Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Back-and-forth battle in an up-and-down race at Ascent Series

by Brooke Pryor sports@gazette.com - Updated: July 10, 2013 at 11:49 pm 0

For just a shade over an hour, Fernando Riveros and J.J Clark battled for the top spot in Wednesday's Ascent Series race at Palmer Park.

Nearly every time two cyclists crossed the start line to begin a new lap, a new leader was in control.

In the end only one second separated the pair. Each completed four laps in the hour-long circuit race, but Clark finished 1 second ahead of Riveros.

"It was all about who could get into the single track first because there's not a lot of room to pass once you get down here," Clark said. "Fernando was riding better tonight and I was lucky enough to get ahead of him off the road."

Riveros and Clark are both Colorado Springs residents and agreed that the midweek race is good training.

"It's really fun to come here and see those guys compete," Riveros said. "But for sure, it's not for fun because you're going hard in this course. These guys, they're fast, so it's good training. That's why I come here."

Riveros finished ninth in the Pan Am Games a few months earlier and Clark raced in Breckenridge on July 4.

They were two of seven professional racers in the final race that combined category one riders with the pros.

Of the total group competing in the final race, only two were women - Kelly Neville and Tracy Thelen. Thelen completed four laps while Neville finished three.

"With the girls, if one person is a whole lot faster than the other, then it's kind of like racing individually," Neville said. "But if there are more girls then there's more different paces so it's easier to actually ride, or race against somebody instead of racing against yourself."

The second race of the afternoon, featuring Category 2 riders, had nearly a dozen women, most members of the Women's Mountain Biking Association of Colorado Springs.

Race organizer Andy Bohlmann said that some cyclists might have been detracted from Wednesday's race because of the heavy rains that rolled through the area.

The rain started coming down in Palmer Park around 3 p.m., Bohlmann said, but by the time he was lining up the first race of riders at 3:50 p.m., the sun was out.

Bohlmann estimated that there were 15 fewer racers than normal for a total of 87.

But even the rain and threat of flash floods couldn't deter the riders who showed up to compete in the three different races.

For Clark, the attraction to the race stems from its close proximity to his home and the unique challenges of the course.

"It's a lot different from anything else we ride on, just can't ever let up," Clark said. "It causes you to focus all the time. As soon as you space out for a minute out there, get a little tired, this park will bite you."

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