Mountain bike racers shine all over the country
SUMMIT COUNTY – Not everyone was grilling brats and drinking the High Life during the Labor Day holiday. In fact, a handful of local racers spent nearly the weekend on their mountain bikes vying for endurance titles across the country.
On the East Coast, Summit Cove resident Brett Morgan tackled the fifth annual Shenandoah Mountain 100 in Virginia to finish fourth.
Morgan is an accomplished local expert racer, finished third in the Summit Mountain Challenge’s Pennsylvania Gulch Grind and posted the fastest time in the Breckenridge Brawl before being disqualified for missing the start.
Morgan finished last year’s Shenandoah race in 13th place. He shaved nearly 45 minutes off of last year’s time, despite racing in a steady rain all day Sunday.
“I feel good about it,” Morgan said. He said he actually didn’t mind riding in the rain, as it kept the ambient temperature more manageable. Upper 80’s and even lower 90’s are not unheard of in early September in the Mid-Atlantic.
The Shenandoah Mountain 100 is held each year during the Labor Day weekend and features a course with over 50 miles of singletrack and nearly 14,000 vertical feet of climbing. More than 250 riders participated this year.
“It’s just an awesome course,” Morgan said of the singletrack and dirt road course that snakes across four different Appalachian ridges near the West Virginia border. “It just keeps you going because there aren’t any bad sections.”
Morgan hopes to return next year and break the eight hour barrier and make the podium.
Former Breck resident takes third in worlds
WHISTLER, British Columbia – Meanwhile, in the Pacific Northwest several locals had strong performances in the 2003 World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin? Championships on Saturday and Sunday.
Vail’s Nat Ross finished third overall, while Cullen Barker of Montezuma finished 14th. Ann James of Silverthorne finished 13th in the women’s race.
“It was some hardcore riding,” Ross said of the challenging course at Whistler Ski Resort. “It was classic Northwest riding with roots, rocks and steep drops.”
Ross held second for much of the race behind eventual champion Chris Eatough of Great Britain, but was passed by veteran racer Tinker Juarez just after dawn on Sunday.
Ross’s strong showing caps an amazing summer for the former Breckenridge resident.
Ross placed fourth in 24-Hours of Laguna Seca, Calif., in May and one week later finishing second in the NORBA 24-Hour Championships in Spokane, Wash.
Ross then went to Europe and took the title in the Global 24-Hour Solo Championships on June 21.
The race was Ross’s 20th 24-hour solo race. He has finished Montezuma’s Revenge four times, including a second place in 2000.
Ross hopes to continue building on his successful endurance racing career next year.
“I’ve had a taste of success,” he said of the European win. “I’ve been training and racing enough as to where I’m getting faster and I’ve been working on my diet.”
Ross hopes to unseat four-time champion Eatough next year.
Ross finished within an hour of both Eatough and Juarez this year and rode side-by-side with Eatough during much of the National Off Road Biking Association race.
Ross, who also promotes the World Telemark Freeskiing Championships, still has one more opportunity to show his form this season at 24-Hours of Moab in October.
James, who rides for the Mountain Sports Outlet/Ti Amo Divas racing team, was riding in her first 24-hour solo event.
Barker is an experienced 24-hour racer and works for Wilderness Sports in Silverthorne. Neither was available for comment on Wednesday night.
Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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