Road warriors

Cyclists close out Maverick Classic in Palisade

With Mount Garfield and the town of Palisade providing a scenic backdrop, cyclists in the men’s pro 1-2 race tackle the 38 Road hill during Sunday’s Maverick Classic road race.

Collegiate competitors wind their way up the curves on 38 Road southeast of Palisade during the 82-mile men’s A road race. The course for the third and final installment of the Maverick Classic races began in Palisade and continued along the Fruit and Wine Byway through the orchards and vineyards of east Orchard Mesa.

Chains whizzed and gears clanked as bikes banked left off Main Street onto Third Street at the Palisade road race stage of the Maverick Classic on Sunday. As quickly as they came, riders made another turn before zipping out of sight.

The 20.5-mile course featured long sections of track through downtown Palisade. Business people and late breakfast-eaters were situated in the thick of the race, and traffic was diverted from downtown for most of the day.

The road race changed venues from last year and featured two key additions.

Firstly, spectators.

Mavericks coach and Colorado Mesa senior Patric Rostel noted that the new route allowed for spectators, who lined downtown Palisade in small clusters and added to the already immense and community-oriented atmosphere of the weekend-long event.

It also treated more of those spectators to a front-row seat for a very long bike race, opposed to the downtown Grand Junction criterium that took place on a loop measuring just under a mile. 

“The beauty of this course is the balance,” Rostel said. “We have a downtown portion and have spectators, and then we go through beautiful countryside with the orchards out there.”

Secondly, the course added what cyclist Morgan Ryan described as a “nasty” hill. A few miles from the finish line, riders have to climb a nearly mile-long hill that tests endurance.

“I love the course,” Ryan said. “I’ve ridden the course before a couple times since we live here in Junction. I definitely enjoy hills in races. There’s one real big climb here. It’s not very long, but it’s 12 to 14 percent (grade) for most of it. It’s steep.

“After that, there are a couple rollers, but not much else.”

Ryan finished eighth in the men’s A division, which featured four laps.

Rostel followed up his win at the criterium on Saturday with an 11th-place finish in the men’s A division.

Freshman Stacy Norris won the women’s C division, and Natalie Cortez-Lopez finished seventh in the same race. 

Rostel said that the CMU cyclists had a balanced performance across the weekend, and that using multiple, unique locations around the Grand Valley showcased the quality of cycling in the area.

“This year, we got to incorporate the whole valley,” Rostel said. “It was pretty awesome. It was awesome to see the support all the communities in the valley have for the cycling team. It was amazing that we were able to pull off something like this.”

This race was the last tune-up before the Collegiate Road National Championships May 3-5 in Ogden, Utah.


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