MTB Thursday - No Cyclocross bikes at this years Winter Park Hill Climb

Kris finishing up to victory on Winter Park HC years ago
Photo Credit: Mountain Moon Photography

Winds of change are coming to the Winter Park Hill Climb this year as any bike besides a mountain bike is being strongly discouraged according to their marketing email. As a former winner of the Winter Park Hill Climb myself while using a cross bike I feel this is a good public statement for them to make to clear up any ambiguity of what bike to use however I'd rather prefer to see them alter the course to make cx bikes at a disadvantage then to simply request for no CX bikes - think of it as a more Darwin approach to the solution than a marketing one.

From Marketing Email from Epic Series

"The Epic Hill Climb is in just a few weeks. Please note that this series is a MOUNTAIN BIKE race series, so let's have people racing on mountain bikes: Leave the road, the hybrid, the cross bike, the unicycle at home, and race the hill climb on your mountain bike. We are not the bike police but you guys know the difference. If it's advertised as, sold as, and called a mountain bike, it probably is one. Please bring the mountain bike!"

For me the Winter Park HC starts my season for Cyclocross training and that course is perfect for a cx bike but a lot of negative energy is focused on cross bike riders for that course as this race series is one for Mountain Bike riders. My win didn't matter much in the end for the series as I rarely did all the races and the others I did I got my ass kicked.

But with no course correction than why not let the best bike be used? Kind of saying no TT bikes can be used in a stage race. I imagine you will see some very stripped down hard-tails this year but at least they will be mountain bikes. Either way, hopefully this request from the promoter will clarify and bike issue and even the field for others as cross bike riders have a advantage because it is the perfect bike for the event.

Photo Credit Mountain Moon Photography

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What is the diff?

What is the diff?

Cross to MTB 29er. Bars and tire width and suspension if you have it.

They should just say flat bars and the bike has to weight 20+ lbs.

Flat bars make no difference. It's a HC. Bar ends or shifter hoods is all the same.

Seems like a marketing blunder.

After reading these comments I wonder if anything will change

Sure their might not be any standard looking CX bikes there but I imagine a few will franken-bike their CX bikes to be more MTB like or strip their MTB to be almost CX like. Seems like a silly semantic game now. Just modify the course slightly. Rarely saw CX bikes at CU short track in the later years as the course solved that problem... yet Valmont courses are now much friendlier.

Thanks Kris. I agree that it

Thanks Kris. I agree that it is good that the race organizers have attempted to clear up any ambiguity surrounding this race. And while I would prefer that the course be something more exciting than a jeep road to nowhere, I don’t think it makes sense to alter this course just for the purpose of weeding out the CX bikes. The series is specifically a mountain bike race series, and as such, the goal is to get from start to finish as quickly as possible on a mountain bike, even if using another type of bike would give you a distinct advantage for the given course.

Despite the fact that the hill climb is all jeep road, and not nearly as much fun as the rest of the races in the series, I still enjoy the hill climb for the challenge of competing against others in my age category to see which one of us can be the fastest from bottom to top on a mountain bike. Could I do it faster on a CX bike? Possibly. But I don’t think that’s the point.

I think that the organizers of this race series have done a great job over the last several years of putting out a great product, and doing what is in the best interest of those who race the series. In this case, I think they were trying to level the playing field in a way that didn’t come off as heavy-handed at all. There was no talk of measuring tire widths, bike weights, bar configurations, etc. They just put the onus on the individual racers themselves to do the right thing with respect to their request.

Perhaps a solution here would be to allow other types of bikes for the hill climb, but have a separate division, as they already do for single-speeds. That way, you could compete against others riding similar bikes, while those of us riding mountain bikes could feel that we have more of a fighting chance ... :-)

I agree 99%

I agree with nearly every thing you say and I would even go farther (and on a limb) to say I like the jeep road. The organizers do a fine job of running the events and the courses are great. But why say this,

" I don’t think it makes sense to alter this course just for the purpose of weeding out the CX bikes."

Why not? Problem solved it it was done right?


Silly nonsense. If you want people to use their mountain bike, you could put a mountain bike trail somewhere on the course. They have more than one option for adding a bit of single track.

There are certainly plenty of

There are certainly plenty of single track options, but adding single track would cause the race to back up as the faster riders in one age group come up on the slower riders in the previous age group. Unlike other races, where there is a premium put on bike handling skills and racing strategy as well as fitness, this race seems to be more of a pure test of mountain bike climbing ability. If the idea is to find out who is the strongest climber on a mountain bike, then it has to be on terrain that facilitates passing at all times.