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Colossal Cave Stage Race – Day 1

2 April 2009 No Comment
Junior 10-12 Avery Keller Cronyn (El Groupo) at work on the course.

Junior 10-12 Avery Keller Cronyn (El Groupo) at work on the course.

Every year around this time I hear the same thing. “It’s probably the last time for Colossal Cave.”. Yet, each season it remains the eastern anchor of racing in Tucson. Refusing to accept the fate of other races that succumbed to “urbanization”, Colossal Cave EXPANDED into a three day stage race, scored in the Omnium format with points, not time. Saturday started with a short 2.8 mile TT, followed by an afternoon Criterium on a technical course. On Sunday, the traditional Colossal Cave Road Race would finish out the weekend hat-trick.

Race official Jay Schreiber gets set to start another rider down the course.

Race official Jay Schreiber gets set to start another rider down the course.

The new stretch of pavement connecting Vail with Houghton proved to be a fast course. It already featured an elevation loss of 135 feet over the 2.8 miles, and with the 20 mph tailwind…..woo-hoo! That was fast! Probably a lot of riders got a PR with those average speeds. Nice way to start out the day, a nice little boost to the confidence.
Looking north towards Tanque Verde Peak in the Rincons. The TT was only 2.8 miles miles long with good pavement, downhill and a big tailwind. Nirvana!

Looking north towards Tanque Verde Peak in the Rincons. The TT was only 2.8 miles miles long with good pavement, downhill and a big tailwind. Nirvana!

I believe the overall start list had almost 220 riders. It seemed like a pretty good turnout. The Cat 5’s were well represented, and there was a very good turnout for the Juniors. That’s a great sight to see. The TT ran smoothly with no issues. What really surprised me was the amount of traffic on the road by the end of the race.

Riders soft pedal back to the start. By 9:00 am the traffic on the course was pretty heavy.

Riders soft pedal back to the start. By 9:00 am the traffic on the course was pretty heavy.

This part of Tucson has grown so much and there are rooftops in every direction. Thus the threat to the courses on the far southeast side of town. We need to enjoy them while we can and keep the sport high profile in the community.

Curtis Gunn (Fly-V, Successful Living) emptied all cylinders in winning the Pro-I event.

Curtis Gunn (Fly-V, Successful Living) emptied all cylinders in winning the Pro-I event.

Curtis Gunn took the Pro-I crown with Landis/Trek riders Nick Schreiber and Denny Vaughan taking second and third. The Pro-I-II women saw Catherine Dickson (Metro Phx Bank/LifeLock/Tribe Racing) put in the best time with Judy Jenkins (Specialized Designs for Women/ Bicycle Haus) and Dicksons teammate Megan French filling the top three spots. The Juniors saw large groups from both El Groupo and Yuma Bike Club participating.

A GST rider glides along the short route at 35mph. Love that glint of sun off the helmet...

A GST rider glides along the short route at 35mph. Love that glint of sun off the helmet...

 With the Time Trial completed, the venue for the weekend turned to the Criterium, held on the Kart Track. I can hear the moans of displeasure now… The course is bound to elicit strong emotions from both haters and lovers alike (those who love to hate and hate the lovers). The course is technical. the course is fast and the course demands your attention at all times. There is nothing to hate about the course. It’s a good Crit course. It will test you as a bike handler. And…..it’s good for pictures too!

Denny Vaughan (Landis/Trek)

Denny Vaughan (Landis/Trek)

It’s also good to heed the warning to bring “sticky” tires. How it’s ridden can be a problem. Of the few who left some skin on the pavement, it looked like the majority were single rider mishaps. Wheel slid out, tire rolled type stuff. Maybe some tires touching in the corners. Mostly avoidable stuff.

Juniors start

Juniors start

You’ve got to turn in a group during a race sooner or later. It’s a good course to get use to that type of riding. Come race time, most of the riders took the corners single file, or two deep on occasion. A civil approach to the course indeed. As with most weekend races, the rule is keep yourself healthy for work on Monday!

Thomas Jondall (Landis/Trek) pulls the group along.

Thomas Jondall (Landis/Trek) pulls the group along.

The strongest riders from the morning timetrial were strong again in the afternoon criterium. In the men’s Pro field, Curtis Gunn was nipped at the finish line by a hard charging Denny Vaughan. On the women’s side, it was Catherine Dickson across the line first with Tammy Lamb (Eclipse) in second.
The ladies ride into the sunset on the crit course.

The ladies ride into the sunset on the crit course.

It was a unique experience to shoot the races past sunset. The afternoon start pushed the races late, with the last wrapping up at 7:30. To a photographer the light in the last hour of the day is referred to as the “golden hour”, or “magic hour”. The low angle and soft, golden light gives nice depth and color to a photo. In this case, I saw the possibility of a silhouette against the setting sun. It worked (see right), and I’ll regain sight in the eye in a couple of weeks ;-) (just kidding). Unique….which is what I’m always looking for. I have a series of these now to play with in a future project.
You an check out all of the pictures from the TT and Crit Here…
 

Link to photo galleries

The sweeping last corner before the finish line.

The sweeping last corner before the finish line.

 

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