Bikers take to St. Paul skyways for indoor race

The course included 10 90-degree turns, two flights of stairs and other obstacles.

Alex Robinson

Landscape architect junior Paul Stewart used to joke around with his cycling teammates about setting up an indoor race through the Gopher Way, but that was before he got to race indoors through the St. Paul skyway.

Stewart, who took 13th, and junior English major Andrew Rosch, who took 41st, participated in the Red Bull Ride the Sky Monday night, in which 50 Midwest mountain bikers raced through a one-mile course.

The course went through the skyway starting at the Lowry building and ending at the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul.

Along with 10 90-degree turns, the course also had two flights of stairs, slalom obstacles and a 6-foot-high pyramid structure with a flat top, known as a “fun box.” Rider Andrew Quinn said the course was “sick, nasty, killer, dank.”

But Stewart said that just going out to compete and having fun was more important than how they finished.

“I’m just stoked that I got picked to race, and I got to meet a pretty tight group of people and get a little closer with everyone,” Stewart said.

To race the course, racers had to apply by sending in their biking credentials and writing a paragraph about why they wanted to race.

Rosch was excited to get a chance to represent the University.

“Last year two kids on the U team got third and fourth, and I want to go out and have another good showing on behalf of our team,” he said.

Rosch also said he entered the race because it is so unique. Rosch and Stewart have a combined 13 years of biking experience, but the skyway course was much different than anything they had ever raced before.

“It’s a unique event, and I wouldn’t have an opportunity to do this otherwise, well, at least legally,” Rosch said.

Stewart and Rosch usually race on downhill courses scattered with jumps and obstacles. Stewart said that the main difference in the skyway race was the different floor surfaces, which made tire selection an important aspect of the race.

“It’s all about the tires,” Rosch said. “Even almost as much as it is about the rider.”

Despite the tight turns, obstacles and slippery surfaces, race coordinator Adam Buck said it’s not as dangerous or destructive as it sounds.

“In my opinion, it’s no more dangerous than riding a trail or anything like that,” Buck said.

During the race, one rider suffered a broken collar bone while trying to gap 22 stairs.

“It’s mountain bike racing; you’re going to get some bruises if you wipe out,” Rosch said.

Buck spoke to the riders before the race about safety and said that 12 paramedics were ready to treat injured riders.

The prizes for winning the Red Bull Ride the Sky were eternal bragging rights and a giant medal shaped like a bike gear.

But even the riders that didn’t take first said they really enjoyed themselves.

“I’ve raced in a ton of downhill races and this is by far the coolest race I’ve ever ridden in,” Rosch said.