Wildflower Rush provides stellar action packed weekend

“It was just a bomber event”

It was a Bonnaroo bike festival at Crested Butte Mountain this past weekend, as nearly 750 two-wheeled gravity junkies and endurance riders came to Crested Butte to partake in the fourth stop of the Mountain States Cup series bike races, the Wildflower Rush.
Cross-country racers were treated to a seven-mile loop of stellar single track, including a new section of trail on Crested Butte Mountain, while mountain-cross racers battled it out on a brand new track and the gravity gang were treated to a new downhill course that rated five out of 10 on the fear factor, but a 10 out of 10 on the fun factor.
“I think people were just pumped in general,” says Crested Butte Mountain sports director Drew Cesati. “It was just a bomber event.”
In addition, with all of the new trail work in place, events ran concurrently with each course for the four events, all finishing adjacent to each other. The lay-out was the best it’s been in the nine years of the event.
“The event was a huge success compared to previous years,” says Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) gravity coach and professional downhiller Kain Leonard. “It was really a welcome change and the goal from here on out is to move forward.”

Shimano XTR Cross-country
Cross-country racers dominated the mountain the first half day of the opening Wildflower Rush weekend Saturday, June 20, with four categories of adult men and women competing, as well as several junior riders. Racers early in the day were treated to overcast skies as the weather held out until the start of the pro race, soaking the elite corps as they worked their way through three laps.
By the third lap, professional riders were left carrying their mud-caked bikes on uphills and sliding sideways on the downhills, doing everything they could to stay over their bottom brackets.
Brick Oven/Crested Butte Builders (BO/CBB) rider Travis Scheefer worked his way into third place by the start of the third lap, but the mud soon rendered Scheefer’s bike useless as his rear derailleur disintegrated. That left Gunnison resident Brian Riepe to carry the local torch in the pro men’s race as he battled the elements and field to take 10th place.
BO/CBB rider Laura Anderson had the top local finish among the pro women, taking fourth place.
Jari Kirkland took second place in CAT 1 women ages 30-39 posting a time that would have given her second place among the pro women.

Fox Racing Shox Mountain Cross

The mountain-cross pro race started almost immediately following the end of the pro cross-country race, allowing fans to gather along the course to catch the shoulder-to-shoulder action.
Sitting at the start of the four-cross course was like sitting in the midst of a Technicolor stokefest as riders gathered for their start. Nerves were relatively calm back in the pack but once they stood in the starting gate, you could see the adrenaline pumping through the riders from head to toe, with arms and legs shaking as they awaited the drop of the gate.
While rain prior to the start of the pro race slicked up the course a bit, the sun broke out as they gathered at the top adding some limited, but still useful, tack to the course.
Four riders dropped out of the gate at once and immediately into a booter that landed into a sharp left-hand-banked turn eight feet high.
Once out of there, riders shifted their weight to rally through a right-hand-banked turn, riding the fine line between G-forces and mud to stay on their bikes.
Most riders were forced to shut down their speed through a greasy S-turn before opening up for the final straightaway that combined a double hit and then a triple hit through to the finish line.
Some riders rode wheelies though the double and triple hit section keeping their rear tires glued to the track, while others aired it out over both to the finish.

Maverick Super D
The Super D is a mix of both gravity and endurance as riders start Le Mans-style running 50 yards uphill in full bike gear before getting on their bikes to bomb down a course that combined elements of downhill track, cross-country single track and wide-open fire road.
Rob Dickinson of Crested Butte placed fourth in the men’s open category, while Allison Yeary won women’s age 19+ class.

Wildflower Rush Downhill
Ahhh, the downhill. Big boys and girls on big bikes cranking the big ring. The Crested Butte venue suffered years of scorn from the Mountain States Cup series riders as well as local competitors for a downhill course that actually went uphill in some sections.
But not this year.
The crews at Crested Butte Mountain Resort pulled out all the stops to provide a course from the top of the Red Lady Express lift to the base area that combined wide-open high-speed areas, a 10-foot rock drop, several sizeable jumps and handlebar-width tree sections before finishing with the classic crowd-pleasing monster air at the top of warming house hill.
“Once we got the mini-excavator in there we were able to build it right,” says Cesati.
“You had to be fit to ride that track fast and you had to be a skilled rider to ride that track fast,” says Leonard. “The faster you rode it, the harder the track got.”
Word of the new course spread through the cup series ranks, and in the end 408 competitors showed up for the downhill alone, up from 250 last year.
“It was a hot topic and everyone was really hoping for something new,” adds Leonard.
Rain on Saturday made for slick conditions during Sunday morning practice runs but when the sun came out, the course tightened up quick.
“By the afternoon it was just lightening fast,” says Leonard.
After taking third place a month ago in Angel Fire, N.M., Leonard didn’t have the juice necessary here to finish top-five, taking 11th place in the end among pro men.
“I just didn’t have that extra zip I needed,” says Leonard.
Downhiller Ryan Sutton had the top pro men finish locally, taking eighth place.
Stephanie Leonard led the CBMST charge, taking fourth place among the pro women, and CBMST coach Christian Robertson took sixth place in the CAT 1 class ages 30-39.
And with a race in their backyard, the Crested Butte Monkey Posse was in full effect, with six riders competing in the downhill.
Matty Robb laid down the fastest time amongst the Posse to take 13th place in CAT 1 ages 30-39.
Cesati hopes to see the success of this year’s event grow into something bigger and better next summer.
“It’s a springboard for us to develop the bike program further,” says Cesati.
“Overall, it went off as well as it could have,” adds Leonard. “But, we’re not done yet. That was just the first step. Hopefully, the momentum starts building from here.”
The courses will remain open to the public all summer for anyone looking to work on their mountain-cross, downhill and cross-country skills.
For complete results from the entire weekend click here .

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