(Aug 30-Sept1, 2013) GRAND JUNCTION, Colo—After much anticipation, Epic Rides held the inaugural event to celebrate mountain bike culture with a clunker crit, free concerts and some exceptional cross country racing. If the well known trails of Grand Junction weren’t enough to draw out the top pros, the $20,000 cash purse with equal pay-out for both pro men and pro women provided ample motivation.
Festivities for the weekend kicked off on Friday evening with a community clunker crit and pro class fat tire crit that featured ten corners on a flat, sub one mile course through downtown. After a short but entertaining clunker crit, the pro women started at 6:15pm for twenty minutes plus three laps of tight racing.
Pua Mata leading the pro women in the early minutes of the crit.
The ladies mostly stayed together until the final laps started to wind down, which is when the threesome of Pua Mata (Sho-Air Cannondale), Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers/Scott) and Erin Huck (Tokyo Joes) started to pick up the pace. As the field got strung out, the threesome established a gap going into the final lap. In a super close sprint, Woodruff just beat Huck to the line, and Mata rolled across seconds behind in third.
Woodruff leads breakaway partners Mata and Huck in the final laps.
Taking to the streets next were the pro men who also raced for twenty minutes plus three laps. Always at the front, Troy Wells (Clifbar/Stevens/SRAM) got into several short lived breakaways. Finally, with two laps to go, Wells and Ben Sonntag (Cannondale/Shimano/American Interbanc) established a significant break which they held to the finish. Wells convincingly took the sprint for the win, with Sonntag just behind for second, and the field sprint was won by Brian Matter (RACC/Trek/Progold) for third place.
Carl Decker was near the front for much of the crit.
Fernando Riveros Paez leads the pack to bring back Troy Wells.
Troy Wells and Rotem Ishay while kids watch in awe.
Saturday got underway bright and early at 7am with a mass start on Main Street for the 40 Grand age group and singlespeed racers. For those not ready to take on the long hard 40 mile race, a 30 mile version and a 15 mile race as well as a 15 mile group ride all followed later in the morning. The day’s festivities also included a beer garden hosted by Rockslide Brewery and free live music throughout the day with Cracker closing out the day.
Plenty of stunning views for racers to take in.
Singlespeeds on Gunny Loop.
Sinuous singletrack and big exposure are trademarks of the Andy's Loop descent.
On Sunday, the pro men and women also got an early start for the 40 mile course. Since the racing started and finished in downtown Grand Junction, a few miles of pavement preceded the first real singletrack which took racers through the fabled Lunch Loops and up the Widowmaker Hill climb. Racers were then treated to a section of the Gunny Loop, Twist-n-Shout, and the Butterknife trails before the long climb up the Tabeguache Trail which took them out of Rough Canyon for a brief paved descent to the twisty Andy’s Loop and technical Eagle’s Trail. The lower Tabeguache trail served as the last bit of dirt before hitting the pavement to get back into town and the finish.
An early start was nice for cooler temperatures instead of high 90's seen in the middle of the day.
Kris Sneddon took the early lead up the Gunny Loop, and took home a cool grand for his third place finish.
Ben Sonntag riding near the front of the race in the first 10 miles before stretching out a lead to take the win.
Pua Mata led the women's race from nearly start to finish.
Erin Huck climbs on the Gunny Loop on her way to taking a solid second place.
Deidre York had a good ride to finish in tenth place.
Every now and then there were some great views to be had.
Sepp Kuss hammers out a slick rock climb to get out of Rough Canyon, and claim second place at the finish.
Chris Baddick rounded out the men's podium with a fifth place.
Chloe Woodruff climbs out of Rough Canyon on her way to taking third place.
Amy Dombroski took home some money for her hard work with a fine fourth place.
After winning the Breck Epic two weeks ago, Amanda Carey was happy to be mostly recovered and take fifth place.
Pua Mata is stoked on her win.