It sure was nice to be back in Grand Junction this weekend for the 40 Grand. If you’ve never ridden out there I highly suggest it. The trails are super fun and very technical. I would suggest a mid travel bike and some padding, maybe even a base jump pack in case things go wrong at the top of one of the ledges. No, it’s not that bad but you can see why anyone that calls Grand Junction home and rides mountain bikes is probably a shredder.
I started off the weekend with a win in the fat tire crit. I have always loved those things since my first one in downtown Scottsdale at the Cactus Cup many years ago. That was in the dark and a missing out so it was even crazier but these are pretty awesome. The crit course in GJ is totally flat so I figured it was going to be a group sprint unless someone snuck away and the group didn’t chase. Rude spent most of the race hovering off the front of the group and was able to snag a prime. I waited for the finish and came off Barry Wicks’ wheel inside of 150 meters and one corner to the line to get the win.
The crit doesn’t count towards the overall so it’s more of an exhibition then anything but it’s always nice to win.
Sunday was the backcountry race with all the $$$ on the line. The trails were in prefect condition after the rain early in the week but even with perfect dirt it’s so rough I felt like I had done about 1000 bench presses by the end of the day. I got a gap fairly early after the hike a bike about twenty minutes into the race. I didn’t attack but just kept it steady so I figured I might as well keep it rolling. There was a big chase group behind and lots of headwind so I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out but by the top of the big climb I had a minute gap and managed to bump it up to 1:45 by the finish so I guess it was the right strategy.
The way the Epic Rides series works is there is great prize money for each of the three individual events and then there is also a series overall based on the lowest cumulative time from the three events. That means you have to race for every second because unlike most systems which are points based, you never know when you’re going to need those couple of extra seconds. Going into the weekend I was 1 minute behind Ben Sontag so after 2 rounds I now hold a slim 45 second lead in the series going into the final round in Carson City next month.
The Epic Rides events also require that you use the same bike for the crit and backcountry races. The only thing that can change is the tire and it has to be a minimum of 40 mm for the crit. Here is the setup I ran:
Crit: Scott Spark, Monarch 180 psi, RS-1 160 psi, Maxxis Refuse 80 psi front/rear, 34 XX1
Backcountry: Scott Spark, Monarch 150 psi, RS-1 90 psi, Maxxis Ikon 2.2 TR EXO front 23 psi, rear 24 psi 34 XX1. I also used a hydration pack for the Butter Knife section of the course because it’s impossible to take your hands off the bars to drink because it’s way too rough. 4 Citrus Clif shots and 1 Espresso Clif shot.
It was a great weekend of racing but even better was getting to pick Meg and Coop up at the airport Sunday evening since they had been gone all week. Coop got a new Scott Walker bike that he has been ripping around the neighborhood all morning. He might even race the Iron Horse Kids race this weekend.
I wonder how crazy it’s gonna be riding through Steam Works this year……