The Fountain Business Park in Moscow, Idaho, hosted an event last weekend that at the very least can be termed unique – but it also captured the quintessential spirit of grassroots American cyclocross. The business park consists of a dozen or so light industrial companies on the front end of the property – but behind it stretches 80 acres, split down the middle by a gravel runway, with a 2.3-mile cyclocross course winding through it.
If you don’t know about the Fountain brothers yet, you should. J.T. and Louie are two of the nation’s top singlespeeders, and they’re competitive in most Elite fields while aboard their one-geared rigs. They’re relative newcomers to the world of cyclocross – in fact it was their work on the super cool Bikecar documentary, in which they pedal-power a four-seater around the Northwest to snowboard at various resorts, that kindled their interest in riding much lighter, single-rider bikes a whole lot faster.
Once a year the duo, with the help of family and friends, puts on a ’cross race that’s not to be missed. Louie’s brother-in-law – a competitive, and champion, griller – mans a mammoth grill and smoker, serving food to the masses; airplanes are strategically stationed around the course; and one ultra-lightweight retro flying machine buzzes slowly back and forth overhead during the Elite races.
Dubbed Sky Ranch, the property has served as the base of operations for the Fountain’s crop dusting business since shortly after WWII – thus the runway. But as the need for those flights dies down in August, the full ’cross course becomes available. A midweek local training race takes place in the early season, culminating with the USA Cycling-sanctioned Sky Ranch Cyclocross event. The 2011 race also served as the third event in the Inland Northwest Cyclocross series (INWCX).
In this year’s edition, J.T. pedaled his one magic gear to an impressive, commanding win in front of the (very) home town crowd, and his brother Louie, despite working more than full time at his new construction job and not riding these days other than in races, was able to score third. Jayne McLaughlin (Zuster Cycling) scored the win in the Elite women’s race, riding solo and passing the majority of the Men’s Cat 4 field that started in front of her. McLaughlin’s teammate Natalie Koncz took second ahead of Rheanne Garrett.
The semi-permanent cyclocross course is truly something to behold, and not what you’d expect from a “backyard venue.” This year featured a new, wide, eight-step staircase and a level of professionalism – including course tape lining the majority of the course – that overshadows many significantly bigger events
We’ll be profiling the Fountain brothers, the Sky Ranch race, the course and the entire experience in Issue 15 of Cyclocross Magazine. Stay tuned for that, but in the meantime check some of the photos below, as well as a video by Cy Whitling.