The historic mining town of Leadville is iconic in the endurance racing world as the host community of the Leadville race series which includes the Leadville 100 trail run and mountain bike race. The Colorado Mountain College Leadville campus welcomed 863 mountain bike racers who pushed one another to the core. They demonstrated Ken Chlouber's classic proclamation, "You are better than you think you are. You can do more than you think you can."
The high altitude course is a Colorado League series favorite despite the lung crushing altitude of 10,200 feet. It is peppered with double track climbs, fast, fluid descents, and twists through an aspen grove known as the "glow tube". The finish requires a power move up a steep lip onto a road providing ample room for explosive sprints to the finish.
The beautiful fall weather accentuated the positive impact of the community and the camaraderie that develops among teams. The local Lake County high school Leadville racing team led by Bruce and Stacy Kelly devoted many hours to mark and clean up the course. Garrison Hayes, Eagle Scout and Legacy rider, racing with Cherry Creek Composite, led a food drive with his teammate and sister Teran. The Hayes family was moved to contribute to this host community given that Leadville and Lake County have the dubious distinction of having one of the highest per capita poverty rates in the state. As a result of this effort, 654 items were donated for the local food bank - bravo!
Racers lined up to the start with an array of creative temporary tattoos engaged in the weekend contest. Teams and riders lobbied the judges, displaying their spirited competition to score a supply of Justin's nut butter products. Tattoo artists from Taos Composite won the team competition for the South and 7220 Laramie won in the North.
Sierra Penrod, 7220 Laramie, JV North shows off her artistic flare and rallies her team to win the tattoo contest.
The competition for the tattoo contest was as stiff as the actual racing. Whether it was Fairview beating Boulder in the Division 1 North team competition by 1 point again or Bear Creek and Cherry Creek Composite in a tied for 9th in the Division 2 South competition the riders and teams put it all on the line while reveling in the shared joy of riding bikes. Racers overcame numerous mechanicals and crashes, diug deep into their wells of determination and never wavered from exhibiting positive sporting behavior.
The Varsity South male field began with Kenny Boots, Rock Canyon clocking the fastest lap time of the weekend while trying to shed a pack of chasers including Nolan Jenkins, Independent from Palmer High; Levi Gavette, CRMS; Keiran Eagan, Animas; Zac Richardson, Douglas County; Kaden Sites, Salida and Drew Sotebeer, Rock Canyon. Nolan Jenkins took the win and earned the Leader's jersey while his brother Nic was absent due to ACT testing. Gavette, Richardson and Eagan battled for 2nd, 3rd and 4th with a 9 second spread. Boots placed 5th after breaking a chain. Eagan, pushed hard for 4th after 2 crashes and riding with a twisted handle bar and finicky drive train.
The Varsity North male race on Sunday was full of suspense as the leader changed after every lap. Ross Ellwood, Boulder, had the fastest times for the first 2 laps as he and Will McBryde, East rolled through in 1st and 2nd after lap 1. McBryde crashed during the second lap and slipped to 7th while Ellwood lost a contact during lap 3. Ethan Wright, Fairview; Ethan Moyer, Steamboat Springs; Slav Uglyar, Summit, and Spencer White Golden came through in top positions for lap 3. McBryde, made up 2 minutes after his crash and churned to a gold finish with Uglyar taking the silver and White the bronze.
The Varsity North female field is full of talent with Ezra Smith, Summit and Katja Freeburn, VSSA go into race #3 tied for first in the overall series points. Harper Powell, Salida held the series lead for the South Varsity female contest while Camryn Sippy, Animas and new Varsity racer Maddie Jo Robbins, Durango rounded out the top 3.
Kaleb Mac Millan, Grand Junction, South Sophomore in powers up steep climb.
Jeremiah Cramer, Estes Park, North Freshman on a joy ride!
Every category had close contests. South Sophomores Alejandra Godina, Salida, eeked out a win by a few 100ths of a second in front of Ava Maddocks, Castle View. Godina's effort put her in the Leader's jersey. This wheel to wheel competition rang throughout race categories highlighting the tenacity of riders whether in the top 20 or the back of the field. The precision of the Race Rite timing system allows teams and competitors to trust the results allowing them to celebrate their even matches and paired exertion.
The JV South female competitors welcomed Samantha Soriano, Columbine back to the race track as she was injured during race #1. She finished with a solid 4th behind, Animas competitors Ce Compton, and Sadie Schafer, current series points Leader. Madelynn Townsend, Salida moved up from Sophomore to JV category after race #1 and took the gold. Alma Wolf, Animas came in 5th. The four Animas riders were giddy to see Soriano back in the game as they have created a strong friendship through racing despite the distance between Durango (Animas) and Littleton (Columbine). The five racers exchanged hugs, high fives, and the Animas racers exclaimed, "It is so much more fun to have you back Samantha!"
The JV North female competition heats up with Jazlynn Smith, Summit holding onto the lead while Petra Shmidtmann, Nederland and Margaret "Grit" Dickson, Steamboat are tied for 2nd in overall points. Camille Lamarque, Fairview and Zoe Livran, VSSA are another tie for 4th. These situations provide for some thrilling racing rolling into #3 of the series.
The JV North male race was extremely close with three pairs of racers grappling for the top 6 spots. Griffin Vickles, Compass Montessori and Talus Lantz, Boulder lead the crew with Vickles taking the win and sharing the overall points leader position with Lantz. Nolan Brunner, Boulder and Blake Bathum, VSSA battled for 3rd and 4th with a 20 second spread. Quinn Reece, Boulder, had a 10 second lead over Trey Seymour, Steamboat Springs as they finished 5th and 6th.
Camden Gillis, Salida continues to dominate in the JV South field as the series Leader. Marshal Graybill, CRMS barely beat Ian Eldridge, Crested Butte with .19 of a second separating 2nd and 3rd. Scott Jirous, Cheyenne Mountain was a scant 6 seconds back in 4th. Graybill's parents were thrilled to see his aptitude shine after taking a hiatus during his junior year. His mother reported that, "He missed being part of the CRMS mountain bike team much more than riding his bike. Now he is on the podium as a senior!"
JV North start.
The South Sophomore male race was a nail biter. Rory Devin, Chatfield maintained his Leader's jersey while Caleb Neel, Green Mountain raced to 2nd with a pack of 4 within seconds of one another. Ridgway Composite Team mates Tanner Oman and Nate Stryker were 3rd and 6th while Bryce Bonner, Green Mountain and Jaylend McCartney, Cheyenne Mountain were 4th and 5th. There were only 28 seconds between 2nd and 6th.
The North Sophomore male competition was even closer with David Sanders-Kulesza, Battle Mountain edging out Nathan Pawlak, Fairview who maintains the Leader jersey despite a 2nd place for the day. The string of racers from 3rd through 8th was separated by 35 seconds with Treden Bosch, Poudre in 3rd and Alden Soto, Fairview in 8th. The Sophomore races will to continue to be full of drama with such high caliber fields.
Grace Karoly, Summit took the gold for the Sophomore North with Alyssa Feinberg, Fairview earning a solid silver. Reilly Mewborn, Steamboat took 3rd as she sprinted ahead with a 13 second lead over Ava Martinez, Monarch who raced to 4th.
Andrew Stephens, Stargate Academy, Sophomore North, floats thru glow tube.
Paige Hauuptmann, Ridgway Comp, Freshman South, races to 3rd.
Freshman North racer Madigan Munro, Boulder took 1st in Leadville following her 5th place finish in Frisco. Sharon Seabury, VSSA rallied for 2nd to keep her Leader jersey while riding with a brace on her left wrist. She tolerated extreme pain wincing and shaking as she came across the finish line. Her older brother and Varsity team mate, Christopher, was extremely proud of her effort. VSSA rider Berit Frischholz rode to 3rd, Ada Urist, Fairview was 4th, and Annika Boyer was 3 seconds back in 5th.
Lizzy Barsness, Glenwood Springs went into race #2 in the lead for Freshman South and was plagued with mechanicals and finished 6th. Kennedy Scott, Rock Canyon, won in Leadville and heads to Granby in a Leader jersey. Mia Brygger, Grand Junction is 2nd and Paige Hauptmann, Ridgway Comp was 3rd. Another sprint to the finish with only hundredths of seconds between Sage Davis, Durango and Clara Coffey, Chatfield for 4th and 5th impressed the crowd.
Bjorn Riley, Boulder was in front of the Freshman North as his team mate and winner of race #1, Jared Scott, petitioned to race JV the remainder of the season. Scott landed a very respectable 24th despite a 106 call up position. Riley was followed by Eli Smith, Battle Mountain, 2nd and Dakota Cline, Boulder was 3rd. Smith is the younger brother of Sarah Smith Varsity racer.
Freshman South Leader Dillon Turner, Conifer Platte Canyon Comp worked Riley Amos, Animas on lap 2. Amos, told Turner, "You passed me on the 2nd lap climb and my legs were done." Cobe Freeburn, Animas took 3rd, Simon Donnaway, Durango was 4th and 5th went to Miles Willis, Grand Junction, younger brother of JV racer Clark Willis.
Siblings continue to take the trail following their elders while families enthusiastically embrace the welcoming culture. Pat Warner, father of two Boulder High student-athletes explained why he is such an avid supporter of the program. "I am so impressed when I see two high school siblings tell each other to "do your best" without even thinking about it. They make an effort to cheer one another on, and encourage each other to strive for their individual goals. It is so cool to have my son and daughter apply their efforts toward the same team."
Eli Schechter, Freshman, attended his first mountain bike race as a member of the newly formed team at Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning (RMSEL). He placed 81st in the 93 person field and scored for his team. He crossed the finish line and told his teammates and coaches, "That was so much FUN!". I asked Eli what he thought of his first Colorado League event. "It was a total blast!. I think I am gong to ride every race. I love riding bikes."
Granby Ranch hosts race weekend #3 September 24th (North Conference) and 25th (South Conference). Weekend details are HERE. The overall team and individual conference standings start to take shape and riders start to consider the possibility of qualifying for State Championships.
Division 1 South Conference podium. Animas, 1st, CRMS 2nd and Crested Butte 3rd.