(May 6-8, 2011) GRAND JUNCTION, Colo- The 2011 Ranchstyle came with a few big changes. Bigger jumps, bigger landings, new wooden features, a
massive judging tower, and let’s not forget all the big name riders that made a presence there. With the Ranchstyle Mountain Bike Festival being
added to the Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour (FMB), it was no surprise to see changes. With the Ranchstyle event going from a small grassroots
event, to now being on the biggest freeride tour in the world, one may wonder if the overall feel and atmosphere of this great small event changed as
In it’s fourth year, the Ranchstyle saw it’s largest number of participants to date. The Pro Slopestyle was a stacked competition with world class riders like Greg Watts, Mike Montgomery, Kelly McGarry, Eric Lawrenuk, Ryan Howard, and the list continues to over 25 deep. The dual slalom race saw some of the fastest racers in the nation, even Canadian gold medal Olympian Chris Del Bosco was present. The states of California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington were represented in the event, as well as a slew of riders from British Columbia, Ontario and New Zealand.
Amateur riders were given the opportunity to ride with some of the best mountain bikers in the world, something not typically seen in major events like Crankworx or the Red Bull Rampage. Racing fathers pushed their daughters bikes up for their next round in the dual slalom race. Young racers got to line up to the start gate with racers like Kyle Strait for their qualifying run. The crowd was in a roar as if it was the pro big finals or youth beginners.
It was the small things that made this event great. Chipotle came out to supply food for competitors, but they ended up providing free burritos to everyone. Not only that, but there was plenty of free water and Red Bull on site as well. Spectators and participants alike had huge smiles, and it was no wonder after getting an adjustment from chiropractor Rusty Wouters.
Friday night’s Pinkbike Best Trick Throwdown brought out a massive crowd to the high desert ranch, and as the perfect golden hour of sunlight slowly overtook the sky, the top slopestyle and dirt jump riders in the world put on a show not soon to be forgotten. Riders got to line up on to the final jump of the Air Supply course for the Pinkbike jump and display their best tricks for the spectators and online viewers. Once the competition was complete, a video from the contest was loaded to pinkbike.com, and online viewers voted for the winner. After 16 hours, 15,000 views, and over 700 votes, Mike Montgomery was the winner for his back flip bar hop.
Saturday brought beautiful Colorado spring weather to the slopestyle event. Opening up with the amateur competitors all day through to the pros that evening. The Air Supply slopestyle course was lined top to bottom with spectators, and the excitement and energy was contagious from beginning to end. With the help of a massive 26 foot tall judging tower, the judges Nate Adams, Randy Spangler and Eric Porter had the perfect birds eye view on the course from the opening drops to the final jump.
As the pro riders opened up for their one hour jam format qualifying, the crowd and announcers exploded into cheers that could have been heard for miles. The stacked competitors came flying down the course laying out tricks that seemed unhuman. Mike Montgomery’s slow, stylish flat 360 over the mid-course 33 foot double, reawakened the crowd into a frenzy. Joe Perrizo’s insanely slow back flip off the Geax jump made it seem as if he could fly.
When the dust finally settled on Air Supply and the competition was over, Greg Watts came out on top. Young gun Anthony Messere from Surrey, BC took second, Kiwi Kelly McGarry in third, Mike Montgomery fourth and Tyler McCaul fifth. As the sun set down on The Ranch, riders dispersed into the night only to return in the morning for the final event.
Day break brought more wind then anyone cared for, but the bright sun and the crack of Grassroots unique start gate signaled the beginning of Sunday’s events. “We got several calls and emails from people wanting to donate the use of their automated gate (for the dual slalom race). We wanted to keep it original and run our home made, hammer operated start gate”, said Ranch owner Matt Bollig.
Some racers wondered if having a human operated gate made a difference in the outcome of the race. “Getting a good snap out of the gate is never a bad thing, but this course is so long, you aren’t going to win this race at the gate”, said Chris Del Bosco, winner of the Pro Men dual slalom. “By the time you reached the finish line, your body was so pinned, the gate drop was irrelevant”.
The dual slalom course at The Ranch is more like your favorite flowy trail. The course weaves it’s way down from the properties top hill. Flying through the trees you couldn’t always see your competitor, but you knew they were there. The course comes back together mid way, down into a series of jumps and high speed rollers. Riders would come flying into the tight right hand turn after the jumps, and then go back into the trees.
This year the course was lengthened by nearly 10 seconds. “We wanted the racers to be hurting by the bottom,” said Matt Bollig. “We wanted the overall winner to truly be the strongest rider out here.” And that is exactly what racers got.
This year saw a 25% increase in racers, from the top pros down to the youth beginners. Families like the Gillespies, had father James Gillespie racing as well as his daughter Danika Gillespie. And the crowd made no exception to their cheering. A wave of cheering followed the racers down the minute long course, no matter their category.
With so many big changes that happened for Grassroots Cycles Ranchstyle event, it was great to see it hold true to it’s grassroots feel that made families, beginners and pros all feel welcome.
Words and Photos by Devon Balet.
Best Trick results here.
Complete Dual Slalom results here.
Slopestyle results coming...