Christian Robertson seals overall title
Two local gravity bike teams have been carrying the Gunnison Valley name throughout the Mountain States Cup series this summer.
For most of the summer the Go Big Gravity team has posted the strongest results, led by the efforts of team coaches and riders Christian Robertson and Kain Leonard.
But at the Snowmass G3 race Saturday and Sunday, August 9-10, the Crested Butte Monkey Posse joined them on the podium, thanks to the riding of Kevin Bates and Matty Robb.
The Snowmass G3 was a three-stage event with a downhill and Super D on Saturday and a second downhill race on Sunday.
Riders were met with a combination of rain and sun on Saturday and a deluge on Sunday, mixing up the conditions throughout the weekend.
Leonard opened the weekend placing third in the downhill and Super D races on Saturday in the men’s pro class.
Saturday night, the rains came in for good, leaving the downhill course a mess for the final stage on Sunday.
Fortunately, when Leonard was in Italy racing earlier this summer, he picked up some conditions-specific tires that got him though Sunday’s stage intact.
“That was wicked muddy,” says Leonard. “But I had some mud-spike tires that I brought back from Europe.”
The tires gave Leonard an edge over most of the riders and he battled to third place on Sunday and finished in second place overall for the weekend.
“I was stoked to get up into second overall to break up all the team Yeti riders on the podium,” says Leonard.
Robertson was unstoppable in the expert class ages 30-39 despite having a nightmarish series of practice runs to start the weekend.
“I crashed five times in practice,” says Robertson.
Fortunately, as his start time approached for the first downhill stage, the sun came out and he found nearly perfect conditions on his run.
“The sun came out and you could just see the track getting faster,” says Robertson. “Two turns into the course you could see that it was good to go.”
Robertson took the opportunity to let it run and he crushed his class to take first place.
He then lined up for the Super D for the first time in his career. While the pro and semi-pro riders started in 15-second intervals, every class below them had to do a mass start that began with a 50-yard run carrying their bikes.
Robertson seized the hole shot during the run portion and never looked back, to take first place as riders collided behind him, trying to catch up.
“I was grateful then for all of the dry-land training I’ve done with the snowboard team,” says Robertson.
Robertson borrowed Leonard’s spiked tires for his final downhill run on Sunday. While the rest of the field floundered down the track on their regular tires, Robertson took full advantage of his equipment.
“I did two practice runs on the mud tires and I was blown away,” says Robertson. “I went through the first two corners and I just started hammering. The right equipment is key. The track was just slimy muck.”
Robertson finished with his third win of the weekend to take first place overall. As a result, Robertson will finish the season as the overall points series champion and now has his sights set on moving up a class for the final race.
“I’m looking at maybe stepping up to semi-pro,” says Robertson.
Go Big Mountain Sports team rider Colin Pickett had an exceptional weekend in the junior sport class as well. Pickett finished in fourth, third and second place to win the overall for the weekend.
“Colin has been stuck in seventh place all season, so that was really cool,” says Robertson.
“It would have put him on the podium even in the Junior X class,” adds Leonard.
The Monkey Posse stepped up to the podium as well, as Rob Way finished in sixth place in the semi-pro class and Kevin Bates took first overall in the expert class, ages 25-29.
Matty Robb had his best weekend of his career, joining Robertson on the podium with a second-place overall finish in the expert class, ages 30-39.
Robb took a brief hiatus from racing the past few weeks but was ready to jump back in at the Snowmass race.
“I was definitely itching to get out there and ride my bike,” says Robb.
With no practice runs on Saturday, Robb threw himself down the track in the first downhill to finish second in a time that rivaled the times of the podium finishers in the semi-pro class.
“I just went out and hit the course hard,” says Robb.
Robb was new to the Super D format as well, but managed to slip through the pack throughout the course to move up from eighth place into another second-place finish.
Without the use of spiked tires in Sunday’s race, Robb was forced to battle the elements.
Despite crashing three times, including once at the end where he literally slid across the finish line on his back, Robb put together a solid run to finish second once again.
“I had never gotten on the podium before and I got up there four times,” says Robb. “It went pretty damn well.”
The Mountain States Cup series for the downhillers closes the weekend of August 29-31 with the Sol Squared, another G3-style stage race.