I was registered for the 12 Hours of Zion in May and thrilled to race for 12 hours in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The race was postponed until September however, due to course conditions. The area had received a ton of rain leading up to the event and the trail system couldn’t recover in time. The race director made the right call to postpone, but that left me with a gap in my schedule. I figured I could do 12 Hours in Temecula in early June, but I’m set to race the Grand Canyon Fat Tire Festival on 6/20. A 12 hour race 2 weeks before a 100 miler MTB race would’ve been pushing it. I scrambled to find a filler. The Grand Junction Off Road was never on my radar due to the format (40 miles) and my commitment to do Zion, but I needed to race and what better place to do it than the trails in Grand Junction?
I’ve always wanted to do more XC races. I do not excel at the format, but I know they make me a better endurance athlete. It’s difficult to fit more of them in my schedule though. There’s only so many of my son’s soccer games I’m willing to miss.
The vibe in town the night before the race was awesome. Epic Rides managed to create a great atmosphere (laid-back vibes are their forte) where racers and locals mingled in bars, restaurants and on the streets of downtown.
The start format was very similar to the Whiskey 50, where we had to spin a few miles on the road before hitting the singletrack.
As feared, I wasn’t fast enough on the road and got caught up in the conga line at the first sign of a climb. It took a while to break free and find my groove. I eventually settled in and enjoyed the course.
I was racing pretty hard, but knew I was too far back to place, so I relished in cleaning the technical sections and motoring up the climbs. As I approached the last switchback, I wanted to kill the climb, to give me something to feel good about on an otherwise slow day. I heard someone at the top yelling “YEAH RICH MAINES” “YEAH RICH MAINES” over and over as I was passing riders left and right. I had no idea who it was, but it only propelled me faster up the climb. Head down, legs pumping, I reached the top and realized it was Chris Reichel, but only after he yelled, “see you in the beer garden.” That was a fun way to hit the back section and roll into town!
A photo posted by Chris Reichel (@dirty_biker) on
I wasn’t sure if I had even made the top 10 when I rolled through the finish line, but was content with a hard effort. More notably, I finally got to ride the world class trails in Grand Junction!
Final Results: 10th place Male Singlespeed, 40 miles, 5,489 ft. total climbing