cycling utah October 1998
By Robert L. Truelsen
Eric Jones (KHS) of Salt Lake City put the finishing touch of his "best-ever" season by winning the Men's Pro/Elite Deer Valley Rally Utah State Cross Country Championships September 7.
A look at the record books would indicate that Jones excels at the Deer Valley venue. He won race #8 of the Wild Rockies Intermountain Cup Series race in June. Then he turned in an inspiring ride for 7th place when the National Championship Series visited the resort in July, his best-ever finish in an NCS race.
But Jones didn't have an easy time of it. He was pressured on the climbs by Gene Hilton of St. George, Utah. Hilton, in his first season back since a stint as a missionary for the LDS Church, lost what he gained on the descents.
"I took it easy and sat on Cris' (Fox) to see how everyone felt," Jones said. "I stayed with him for a couple of miles then I got a really good gap.
"Gene was making up time on the climbs," Jones continued, "I kept looking back and he kept getting closer on the climbs."
Lucky for Jones the finish was at the end of a long descent that included some of the same trails used by the women at the NCS race, only in the opposite direction.
"I felt really good," Hilton said. "I shot up to Eric but Eric put time on me on the downhills."
Hilton has only raced part-time since his mission due to his work schedule. "I had to work so I could go to school." Hilton is attending Brigham Young University.
"When you race every weekend you ride harder and you do better on the downhills," he added.
The terrain at Deer Valley is perfect for mountain biking, unless you think flat is perfect. The initial climb on the cross-country course required racers to ascend nearly 2000 feet in 4 miles before any real descent was encountered. The beginner course was somewhat less difficult but was still challenging requiring racers to climb 500 feet per 2 mile lap. The cross-country courses had a lot more to them than just climbing; miles of great, buffed single track rolling through pine and aspen forests made this one of the best race routes to be found anywhere in the nation.
Teresa Eggertson (Micro Supreme) put her Deer Valley weekly training to good use in winning the Women's Pro/Elite race using the same downhill skills used by Jones.
"I knew if I was close at the top of the descent I was OK," Eggertson said. "I've been training for Logan to Jackson and I'm really tired. I didn't think I could do this."
Eggertson was following Mindy Gillespie (Headshok/Maddog) up the climbs but caught her at Silver Lake. "I just kept her in sight and caught her right at the NORBA singletrack. She was very nice to let me by." Gillespie would finish second overall and claim the Women's Expert crown.
"I didn't know Teresa was close," Gillespie said. "The downhills gave me some trouble and I ran out of water. But I'm surprised to do so well. I led all the way to the downhill."
The Deer Valley Rally concludes the cross country race season in Utah. Racers are now preparing for the Moab 24 Hours coming up Oct. 10-11.
By Ron Lindley
Itís been a fun but tough year for Utah Mountain Bike racers so itís only fitting that the State Championship races be conducted on some fun but tough race courses. The downhill courses were the same ones used for Augustís NCS race and are World renowned for their difficulty. The first ever Utah State Championship Dual Slalom race was conducted on the same course as the NCS in August as well. The new Super Descent time trial event was run on a course that took advantage of Deer Valleyís awesome variety of trails, taking riders over virtually every type of terrain the mountain had to offer. The Super D course dropped 1200 feet from top to bottom, but included two climbs which totaled 450 feet of grinding uphill.
Saturdayís Sport and Beginner Downhill race was a real test for competitors as they faced a super gnarly course that had been thoroughly chewed up by several hundred racers at the NORBA National race just one month before. Despite the difficult course conditions (or probably because of them) everyone had a great experience. The best-of-two-run format gave each rider a good shot at completing at least one run. Senior Sport rider Ryan Sparks had the fast run of the day posting a time of 5:09.93.
Later on Saturday the Dual Slalom competition was held. Local legend Todd Tanner won Utahís first State Championship title in the event by edging out MoabÆs Greg Smith. Racing was great but the turn out was low. Hopefully more Utah riders will give Dual Slalom a try, itís really fun and is a great way to improve your bike handling skills for BMX, Downhill and Cross-Country racing, not to mention recreational trail riding.
Sundayís Pro and Expert category Downhill race saw Todd Tanner win his second State Championship title of the weekend. ToddÆs time of 4:52.24 was just enough to beat Colorado rider Zach WhiteÆs second run of 4:53.56. All of Utahís top downhillers were on hand to compete. But this course is so difficult that it may have scared off a few of the mid-packers. As it was, the first aiders were busy cleaning up scrapes and handing out gauze. Even practice runs took their toll as local Expert Mike McBride was forced out of the competition after he reopened an old knee wound during a training run on Friday. The good news is that no serious injuries were sustained and all the racers seemed thrilled to be racing on such a quality course.
The first NORBA sanctioned Super Descent time trial, or Super D, was conducted on Sunday afternoon. The Super D is essentially a cross-country time trial with the finish line considerably lower than the start. The idea is to enable riders to compete in a mostly downhill race on a cross-country equipped mountain bike. Back in the days of old, a mountain bike racer would sign up for both the downhill and cross-country and whatever other competitions were available. Now racers and their equipment have become much more specialized. The Super D is a race format that allows riders who want to compete in a mostly downhill race a chance to be competitive with their hardtail bike. Itís also provides downhill racers a chance to compete in a race with a bit of uphill while racing on their ôfree rideö mountain bike. Either way itís a fun way to peg your heart rate at max for a few minutes.
Utah Sport racer Ryan Sparks had a particularly good weekend as he won three Utah State Championship medals, two Golds, one each for Downhill and Cross-Country, and a Silver in the Dual Slalom. He also finished first in his class in the Super D race. Way to go Ryan!