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Texas Race Series Kicks Off in Warda

Posted by: Sara Krause |March 28, 2011 6:35 PM

The Balance Bar Texas State Championship series was kicked off on February 27th at Bluff Creek Ranch in Warda, TX.  The racers were greeted with fairly warm temperatures, which rose into the mid-60ís by the start of the Open classes at 11 am.  Warda is a tight, twisty course in which the climbing is left to the very end- short, steep grunt efforts end each 6.5 mile lap.  As usual, the hospitality of the Nolans, who own Bluff Creek Ranch, and the excellent management of Jon Holmes, made this a not-to-be missed event. 

 Lack of recent rains left the course very dry, and after the 700+ pre-rides on Saturday, there were some soft corners and stutter bumps in the turns. Overall, conditions were good, but a bit on the loose side.  The Texas Mountain Bike Race Association was proud to have record numbers of racers in attendance.

This year, TMBRA has changed its womenís cat 1 classes to better reflect the quality and diversity of the racers in this state.  The womenís Open category saw 8 of Texasí best toe the line, this class is racing the same distance as the menís Open category, and boasts some tough competition.  The race was tightly packed, as is usually the case. Alex Robinette (787 Racing) got the hole shot, with Claire McKenna (Hammerhead Racing) and Melanie Etherton (Cycle Progression) in close pursuit.  Rita Borelli (Specialized),  Sara Krause (Bicycle Sport Shop) and Kristi Darby (Bikesport/Ion) made up a 2nd group headed into the singletrack about 30 seconds back.  Krause had a bad wreck early on and was forced to retire.  The race for first, second and third remained at the front with Robinette leading until lap 4 with McKenna and Etherton a close second and third.  McKenna, overtook Robinette and put in a late surge to make her victory decisive, and Etherton lead a late charge that closed her 3rd place down to a mere 40s gap to second.   Borelli remained a solid fourth throughout the race.

The menís Open race saw a similar three-way battle throughout. With 30 racers on the line, it was U23 racer Tristan Uhl (Austin TriCyclist) who set a blistering pace in the early part of the race.  His early pace split the front three riders fairly closely with veteran racer Brian Fawley (Orbea/Cap Carter racing) in the mix with another U23 racer Kevin Fish (Bicycle Sport Shop) .  Fawley attacked early in the four lap race, and Fish responded quickly, bringing the race back into control early on, and leaving it mostly uneventful until the finish.  The decisive moment came when Fish dropped his chain, and Fawley and Uhl attacked.  Fawley, who is a powerful sprinter, was able to put in the final decisive maneuver to win the race with Uhl less than 15 seconds back, and a recovered, late charging fish finishing less than 20s back. 

2011 saw another important change to the TMBRA race categories. TMBRA has also split its singlespeed classes into open and cat 2/3. The Singlespeed open class races the same distance as the geared open, and with 15 fast racers at the line, certainly proved the move by TMBRA justified.  The menís SS open class was won by veteran adventure racer Nathan Winklemann (Bike Lane/Winklemann Asset), with Jeff Campbell (Joeís Pro Bike) in second, and Erik Fleming (Park Place Lexus) finishing in third. 

The 2011 Texas State Championship series promises to be an exciting one as the season opener has racers showing outstanding early speed.  The TMBRA series is one of the best in the nation, and this year might prove that it should be considered THE best with its category changes, and excellent sponsors.  In addition, the Team Challenge Program, which benefits the International Mountain Bike Association, has also started off with a tight finish: team Bicycle Sport Shop has an early lead over the multiple year winner Hill Country Bicycle Works.   

Next up is the STORM Hill Country Challenge in Comfort Texas.

  

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