With cyclocross season fast approaching, one of the challenges for athletes is adding intensity to their training that prepares them for riding all-out for 30 to 60 minutes every weekend this fall. This July and August, Houston’s Bayou City Racing team came up with a way to help: short track mountain biking.
With the addition of short track to the UCI Mountain Bike World Cups, we have seen cyclocross stars shine in the short, intense races. Mathieu van der Poel seems to win every race, Ellen Noble podiumed at U.S. Mountain Bike Nationals and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, Annika Langvad and Jolanda Neff have been regulars on the Women’s podiums.
Based on these results, it probably cannot hurt to try some short track racing, right?
The Houston Short Track MTB Series is a four-week racing series held at Brock Park in northeast Houston. The series kicked off last Saturday and continues each weekend through mid-August. “Our first Saturday night of Bayou City Racing’s Houston Short Track Series was a big hit,” said Bayou City Racing’s David Smith. “We had about 85 attendees across the C, B and A races.”
Smith said the participation brought out riders of all stripes. “In the Houston area, we have a robust season of road, triathlon, mountain, gravel and cyclocross racing so the HSTS attendees come from all of these disciplines of bike racing.”
Short track racing is not new for the Houston area, but this series is the first hosted by the Bayou City Racing team.
“Bayou City Racing is one of the premier cyclocross focused racing teams in Texas so hosting the Short Track Series was a logical opportunity to get folks out on their mountain bikes and ’cross bikes,” Smith said. “While the local ’cross racing season doesn’t start until late in September, the Series provides local racers with an opportunity to dust off their off-road riding skills with this 1.3-mile course.”
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the short track racing series is the venue. Dedicated cyclocross spaces such as ones we have covered in Iowa and Germany always catch our attention because of their potential to provide increased access to the sport.
Brock Park is a former golf course the city closed in 2015 and is in the process of re-purposing as an outdoor adventure park. The city has plans to add up to eight miles of mountain bike singletrack, a semi-permanent cyclocross course, cross country running trails and a canoe launch. For Smith and his team, it was the perfect place to host the new HSTS.
The short track course was 1.3 miles long, which is a little longer than an XCO short track course, but in the end, is anyone really counting? The race organizers still made the most of the venue. “There are several sections of singletrack where bike handling skills are put to the test and much of the course is on the actual golf course fairways,” Smith said. “When is the last time you could legally ride on a golf course?”