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JV Boys Navigate Fraser River descent

South JV boys descend Fraser Canyon after a cold wet night jeopardized the possibility of a race.

Fall Storm Does Not Deter High-School Mountain Bikers

Colorado League Granby Ranch Round-Up Race Report #3 North and South

by Michelle Jensen
Contact: Michelle Jensen

North Results
South Results
Photos - NORTH
Photos - SOUTH

The Granby Ranch Round Up was the third stop for the Colorado League series. Granby Ranch is a four-season mountain community complete with a golf course, alpine and nordic skiing, and a fantastic trail network. The Saturday North Conference included 483 racers and the South raced on Sunday with 547 racers. Huge thanks to the Granby Ranch staff, including Jamie Wolter and Don Hess for course design and venue consultation. Their team was integral in preparing the trails for a total of 1,030 high school student-athletes and assisted with a re-route on Sunday due to muddy conditions.

The course started at 8,081 feet with a burly first lap representative of a World Cross-Country course that included a road start and some extra singletrack to spread racers out as they get into a groove. This was a modification of the 2016 course and some thought it is less demanding with the road yet others felt it was a fast, challenging start.

The vivid fall colors accented the Granby Ranch Ski Resort. Riders pedaled through singletrack aspen and pine forests, flowed down a thrilling descent on the Fraser Canyon trail, climbed up a twisty sagebrush section with breathtaking views of the Fraser River and Indian Peak Wilderness. The race course finished with several tight switchbacks on the Strawberry Jam trail.

The Honey Stinger feed zone was on a smooth uphill in plain sight. It was conducive to grabbing water bottles before continuing up the half-mile grind. Rod Kessler, Chief Operating Officer of Granby Ranch, commented, “It’s so much fun having you and your series here at the Ranch! It also feels good seeing families riding together. Big win for all.”

Chris Pepper, Wheat Ridge Cyclery mechanic, adeptly assessed riders' issues and prioritized them all while under pressure of upcoming race starts. The number one complaint was not shifting. He reminded participants that regular maintenance and replacing housing and cables will avoid this issue.

Erhilnda Stafford Rover

Erlinda Stafford volunteers as a rover.

Chris Pepper WRC

Wheat Ridge Cyclery Chris Pepper manages the neutral support.

Saturday’s National Anthem was performed by Derek Larsen, JV, Kelly Walsh - WY. Coach Cameron Santistevan said that in Frisco, Derek broke out his guitar at the campfire and earned the nickname, “The Man”. Frankie Francone, Legacy JV, Columbine, performed his third rendition of the National Anthem with flare on Sunday.

Kate Rau, Executive Director, appealed to coaches to remind all members of their teams that if you are on a bike you must wear a helmet. Let’s protect that gray matter. The rule applies not only to racers but to parents and fans, as it is an important safety measure. Legacy riders, who have raced since their Freshman year, started picking up their well-earned belt buckles.

With the most of the region experiencing precipitation and a forecast for some afternoon thundershowers, coaches were reminded to prepare racers for inclement weather. The land manager and race officials make the call regarding course conditions and generally racers ride in the rain. The number of laps and race start times can be adjusted at any time. Looking ahead to the Conference and State Championships, coaches were reminded to review the qualifying criteria with their teams and that only a few valid exceptions will be approved.

Afternoon showers started at around 2:45 PM on Saturday and impacted the North girls race with a course evacuation called at 3:45 PM due to a rapid drop in temperature and reports of mud quickly building up on tires on the backside of the course. Many had to walk or carry their bikes a significant distance as conditions caused wheels to lock up. The fortitude demonstrated by the female student-athletes was truly incredible. Many muddy faces entered the race venue to get warm and shared stories of their extraordinary feat. Huge thanks to the many course marshals, especially Michael Deru, and volunteers who swiftly assisted with getting riders safely off the course.

HRC Riders Huddle Camp fire

Team members from Highlands Ranch stay warm before the sun shines.

Middle Park Kimo Pit

Kimo Sullivan, Sophomore, Middle Park relaxes on his homemade ski bench.

The weekend “Posh Pit” contest included many creative ways to keep the chill off. A few North teams took this very seriously! Steamboat had a pink tent tutu, flamboyant flowers, and bath loofahs adorning the racers shelter. After Chase Seymour and Ethan Moyer requested a revisit, they upped the ante with light filled balloons, pompoms, and a disco ball. They lobbied that, “Their positive attitudes is oh so important” to the team’s posh pit. Team Summit added streamers and colorful rugs. Fairview showcased their knight mascot emblemed tent walls. Middle Park claimed the win using their hometown advantage by wheeling in a borrowed love sofa, outdoor rugs, a hammock, huge teddy bears, and a handmade ski bench by Sophomore racer Kimo Sullivan. Kudos to the Ciclismo teams from Fort Collins and Loveland for including a recycling center.

While the thick fog and grey sky did not look to be conducive to decorating South team pits Sunday morning, there were several standout teams who participated beyond the oh-so-important heaters and blankets. Dakota Ridge’s mood lighting and hammock deserve mention as does Green Mountain’s Tower of Power tent set up. Cherry Creek Composite had a few boys dancing and fist pumping to their music. Buena Vista took the unique approach that, “It is the people who make your pit posh”, as the cuddled in a pile of blankets. Taos took the prize with their pompoms, lanterns, grass pad, and brand new designer tent. Teams take note that the next contest is for handcrafted noisemakers. Hollering isn’t going to be enough and please, please, please no fireworks.

JV North Start

JV North boys off the start.

The JV boys field started off the North Conference action on Saturday with 142 racers. Tate Warner, JV, Golden said, “This is the perfect course because it has ups, downs, and places to take breathers. It's very well laid out.” Stargate Academy’s Andrew Stephens is in his third year of racing and said the downhill switchbacks were really fun and felt the uphill start was a killer. Prospect Ridge Academy welcomed Brooks Rady for his first race this season. The top five JV Boys included: 5th Liam Clevenger, East, 4th Tyler Long Boulder, 3rd Ryan Stowers, Boulder 2nd Eli Smith, Battle Mountain, and in 1st with a 30-second lead was Bjorn Riley, Boulder.

The Freshman boys rode 2 laps and were cheered at the start by a fan in a Dinosaur costume. Cam Owens, Steamboat, started staged 82nd managed to beat series leader Liam Graves-Vangilder, Golden by 45 seconds. Aiden Berk, Golden and Luke Elphingstone, Fairview were a mere thirteen seconds apart for 3rd and 4th as Jonas Kahila, Ralston Valley rounded out the top 5 for the day.

With gusty winds and dark clouds emerging, the Varsity and Sophomore waves rolled to the start line. Checking watches before swallowing energy gels, most wearing long finger gloves, some anxiously stretched their wrists as they heard that coaches are allowed to give extra clothing in the Honey Stinger Feed Zone if needed. Sam Brown, VSSA, kept the Varsity Leader's jersey finishing 3rd as he chased Ethan Wright, Fairview and Ethan Moyer, Steamboat who took 2nd. The fastest male lap time of the day was clocked by Ethan Wright as he took the win. Henry Boyd, Summit and Collin Wilson, Battle Mountain duked it out for 4th and 5th.

Emerson Kopp Soph East

Emerson Kopp, Sophomore, East.

Oliver Vernon Nederland

Oliver Vernon, Sophomore, Nederland.

The North Sophomore boys, frontline was stacked with riders from Boulder High. With a final swig from water bottles, they catapulted up the hill. Cooper Lull, Boulder took the win and earned a Leaders jersey. Kale Lantz, Boulder took 2nd as Graham Outlaw, Boulder held off Lucas Lenoch, Poudre for 3rd and 4th.

By the time the girls started the rain seemed imminent. The Varsity girls endured the longest portion of the foul weather with most finishing in unbelievably high spirits. Tea Wright, Fairview in front of Madelynn Gerritsen, Golden. Gerritsen held on as the overall leader while Legacy rider Keilea Barth, Fairview claimed 3rd with teammate Camille Lamarque 20-seconds back. Alyssa Feinberg, Fairview took 5th.

JV girls had the largest showing in the North girls with a total of 36, including 5 new faces. Points leader, Madigan Munro, Boulder clocked the fastest female lap time of the day for another victory. Tai-Lee Smith, Summit raced to 2nd. Isabella Sargent, Battle Mountain, and Olivia Cummings, Rocky Mountain sprinted to the finish to take 3rd and 4th. Abigal Carron, Boulder was happy to land 5th.

A total of 18 Sophomore girls started, with Alyssa Keirn, Rocky Mountain finishing 15th as a new racer. Elsa Bates, Summit, placed 1st and behind points leader Wren Taylor, Boulder. Taylor Johnson, Centaurus. applied her cyclocross skills to negotiate the mud for 3rd.

Freshman girls started with three new racers. Emi Cooper, Steamboat had a commanding lead and earned the Leader's jersey with a win. Only 1 point separated Cooper and Bayli McSpadden, VSSA for the overall top standing when the race started. Ariana Soto, Fairview and Eliza Fox, Steamboat followed in 2nd and 3rd.

Sophia Finnoff

Legacy racer Sophia Finnoff, Varsity, Silver Creek smiles big despite the rain.

Boulder JV Mud

Annika Boyer, JV, Boulder, shows true grit weathering the storm.

Fairview took the gold for the day and hold on to the series lead in the North Division 1 team competition. Boulder pockets another silver for the day and stays in 2nd overall. Battle Mountain riders took the bronze and hold onto to 3rd for the season. Only 60 points separated Golden and Steamboat for 4th and 5th respectively for the day and in the Division 1 North team standings.

Ralston Valley had 7 of the 10 point earners from a solid JV squad keeping the team at 7th overall. The dynamite duo of Ethan and Tea Wright, Fairview, Varsity wins were extra special for their grandparents were visiting from Texas. Freshman Golden rider Christopher Ziemann refused to quit despite being sick. He has autism and wanted to ensure he finished as a proud Golden Demon. The team that has fully embraced him by helping him buy a new bike and Coaches Cynthia Hazel and Pete Townsend ride with him during races for safety.

Summit takes first in the Division 2 North team competition for the second time this season and holds onto the team lead. VSSA keeps their 2nd place status with another silver. Hometown team Middle Park took third for the day by 27 points ahead of Natrona County- WY. Natrona holds onto 3rd overall. The competition among the Division 2 teams continues to fluctuate with only 9 points separating 12th place Compass Montessori and 13th place Kelly Walsh-WY. Middle Park's boost to the podium was fueled by a full roster with Freshman Ella Wiser being the top scorer for the team.

The Slingshot jersey is sponsored by presenting sponsor Your Hometown Toyota Stores. This award acknowledges the male and female racer who make the biggest leap from their call-up position to their final individual place that day based on the percentage of the category field size. Tai-Lee Smith, earned the Slingshot starting in 15th racing to 2nd place. Legacy Varsity, Collin Wilson, Battle Mountain, worked his way from 40th to 5th place.

Tea and Ehtan Wright

Fairview Varsity racers Tea and Ethan Wright celebrate their sibling victory.

Sophomore Boys Finish North

Malcolm Hall, Sophomore, Rocky Mountain celebrates 38th place with Coach Rob Noble.

The cold and wet evening weather on Saturday caused much uncertainty for the Sunday South race. Awakening to sticky mud and dense fog the race crew consulted with Granby Ranch and devised a plan to allow the event to continue. A quick re-route of the course, a 30-minute race delay, no pre-ride, and a reduction in the number of laps for the JV field from 3 to 2 enabled the South race to run. What started as a question mark turned into sunshine, bluebird skies, and hero dirt. None of these changes appeared to deter from the fun.

Once the dirt was deemed rideable, the South JV boys were prepared with extra clothing at the start line. They shed layers as the fog burned off and the sun shined. At the finish the bikes were clean and there was barely a speck of mud to be seen. Reports from riders revealed that there were some slick spots on the first lap but then it got tacky. Riley Amos, Animas won by just over a minute. Ryan Campbell, Green Mountain earned silver. Points leader, Cobe Freeburn, Durango and George Poggemeyer, Chatfield followed closely in 4th and 5th in the field of 128.

Connor Gromko Conifer JV

Connor Gromko, JV, Conifer.

Tristan Ricci

Legacy Tristan Ricci, JV, Salida.

Fernando Ibarra Littleton JV

South Varsity boys lined up mentally prepared for a 4-laps. Considering the new start added 2 miles to the first lap, the 38 racers did not seem to be concerned with pacing when sprinted off the line. A spectator was taken aback as the breeze from the pack swept our faces and said, “Oh man they are so freaking fast.” Placing first, Zac Richardson, Douglas County continues as the points leader. In second was Rock Canyon’s Drew Sotebeer and less than a minute back was Levi Gavette, CRMS. Standing around afterward, riders mentioned that it was a power course and took a lot of energy. One rider commented, “Staying on guard kept most from going sideways.”

Eager to race, the South Sophomores boys gave the crowd quite the show with a field of 119 participants. Wheeler Feer, CRMS (points leader) held Alex Purrington, Evergreen off by just eight seconds and Paul English, Grand Junction followed five seconds after. The fight for 4th was just as fierce; Chris Anderson, Douglas County and Marko Alling, Crested Butte sprinted to the line with Anderson taking the edge. Shout out to Fruita Monument’s CJ Mattas for keeping the pressure on with three other racers breathing down his neck. Daniel Linville, Gunnison, was thrilled with his 19th place performance and speculated with his parents that the beet juice he drank might have helped.

The South Freshman boys shared broad smiles as they realized how much they lucked out with the weather. The sun was out and as the saying goes, "so were the guns", muscles that is. This field of 136 riders pushed up their sleeves ready to gave it their all. Fans roared as they rocketed past the Honey Stinger Feed Zone knowing they only had one more lap to put the hammer down. At the finish line, Robbie Day, Evergreen won by 30 seconds over Graham Tuohy-Gaydos, Green Mountain, current points leader. Grey Ottenstein, Chatfield rounded out the podium. The large freshman field continued to wow the crowd with numerous sprints.

Drew and Zac

Zac Richardson, Varsity, Douglas County chased by Drew Sotebeer, Rock Canyon.

Erik Brygger

Erik Brygger, Varsity, Grand Junction safely passes a sophomore racer.

Next up were the girls, as clouds accumulated and winds picked up all hoped to get through the race day dry. As the 14 South Varsity Girls made their way through the first of three laps, fans were not surprised to see series leader Maddie Jo Robbins, Durango making her way down the Strawberry Jam switchbacks in 1st place. She was out of sight by the time second place Emi Bauer, CRMS made her way through the first lap. Animas rider, Maya Zarlingo, scampered to close the gap and finished 3rd. Julia Molnar, Green Mountain rode to 4th and Barbara Edwards, Douglas County, came in 5th. Continuing to push their limits, Madelyn Townsend, Salida and Eden Saylor, Columbine sprinted for 6th and 7th. These experienced Varsity girls clearly know the benefits of taking hand ups, rather than carrying the excess water as they expertly grab fuel from the Honey Stinger Feed Zone.

South JV girls leader Ruth Holcomb, Durango caught many of the Varsity girls on her first of two laps. Second place Sophia Forney, Green Mountain, clocked the fastest female lap for the South as she kept standing on the climbs. Third place Kennedy Scott, Rock Canyon finished with a huge smile. Close behind was Lizzy Barness, Glenwood Springs, and 5th place Paige Hauptmann, Ridgeway Composite. The competition in this field is amazing as is the camaraderie. At the finish, one rider said to another, “Awesome job. I saw you getting closer.” Leadville’s Swedish exchange student, Maja Tingstedt, offered up her thoughts on today’s course, “It was bumpy and hard but I liked the switchbacks. Passing other girls and getting passed again made it a fun race.”

South Sophomore Girls winner Hannah Drummond, Highlander maintained the Leader’s jersey over second place Olivia Gordon, Crested Butte. Rounding out the podium was Taegan Steinfort, Cheyenne Mountain. Seventh place finisher Jules Burnsnall, Cheyenne Mountain was seen blowing a kiss as she finished, without a doubt the Granby golden aspens, high altitude and sunshine were inspirational. There were 23 sophomore finishers on what turned out to be a fantastic day to race bikes. Taos’ ladies’ tall socks did not go by unnoticed.

South Freshman Girls new points leader Cassidy Hickey, Independent won by over a minute. Noel Forney, Green Mountain claimed 2nd over Durango’s Abbey Shepard. Chloe Combs, Highlander Composite sprinted hard for 4th. Freshman, Sophia Forney, Green Mountain moved to JV for this race and proved that she could hold her own, allowing other girls a shot at first. Thirty-three racers started with only one DNF which was due to an unfortunate mechanical; however, Lauren Gustafson, Grand Junction showed how to continue moving forward by running her bike across the finish. Sarah Rocklin, Columbine was greeted by a throng of cheering fans supporting her as the final racer of the day.

Nalia Taos

Nalia Kast, Sophomore, Taos.

Caroline Benney Varsity

Caroline Benney, Varsity, Leadville.

774 Durango

Abbey Shephard, Freshman, Durango.

Photographer Linda Guerrette noted how the South female riders are obviously improving their bike handling skills. With no pre-ride and a fairly technical descent with some drops, most skillfully conquered the whole stretch of Fraser Canyon.

Of the 14 South Division 1 teams CRMS claimed victory over Animas. Crested Butte again held on to third in the team competition thanks to podium finishes by Olivia Gordon and Marko Alling. Only 19 points separated Salida and Evergreen. Overall team standings are the same with Columbine and Salida nipping at the podium.

The South Division 2 team competition includes 32 teams. With an exciting change, Green Mountain took 1st over Durango. Highlander Composite took 3rd. Durango continues to win over Green Mountain in the series. Highlander Composite maintains third place overall by a mere 2 points ahead of Glenwood Springs.

The prestigious Slingshots went to freshman Olivia Wilson, Crested Butte and Varsity racer, Whitton Feer, CRMS.

The Conference Championships is at Chalk Creek in Nathrop Oct. 7th South and 8th North.

Ski Lift Climb

North Varsity boys climb from base.

JV Girls Podium

JV South girls podium.

Calendar

November 4th Annual Shift Primal Art Party Fundraiser, Denver, CO

2017 Race Schedule:
Race #1 August 26 (North) -27 (South) Frisco Peninsula
Race #2 - South September 10 - Colorado Mountain College, Leadville
Race #2 - North September 17 Emerald Mountain, Steamboat Springs
Race #3 September 23 (North) - 24 (South), Granby Ranch
Race #4 October 7 (South) - 8 (North) McMurry Ranch, Nathrop
Race #5 October 22 State Championships, Eagle

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