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Wasatch Back 50: Midway, UT

Posted by: Jen Hanks |August 10, 2012 10:37 PM
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Wasatch Back 50 presented by Ford– Midway, Utah

Utah State Championship Series #3


Alex Grant and Evelyn Dong Conquer the Wasatch Back

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

Despite forecasts calling for overcast skies the inaugural Wasatch Back 50 got started under a blue, cloudless sky and warm temperatures. WB 50 riders lined up for the mass start event in the early morning hours of July 21st. After a 5-mile neutral roll out from the Homestead Resort, riders hit the gas just before arriving at the Soldier Hollow ski venue.

Several riders surged to the front including Dave Harward (Plan 7), Alex Grant (Cannondale Factory), and South Africans Matthys Beukes and Gert Heyns.

After exiting Soldier Hollow Grant, Beukes, and Heyns pushed an incredible pace up the long Cascade Springs climb gapping Harward who suffered his first of many flats in the aspen lined descent coming off Cascade Springs.

Now, 33 miles in, Beukes and Grant had dropped Heyns by 30 seconds and a two-man battled raged up the Cascade Springs climb again. The Cannondale rider established a small gap of just seconds as they transitioned to dirt just about the same time Matthys Beukes started to feel the air escaping his rear tire.

After a quick tire repair the South African was up and chasing the lone leader but Grant was gone for good.

Alex Grant had plenty of gas left in the tank as he blew past the next feed zone and continued climbing, out of the saddle, up the impossibly steep Cascade Springs road.

Beukes was now comfortably in second while his countryman was coming under attack behind.

Wyoming rider Ben Aufderheide (The Hub) had closed the gap to third place Gert Heyns. Aufderheide and Heyns were now riding together up the long Cascade Springs climb. By their next pass through the Aqueduct trail Aufderheide seemed to have the upper hand taking a comfortable lead into the final rocky descent.

By the finish, Alex Grant had pulled ahead by more than 4 minutes, due to his impressive last lap speed and wise race strategy having enough water on board to skip the third feed heading up Cascade Springs when everyone else had to stop.

Matthys Beukes came home with a strong second place performance putting over 5 minutes on third-placed Ben Aufderheide.

Gert Heyns held on for fourth place just in front of Casey Zaugg (CocoNutz Fuel) who rode a strong race for fifth holding off challenges from Chris Holley (4-Life) and Nick Fisher (Rooster’s/Bikers Edge).

The women’s field featured some top local talent and Australian Katharine O’Shea adding some international flavor to the mix. Ten pro women in all toed the start line with Evelyn Dong (White Pine Touring) being the favorite. The White Pine rider has been on a hot streak lately posting a top-10 finish at the cross country national championships and a top-5 at the Pro XCT event in Missoula the very next week.

Early on it was O’Shea and Dong leading into Soldier Hollow with Meghan Sheridan (, and Jen Hanks (Epic Brewing/ close behind.

It didn’t take long for Evelyn Dong to start making her move as she gapped her rivals by just over a minute at the 17-mile mark.

O’Shea had dropped off the pace with Meghan Sheridan surging into second on the long road climb just in front of Hanks.

Evelyn Dong had no trouble navigating the long, rocky descents of the WB 50 and continued to add to her lead throughout the race.

The battle between Hanks and Sheridan remained hot with Hanks taking over second on the technical descents and Sheridan regaining the spot on the following climb.

No one would be catching Evelyn Dong however as the White Pine Touring rider took a well-deserved win after 4 ˝ hours of racing.

Meghan Sheridan turned it up on the descents and was able to hold off Hanks over the remaining downhills taking second just 49 seconds in front of Jen Hanks.

Fourth place went to KC Holley (4-Life) who rode a smart race, pacing herself enough to overtake Erin Collins just before the final descent.

The final race of the Utah State Championship Series will take place in Draper, Utah on September 15th. The Draper Fall Classic includes two laps on a 25-mile, virtually all singletrack, racecourse through the Corner Canyon trails system. To get entered or learn more about the Utah State Championship Series visit their website at

Race Notes

Pro men’s race winner Alex Grant took home a check for $933 while Pro women’s champion Evelyn Dong brought home $808 in race winnings

Payout for the Pro men went 8 deep and 5 deep for the ladies courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Pro Men:
1, Alex Grant  3:41:02
2, Matthys Beukes 3:45:25
3, Ben Aufderheide 3:50:13
4, Gert Heyns  3:52:25
5, Casey Zaugg 3:53:37
6, Nick Fisher  3:55:37
7, Chris Holley 4:01:21
8, Sam Sweetser 4:06:07
9, Erik Harrington 4:06:25
10, Todd Neumarker 4:10:51
11, Quinten Bingham 4:15:02
12, Geoffrey Montague 4:17:40
13, Paul Clark 4:26:58
14, Chris Cole 4;29:54
15, David Harward 4:35:56
16, Reed Wycoff 4:53:33
17, Justin Desilets 4:59:46

Pro Women
1, Evelyn Dong 4:34:34
2, Meghan Sheridan 4:41:11
3, Jen Hanks 4:42:00
4, KC Holley 4:47:04
5, Erin Swenson 4:49:46
6, Rachel Cieslewicz 5:10:12
7, Jenelle Kremer 5:25:06
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