It was a beautiful spring weekend in the heart of the Wasatch mountains. A weekend that brought riders of all ages and skill levels together to share good company, food, fun, and above all, a passion for their sport. Spunky six-year-olds popped wheelies alongside international athletes and world champs, while friends and families browsed vendor tents and cheered their racers on from the sidelines. With more than 15 different race starts over the course of the weekend, the riding ranged from fierce, fast-paced competition to just plain fun shredding dirt. With such a diverse crowd, only one simple thing brought us all together–our love of bikes.
Ultimately, that is what the Soldier Hollow Pro XCT was always meant to be. It is more than just a race. Riders come for the racing, but they stay for the spirit of the event. Soldier Hollow is a special place. The venue which played home to the Nordic disciplines of the 2002 SLC Olympics, still carries an athletic energy and inspirational atmosphere in the air. From the details on the podium to the signs on the roadway, the race was littered with reminders of those who had gone before. The spectators’ cheers echoed in the hills and came back stronger, fortified by years of Olympic legacy.
World-class and international athletes traveled from all over the country and the world to race the Soldier Hollow Course. Nicola Rohrbach of Switzerland raised the bar for the Elite Men’s races, taking first. “The course was really fun. Really a climber course, but very fast and bumpy.” he said. “The race course and venue is really special. The high altitude . . . is not that easy for us as the racers, but it’s also special for the spectators because they can watch almost the whole course from one point, so that’s really great!”
The UCI Elite Women also put on a good XC show, with a tough battle between Heber City native Evelyn Dong and Canada’s Maghalie Rochette in the last few laps. Rochette, who ultimately took the win, said “I love the venue, it’s super beautiful here. I think the climbs were the hardest part…” here she broke off laughing “wait, no, the first hardest part was Evelyn. She was going super fast, and she was super strong all day, so she made it a really tough and good race . . . . I just stayed calm, and with one lap to go, I gave it all I had. It felt really good and I’m super happy about how it went.”
Even the younger racers found things to love about the course. Summit rider Chloe from Colorado Springs took 4th in Cat 2 15-16. She loved “the climbs and the sweet downhills” and said she was happy with her race. Grayson Hughes, who took 1st in Men’s Cat 1 19-29 said “the climing’s super steep, and it feels really good, but especially some of the man-made technical features like the rock gardens and the drop are just super amazing here!”
Junior riders came from across the country to race Soldier Hollow, including Zaydie Croy who returned for a second time with the rest of her Arizona Devo teammates. Read more about why she loves this race so much!
A free children’s race was a big hit among the little shredders. The kids get to have fun, and the winners get some much-deserved podium time. In them, we see the Olympians of the future. There really is something for everyone at this event, from the youngest of riders to world-class pros, Soldier Hollow challenged and rewarded our racers.
The course is a joy to ride, but also to watch. It rolls over and around wide open hills and grassy meadows, allowing the fans to see the racers every pedal stroke of the way. Every moment of adrenaline-packed pro racing was documented, and every parent could watch and celebrate as their child cleared a tricky obstacle. Mother of a junior Pivot-Competitive Cyclist Team rider, Heather Hemingway-Hales told us how much she loved being able to support her daughter through the whole course. “It was really fun for me to be here and to see Morgan race so hard and so well,” she said. Whether you were out on course, or up in the vendor expo, there was always racing action to be seen.
And the event will only continue to grow. With more races, vendors, sponsors, and lined up, the Soldier Hollow Bike Festival will be back again next year. With your support and the support of so many amazing and passionate people, Summit Bike Club is thrilled to host this event, to bring together cyclists from all walks of life and #growMTB together!