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2011 Huntsman World Senior Games

Bruce, Joel, and Jay represented the UMB team at the 25th Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George. The mountain biking competition was held in the second week of the games:  Monday October 10 for Hillclimb and Downhill, and Tuesday the 11th for the Cross Country event. Race director was Glen Ames, who runs the Intermountain Cup's Desert Rampage at this same race site.

Left-to-right: Bruce, Joel, and Jay. The Senior Games now uses a timing chip, stuck on the underside of the number plate.

All three UMB teammates were racing in the Expert division, but weren't competing directly against each other. Jay rode in the Expert 50-54 category, Bruce in Expert 60-64, and Joel in Expert 65-69. Experts are required to have a yearly USA Cycling license, while Sport and Beginner racers can buy two $5 one-day licenses when they register at the games.

The huge crowd of enthusiastic rowdy spectators created a licentious party atmosphere. Riveting entertainment. In 15 seconds your rider has disappeared and won't be back for two hours.

Jay's first race started out with a near-disaster. As he was called up for his assigned slot in the Hillclimb Time Trial, his tire went flat with a sidewall rupture. He started The Drill and had his bike ready in less than 10 minutes. Fortunately the race officials gave Jay a new official start time, replacing a missing racer in the time trial schedule.

The Hillclimb started on doubletrack, switched over to the downhill section of the ICup race course, then veered off the top of the ICup course to continue up to the overlook above Stucki Springs. The altitude change was 700 feet over the two miles of the Hillclimb. A rider was started every 60 seconds. A time of 16 minutes would put you on the podium.

Jay scrambles to get a tube in his rear tire.

Racers waited at the top of the hill until all climbers had finished, then began the Downhill Time Trials. The DH started lower on the mountain, where the downhill singletrack forks off the doubletrack near the Barrel Trail. Again, riders were sent off 60 seconds apart. The DH was 1.9 miles, with a good time being around 6 minutes.

22 minutes of racing (with 90 minutes of waiting between the two events), and the first day was over. Now to rest up for the XC on Tuesday. (Except for Jay, who had to go buy a tire, seal it, and test it.)

Joel comes through the timing gate at the completion of his six-minute downhill plunge.

In the cross-country race the next day, Expert-class racers under the age of 70 rode three laps of the Green Valley course. It's the same loop as the Intermountain Cup race last March. This added up to 18.5 miles with 2300 vertical feet of climbing.

Expert 50-54 and 55-59 groups went out together, followed after a minute by Bruce and Joel's 60-64 and 65-69 groups. The competition proved tough, with our racers setting personal-best times for this course. Even in the expert categories, it can be hit-or-miss: You may race against world-class speedsters or against a few very beat-able weekend warriors.

Jay (left) gets his 3rd medal at the luncheon following the XC race.

Tuesday was Bruce's turn to get hit by the equipment gremlins. A middle chainring that was absolutely fine on Monday suddenly let the chain slip with any significant powerstroke -- beginning on the first hill of the first lap -- and it was getting quickly worse. After falling off the lead in the second lap, he figured out how to little-ring the hills and upstroke the not-so-steep slopes and big-ring the flats. Once the chain-slipping and fear of chain break had been sort-of solved, he spun his way back to the front. (Average climbing cadence: 109. Thank you, basement trainer.)

Joel (right) receives his cross-country medal.

The awards were handed out after a free dinner at Tonaquint Park catered by Texas Roadhouse. All three of our riders got on the podium for every event. Our guys took home 11 medals: 4 Silver, 5 Gold, and 2 Gold Category Championships. Actually, make that 6 Gold, because Joel got a head start by racing in the Road Cycling Hillclimb the previous week and taking a Gold there.

Sport and Expert Category Champions received a medallion plus a sorta jersey-ish t-shirt. Bruce is second row fourth from left, Joel is second row 3rd from right.

With each top-six placement, racers received points toward the overall championship for their racing category. Bruce scored a perfect 30, with Joel also taking his category championship with 27. (Jay is indeed the fastest of the three, but faced stronger competition in the "baby-oldster" category. He was runner-up with 21 points.)

Perfect weather, great racing. And at the end, bling that rings like wind chimes around your neck.

The Mountain Biking event at the Senior Games has fewer competitors these last few years. (Bruce has done the games eight times over 10 years, and remembers when categories typically had 3 or 4 times as many entrants.) The Senior Games is a great excuse to go play in the desert and hang out with riders your own age. Start thinking about riding in 2012. (Or bug your dad, mom, or grandpa to give it a try.) The deadline to register is usually the end of August, six weeks before the games. See

GPX course files:  Hillclimb    Downhill    Crosscountry  (Right-click and save to your GPS folder. If the file opens to display the XML text, simply save that text as a ".gpx" file -- not as an xml file.)