By Bob Saffell
The weather forecast for Hurricane Utah for Saturday April 2 was daunting. For many of us from northern Utah had been used to bundling up for cold. Wet training rides. Even those from Dixie had been used to unusually cool and damp weather. A possibility of 90 degrees and high winds was what the weatherman had in store for those lining up for the Cholla Challenge.
The Cholla Challenge is regularly a lightly attended affair, which is unfortunate, as over the last couple of years, promoter, Jerry Simmons, has dialed in quite a nice course in the desert close to the Arizona border. This year’s course detoured off of the final double track stretch, into a sandy wash and up and over a short slick rock section. In total the course turned out to be around 7.25 miles per lap. Those who shy away from the ski resort climber’s course should try this one on for size.
The men’s pro field was missing Alex Grant, winner of stop 1 of the Intermountain Cup, leaving many to believe young gun, Keegan Swenson (Whole Athlete-Specialized), who was fresh off of a few dominating national series wins, would ride away with the race. As expected, from the gun Keegan drove the pace. Pushing several of the veterans into the red, early in their 29 mile excursion Keegan got a gap at the end of the first ‘climb’ prompting Bryson Perry (Lifetime Fitness) to close the gap, at the end of the climb they had a 15-20 second gap on the chasers, led by Kevin Day (Kuhl Mountain Team). Later in the first lap Bryson came around Keegan and upped the pace, by the end of lap one, Bryson had a gap and put it into overdrive, going on to take the victory by more than 7 minutes. Keegan was overtaken by Chris Holley (Trek 29er crew) in second and Kevin Day in third.The women’s field was limited to 4 racers, missing were many Utah stalwarts. Including Lynda Wallenfels, winner of the Desert Rampage. Kathy Sherwin (Stan’s No Tubes Elite Team) took the lead from the start, however, early on, she took a wrong turn, was warned by her competitors and fell back to 4th position At this point K.C. Holley (Trek 29er crew) took the lead. By the end of the first climb Kathy had ‘used up all of her matches’ to take the lead, never looking back to take the win by 5+minutes. Erica TIngey (White Pine Touring) took a strong 2nd place followed by Holley and Jill Damman (Moots/Ibex), who incidentally was a week removed from a 3rd place finish at the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse race.