Geoff Kabush and Sparky Sears Kick Off Moab Rocks with a Win
It’s 8:10am and racers are congregating at the local high school, music is playing and the energy is high.
The 2018 Moab Rocks stage race is about to start in downtown Moab, Utah; a town known as a world class mountain biking mecca.
With the familiar TransRockies starting song, “Highway to Hell”, bursting from the loudspeakers, racers lead out on a neutral road ride behind the local police escort. After a few minutes, once climbing Sand Flats road, the police car pulls away and it’s go time.
Racers begin a fierce 14-mile climb up Sand Flats road. It’s an undulating 3,300’ climb with steep sections, sandy areas, rocks, some headwind, sun, and an overall grueling climb to Lower Porcupine Singletrack trail (LPS).
Once finished with the long road climb, racers veer right on to LPS and hit some fun windy singletrack, and the beginning of one of the most epic trails! Porcupine Rim starts as a pedally descent, with large rocks, chunky sections, drops and specific lines to follow. At several points racers are riding only a few feet from the 1000 foot cliff ledge. If you have time, the views and scenery are spectacular. For those racing, it’s a very physical descent where you have to be on point, paying attention to each turn and rock and watching the lines. It’s technical and fast, a descent that will make you forget you are racing and leave you smiling; loving Moab. After descending 2,200’ racers finish on Porcupine Rim proper, smiling, exhausted and exhilarated about the first day of Moab Rocks.
For the pro men, Josiah Middaugh (Midaugh Coaching) pulled away from the lead pack of men on the road climb. The rest of the men worked together while he had a minute lead. On the top of Porcupine Rim Middaugh crashed. From there, Geoff Kabush (Yeti, Maxxis), Chris Baddick (Boulder Cycle Sport), and Payson McElveen (Orange Seal) rode together down Porcupine Rim finishing only seconds apart. Kabush won in a time of 1:38:53, following right behind him was Baddick (1:38:58), and only another 30 seconds back was McElveen (1:39:00).
For the pro women, the lead four women worked together, quickly pulling away at the start up the road climb. Sparky Sears (Pivot), Jenny Smith (Kenda/ Carbondale), Chloe Cross (Whistler Mountain Bike), and Marlee Dixon (Pearl Izumi/Pivot) rode together, often leap-frogging each other for the first half of the road climb. At one point, Sears pulled ahead and jumped up with a few guys, within eyesight she maintained a lead on the other girls. With a headwind, today was a tough day to be out riding alone on Sand Flats road. Riding in groups, the next three women rode close to each other. Around mile 11, Dixon pushed ahead on a steep paved section.
Not long after, Cross blew up and Smith maintained a strong third place. Once on the singletrack, Sears, a fast enduro racer, maintained her lead and finished first (2:04:05). Behind her, Dixon took second (2:08:33) and Smith third (2:12:20).