The Cape Cyclism

Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Dustin Gross, left, and Matt Pobst climb a steep section of the Delaware Park Trail.

Once a haven for competitive cycling, Cape Girardeau has been without a racing event since 1997. That will change with the Cape Mountain Bike Challenge on August 28.

The race, sponsored by Cyclewerx, is one of six on the 2005 Missouri State NORBA Mountain Bike Series. Following a 5-mile course and incorporating the mountain bike trail at Delaware Park, located at Lexington and Old Sprigg Street, the mountain bike challenge will include a variety of divisions, including first-timer, beginner, junior, sport, and expert. Each division is then broken down into age groups with each age group leaving one to two minutes apart in a mass start.

The first-timer class is for those who are racing for the first time. The junior class is for those 18 and under. Riders in the first-time, beginner, and junior classes can expect to race for one hour. The sport class will race for one-and-a-half hours, while the expert riders will race for 2 hours.

John Dodd, owner of Cyclewerx, and Dustin Gross, Service Manager at Cyclewerx, developed the Delaware Park mountain biking trail with the expressed goal of putting on future races.

"We're into promoting cycling," Dodd says. "We want to get people excited about cycling. And we hope this race will help with promoting cycling and bringing more races to the area."

"Cycling is an endurance sport," Gross adds. "It requires technical ability, aerobic endurance and strength."

The Cape Mountain Bike Challenge is the first mountain bike race to take place in Cape. Mountain bike races are different than road races, which may be a stage race or criterium. A major difference is that a mountain bike race is an individual race whereas road racing is a team race. Thus, there is no drafting, no team mechanic, and no team cars following the cyclists. Mountain biking is purely self-supported; no outside help is allowed.

Dodd expects around 150 cyclists to take part in the race. Many of those competing will compile series points.

Both Dodd and Gross, though, say that riders should not fool themselves about the physical demands mountain biking places on the body.

"A mountain bike race is really about who can endure the most pain," Gross says. "Mountain biking is more anaerobic than road racing. The fasterst mountain bikers are technically skilled and very experienced bike handlers. They're also in top aerobic shape.

"If you want to race, try to get as many base miles in as possible. There is no substitute for saddle time. Anaerobic-specific workouts are recommended since mountain biking will zap your oxygen for periods of time. Also, train for the sake of racing, It gives you a goal to train for and can be used to measure relative skill and performance. It also provides an outlet for comraderie and competition."

Generally, mountain bike racing is less tactical than road racing, Gross says.

"The only real tactics are knowing when to go all out and when to soft pedal or take it easy," he says. "You have to know when to accelerate to lose site of other cyclists. It's psychological. If you cannot see the person in front of you, you may not be able to chase him down."

Gross and Dodd also invite spectators to cheer the riders on.

"You'll see some impressive athletes," Gross says. "Things to watch for would be respective lap times and whether a rider is gaining or losing time per lap. Some of the technical areas are fantastic spots to watch. Places like creek crossings or hard climbs."

"Come and watch," Dodd says. "You'll come away with a greater appreciation for cycling. There's an excitement with cycling that other sports can't match."

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