Zach Guy and Dustin Simoens win summer traverse titles

The bar has already been set so high in just the first year of the GORE TEX Grand Traverse Mountain Run and Bike race, aka the summer GT. Team Griggs Orthopedics rider Zach Guy laid down the fastest time on a bike finishing in three hours, 50 minutes and 30 seconds while Dustin Simoens scorched the course on his feet running from Crested Butte to Aspen in six hours, 12 minutes and 48 seconds.
“Both the bike and run times beat our expectations,” says race co-director Bryan Wickenhauser.
Jennifer Smith won the women’s bike title crushing the field with a time of five hours and one minute while Hannah Green won the women’s running race in seven hours, 52 minutes and 54 seconds. And then there’s 13-year old Tanner Perkins who rode his bike to a 22nd place finish with a time of seven hours, 26 minutes and 48 seconds.
The summer GT follows nearly the same course as the winter Grand Traverse race starting in Crested Butte and finishing 40 miles later in Aspen.
Guy, who spends October to June on his skis, has been flirting with the elite level of endurance mountain bike racing all summer. He started with a self-inflicted crushing in the Fat Tire 40 back in June. Having just 10 rides under his belt, Guy admittedly suffered in the Fat Tire 40 and returned for more pain on July 4 at the Firecracker 50 in Breckenridge.
“June and July I’m still figuring out how to ride my bike,” says Guy.
Then he lined up for the CB Classic, a 100-mile beat down and managed to rally through more pain to a second place finish.
“That was good but it definitely hurt,” says Guy.
After a break from the racing scene, Guy jumped back on the saddle to ride to a fifth place finish in the Power of Four rekindling his mountain bike racing fire.
“I started feeling good and got my motivation back,” says Guy.
From there he rolled to a 15th place finish in the Leadville 100 and one week later lined up for the summer GT bike race.
“I wasn’t sure I would be able to hang in but as soon as I went out, I felt good,” says Guy.
So much so that as he soon found himself riding wheel to wheel with heavily decorated local bike racer Brian Smith as they turned onto Brush Creek Road from the Upper Upper Loop.
“I was able to stay with Brian and I never do that,” says Guy.
The two traded off turns in the lead until a mile from Star Pass on trail 400 when Guy gained a little advantage.
“The last mile up to Star Pass was slippery and I was running knobbier tires and I guess I was able to build a little gap,” says Guy. “I just put my head down and went.”
At the top of Star Pass, Guy stuffed in a mouthful of energy bar and bombed down the backside before turning up to Taylor Pass. He continued to push the pace figuring Smith was well within striking distance.
Once on Richmond Ridge, Guy took a look back and couldn’t see Smith and once in the trees, he just kept pressing and waiting for Smith to come cruising up.
“The whole race I figured he was going to catch me so I kept hammering, yellow jersey fever,” says Guy. “Almost every race I’ve done I’ve never been in front. It’s stressful but at the same time it’s motivating.”
Guy held his lead the rest of the way to take the title, get the giant cowbell trophy, a GORE TEX jacket and then get kicked out of Escobar’s in Aspen late that night for “being too loud with the cowbell.”
The next day the pain set in again as Guy rode his bike back to Crested Butte over Pearl Pass, shattering his drive train near the top and hobbling home with one gear to work with.
“That was a miserable day but it was one of the best weekends of my life, it was awesome,” says Guy.
Simoens running season was not as frantic. His only race of the summer was a 50-miler near Moab that he turned into a 56-mile race after a wrong turn. Still, despite the miscue, he managed to finish fifth. Since then he’s been training for a 100-mile race and decided to jump into the summer GT last minute.
While Simoens had no goals in mind, he did plan on seizing the opportunity to win if it was there.
“I thought it’d be fun and a good opportunity to just run with some folks,” says Simoens. “But if I had a chance to win, I’d go for it.”
Simoens bounced around in the lead pack until the race turned onto the single-track section of trail 400. He took the lead then and proceeded to set mini goals along the way.
“I just wanted to be the first to Star Pass and then the first to Taylor Pass,” explains Simoens.
That mind set helped him keep the lead the rest of the way but he got one final scare on the descent from the top of Aspen Mountain to the finish line. The final pitch is actually five miles long, full of switchbacks and held one last surprise for the athletes.
“You could see the finish line but the course turned up this road for one last short climb and that destroyed me,” admits Simoens. “I was just walking and a heard a foot on some gravel and looked back and this guy was literally right behind me. It scared the crap out of me. I don’t know why but I looked at the guy and just said, ‘oh no, it’s a battle,’ turned around and took off running.”
Simoens held him off to cross the finish line nine seconds ahead of second place for the inaugural summer GT running title.
Both Guy and Simoens still have more races on their respective calendars. Guy plans on racing in the Vapor Trail 125 on September 6 outside of Salida and a three-day stage race in Moab in October while Simoens will head to the Bear 100 on the Utah, Idaho border in late September.

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