Cyclocross races make Rock Ledge debut Nov. 19

       In a first-time event, the trails around Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site will be used for cyclocross racing Saturday, Nov. 19.
       A 2-mile loop has been designated - and the tread upgraded in places - by Pikes Peak Velo, a long-time area bicycle race team that's the event sponsor. The official event name is “Supercross 2011.”

Outside the Galloway cabin, Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site junior docent Sonja Puhek demonstrates the use of stilts to a group of Cub Scouts during the "Everything But the Oink" event Nov. 5. Rock Ledge and Garden of the Gods trails will be used for the first time for cyclocross bicycle races Saturday, Nov. 19.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Starting at 8:30 a.m., races will take place one after the another, broken out into categories of age (8 is the youngest allowed) and gender (in the adult races). Also offered will be a “citizens race” for first-timers. Rider registration (which includes a $25 fee for adult racers) will be on the day of the event , with the cut- off for entrants a half-hour before each race.
       About 175 competitors in all are anticipated, according to Bob Stellick of Pikes Peak Velo.
       Spectators are welcome. There will be no charge to enter Rock Ledge that day. Parking is available in the big lot off Gateway Road at 30th Street.
       The starting line will be at the lower part of the hayfield, near the blacksmith shop, with the finish near the new apple orchard and Rock Ledge House, the race map shows. Using established trails, the course will pass some of the site's attractions and loop around the old reservoir in a part of the Garden of the Gods just west of Rock Ledge.
       “This is the first time there has ever been a bike race on this property, so come be a part of history!” reads a SuperCross 2011 promotional statement on the Pikes Peak Velo website. “The course is awesome with lots of double track [wide enough for passing], single track [room for just one bike] through Garden of the Gods Park and super-fun (and hard) run-ups. There's even a BBQ lunch and pizza dinner for anyone who makes a donation (any amount) to Kids on Bikes.”
       Stellick said the choice of Rock Ledge came about after the team found that Bear Creek Park, where PPV has run one or two races annually for the past eight years, “wasn't going to work out this year.”
       “Many of our sponsors, team members and rides are on the west side of CS and so we preferred a west/central race venue,” he elaborated in an e-mail. “CX [cyclocross] races require a mixed terrain that can be a little difficult to find - wider sections to allow passing, a mix of dirt, pavement, and grass, run-ups [steep sections where cyclists must dismount], turns, non-technical trails (most mountain bike trails are too technical), and approximately two miles in length.
       “My first thought was Rock Ledge. Between preschool, many events and walks, my family has spent a lot of time there. It's got a great mix of terrain and it's interesting - bridges, barn, pond, farm animals. It's well known, and we thought we would have a good turnout there, especially since we added the kids and first timers' races.”
       Andy Morris, the Rock Ledge Ranch manager, said the facility will benefit from the event through “funds paid for permits and use of the ranch.”
       The agreement also calls on the cyclists to “leave the Ranch exactly as they have found it,” Morris said. “ By the way, they had offered to do trail repair and spent a Saturday repairing trails on the ranch without being asked to do so. They did a great job, too.”
       Morris said there should be no conflict between the riders and spectators and the ranch facilities. Pikes Peak Velo “will have people stationed around the Ranch,” he said. Also, “we will be keeping the animals in their pens that day and the houses will not be impacted in any way.”

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