True Grit 50 - St. George, Utah
written by: Shannon Boffeli
Riders left the start line at 9am this morning in St. George, Utah. In front of the racers lay 50 miles of some of the best desert singletrack the U.S. has to offer.
Unfortunately, temperatures were well below the normal for this southwest desert town and after less than 30 minutes of riding the skies opened up.
As the rain descended across the red sand and clay outside St. George, racing and trail conditions quickly turned treacherous. The heinous mixture of grit and clay teamed up to wreak havoc on drivetrains and brake pads.
Hoping to continue the race, directors were scrambling to reroute sections of the course away from particularly thick muddy sections. Despite their best efforts riders were being forced to abandon with broken chains and derailleurs. Victims to the thick tacky mud that clung to every surface of the bike.
Even the mud could not prevent Cannondale rider Alex Grant from throwing down an impressive race. Veteran of countless endurance races, Grant has proven himself in the never-ending rain and slop of La Ruta as well as the crippling cold of Leadville.
Grant used his profound technical riding skills to establish an early lead in the jaded-rocks and demanding descents of the Zen trail then used his experience and determination to carry on in the demanding conditions.
Grant finished the slightly shortened course in just over 4 hours. By then things had gotten so bad that officials had to shut the course down. Only 11 riders were able to finish before the course closure.
After the race Grant said, "It was pretty bad. I was so cold by the end that I had to walk the final climb even though it's a road. I had to use the palm of my hand to push the shift levers. Both my thumbs were frozen and didn't work anymore."
Grant was followed by Chris Holley (Trek 29er). Holley also possesses a deep background of endurance racing and has proven his ability to cope with difficult conditions.
Rounding out the final podium were Tyler Eusden, Jonathon Davis, and Drew Free.
Although many talented and experienced women were on course including Lynda Wallenfels (LWCoaching.com), Eszter Horanyi, and KC Holley (Trek 29er), none were able to finish prior to the course closure.
(Unofficial results are posted below. Due to trail closures and eliminations during the event these results are likely to change)
Bryan Alders (Epic Endurance Cycling) rode in second place most of the day until the fierce cold forced him to trade his bike in for an ambulance.
Open Men (Slightly More Official Results)
1, Alex Grant (Cannondale) ~4hr 04minutes
2, Chris Holley (Trek 29er Crew)
3, Tyler Eusden
4, Jonathon Davis
5, Drew Free (Revolution/Peak Fasteners)
6, Quinn Bingham (Bikers Edge)
7, Brandon Cross
8, Stewart Goodwin
9, Nick Fisher