Cycling fans packed into Boulder's Valmont Bike Park on Sunday to cheer on the competitors in the Cyclocross National Championships, ringing cowbells, blowing air horns and shouting encouragement as racers ran up stairs, sped over bumps and navigated turns.

"The best riders in the nation are here, it's a gorgeous day and Valmont Bike Park is amazing," said spectator Tim Stanley. "We're ringing cow bells and screaming our lungs out."

Sunday was the last day of the five-day series of down and dirty cyclocross races, with some 1,600 racers from ages 8 to 80 competing. The races were accompanied by a cycling expo, beer garden and food vendors.

Troy Wells, at front, speeds down a hill in front of Stephen Hyde during the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championship Elite Men’s race on Sunday,
Troy Wells, at front, speeds down a hill in front of Stephen Hyde during the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championship Elite Men's race on Sunday, Jan. 12, at the Valmont Bike Park in Boulder. ( Jeremy Papasso )

Sunday offered several high-profile contests, including the afternoon elite races. Katie Compton won the elite women's race, sailing across the finish about 50 seconds ahead of second-place's Elle Anderson, for her 10th U.S. championship win in a row. In the elite men's race, Jeremy Powers took first and Ryan Trebon took second.

"We just got to see the No. 1 in the world," said Boulder's Aaron Brown, a former racer himself, after watching Compton win. "Any time you get to see someone who's first in the world is pretty cool."

With a track that was largely dry, several spectators said they wished for more snow and mud to make for a dirtier race. But racers did have to battle a frigid wind along with each other -- and fans said they liked that they could get so close to the action.


"It's all right in front of you, and you can see it all play out," said Boulder's David Bobka. "It's fun to yell at people."

Longmont's Rachel Couch, who described herself as an avid cyclocross fan, said she loves that there's so much going on in the races.

"There are a lot of local girls out there," she said. "It's great fun to watch them race in the big ones. It's very entertaining."

Longmont's Stacey Gilbert, her husband and her two daughters -- 11-year-old Petra and 14-year-old Edie -- all came to watch the races. Her husband races cyclocross, she said, while her younger daughter was hoping to meet Powers, the men's national champion.

"I love it," Gilbert said. "It's a great event, and we're really fortunate to have it here. Watching the women is so inspiring. They're so strong."

Added Petra, "I like watching them go by really fast."

This was the city's first experience in staging the national cyclocross race. Boulder landed the race as one of three finalist cities that bid on the 2014 championships. Boulder's candidacy was aided by construction of the Valmont Bike Park, located northeast of Valmont and Airport roads, which will be three years old in June.

"There's a lot of work that's gone into the course," said Boulder's David Chapman. "It's great to showcase it. It's a great day and a good event for Boulder."