Boulder Racing #3 -- Louisville "Bowl of Death"

If you raced your bike yesterday at the Boulder Racing Cyclocross #3, there is no doubt you're feeling it today. Over the years this course has been labeled the 'bowl of death' as it runs in and out of the grass flood retention 'bowl' behind the Louisville Recreation Center. The only way in is a steep descent which becomes rutted out by day's end - and the only way out is to go up the bowl! This gave race promoter Brian Hludzinski the opportunity to hurt racers like we haven't seen yet this season with two leg-breaking run ups. Talk about great spectating, these runups were lined with fans for all categories shouting encouragement or heckling with the best of 'em, both varieties entirely appropriate for cyclocross!

The women's open race saw 25 starters with some new faces and some familiar names working their way onto the podium. Amanda Miller (Hudz/Subaru) from Fort Collins took top honors in front of Ann Trombley (Tokyo Joe's). Rounding out the podium in third place was Karen Hogan representing local bike shop Louisville Cyclery.

The men's race saw 55 riders battle it out on the long grass start into the first right hand corner to start the course inside the 'bowl-of-death'. A crash at 10th position coming into the first run up was the first source of breaking up the field as riders worked their way up the side of 'the bowl' on a long run before circling the southern edge on crushed gravel trail. Jake Wells (Hudz/Subaru) was quick to move to the front ahead of Pete Webber (Boulder Cycle Sport). As Wells pushed his gap in front of Webber coming through the finish line on lap 1, Allen Krughoff (Boulder Cycle Sport) jumped across to Wells from 4th position. Krughoff followed Wells through half of the 2nd lap until making a move on the 2nd run up on the course, passing Wells on foot. Wells and Krughoff were out front of a strong group of approximately 7 riders including Colby Pearce, Tim Allen, Pete Webber, Brandon Dwight, Jonathon Baker, and more.

Coming out of the S bends following the run up near the finish line, Krughoff put in an acceleration and increased his margin over Wells as they headed towards the sand pit. The gap grew to approximately 15 seconds after 2 laps. However, Wells would have none of this. He shut down the gap to Krughoff and took over the lead. Krughoff apparently feeling his effort, was lax with holding onto Wells' wheel and slowly Wells established a gap over Krughoff that would never be closed.

With Wells riding solo off the front, the race was on for second place as Brandon Dwight (Boulder Cycle Sport) and Jonathon Baker (Hudz/Subaru) had separated themselves from the chase group and were now closing in on a fading Krughoff. They made the catch and established a group of three with Baker looking for the pass at various parts of the course. As he made a push in the sand section, an error cost him time which Krughoff and Dwight attempted to capitalize on coming through the finish with 3 to go and heading back down into the bowl. Krughoff tried to push the pace yet again after his teammate Dwight signaled to 'hit it' after the run up out of the bowl. However, Krughoff was running on empty and couldn't create enough separation from Baker and the group of three came back together again with two to go.

With Krughoff barely hanging on, Dwight took over the lead from third with Baker following closely coming into the run up out of the bowl. One more lap of a tough course took its toll on Krughoff and as the trio came through to hear the bell with one to go, it was going to come down to Baker or Dwight for second place. Wells' gap had grown to over 30 seconds and wasn't coming back anytime soon. Coming up a steep sidewalk stretch before the sand section, Dwight put the heat on Baker by sprinting up the 50 meter climb. Baker followed suit, out of the saddle. Dwight making the 180 turn into the sand pit, nearing the end made an error and came to a near stop as Baker made the pass on the last lap. Baker held the lead up over the steep dirt/grass hill to the finish line making it a 1-2 victory for Hudz Subaru with Dwight in third followed by Krughoff in fourth and their third teammate Webber winning the chase group to place fifth.

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Why even put the tape up then?

So the intent of the tape was not to keep the riders in the sand? If that is not the case then why even have the tape up?

Take other examples where there are a ton of times where the tape is just outside a barrier so does that mean we don't have to jump the barrier? I thought the barriers were there for us to jump but if they are optional because there is 6 inches on either side then sweet!

Nope, he's good...

That line on the edge of the sandpit was within the course tape, albeit barely, and I think a tree or something obscures the tape in the video. The first 1/2 of the sandpit was taped to force riders through the sand, but sometimes it was better to hop to that thin strip of grass and zip through the second half. Kinda depended on where the sand took you. Anyway, technically anywhere within the course tape is fair game.

course maintenance

That line developed due to lack of diligent course marking and course maintenance. The stake at the exit of the sand pit got knocked down, and a spectator (?) put it back up a foot or so away from the sand. The flimsy push stakes are not strong enough for critical corners. Course maintenance and better course marking are something that can be improved upon in the future in my opinion.

So if racer accidently or purposely alters the course

First off I agree with what both of you said, this was due to riders crashes and was never put back correctly.

So if racer accidently or purposely alters the course does that mean we no longer must follow the intent of the course?

Let's generalize for a moment, don't you believe that it was the intent of the course designer to make the riders go thru the sand? (I'll find it hard to believe it you don't agree). Therefore shouldn't the "right" thing to do is follow the intent of the course event if some barriers/tape come down?

If you don't agree then the first thing I'm going to do on my first lap is to take out the tape on all the dismount barrier sections and then ride around it on the next lap because chances are no one will be putting that back up.

I'm a little sarcastic there but really, we should with our best effort follow the intent of the course builder, so if there is a sand pit or mud pit then ride thru and like wise if there are barriers to dismount.

Mind Readers?

So now we're supposed to be mind readers and "follow the intent of the course builder"? I find that pretty silly; the course is defined as anything between the tape. A large part of success in CX is finding the best line around the course, if that happens to be a 6" strip of grass to the side of a sand pit, so be it. Labeling a rider as "cheating" because of that is pure libel, considering he is actually following the rules!