By Dave Iltis
Hoodoo 500 2015 Race Preview
The Hoodoo 500 is a 521-mile ultra distance road race that starts and finishes in St. George, UT. This year’s race is August 28-31, 2015. The event has solo, duo, and four person team options. Solo and duo racers may race straight through or enter the stage race category and complete the course in three days, staying at provided hotels each of the two nights on the course. The route follows a large counterclockwise loop that first goes through Northern Arizona and reaches as far northeast as Torrey before returning to St. George.
We caught up with race organizer Deb Bowling of Planet Ultra and asked her a few questions on the event.
Cycling Utah: Tell us about the event. What makes it unique? How long has it been around?
Deb Bowling: The race has been held annually since 2007.
It’s the only race of its kind! In addition to an incredible loop course, we offer both the traditional non-stop race and the only ultra distance stage race, which allows participants to see the entire route in daylight. The solo and 2-person team divisions are held ultra-style, meaning no-drafting; and the 4-person teams may draft. With respect to the 4-person division, the Hoodoo is also unique in that it’s the only race without mandatory racer exchange points. Teams make their own race strategy to get to the finish line in the least amount of time.
For folks who want to ease into ultra cycling, we also have a 300-mile option for solos and 2-person teams.
CU: Tell us about the course. Where does it start and finish? What are the highlights of the ride?
DB: The race starts and finishes in St George; making it super simple logistically. The route passes by three national parks, two national monuments, countless state parks and meanders in and out of the Dixie National forest. Except for the heat of St George, the temperatures on the course are very pleasant. The backroads of Southern Utah might be the smoothest and best maintained in the country. The course traverses the entire length of Highway 12 – one of the top ten scenic roads in the world! It’s 521 miles with about 30,000’ of climbing.
CU: How does the four-person relay work? What’s different about how your relay works from other relay events?
DB: The Hoodoo 500 is the only relay race without pre-determined racer transitions. Racer exchanges may be made almost anywhere (there are only a couple of short distance no exchange zones). To us, this makes the racing more exciting and introduces far more strategy into the race. Moreover, it opens the race up to success by both ultra riders and traditional racers by varying their strategy. You never have to leave a small rider out in the wind or force your time trialist up a steep climb.
CU: How does one train for an event like this as a solo, duo, or four-person team?
DB: While almost any fit cyclist can complete the race in the team format, winning requires some serious training. Most teams change riders every 20 to 30 minutes on the flats and sooner on the climbs. After a lot of base training, repeated race tempo intervals work great.
Solo racers need to have a big mileage base and some nighttime training as well. But the strongest racer doesn’t always win. Solo racers need to be absolutely comfortable on their bikes. They need to have their nutrition nailed down to stay fueled and hydrated while not upsetting their stomachs. They need to be comfortable riding at night and have a great crew behind them. And they have to handle sleep deprivation.
CU: What sort of support does a rider or team need to complete the event?
DB: Racers provide their own support vehicles and bring along their own food, water and supplies; typically driven by crew members who aren’t racing. However, the Hoodoo 500 allows both 2 and 4 person teams to self-crew. Winning teams, though, usually have a crew and two vehicles. Direct following at nighttime and on the 2nd race day is allowed (with certain rules about that), but not required. What we highly recommend is that racers bring along a wide variety of food and drinks (what works well on shorter rides might not over two days and extreme conditions); and bring clothes for all weather and all temperatures. This race climbs several mountains over 8,000’. It can be cold. It can be wet. You never know what you’re going to get! Some relay teams like to bring costumes to liven things up too!
CU: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
DB: All-Inclusive Entry includes participation in a world class ultra race on a spectacular course, a Hoodoo 500 tech-tee, an awesome window sticker, tickets to the post-race awards breakfast for racers and crew, raffle tickets for racers and crew, and for all for all finishers both a super nice medal, and an official finisher jersey (mailed after the race).
Event Details: August 28-31 — Hoodoo 500, Utah Triple Crown, St. George, UT, 500 mile loop race through Southern Utah. Non-stop or stage race, solo and relay team divisions. 300 mile option as well., Deborah Bowling, 818-889-2453, [email protected], Hoodoo500.com