“It felt really good to win the hometown race”
by Than Acuff
The amount of riding, climbing and walking is staggering. The Big Mountain Enduro series made its annual stop in Crested Butte this past weekend and after 10,000 feet of total climbing and 45 miles of riding, a handful of locals finished the weekend on or near the podium. They were led by Trek/Bontrager/Shimano rider and CB Devo coach Cooper Ott, who won three of the four stages to take the overall women’s pro class win. Bart Stuchlik, you may know him from wrenching on your bike at the Alpineer, finished the weekend on the podium in fifth place among the pro men riders and Dakoda Tagg of Gunnison won the men’s expert open class with Evan Ross right behind him in second place.
The local young guns charged their way up, down and all around too, as the CB Devo and Team gO athletes proved strong. Dylan Alagna finished the weekend in 10th place in the u21 age class with Robby Oberling placing 18th while Gus Bullock took second place in the 10–16 age class and Asher Weinberg finished in ninth place.
Year in and year out Ott has been finishing on the podium at numerous enduro races, winning a few, but had yet to step on top of the podium at the Big Mountain Enduro stop on Crested Butte. This year she put the hammer down looking for her first win at home.
“I just went as hard as I could for all of the stages,” says Ott. “It was fun but it was hard.”
The riders don’t find out where they are in the standings until the end of each day and after her first ride on day one, Ott admits she was less than psyched. But she turned it around on the second stage of the day to close out the first day of racing on top.
“After the Cement Mountain/Rosebud stage, I was a little disappointed with how I rode by feel,” says Ott. “I went really hard on the Doctor’s Park stage and it went really well.”
Sitting in the top spot, Ott continued to push hard into Sunday. She ended up winning the first stage on the second day, which included Reno Ridge and Deadman’s, and then closed out the weekend with a fourth-place finish on the final stage down Double Top and the Warm Springs trail to seal the overall weekend title.
“I was pretty excited to keep the air in my tires and stay upright,” says Ott. “It felt really good to win the hometown race.”
Stuchlik has been on the scene less often than Ott and the races over the weekend were just his fifth ever. This year he decided to jump into the enduro racing scene a little more and after a disappointing 30th-place finish earlier in the season in Santa Fe, he was looking for a far better result at home.
“I figured if I got top 15 or top 10, I’d be stoked,” says Stuchlik.
He closed out day one sitting in third place with the top two riders a little ways ahead and a host of other riders hot on his rear wheel.
“I didn’t think I was going to do that well,” admits Stuchlik.
He looked to either make a move up into the top spot or hold onto third place but day two didn’t go as well as he hoped.
“I knew I had to pedal hard, I guess I didn’t pedal hard enough,” says Stuchlik. “Flying off the trail didn’t help either.”
Yet he was still fast enough to enjoy the best part of the podium ceremony at the end of the weekend.
“I got to spray the bubbly and get sprayed,” says Stuchlik. “I’m stoked with how I rode and I think it went well. I’m most stoked with how many people I made connections with and it was cool to ride with the pros, some of whom get paid to do it. It was humbling.”
Ott will be headed to Keystone for the next stop of the series on July 7 with an overall series title well within reach. Stuchlik is going to skip Keystone but may make his way to Aspen August 4-5 for another race later in the season, with his latest result rekindling the fire.
“I’m going to shoot for Aspen,” says Stuchlik. “I was thinking this may be my last one but it definitely gave me more motivation to keep at it.”
Ott was excited to see that the kids she coaches had a successful weekend as well.
“Just finishing the race is an accomplishment for them and they should be really proud of how they raced,” says Ott.