True Grit Epic & Gravel




Caroline Dezendorf & Danny Van Wagoner Take Wins at True Grit Epic: While Allyson Sepp & Zach Calton Win the Stage Race

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

Even the reliably dry desert terrain of southern Utah has not been immune to the relentless weather systems that have pummeled the western US this winter. The night before the True Grit Epic rains fell for most of the night and riders awoke to some last minute changes to the course. The most critical of which being that the race start through Cove Wash was too muddy for riders to pass leading to a “neutral start” through town and onto the trails in Green Valley.

Racers on Zen trail with clouds in the background. Photo by Crawling Spider Photography

The course changes were a last minute decision by race director Cimarron Chacon and an overwhelming success. The changes did not affect the distance for the 50 mile riders but would impact the 100 mile racers making it impossible to complete their second lap and forcing them to simply repeat three full laps around the 6-mile Barrel Roll trail.

All categories and distances started at 8AM and the pack started hot with a mad dash through the streets of Santa Clara to the singletrack in Green Valley. After missing the trail turn off most the riders jumped off their bikes to run and tumble down a muddy bank to the trail. After the race 100 miler Gordon Wadsworth had this to say about the start, “That start was so manky. Our whole group was like a herd of buffalo diving off a cliff.”

Racer on course at True Grit Epic. Photo by Crawling Spider Photography

But once on course things settled down and trail conditions proved to be tacky despite patches of rainfall that continued to fall throughout the day.

Defending 50-mile champion Danny Van Wagoner (Johnson Elite Orthodontics) had gotten off to a good start and took an early lead into the infamously steep technical descent of the Waterfall. Van Wagoner saying later that, “Surprisingly, that didn’t seem all that sketchy despite the wet rock.”

Van Wagoner continued his solo lead until teammate Roger Arnell and Truman Glasgow (Imaginary Collective) caught him on the climb to Zen trail. The trio navigated the maze of slickrock that is the Zen trail together.

Danny Van Wagoner on is way to a repeat True Grit Epic title. Photo by Crawling Spider Photography

Meanwhile the women’s 50-mile leader Caroline Dezendorf (Easton/Cervelo), who was riding the demanding course of the True Grit Epic blind and on a hardtail, had told herself to, ‘expect the unexpected.’

A strong effort on the road start was paying dividends as she held the lead into the singletrack  with seconds in hand over her hard-charging competitors. “The trails were so fun,” Dezendorf would say after the finish, “I was kind of amazed how much of the slick rock I could ride blind.”

The Reno, Nevada, racer was indeed having an impressive day taking a lead through the unforgiving Zen trail. A couple of small mistakes including a crash opened the door for  Mya Graham (Waite Endurance) to close up on the leader making contact at the second feed zone just before climbing toward the Bearpaw Poppy trail.

Navigating the endless rock of Zen trail. Photo by Crawling Spider Photography

Not far behind the lead duo a group of ladies rode wheel to wheel at the halfway point including KC Holley (Kuhl), Lauren Zimmer (Carborocket Pro MTB), and Holly Haguewood.

At this time the lead men were still riding in formation with Van Wagoner, Arnell, and Glasgow out front. As the leaders began the climb up the Rim Reaper trail Van Wagoner could see the threatening figure of Zach Calton (Calton Coaching) and Carter Anderson (Kuhl)charging behind.

Van Wagoner pushed the pace up front splitting Roger Arnell before his final acceleration on the Barrell Roll climb unseated Truman Glasgow from his wheel opening a gap he would hold until the finish successfully defending his title as True Grit Epic champion.

Truman Glasgow dropped another spot to third by the finish losing in a sprint finish to Roger Arnell. Carter Anderson would cross the line two minutes later in fourth just one second in front of Zach Calton.

On the women’s side Caroline Dezendorf was doing her best to hold off a challenge from Graham. As the course dried up so did the mud that had collected in Dezendorf’s shoes and pedals at time making it impossible to clip in. “My cleats and pedals became cement,” She shared after the finish, “It made it so a lot of features that I should have been able to ride I had to run because I wasn’t clipped in.”

Photo by Crawling Spider Photography

But Dezendorf kept her cool and focused on staying calm and pedaling forward. She again opened the gap to second place and kept stretching her lead until the finish. Undeterred by a less than perfect day she indeed stayed calm and took the True Grit win by a margin of over 10 minutes.

18 year-old Mya Graham came home in second.

The final steps of the podium came down to a back and forth battle with Lauren Zimmer eventually taking third just seconds in front of Holly Haguewood in fourth and KC Holley in fifth.

Riders in the rain-shortened 100-mile event event completed one full lap and two additional 6-mile laps of the Barrel Roll trail for a full distance of 62 miles.

It was hometown teenager Gwendolyn Sepp (Artemesia Cycling) taking top honors. She was followed by Suzanne Jensen (Roaring Mouse) and Bigfoot Endurance racer Julia Thumel in third.

The men’s race went to Samuel Brehm (Cyclery Bike Shop) in a time of 4:15:41. Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Cyclery p/b Revel Bikes) took runner up honors almost 10 minutes in front of Ryan Bennett (No Ride Around) in third.


True Grit Gravel

In past years the True Grit Epic has featured a multi-day stage race competition that includes the Epic mountain bike race followed by a 84-mile gravel race the following day. For the first time in 2023 the gravel race would happen one week after the mountain bike stage.

Weather conditions proved to be much drier for the gravel event but a winter of heavy precipitation left the gravel roads in rough condition with ruts and washboard bumps challenging riders and their equipment.

Allyson Sepp during the True Grit Epic. Photo by Crawling Spider Photography

St. George’s own Allyson Sepp (Artemisia Cycling) won the race of attrition in this year’s True Grit Gravel taking first place and taking the stage race title after her 6th place finish in the Epic mountain bike race.

Zach Calton out front in True Grit gravel. Photo by Crawling Spider Photography

The men’s gravel event win went to Zach Calton who separated from Bjorn Larson (TNE & Associates LLP) and Carter Anderson (Kuhl) to take the top step of the podium and the stage race title. Calton will also be participating in this year’s Life Time Grand Prix.

Click Here for Full Results from True Grit Epic MTB Race

Click Here for Full Results from True Grit Epic Gravel Race

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Click for our report from True Grit Epic 2022

Stan Crane Memorial – Draper, Utah

Mitchell Peterson and Joey Lythgoe Climb to the Top of the Podium in Corner Canyon

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

Draper Utah’s, Corner Canyon played host to the fourth round of the 2015 Intermountain Cup with the Memorial Day classic Stan Crane Memorial.

Early morning showers cleared just in time for the large collection of intrepid racers gathered to attack Corner Canyon’s ever-evolving singletrack selections.

Race directors did an excellent job of choosing the sandier trails in Draper. They chose surfaces capable of handling the spring rains while throwing in an all-new technical descent with A and B-line options to accommodate all level of riders.

Drew Free drops into the A-line descent. Photo by Angie Harker

Drew Free drops into the A-line descent. Photo by Angie Harker

Once again Kelly Peterson and Bryson Perry wove together a masterful selection of trails that jacked the excitement level and brought in one of the largest fields of racers in recent history with 318 riders in attendance.

The pro and semi-pro men got off to a clean start at 11:30 with Mitchell Peterson (Canyon Bicycles) floating to the front highlighting his effortless climbing style.

Long open sections of climbing early in the race helped Peterson establish himself off the front until a mishap at the end of lap two left him wadded up with a lapped rider in the A-line downhill section.

“I lost a lot of time because my bars got twisted in the crash,” Peterson remarked. “I kept asking people who went by if they had a multi-tool I could use to fix it and then I remembered, I have a multi-tool in my pocket.”

Having dropped back into second place Peterson remounted now focused on catching the leader Drew Free (Revolution/Peak Fasteners).

Within half a lap he was back out front once again passing Free on another long climbing section.

Now in second Free had his hands full trying to hold off a group of 5 riders bearing down on him.

Chris Holley (Kuhl) would get the closest to the Revolution rider, almost making contact on the early climbs of the final lap but couldn’t hang on as Free shredded the scary-fast singletrack descents leading back to the finish.

Free wasn’t fast enough to catch Peterson who comfortably took the win in his first mountain bike race in over a year.

Free crossed the line second just twenty-one seconds in front of Holley who held just a handful of seconds advantage over Kevin Day (Endurance 360) who took fourth.

Josh Whitney (Evol) finished off a strong day in fifth place.

Joey Lythgoe enjoying her time out front. Photo by Angie Harker

Joey Lythgoe enjoying her time out front. Photo by Angie Harker

The pro women’s event touched off with a significantly more hectic start as several riders tangled while sprinting for the singletrack holeshot. Pivot/Epic Brewing rider Jen Hanks hit the pavement hard just before reaching the dirt.

The early crash didn’t slow down race favorite Joey Lythgoe (Kuhl) though. Lythgoe has won two races on the ICup XC schedule already this year and excels at the climbing courses like Corner Canyon.

She certainly didn’t disappoint as she established an early lead and never let off the gas throughout the nearly 2 hour race.

Lythgoe powered her way ahead on the climbs and was quick enough on the descents to hold off Stan’s NoTubes racer Sarah Kaufmann who was fresh off a Super-D race win on Saturday.

While Kaufmann did some damage on the downhills it wasn’t enough to close the gap on the lone leader.

Lythgoe’s all-around skill proved too much for everyone else as she cruised to her third ICup win of 2015.

Kaufmann rolled in second with a comfortable margin over third place.

Jen Hanks leads Erika Powers through the rocks on the A-line. Photo by Angie Harker

Jen Hanks leads Erika Powers through the rocks on the A-line. Photo by Angie Harker

Nicole Tittensor (Revolution/Peak Fasteners) occupied the third spot for most of the race holding off a late-race charge from Jen Hanks who mounted an impressive recovery after a heavy fall onto her left side 30-seconds into the race.

Utah Mountain Biking’s Meghan Sheridan held off her own late race challenge from Erika Powers to take the final podium spot.

Spirits were high following the event as all participants shared stories about the race and the challenging aspects of the top-notch racecourse. An after race BBQ was hosted by Revolution Bicycles in honor of former team member Stan Crane who passed away unexpectedly in 2006 from an undiagnosed heart defect.

Click Here for full results from all categories

Podium spots come with stacks of cash at the Intermountain Cup. Photo by Angie Harker

Podium spots come with stacks of cash at the Intermountain Cup. Photo by Angie Harker