Preston and Kirkland first to finish the 100 miles
The CB Classic could not have lived up to its name any better. This year, organizer Dave Ochs moved the ride date for the fifth annual CB Classic to late September and as the day approached, the change appeared to be the perfect call. Temperatures were in the 60s midday, the sun was shining bright, the leaves were turning gold and the local single track was firm and tacky. It was looking to be perfect fall riding conditions.
When riders showed up the morning of Saturday, September 27 temperatures hovered in the mid to high 30s and the sun was coming up strong over Cement Mountain. Everything was looking great.
In the end though, Mother Nature reminded the riders of her fickle attitude and when all was said and done, a mere 27 of the original group of solo riders managed to complete the entire 100-mile ride.
Participants were met with thunderheads starting around 2 p.m. that soon opened up on the intrepid field. For some it was a drizzle while heading up Kebler Pass road. For others it was snow on top of 403. For the leaders, it was a full on tsunami on the Dyke Trail.
“It sounded like all hell was breaking loose,” says Ben Preston, who finished the 100 miles first in a time of eight hours, 14 minutes and 17 seconds. “Aspens were cracking and falling all around.”
After a neutral group start to Brush Creek Road RB Bathje and pro rider for Trek/VW Kelly Magelky led the charge for the men on the first of three loops completing the Strand Hill/Deer Creek trail section in a blistering time of two hours, 29 minutes and 40 seconds with five others, including 2007 winner Ethan Passant, coming into the Brick Oven Deck checkpoint in the next ten minutes.
Jari Kirkland and Dawn Passant battled each other through the first loop. Kirkland rode out onto the Deer Creek trail thinking Dawn was in front only to get passed by her on a steep uphill section.
“That was almost better because I knew where she was,” says Kirkland.
Eventually, Kirkland took the lead back and was the lead woman after the first loop coming into the Brick Oven deck checkpoint in a time of three hours, two minutes and 10 seconds with Dawn Passant hot on her rear wheel just three minutes back.
Ethan’s attempt at a repeat soon ended during the second loop as a week of “eating like Elvis at the buffets in Las Vegas” the week prior to the race took its toll and forced him out of the ride.
Bathje held his lead, Magelky pulled out of the race and Preston and Jon Brown were then left dueling for second place.
The women’s battle continued as Dawn caught Kirkland on the infamous Slate D’huez to lead the women’s riders once again and held the lead through 403/401 until the third loop up Kebler to the Dyke Trail, when Kirkland made one last move on the downhill portion of the Dyke trail.
“I passed her three or four miles into the single track and then I just let it go,” says Kirkland. “I knew Dawn was strong so I pushed it really hard to the top of the (Kebler) pass.”
Kirkland held onto her lead to the end to finish her ride in a time of nine hours, 52 minutes and 22 seconds with Dawn a mere six minutes back when she rolled into the Brick Oven deck.
For the men, Preston, Bathje and Brown continued to push each other, in a friendly way, of course.
“It’s a very funny chess match of pain,” says Preston.
Brown took over second place at the top of 403 but Preston recovered to take it back by the time the riders headed up Kebler Pass road with Bathje still in front.
It wasn’t until one of the notoriously brutal climbs out of the Dyke that Preston ultimately caught Bathje.
“I cleaned the Dyke Trail for the first time ever,” says Preston.
Once in front, Preston carried his pace all the way through to the finish, as best he could.
“From the concrete bridge to the top of Kebler was painful,” says Preston. “That’s about the worst I’ve felt. Take the exhaustion and throw in the near hypothermic conditions.”
Preston and Kirkland now will have their names placed on the coveted handcrafted trophy along with the likes of Ethan, Dave Wiens, Laura Anderson, Sarah Fuld and others.
Despite the trophy, Preston says the CB Classic is not really a race. He says whether you do it in eight hours or 13 hours, everyone is riding just as hard.
“If you’re out there doing this, it’s to finish and ride all of the rides,” says Preston.
“They are the best trails you can ride from town,” adds Kirkland. “It was really unbelievable.”
Organizer Dave Ochs, who finished fifth, was stoked on the fifth annual group ride.
“It was absolutely beautiful,” says Ochs. “The second you hit Strand it was yellow brick trail.”
Though he admits the weather turned out to be a double-edged sword.
“You hate it when you’re out there, but it’s 10 times better when you’re done,” says Ochs.
Along with the participants, Ochs says the ride gains a lot of its enthusiasm from the fans and volunteers sitting at the Brick Oven deck cheering the riders through each and every loop. The list includes the likes of Doug Bradbury, Jefferson Lewis, Mike Miller, the gang at the Brick Oven to name just a few.
“You can’t put it on without the community,” says Ochs. “They were there the whole day and that just makes it so good with everybody kind of rallying.”
As for next year’s date for the CB Classic group ride Ochs says,