Come on, take a freeride
VAIL ” Water will not be solely reserved for the kayak rodeo finals today at the Teva Mountain Games.
Water waits for riders at the end of the freeride challenge bicycling course as well with the qualifying rounds today at 10 a.m. and the finals at 1:30 p.m.
Bikers hit the bumps and humps Friday during practice, testing out the course and it was course designer Jeff Lenosky’s new twist to the course, the water at the end with multiple bridges, that got most competitors’ attention.
“I think it’s fun. All this stuff is pretty basic, straight-forward,” said Jamie Goldman of Santa Cruz, Calif. “This last obstacle is where everyone is going to get eaten alive for sure. That’s where people are going to win or lose.”
“Definitely people will be going in, probably myself included,” Lenosky said. “I went in today, building this thing.”
Freeriding is head-to-head racing on identical obstacle courses. The fastest racers in two heats ” bikers pedal on both the left and right side ” advance in a single-elimination format.
Lenosky changed things up from last years course. The spine, a pointy feature which decided last year’s race is out. The old spine with is steep sides now leads up and down a flat platform, making up the new deck.
“There’s a lot of guys who come back every year, so you don’t want the same thing every year,” Lenosky said. “When you switch the course around, it’s interesting for the guys who have been here before and it’s fair for the new guys.”
Racers start the course going down a 45-degree triangle. Then it’s up to step-up, step down, a bump which leads to two tiers of flats. The next obstacle is the cereal bowl, a concave block that hurls racers into the hump, which is exactly like it sounds.
After the desk, the water caps the course. The final apparatus is not only a fun finishing touch, but one borne out of necessity. Last year’s course culminated with a big bridge, but the old planks were too rickety for the full structure. So now the remnants cross a pool of water.
Racers can take one of two lines here. The straight patch across the water is called the skinny, and rightly so, because it’s only 6-inches wide. A safer path is the outside route which is longer and may slow down some competitors with two sets of bumps.
“It gives the rider choices,” Lenosky said. “If you’re in the final round and you’re down ” maybe you lost the first race and or need to make up time ” maybe you go for the skinny. If you’ve got a good lead, you take the safe route because you don’t want to blow your run.
If treads were any indication, today’s competitors were figuring their approach to the water. The backside of the deck had numerous black skid marks as riders were trying to figure out the correct speed going toward the bridges.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Joe Parrizo of Spokane, Wash., said. “This last section, that’s the one. I think I got it pretty good. Definitely the skinny is the way to go. I just think good thoughts and I know I’ll get over.”
Goldman had a different practice strategy Friday. On each of his trial runs, he stopped short of the water.
“I think the first few times I do this thing will be better than the last few times. Usually, that’s how it works,” he said. “So I have better concentration the first time I do something. I’d rather have those good ones be in the races.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.
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