Monday, April 12, 2010

No Backseat for Bike Racing

Posted By on Mon, Apr 12, 2010 at 11:46 AM

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This was a big weekend for Boise-area cyclists, and it doesn't matter how you roll. Opportunities for both knobbies and skinny tires abound, and even the couch-surfing two-wheeled enthusiasts had their chance for exciting entertainment.

The first regional mountain bike race of the season occurred Saturday in the form of the annual Barking Spider Bash, presented by Wild Rockies Racing. The husband-and-wife duo responsible for the Wild Rockies Race series are Darren and Lorien Lightfield, both local pros who host bike-only and multi-sport racing events all summer long. The Barking Spider course has challenged many a rider over the past decade or so, but this year promised the added excitement of a pro prize purse of over $1,000. Additionally, it's officially on the national calendar as part of the top-level American Mountain Bike Challenge series, which lent it credibility and attracted participants from out-of-state. In fact, the eventual winner of the pro men's race hails from Utah, and female race winner is rumored to live in the Tetons.

For those who don't do dirt, Sunday offered up the Chicken Dinner Road Race, which is the third event in Boise's "spring series" of road races, sponsored by Boise's premier bike shop, George's Cycles and Fitness. Competitors were faced with the usual desolate scenery of southwestern Ada County with a few rolling hills and the ever-present wind to make things more interesting.

Trumping both of these nearby bike events, however, was one of cycling's oldest and most historic races happening across the pond on Sunday: Paris-Roubaix. It is also arguably the most difficult and prestigious of the spring classics, affectionately known as "The Hell of the North" or "The Queen of the Classics." P-R earns distinction for notoriously horrendous weather and for long sections of cobblestone-road (that's the "roubaix" in Pari-Roubaix). The cobbles are slippery even when dry, and they are skilled in destroying tires and wheels—not to mention the havoc they wreak on fatigued riders' arms, neck, shoulders, and other, uh, soft tissue. After competing in last weekend's Tour of Flanders, Lance Armstrong, sat this one out. The real battle took place between Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara and Belgium's Tom Boonen. Cancellara was fresh off a victory in last weekend's Tour of Flanders, and Boonen couldn't avenge his second-place defeat. Cancellara soloed to close the deal in the last 20 kilometers.

Even with so many options, my decision was easy. I was where I most enjoy bicycle racing: on the couch, with my television tuned to Versus, watching the Euro-pros duke it out.

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