rivers Cycling Classic is scheduled for Lew-iston, Idaho. This event features an unusual hyperbolic prologue time trial, starting with a screaming downhill and ending with a thigh-burning uphill. There is a flat, 10-mile time trial, a road race, and a challenging figure 8 criterium. With a $10,000 prize list, and an additional $3000 in primes for the criterium, this is certain to be an exciting event.

Casper, Wyoming also has an offering May 23-25. The Platte Bridge Station Stage Race offers racers five stages of exciting racing.

May 30 brings EDC's Lance Armstrong Junior Olympic Race Series (LAJORS) in Herriman, Utah. Event promoters may come and go, but certain courses seem to hang around because of their popularity. Such is the Herriman course, which is now part of the LAJORS race series designed to cater to and encourage junior racers. No other race will have as many senior and junior categories as this event.

June is a full month, a road racers heaven. The major highlight is the Hewlett-Packard WomenÕs Challenge from June 16-21. Sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), this yearÕs version has been shortened to fit in between other UCI events. Arguably the premier womenÕs race in the world, teams journey from around the world to participate in this event. It is a rare opportunity to watch world-class womenÕs road racing.

The Utah Summer Games are scheduled for June 11-13. With a hill climb time trial, flat time trial, road race and criterium, it is a full stage race with three exciting days of racing. Racers should be anxious to contest and claim the podium spots for the individual events and the overall omnium titles.

The following weekend, June 20-21, is the High Uintas Stage Race sponsored by the city of Evanston, Wyoming. Paul Knopf has secured one of the prime road race courses, the Mirror Lake Highway through the High Uinta Mountains, climbing from Kamas, Utah to Bald Mountain and then descending and finishing in Evanston. Also included is a hill climb time trial and a downtown criterium.

A major stage race is also held in Idaho during June. The Snake River Omnium takes place in Nampa on June 6-7. This features a hill climb time trial, a downtown criterium and a road race.

Finally, June finishes with the Eureka Road Race on June 27. This race begins and ends in the old time mining town of Eureka, located in the hills west of the south end of Utah Lake. Most categories do a 75-mile loop, while juniors and masters do 45 miles out and back. Both courses have an uphill finish in Eureka.

Racing slows down in Utah during July, but the slack is picked up in Idaho. The Idaho USCF District Criterium will be held in Pocatello on July 11. The Idaho District Time Trial, though currently scheduled in Shoshone for July 18, will most likely be rescheduled so as not to conflict with the LAJORS race scheduled for Boise also on July 18.

UtahÕs only scheduled event is the Up the Dam Hill Road Race on July 24. This race has established itself as the place for racers to celebrate UtahÕs July 24 Pioneer Day holiday.

Idaho finishes out July with a bang, with back-to-back criteriums in Boise. On July 25 is the extremely popular Twilight Criterium, followed on July 26 with the State House Criterium at the Idaho Capitol.

The action switches back to Utah for August. All three USCF District Championships with be held this month. The time trial is set for August 1 in Ogden, the criterium for August 8 in Orem, and the road race for August 29 at a location to be determined.

August is also the month for two ski area hill climbs. The climb to Snowbasin will be held on August 15, and is a good warmup for the hugely successful climb to Snowbird which occurs one week later on August 22.

The year finishes for most racers in September with the LOTOJA, a 203-mile race in the classic european road race tradition. This challenging race starts in Logan, Utah and finishes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with over 6000 feet of climbing in between.

For the 50-and-over gang, the year does not end until the completion of the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George in October.

There is plenty of road racing action in the intermountain area. Take this information and that set forth in our Calendar of Events, and you will have plenty to plan your racing calendar for this year.

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