What: CU Short Track series
When: Wednesdays starting at 5 p.m. through August 14
Where: Valmont Bike Park
More info: cushorttrack.blogspot.com/
While their mother raced around Valmont Bike Park with the women's "B" category of the CU Short Track series, four-year-old twins Sam and Beckett Cassan decided to take advantage of Wednesday's midday showers and play in the mud.
Sam's shirt, pants, tiny rainboots and face were covered in mud as he jumped in and out of one particularly squishy puddle near the starting line after racing in the kids' division.
"Mud!" his sister Beckett Cassan shouted as her mom Michele Moffat pedaled toward them after her race.
For 13 weeks this summer, Boulder area cyclists can get their post-work fill of racing at the Valmont Bike Park.
For the last 12 years, the University of Colorado club cycling team has hosted the CU Short Track at Research Park on campus. This year, the club team partnered with the City of Boulder to host their fundraising race series at the bike park, which opened in June 2011.
Because CU's cycling team is a club sport, it receives little funding from the school. Rather than burden its members with the full cost of being on the team, the group gathers volunteers for the summer-long series, which costs about $20 per race.
The team's short track officer, rising CU sophomore John Noonan said the goal is to raise $10,000 this summer. He said that sum will go a long way toward funding the team's travel expenses to races -- especially nationals, which often cost more to travel to.
Noonan said he's heard "only good things" about the move to Valmont so far in the series, and said working with the city has been a good partnership.
"You get the vibe that this was what the park was built for," he said.
Points are tallied as the series goes along, and a winner from each category is announced in August -- though that's not really the point. Winning the CU Short Track series is more about bragging rights, pride and having fun, said recent Boulder High graduate Wyatt Svarczkopf.
Svarczkopf went to a few races in recent years at the Research Park, and said riding at Valmont for the series was a fresh change from the norm.
"We have this great resource here, why not use it?" he said.
In early January, the university installed several solar panels at Research Park, which made it difficult for CU to continue hosting the races there, so they began talks with the City of Boulder.
For the city, it was important to host the race without impacting the park's other amenities, like the nearby dog park and the general public's use.
Valmont City Park supervisor for the city Callie Hayden said the short track series is a good fit for Valmont because of its relatively small size and "grassroots" feel.
Jack Tanner, 14, has been riding the short track series for the past two years, and says riding at Valmont is an "upgrade" since it's larger and there are more trails to ride on. He said the series is low-key, but still allows him to race and ride during the week.
"Not many people get this experience of having a nice race that they don't get super stressed about," Tanner said.
Michele Moffat, mother of muddied twins Sam and Beckett, is new to racing, so Wednesday's race was her first mountain bike race ever, she said. She said the mid-week race added some "intensity" to her training without being too serious.
Moffat rode her cyclocross bike, and said the entire family -- mom, dad, twins and their older brother -- will most likely race next week. Her fingers are crossed it doesn't rain next Wednesday before the race.
"It's going to be a naked ride home," she said, laughing while motioning to the mud-covered twins.
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.