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The Growler hosts a mix of rising stars and savvy veterans

Beware the youth

by Than Acuff

The Original Growler, the main fundraising event for Gunnison Trails, celebrated its 11th year this past Memorial Day weekend and continues to be one of the top draws for mountain bike racers, both young and old, from in and out of the valley. This year 636 riders lined up over the two days. To put that into perspective, at the original Growler in 2008 started by former Gunnison Trails director Dave Wiens, 106 riders participated.

“Dave’s done a great job building it up,” says current Gunnison Trails director Tim Kugler. “It’s not prize money, prizes or fame that brings them in. I think it’s having a well-marked course on incredible trails with great volunteers. The course sets itself apart from other races with the quality of the trails and the percentage of singletrack to doubletrack is pretty high.”

The race, as it always does, brought out some heavy hitters as well as the everyday rider. And one of the many stories from the weekend includes, of course, the Wiens family.

Gunnison homegrown Cooper Wiens, at the ripe age of 19, outgunned pro riders on Saturday to take the overall half Growler title. He’s definitely got the pedigree with his father, Dave, an internationally known former pro mountain bike racer with six Leadville 100 titles and his mom, Susan DeMattei, an equally decorated former pro rider with a bronze medal from the 1996 Olympic Games and a silver medal from the 1994 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.

The following day, Dave Wiens, after putting on the event for its first 10 years, was able to actually participate this year and followed in his son’s footsteps, taking the top spot in the Full Growler race. Also worth noting, a 15-year-old won Sunday’s half Growler race.

“To have the Wiens win was kind of cool,” says Kugler.

In the end, the race weekend is a fundraiser and Kugler points out that what is special about the Growler is that part of the course is on trails built with money raised from past races.

“It’s out biggest fundraiser and hugely important,” says Kugler. “At the end of the day the money goes to building and maintaining trails.”

The Gunnison Trails crew will be hitting the hills starting Monday, June 4 and trail workdays will continue throughout the summer as they await the final decision on the Signal Peak trail proposal.

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