ST. GEORGE – Rapid Cycling Racing, a new bike racing company associated with Rapid Cycling bike shop, held its first-ever competitive races Friday and Saturday in the desert just west of Green Valley Spa in St. George.
The two-day mountain biking event held on and around the Zen trail – one of the area’s most difficult trails, Rapid Cycling shop Co-owner Holly O’Keefe said – featured kids races, short track sprints, cross-country endurance races and an all-out downhill.
Racing action began Friday evening with a kids race. Children ages 10 all the way down to 2 raced their bikes along a dirt loop that, depending on age, varied in distance between a quarter-mile to a mile.
The loop was comprised of both double- and single-track trail and, though it was difficult, the kids traversed it with determination and gusto, finishing to the noise of cheering race organizers and parents and “bicycle cowbells.”
Friday’s competition continued with a short track race, pitting riders in a full-on sprint to complete as many laps of a 1-mile course as they could within a given time period.
The short track course was a wild, bumpy ride through the desert complete with deep, sandy patches; wide open flat areas designed for sprinting; short but steep technical climbs; and a single-track descent that turned toward the finish.
Timing for Friday’s and Saturday’s races was provided by WeBe Cycling, a new company based out of Park City that specializes in race timing and race promotion, founder Karl Redel said.
The new company uses a unique timing system, an RFID reader, that sends out a signal to the racers’ timing chips, allowing them more accuracy than mat timing, Redel said. Redel has been working to fine tune the system and came to the Fall Fury to use the system on a smaller race as a test run, he said.
“We have had a 100 percent read rate,” Redel said, “so we are happy.”
Racing continued Saturday beginning with the cross-country course, a 6-mile loop course on the Zen Trail. Riders rode two loops of the difficult course for a total of 12 miles.
The cross-country course provided perhaps the biggest challenge of the weekend, due to the length and technical difficulty of the terrain.
“It’s a great trail. It is fun to be on,” Kevin O’Keefe, Rapid Cycling co-owner, said. “… It’s a very challenging race; an extremely challenging race.”
Kevin O’Keefe was slightly under the weather before he started and said he was almost regretting his choice to ride but decided to continue anyway.
Saturday racing was capped off with a downhill ride. Riders were shuttled to the top of Zen Mesa, where the race began, and then raced the clock to the bottom.
The first-ever installment of the Fall Fury was small, with just over 50 registered riders; only a small fraction of the participants, about 7 including the kids, were female, Race Director Jordan Bracken said.
One of those females, Ellen Dahl, of Pleasant Grove, rode the cross-country track.
“I was the only girl,” Dahl said. “It was a black diamond course and there were some parts where I was getting off and walking … but it was a fun course.”
What the Fall Fury lacked in numbers it made up for in well-marked courses, quality prizes, swag bags, and a fun and open atmosphere.
“We hope to see it grow,” Bracken said.
“If we provide a quality race then people will tell others about it,” he added.
Next up, Rapid Cycling Racing will switch to road cycling to host a five-part criterium series, Bracken said.
More information on the road races will be forthcoming and Bracken urged those interested to watch the company’s website for final details and dates as they become available.
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