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Ernie Watenpaugh Wins Mountain States Cup Pass

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |April 14, 2011 1:14 PM
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MTB Race News is happy to announce that Colorado racer Ernie Watenpaugh has been chosen as the winner to the 2011 Mountain States Cup season pass giveaway. 

After reading Ernie's hilarious race report describing a heated mountain bike showdown between Ned Overend, Abraham Lincoln, and Ricky Bobby we knew he would be a great addition to our team of MTB correspondents. 

Ernie is a first year Pro and will be racing and reporting from Mountain States Cup events throughout the season. Take a close look at his picture and get to know his face, then track him down after each race to share your stories.

Check in with MTB Race News all year for reports, pictures, and results from the Mountain States Cup.

Read Ernie's full report below.

Old School vs. New School: A Showdown in Telluride

By Ernie Watenpaugh

The rain and low lying clouds that had blanketed the mountains and valley of Telluride, Colorado had been almost completely burned off by the time the pros toed the line.  The humid air was a perfect conduit for the high nerves that were sparking across the start line that early August morning.  "30 seconds till the start of Pro Men” boomed a voice over the PA.  ‘Honest’ Abe Lincoln re-tightened a glove and gave the beard one last tug out of habit before snapping into a pedal.  "10 seconds!”  Ned Overend, cool as a cucumber took a sip off a bottle, while the youngster Ricky Bobby tried to quell an uneasy sewing machine leg by whispering "Shake and Bake! Shake and Bake!” between gritted teeth. 

"3,2,1…Go!!”  Fifty of Colorado’s finest hit the high mountain trails of Telluride for two 12 mile laps that would take them up to a lung shriveling 12,000 feet in elevation, and back down along serpentine singletrack cut through the aspen groves covering the flanks of the Telluride Ski Resort.  A tame double track from under the start banner led the riders around the colorful hotels at the base of the resort and into the first set of climbs that would set the mood for the day.  Afternoon thunderstorms throughout the week had left the course tacky on the steeps, but sloppy and rutted in the zones hidden from the sun.  A tight peloton was soon stretched into a long band of riders, before it was snapped by an early move by Bobby.  Lincoln and Overend were the only ones able to grab the wheel of Bobby as the trio headed across the mellow green runs of Lift 10, and into the dark pine climbs of Prospect Basin. 

Overend emerged first from the trees at the top of Prospect Bowl, followed by the long limbs of Lincoln trailing fifteen seconds back.  Overend was taking pulls out of the saddle as if he had just woken up from his afternoon nap, while Lincoln remained seated with his head bowed, forcing his bike over the last major climb of the first lap.  Five more riders came through the summit of the climb before Bobby appeared.  Carrying a grimace as if someone had just put their cigarette butt in his Budweiser, Bobby struggled over to begin his descent back to the village core.

A moderate descending traverse across Prospect and into Lift 5 gave Lincoln the opportunity to recover and join Overend at the front.  The two veterans traded turns at the front until Lincoln opened up a small gap on a fast straightaway, but Overend had pulled him back just before the end of the first lap.  Meanwhile, Bobby fed his need for speed by taking countless chances on the tacky downhills to regain third place.  By the time the dynamic duo of Overend and Lincoln passed through the start/finish to begin their second lap, Bobby could be heard shrieking in the hills above.  The screams only amplified in intensity until a sweaty but rejuvenated Ricky Bobby came through one minute and twenty seconds off of the leading time. 

Overend and Lincoln traded blows all the way into the climbs of Prospect, with neither man showing a chink in their well established armor.  Bobby on the other hand lost all momentum, and cracked at the first set of climbs.  Ricky Bobby later blamed his bonk on a nutritional mishap.  "I like to eat KFC before a big race, but Telluride don’t have KFC.  Telluride don’t even have a Taco Bell.  How am I supposed to compete at this level with no KFC or Taco Bell?” 

The thin mountain air finally got the better of the ex pres, and when the two leaders popped out of the trees at the top of Prospect for the final time, Overend had opened a commanding lead.  As Overend crested the summit, he took one last look at the lanky figure in the distance before dropping the hammer into the long descent back to town.  Lincoln followed 30 seconds back, drool crusted in his beard, but a sly grateful smirk on his face, because they were now back on his turf, the descent.  

Lincoln turned himself inside out, but Overend never skipped a line or overshot a corner.  The great one was on that day.  Overend crossed the line with a modest single fist pump in a time of 1:46:36, and was followed by a wide grinned Lincoln 1:40 back. "Old Ned was a force to be reckoned with out there today.  Sometimes you just can’t match perfect.” said Lincoln after the race.  Overend was all smiles after his win, and kept his words simple.  "Great course and great competition.”  Ricky Bobby staggered in over ten minutes later, battered and broken.  He declined to comment.

Overend in his prime is one of those people who gives you chills just watching him at work.  A true master of the 26” wheel.  Telluride was a showcase of what our sport can be, and will be.  I am proud to be a part of it. 


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