Another race weekend is in the books. This time to Grand Junction, CO for the Epic Rides – Grand Junction Off-Road.
It’s starting to feel like race season, except for it’s over here in AZ. A little strange coming from Wisconsin. Aside from Colorado Springs and Mountain Bike Nationals in Mammoth, CA there’s not a whole lot going on the next two months.
The good news is August and September are filled with some great races that I’m really looking forward to like the Dakota Five-O, Tour of the White Mountains, and Moab Rocks, along with a handful of other local races here in Flagstaff.
Grand Junction Recap
Grand Junction is the real deal when it comes to mountain biking. Very much like Moab and Sedona, lots of big ledges, drops, chunky descents, and technical climbs. All the things I love about mountain biking. The town itself is a blast. Super well laid out and the crew at Epic Rides put on another fantastic event.
Friday was the Fat Tire Crit, which unlike at the Whiskey 50 was totally flat. It was also much warmer in GJ than Whiskey (and dry), which was nice. The crit itself was a total blast. I decided to stick this one out instead of pulling out after a few laps in Prescott, saving the legs. I made it almost to the end with the lead group which stayed pretty big. Halfway through the race I made a move during a lull that shot me to the front through the start finish, that was pretty fun! All in all a good time in GJ on a Friday night.
Sunday was the XC race and I was pretty pumped despite having a cold. I felt a little nauseous the start, probably from taking a bunch of meds with breakfast. I sat down in some shade and put some ice on my neck which helped.
When the gun went off we rolled out through town and out towards the Lunch Loops where we would jump onto the first singletrack climb. I made my move as we neared the trailhead, but things got a little bunched so my starting position was not very good into the singletrack.
After feeling as though I couldn’t really push it I tried to hold my position over the next 20-mins or so of climbing. Once we popped out onto the road things were pretty strung out. I was feeling like it just wasn’t my day, but focused on riding smooth and figured there would be a lot of flats (which there were), some guys would blow up, and others might fade (so I hoped).
When we started down Butterknife, the first 7-mile chunky, ledgy, rocky singletrack I started to get into a rhythm and quickly caught up to and passed about 5 guys. Dropping down to the river and starting the 2000′ Windmill rd. climb I passed 2 more riders and tried to keep it steady, riding with my chin up to help the oxygen flow. Thank goodness the race was at 4500′. My 8000′ lungs needed all the help they could get!
On the way up Windmill rd. I came across Todd and TJ who both had flat trouble. It wasn’t long before they got rolling again and rolled up on me as we approached the Bangs Canyon descent. What a blast! Big rolly, chunky jeep rd. with tons of launches and big drops.
After that we began the last major climb up a big slab of slickrock for maybe a mile or so. Todd was gone and TJ started to pull away from me here too. With one more final descent to the finish down Andy’s Loop I figured no one would be rolling up behind me so I focused on riding clean as there are a few tight corners with some sharp rocks that caught me off guard in the pre-ride.
Rolling into town cashed was a good feeling. Having a clean race, despite being sick was also a good feeling. 21st on the day and only a few minutes out of the money, pretty pleased with that and stoked for next year!
Thanks to Bobby and Kim for letting us crash at their place. Lucy had a good time and made some new friends too 🙂