Pro Tips: Red Rock Rampage
March 25, 2017
March 25, 2017
On March 25th, the Intermountain Cup Racing Series (I-Cup) will make its first stop of the 2017 season in St. George, UT, for the Red Rock Rampage XC Race. Held at the Green Valley trail area, the Red Rock Rampage has become a classic early season XC race that offers a challenging loop taking in some of the iconic terrain that southern UT riding is know for, from steep-walled washes to ledge-strewn fast singletrack. Here, for those of you who might be unfamiliar with it, we’ll break down some of the key aspects of the course along with some tips to have a successful outing at the first series race of the year.
The Red Rock Rampage course utilizes parts of the Green Valley Loop Trail, mixing in other trail segments to create an approximately seven-mile loop with roughly 1,000 feet of climbing per lap. The race starts on wide open and fast doubletrack which has some short, punchy, climbs that allow for initial sorting to occur in the pack. This first section lasts for just over one mile before the race reaches the first crucial pinch-point of the course, “Key Hole Wash.” This sector comes after a brief downhill on the doubletrack transitions into singletrack followed by a sharp left-hand 180-degree downhill turn into the steep sided wash. Positioning going into this section can be pretty crucial since the 180-degree turn is loose and someone often slides out here, but also because once in the wash there is virtually no room to pass for the next two-tenths of a mile and gaps can open pretty quickly. The wash has some abrupt ledge step-ups that, while not overly technical, can lead to some flat tires when you negotiate them poorly after being gassed from sprinting off the start line for the first mile of the race. This is a great section to pre-ride at the very least (best to ride the whole course if you can) so that you don’t have any surprises in the start of your race.
After the Key Hole Wash, the race begins its first of two stair step climbs. This first one is roughly one mile long and transitions between singletrack and doubletrack sections. There are a few places to accelerate and pass people as needed, so if you made it through the wash in a less than ideal position, don’t panic. This is also a good time to remember to drink something, especially on the first lap since this is likely the first opportunity you will have had since the start. It can be pretty hot at this race, so remember to stay hydrated and if you’re doing multiple laps, to have a feeding plan in place to allow you to perform at your best.
Following the crest of the first climb at 3,100ft you have a fast, mostly doubletrack descent before turning once again uphill for the course’s second main climb which is approximately 8-tenths of a mile. The good news about all this climbing is that from the crest of the second high point of the race, it’s a mainly downhill run back to the start / finish on some awesome, serpentine and rock-strewn trail. The descent is also just long enough to allow someone with good descending skills the ability to minimize time gaps the climbers might have gotten on the way up. This is also a good time to point out that the trails in this part of UT can be pretty rough on tires. The sections of the course that are fast, especially on the descents, allow you to build up quite a head of speed at times, but the ledgy and sharp edged rocks you roll into with that speed can puncture or slice a tire if you’re not careful. Make sure to have fresh tires and a good dose of sealant in before race-day since there are few things more frustrating than seeing a good race result disappear with the hissing sound of a flat.
After the final singletrack section of the course, there is a short window of wider trail to make any final moves if you’re coming into the finish with someone. After that it’s one sandy u-turn and a quick right-left combo that swings you back into the finishing straight where it’s either time for another lap or to sprint it out for the finish! The feed zone is typically located just after the finish line on a nice straight stretch on the course, so if you’ll have someone handing you bottles each lap, it’s easy to grab them and get a quick drink. Overall, the Red Rock Rampage course is a really well balanced XC track that requires equal measures of fitness and skills to do well, and is a great early spring testing ground for how your race legs have fared through the winter.
Best of luck, hope you all have great races.