Video by Chris Miller/Miller Perspectives
Words and Images By Eddie Clark
(May 12, 2012) CORTEZ, Colo.—The sixth annual 12 Hours of Mesa Verde by all accounts was another huge success. Thanks to the Kokopelli Bike Club, City of Cortez, and the long list of sponsors and volunteers, racers were treated to a well supported event that is trademarked by one of the best race courses a mountain biker could have the pleasure of riding.
Notably with all the fun, everyone earned a plus in the good karma column since 100% of the proceeds from the event went to local youth charities. A true roots event that was powered by the local community to help the local community.
At 7am sharp racing got underway with a LeMans style running start. While there were over 1700 reported entrants, only a fraction actually took the start since there was a team format for practically everyone who didn't want to ride solo. The different categories classes were broken down by gender and gears with youth, adult, or old geezer options.
Durango's Rocky Mountain Chocolate's Colton Andersen was first to complete the opening lap. Racing on a 3-4 Man team, Anderson along with Payson Mcelveen, Sepp Kuss and Tad Elliot set the course record to win their category by completing 10 laps in 11:58:48. Considering the depth of this team, and the fact that 19 year old Payson also set the fastest race lap time with a blazing 1:08:12, it was not surprising to see them finish in first place.
The fastest women's lap was set by Honey Stinger/Trek's Jen Gersbach who put her spring rando skiing fitness to task by completing the 16+ mile lap in 1:20:23. "The key to the course is riding smooth, looking ahead and knowing when and where to hammer because sometimes passing people is not the easiest. It's all about momentum out there", said Gersbach.
Indeed, the legendary trails such as Lemonhead Loop, Coco Race and Rib Cage as well as many more at Phils World are beneficial to smooth riding. They're also a real hoot to ride since they are a nice mix of hard pack dirt, ledgey rock sections, short mild climbs and buff downhill oriented singletrack that is peppered with fun booters. As testament to the singlespeed worthiness of the venue, the singlespeed categories were practically as large as the geared categories, and the fastest solo ride was won on a singlespeed.
"The course is fantastic, my 2nd year there and the reason I returned", said women's duo first place finisher Jenny Smith (Stans No Tubes).
Yuki Ikeda (Topeak/Ergon) looked to be in command on the men's geared solo race, but a troublesome stomach opened the door for Paul Gorbold (Street Swell) to take the win with 8 laps in 12:08:44. Although, it was singlespeed racer Shawn Gergory (Kokopelli Bike and Board) who set the solo bar highest with 8 laps in 11:48:42. The women's solo geared race was won by Jari Kirkland (Alpine Orthopaedics) with 7 laps in 11:07:21, and the women's solo singlespeed race was won by Kat Morrison (Voodoo Cycles) also with 7 laps but in 12:14:01.