Son of Middle Creek Circuit makes its series debut | VailDaily.com

Son of Middle Creek Circuit makes its series debut

VAIL — The Vail Recreation District's Athletic Club at The Westin Mountain Bike Race Series busted out a new racecourse on Wednesday — the Son of Middle Creek Circuit.

Racers expected climbing, and they got it — and a little bit more.

"I really liked it. There was a lot more climbing than I thought. Once you do the Forest Service road climb, there's a lot of climbing to be done," Edwards' Tamara Donelson said. "Unless you've pre-ridden it, you're in for one hell of a surprise. You kind of blow up in a couple of places."

And Donelson's no stranger to cycling. She's in the pro division.

The new course was a 5.5-mile loop with the aforementioned climb up the Forest Service and the singletrack of Son of Middle Creek. That involved 1,300 feet of elevation gain. And the racers in pro and expert divisions did two loops for good measure.

"I thought this was going to be the race when I bumped up and do expert and do two laps," said Avon's Adam Kowalski, who was in vet sport. "Just because I love it so much out there. When I got finished I was real happy it was just one. It was tough."

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There was some initial concern about the singletrack before this race — perhaps the course might be too congested and passing might be difficult there. In some racers' eyes, that might reduce the race to a sprint up the Forest Service road.

"I was kind of concerned about that. Knowing that and knowing the track, I thought you had to win it on the actual Forest Service climb," Kowalski said. "So everyone made a really strong push. Then when you get to the singletrack, you're super blasted. I actually got passed and passed a couple of people, so it was really courteous. It wasn't a really aggressive ride, which is nice. I really like this track I didn't want it to be really (aggressive). They staggered it out pretty well with the expert and sport races."

And while most are concentrating on the actual pedaling, once to the top — for real — it was a cool sight.

"When I wasn't looking down because I was suffering, the view was really good," Edwards' Mike Trueblood said. "When you come down, you can look across at Vail Mountain. It's really pretty spectacular."

The singletrack also produced another nice feature — a test.

"It's a true test of some technical skills," Donelson said. "There's no other race in the series that's like that. It kind of slits everyone from just fitness to can you actually ride a mountain bike?"

For those going around twice, racers adapted to the course, adding an element of strategy.

"If I was riding faster, I would have gotten up the climb early, but I went as fast as I could," Trueblood joked. "I wasn't too familiar with the course. So the first lap I kind of had to get used to it. The second lap, I really liked the terrain, the climbs and the singletrack. It was really fun."

News and notes

Fresh off winning the Xterra Mountain Championship, Josiah Middaugh won the men's pro elite division. Perhaps the VRD will include a swimming portion to race to even out the field. … The Sappenfields, Heather and Sydney, pulled off a mother-daughter sweep of their divisions. … Next up in the series is a kids-only race on Wednesday, the Boneyard Boogie. The adults return to racing in three weeks with the Davos Dash.

"It will be short, but very painful. I kind of dread it. Here we go," Trueblood said.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.