The Bazaar Road race, held in Bazaar, KS, is notorious for the punishing winds that blow through the Flint Hills region. 30+ mph winds are pretty standard for the April race. Strong storms were forecasted for this year’s event but close to 90 riders still made the trek down to Bazaar for the event.
The north-south course runs on a wide open country road with two turnaround points. Riders head south from the start/finish line and make a 180 degree turn to head back north. The course then takes riders back through the start/finish heading north to the second turnaround before they head back to the finish line for the final sprint to the line.
Inevitably, there is a north or south wind on the course so the racers will ride about half the race into a headwind and the other half with a nice push. In the odd years that the wind isn’t out of the north or south, a wicked crosswind can make for a very tough day on the bike.
The race start was status quo; strong winds out of the south hit the riders in the face from the start. Riders tucked in for the long trek south towards the first turnaround. The temperature was warm, around 75 degrees which was a nice change from some of the cooler weather that has been rolling through the area lately.
However, it didn’t take long before Mother Nature decided to really show the riders just how merciless she can be. As riders approached the turn-around, ready for a break from the headwinds, they were met with a gnarly turn of events. Chris Hudson, of 360 Racing, was in the Masters 40+ race and gave us a first-hand account of what happened next:
The masters 40-50+ race had about 19 riders at the start. We rode really hard, had a pretty good group with a few early surges and a big one before the turnaround. Then all hell broke loose; the winds shifted from the north, a dark cloud overtook us with 35mph winds, hail, rain, lightning and a 20 degree temperature drop.
Jay Hawkins, who ended up winning the Masters race, posted his account of the race on Facebook:
. . . the wind turned a 180 and dropped 30 degrees within 7 seconds. After getting every square inch of skin wet & cold, the breakaway was treated to a spectacular light and surround sound show accompanied with some hail. It would be an understatement to say that it was a total body and mind-blowing experience
He went on to state,
One moment we were approaching 50 mph completely wound-out going down the hill & under the train bridge, the next moment we were blasted with a 35 mph wind [from] the opposite direction and on the flats grinding against cold, rain & hail. That was the strongest headwind I’m sure I will ever experience given the circumstances.
Bazaar is always a memorable race experience. However, riders who had the fortune, or misfortune, to take part in this year’s event will be talking about it for years to come.
Photo: Kurt Brown