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How the Pikes Peak Apex MTB stage race operated amid COVID-19 – VeloNews.com

How the Pikes Peak Apex MTB stage race operated amid COVID-19 – VeloNews.com 2020-10-01Leave a comment

electrical bike How the Pikes Peak Apex MTB stage race operated amid COVID-19 – VeloNews.com

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COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO (VN) — Morning daylight illuminated the crimson rock formations in Colorado’s Backyard of the Gods state park. To the west, the 14,115-foot-tall Pikes Peak dominated the panorama. The highway adjoining to the Backyard of the Gods Buying and selling Publish was lined with orange steel fencing, a begin line banner, and a timing truck.

Mountain bike racers convened amongst themselves, double-checking tire strain and warming up their nervous legs.  It’s was a well-known scene for a motorcycle racer — apart from just a few dramatically completely different exceptions.

As riders approached the beginning gate, two race officers pointed in direction of a tent. “COVID testing, COVID testing,” they barked. Racers needed to reply a questionnaire about COVID-19 signs and have their temperature taken. In the event that they handed, they acquired a sticker for his or her quantity plate. With no sticker, they weren’t allowed to race.

This was how the Pikes Peak Apex managed a mass-participant bicycle race amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The four-day race was held this previous week, September 24-27 in Colorado Springs, and it was one of many first mass-participant biking races to be held in america because the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most occasions again in March. For the inaugural version, 161 riders participated, including a strong lineup of pro riders.

Earlier than coming into the beginning corral riders needed to cross a temperature examine Picture: James Stokoe

Organizers developed the protection measures earlier this yr because the COVID-19 pandemic shut down occasions throughout the nation. Massive scale gatherings are a key perpetrator for spreading COVID-19, which has led to the cancellation of marque occasions just like the Epic Rides sequence and USA Biking’s Mountain Bike Nationwide Championships. An important element of working a motorcycle race throughout a historic, lethal pandemic could be limiting the unfold of COVID-19 between members, in addition to making certain the protection of the encircling neighborhood.

“It was at all times our purpose to make a motorcycle race that was as protected as going and selecting up groceries on the grocery retailer,” mentioned Micah Rice, govt director of the race. If we might make a motorcycle race as protected as one thing as widespread as that we felt we might meet the brink of one thing we might be ok with placing on.”

To perform this, the race hired Dr. Michael Roshon, USA Biking’s chief medical officer, to create a security plan. Phases would now not start in downtown, however quite on the outskirts of city, nearer to the path. Spectators could be discouraged from congregating initially and end areas. There could be no beer gardens, live shows, or handshaking on the rostrum.

The principle impression on the race format itself could be the design of the beginning. As an alternative of a mass begin with lots of of individuals packed collectively, racers would roll out in waves of 25 decided by their end result from the stage 1 time trial, with age classes intermixed.

Whereas many races have been known as off this yr, Rice mentioned that transparency and communication between the race, native authorities, and the racers are what allowed the Apex to ahead. Within the lead as much as the occasion, organizers disseminated security data and guidelines on their web site and social media channels. In addition they provided registered racers a refund or likelihood to defer to subsequent yr’s occasion, if performed by a selected date.

The query main into the race was might organizers stroll the stroll. The occasion is among the solely stage races—highway or mountain—to happen this yr in america. It has attracted massive names like 2016 Olympian Chloe Woodruff and 2019 marathon nationwide champion Russell Finsterwald. Would racers present up? And extra importantly, would they really feel protected?

The race drew a number of native members, however folks flew in from so far as the East Coast. In line with the stage 1 outcomes sheet, 200 racers began the time trial. Participant numbers fluctuated from stage to stage as a result of organizers allowed racers to enroll to race only one stage as a substitute of all 4. Nevertheless, 161 whole racers accomplished the total 4 levels.

Native bike store worker and racer Ty Wehring was excited to have the ability to assist and take part in an area occasion, regardless of the ever-present threat of coronavirus. “I’m prepared to take the chance as a result of I’m attending to do what I like, the place I like to do it,” he mentioned, including that the chance degree felt “very, very low.”

This sentiment was widespread amongst all ranges of racers on the occasion, from junior, to masters, to skilled. There are at all times dangers related to bike racing, like crashing and breaking a bone, however there are additionally issues that assist mitigate threat. Racers cited widespread mask-wearing, social distancing, and clear tips from the race organizers as causes they felt comparatively protected on the occasion

“I attempt to be sensible in regards to the selections I make and be actually cautious, however by the identical token I’m comfortable to be right here,” mentioned Woodruff, who claimed victory within the girls’s race.

Riders stored their distances on the feed stations, the place volunteers wore masks and gloves. Picture: James Stokoe

On the venues, racers have been required to put on masks always, until they have been racing. Firstly line, a USA Biking official instructed the racers that they might take off their masks a few minute earlier than the gun goes off. Within the waves of 25, racers stored a respectful distance away from one another, as a substitute of packing themselves bar finish to bar finish. Then, they rolled off at an informal tempo, anticipating the numerous climbs that started every stage.

Robbie Day, a u23 racer who positioned second general within the males’s subject, famous that the wave system labored nicely, and it didn’t have a big impact on the racing. “It feels just about like regular bike races, he mentioned. “It’s perhaps a little bit bit spaced out. Perhaps you might have a little bit bit much less folks attacking actually early.”

Out heading in the right direction, there have been assist stations out there for racers. They featured hand sanitizing stations, and volunteers used masks and gloves handy out packaged single-servings of meals and drinks.

For levels 2-4, the end line was situated away from the beginning line. Racers had a 15-Half-hour downhill coast again to the beginning space. This made for a ghost city really feel for the beginning and parking areas with races coming again at their very own tempo, however it allowed for loads of bodily distancing and crowd management.

Every day, there was a one-person podium ceremony for the general girls’s and males’s leaders, with restricted spectators. After stage 4, there was a podium ceremony for the highest three general winners and prime three general winners from every age class.

By the top of the weekend, Finsterwald, a Colorado Springs native, prolonged his result in virtually 10 minutes. And Woodruff gained by over 4 minutes.

Mass participation occasions are a hotbed for American bike racing—take a look at the recognition of gravel, the Epic Rides series, or the NICA leagues as proof. Within the coming months, how occasions are in a position to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic will likely be important for the continued development of the game.

Pikes Peak Apex might serve for instance for different race promoters. They pulled off a race, racers attended, they usually felt protected. Threat tolerance is the modus operandi in pandemic-struck America. How a lot riskier is attending a motorcycle race versus going to a restaurant? Every particular person racer should make that decision.

For a lot of racers, the vibe on the race venues was an pleasure to get again to racing and see the prolonged race household, even when it was behind masked faces.

“If you wish to race and present up, by all means, the chance’s right here,” mentioned Rose Grant, who completed third within the girls’s race. “I’m grateful to be right here.”

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