Several Xterra pros and amateurs are out riding the trails at Cameron Park in preparation for Sunday’s Xterra South Central Championship race in Waco, Texas.
What they’ve discovered is an entire community of friendly and helpful locals, some amazing forested single track trails that go up and down, and up and down, and spring flowers in full bloom in the middle of May.
“I was surprised to see how hard it is,” said Renata Bucher from Switzerland, who has already won races in Portugal and Saipan this year. “They aren’t long climbs but it’s constantly hard, like a long dance where you just have to move all the time.”
Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz remarked about how racers best make sure that their granny gears are in good working condition, saying there were some 20 climbs where he was in the granny gear while pre-riding today.
“It’s very different from anything we’ve done before,” said Stoltz. “It’s only my second time in Texas so for me it’s a cultural experience at the same time, and I’m looking forward to enjoying the barbeque. My dad is a cattle rancher in South Africa so I’m eager to compare the barbeque down here.”
For Shonny Vanlandingham, who grew less than a few hours away in Arlington, racing here in Texas gives her the opportunity to brag about some of great riding that can be found in her home state.
“This park is great. I feel like it’s one of the best parks in Texas and not a lot of people know about it. You think of Waco and you think of Baylor University, but this park has so many great activities from water sports to hiking, and trail running. And the community has been great and really embrace the racers.”
Indeed, from homestays for the visiting pros to the Waco Bicycle Club president Scott Prauge building a 50-foot bridge so a special section of the course could get ridden, the locals have gone all out. Ian Moore from Bicycles Outback and his crew pre-marked the course two weeks ago and have arranged for aid stations in the forest to bring some serious energy (And music) to the race atmosphere. Kim Jennings, a park ranger at Cameron and a very fast amateur Xterra racer herself (she qualified for Maui in Vegas) has connected everyone from the city to the trails in a united effort to welcome Xterra.
“The locals have really done an amazing job getting this park and the trails and all the details fine tuned so we could make a big splash here in our first year,” said Dave Nicholas.
Race preview provided by Xterra.