Turkey Cross 3 and 4 – November 7 and 8

Turkey Cross marks the midway weekend through the Boise region cyclo-cross season. Anything can happen with the weather this time of year, but this year the weather was fair with race temperatures in the upper 40F range for the early race and low to mid-50F range for the latter races, and the course was moist enough that the loose dirt was packed-down on the narrow racer line (but un-ride-able in the turns off the racer line). Last year, this race was a week later with single digit F temperatures and 10″ of wind packed powder snow, and that course had to be shortened but was still mostly un-ride-able on cross bikes the first day, especially for the early race. It was the day that ignited the “Fat Bike Controversy”.

Turkey Cross 2015 spread the podium honors around to both emerging, new and returning race winners. The battle for the top of the Women’s Cat1-2 podium has been a duel between Barb Kreisle and Kate Shanahan, but this weekend Abby Youngwerth bested these two. Paul McKenna of Meridian Cycles wearing Donger kit took the podium top spot away from perennial M45+ winner Ron Miller on Day1, but Paul had to settle for 2nd to Ron on Day2. Richard Feldman World M45-49 ITT Champion has dominated the three Men1-2-3 races he has attended, but Richard was not in attendance for Turkey Cross. Instead, Tom Bender from Salt Lake made his first appearance in Boise region CX races and dominated the Men1-2-3 field both days.

The course at the Eagle Bike Park included the usual two sections, the Grass section and the Dirt section. The Grass section was familiar with numerous technical turns and tricky side-hill section, but it also included a full legal height barrier immediately prior to the steep grass climb up to the Dirt section on the first day. The Dirt section began with a steep 6′ bank that required speed to clear, and it was hidden in dark shadow for the early races. This feature intimidated those who had not pre-ridden the course.

Ethan and Cory attack the 6ft bank at the start of the Dirt section
Ethan and Cory attack the 6ft bank at the start of the Dirt section

The course then climbed up to the top of the jump line that included five increasingly bigger table-top jumps, and concluded with a U-turn adjacent to the Finish Line, a real crowd pleaser. The less confident riders braked in the jump line, as did I the first two laps, but the more confident riders not only took the jump line at full speed, they took air on the last two jumps.

Gabriel Keck catching air at the bottom of the jump line
Gabriel Keck catching air at the bottom of the jump line

Next came the signature feature of Turkey Cross 2015, the steep, rough, loose dirt descent, slinky and easy to get off-line U-turn at the bottom, immediately followed by a loose dirt run-up the same hill next to the descent. To insure most riders would not attempt to ride any of the run-up, a low ~8″ barrier preceded by a turn was placed at the bottom of the run-up.

Brad Walker shoulders his bike for the run-up, as did most racers, while Gabriel prepares to clear the low barrier and ride the run-up
Brad Walker shoulders his bike for the run-up, as did most racers, while Gabriel prepares to clear the low barrier and ride the run-up

Abby was the only woman to attempt to ride the run-up, and she succeeded on ~half the laps. I am not aware of any Master’s Men attempting to ride the run-up. Men1-2-3 race winner Tom Bender rode the run-up successfully every lap both days, and Gabriel Keck also rode the run-up successfully.

Tom Bender negotiating the barrier at the bottom of the run-up
Tom Bender negotiating the barrier at the bottom of the run-up
Tom looking awesomely strong summitting the run-up
Tom looking awesomely strong summitting the run-up

The Dirt section continued with plentiful tight turns that punished those who could not keep the narrow racer line. The climb up the berm was immediately followed by the famous loose dirt “down and back up excursion”, the begining of another “no passing zone”. The quick descent off the berm was followed by a rough turn just prior to the steep side-hill switch-back that preceded the climb up to the finish line.

Cory leads the chase group through a tight S-turn with plentiful loose dirt available off the rider line
Cory leads the chase group through a tight S-turn with plentiful loose dirt available off the rider line
Cory and Chaz Hogenauer ride the "down and back up excursion"
Cory and Chaz Hogenauer ride the “down and back up excursion”

As usual, the course was run in the opposite direction on the second day with a few small modifications. The biggest changes were the removal of the jump line and addition of a second full size close spaced barrier in the grass section. The steep side-hill switch-back immediately following the finish line was more problematic, especially on the first lap causing significant bottlenecks. The signature feature loose dirt descent and run-up was more difficult, as it was immediately preceeded by a significant climb.

Allan Schroeder leaps the second of the two closely spaced full legal size barriers
Allan Schroeder leaps the second of the two closely spaced full legal size barriers

The Men1-2-3 races were long enough above the anerobic threshold that a significant number of racers were not able to maintain their initial pace and faded in the final laps, especially on Day1.

For the purpose of amusement, a “Poker Run” was included in Sunday’s Day2 race. Two of the five cards had to be plucked from the dirt on the top and steepest part of the signature run-up, one at a time on each of the last two laps. I for one did not have the energy or coordination to do this with my bike sholdered, and I doubt that anybody who rode the run-up could have plucked a card. To make things even more amusing, hecklers were present handing-up powder donuts and Ding-Dongs just below the poker cards.

Author: Fritz Stafford

Published: November 25, 2015

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