The theme for the evening was climbing, as the Arctic MTB club’s trail setter, Chet, seemed to be on a bit of a masochistic bent when placing flags. The course featured a good deal more singletrack than the season opener race, presenting riders with a number of great technical sections that put their bike handling abilities to the test. “The singlespeeders are going to hate this course,” remarked the club president with a grin.
Starting once again from the XC Ski lot, 125 racers had a quick sprint to try and gain a favorable position in their group before the trail narrowed down to the steep ascent of C$ Express. Following the initial climb, a fast downhill section on one of Kincaid’s world-class cross country ski trails served to further separate the groups into smaller packs, with those with the strongest legs finding themselves with an early lead. However, the course favored those who could not only sprint, but those who could also maintain momentum while climbing. Racers swapped position while riding through some of the more challenging portions of Kincaid’s singletrack system, namely Good Greef, which should be experienced by anyone who loves mountain biking.
For every lap of the 5.6-mile course, the riders found themselves in an accordian-eqsue pattern: the climbers would separate themselves from the rest during the uphill portions, only to find those who have mastered the art of navigating rooty downhill sections nipping at their heels, cutting their temporary lead short. This ebb and flow led to a dramatic finish for both the Expert and Sport categories, with each having an all-out sprint to the finish line over the last (uphill) mile of the course. At the end of it all, Will Ross, Megan Chelf, Justin Neff, Stacey Kolstad, Craig Ottosen, Kimberly Bush, Samuel Jemmings, Zoee Beiergrohslein, Tom Peichel, Shelley James, Ryan Greeff, Maeve Nevins, and Mike Filipowski claimed victory in their respective categories.
I truly enjoyed the course, but just because I enjoy climbing doesn’t mean that I was particularly fast (humiliation is being passed by a singlespeed fat bike on a climb), and I found myself towards the back of the Mens Sport category. In spite of my near-backmarker status after the race, I still had a great time with the ride. I once again applaud the efforts of the Arctic MTB group: they put on a fantastic ride and have their ducks in a row when it comes to organizing an event. If you live in or find yourself in Anchorage on a Tuesday night, get yourself out to Kincaid and join one of the best groups of cyclists that I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding with!
Full Results are available here.