Open bike race season with podium finishes
Just as many local runners “kicked off” their trail-racing season in Buena Vista two weeks ago, local bike racing enthusiasts opened their season at the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde on Saturday, May 11.
The 12 Hours of Mesa Verde follows a 16-mile tour of an area called Phil’s World. The loop is almost entirely single track and mixes in high-speed stretches and technical sections. Teams and solo riders have 12 hours to fire off as many laps as possible from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
The athletes were treated to near perfect conditions barring a brief hailstorm.
“It was crazy tacky,” says Team Griggs Orthopedics (Team GO) rider/directeur sportif Dave Ochs. “Totally awesome.”
In true Gunnison Valley fashion, the local riders were in the mix in all divisions, winning a couple of titles as well as numerous top-three finishes. [Team GO led the charge with a contingent 18 strong, with Team Brick Oven (Team BO) battling it out as well.]“Damn strong showing,” says Ochs. “It seemed like every two minutes the announcer would say, ‘Here comes another rider from Crested Butte.’”
Jari Kirkland of Team GO maintained her domination of women’s solo endurance racing. Kirkland dusted her competition as the only solo woman to complete eight laps for a total of 128 miles en route to the title.
Stew Gross was in the mix among the solo men, taking the entire 12 hours to make his way through the ranks and finishing the day in second place, finishing with eight laps just 12 minutes out of first place.
Team GO women Amy Biesel and Janae Pritchett joined forces to take the women’s duo race title. They set their sights on unchartered territory for women and looked to finish nine laps but fell just shy of their goal, riding eight laps but taking the title with time to spare.
“No women’s team had ever ridden nine laps and they were closest,” says Ochs.
They were accompanied on the podium by teammates Sydney Dickinson and Amy Nolan, who took just a bit longer to finish off eight laps to come in third.
The men’s duo category was stacked with heavy hitters from the pro racing ranks, all of whom took the top-three spots, but the local iron legs had their day in the sun as well. Team GO duo Zach Guy and Evan Ross finished in fourth with Team BO riders Ben Preston and Dan Loftus close behind in fifth place.
Local riders teamed up for solid results in the team category as well, riding in three/four-person class.
Team GO sponsor Dr. Rhett Griggs joined forces with Bryan Dillon, Ochs and Ethan Passant to take third place in the men’s category with nine laps.
“RG threw down some hard laps out there,” says Ochs.
Team GO and Team BO had a battle going on for fourth place in the same category. Team BO put three riders together—Aaron Huckstep, Jafar Tabain and Dodson Harper—hanging strong against Team GO four-rider crew of Troy Hiatt, Jon Brown, Kevin Van Treek and Torrey Carroll. A blistering lap by Huckstep moved Team BO into fourth place before Brown dropped the hammer for Team GO to take it back for good. Both teams finished with nine laps each.
Team GO, Team BO and a host of other mountain bikers will now turn their collective attention to the Growler at Hartman Rocks Memorial Day weekend.