Katie Clouse, an 11-year-old cyclocross national champion from Park City, found herself in a heated battle during the first official race of the 2013 season on Thursday afternoon at Dealer Camp at Deer Valley.
Clouse, who is the reigning road cycling national champion for her age group and also finished second in the mountain bike nationals, couldn't shake Sydney Palmer-Leger during the women's 3/4 event.
Palmer-Leger, another Park City resident, bested Clouse in the 11-12 age group at the mountain bike nationals and gave her a good race on Thursday.
But Clouse never lost confidence, even though Palmer-Leger had the lead heading into the last lap.
"I had a lead for the first two laps, but I was starting to blow up," she said. "I started to pace myself and she caught me. So I got behind her so I wouldn't be tired for the finish. I knew I could get away from her on the road because I'm a road racer."
The Deer Valley cyclocross course featured mixed parts road racing and dirt racing, with obstacles in the way forcing riders to dismount and carry their bikes over or around without breaking stride.
Clouse said she thought the course played well to her strengths.
"I liked it," she said. "It was different than a lot of cyclocross races. There's not really a lot of pavement on cyclocross races normally. This was really technical for cyclocross."
The opening day of Dealer Camp featured much more than just a few cyclocross races, though.
Dealer Camp makes for an excellent platform for organizations like PeopleForBikes to spread their messages.
Adam Finck, a member of the West Coast events crew for PeopleForBikes, said Dealer Camp gives the group a great opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and companies.
"Primarily we started as a way to appeal to people in the biking industry," he said. "And this is a great place for that. We also like to show that we are very interested in the support of local bike shops as well as manufacturers like Raleigh."
PeopleForBikes is on a mission to collect one million signatures from people who want to influence policy makers to make roads and trails safer places for bikers.
"We go around the country collecting signatures in support of those types of programs so that we can generate a little more awareness of it in hopes of generating more money for it," he said.
In addition to that goal, PeopleForBikes also works closely with organizations that support biking in communities across the country.
"We're totally nationwide," he said. "We cover the western United States, my wife and I, and there's another crew that covers the eastern United States. All together, the organization has about 40 people total based out of Boulder, Colo. We work pretty closely with Mountain Trails in the form of giving out grants. That's kind of our main purpose we give grants for things like trail support, bike routes to schools and safer routes in general."
Dealer Camp will be open to the public on Saturday, July 27. Go to bikedealercamp.com for a list of all public-day activities.