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Rocky Mtn Conference Collegiate MTB - Grand Junction, Colorado

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |October 20, 2011 2:50 AM
Rocky Mountain Conference Collegiate Mountain Bike Race - Grand Junction, Colorado

Fort Lewis and Colorado U Battle in Grand Junction

Written by: Eszter Horanyi

After a season of unseasonably warm weather for racers in the Rocky Mountain Conference, the one race that generally promises warm temperatures, desert riding, and abundant sunshine in Grand Junction brought low clouds, plummeting temperatures, and snow. The temperatures started out reasonable on Saturday morning for the first short track races and quickly deteriorated to rain and snow by the time Dual Slalom practice started later in the afternoon.  Hosted by Colorado Mesa University, all of the venues were new this year and presented racers with ample challenges.

The short track was contested on a short 1:30 loop consisting of a mild gravel road climb and a singletrack descent. The University of Colorado and Fort Lewis College womenís season-long showdown continued with Lauren Catlin of Fort Lewis taking the early lead.  Katie Sodergren (CU) and Jill Behlen (Wyoming) chased valiantly, but unable to close the gap, were left to battle out second and third.  Sodergren was able to shake Behlen on the final lap.  In the men, it was a shakeup from the norm with former Laramie, WY resident Clayton Barrows of Penn State in town and lining up. Barrows quickly distanced himself, along with Fort Lewis teammates Howard Grotts and Rotem Ishay, from the rest of the field.  Grotts led the trio for the final lap but was unable to hold off a late charge by Barrows who ended up with the win with Rotem in second.

The dual slalom was held at The Ranch, a bike park operated by the owners of Grassroots Cycles in Grand Junction.  A brief and intense snowstorm during practice followed by the first emergence of the sun for the day left the track in prime condition for racing with hero dirt. With a lack of a timing system, the race was run with a best 2 of 3 format.  Because of this, racers were guaranteed several runs on the professionally built track featuring many large berms and jumps.  Brittany Clawson of Fort Lewis emerged with the win for the women, being the only woman able to jump many of the features and Phil Cowan led a Fort Lewis charge on the menís side that saw the team dominate both the big and small final. Taylor Borucki, Dylan Stucki, and Austin Chipman, all of Fort Lewis, finished in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, respectively.

The XC was held on a short but technical 3.1 mile loop under brilliant sunshine on Sunday morning. Sodergren (CU) and Catlin (FLC) dominated the womenís race riding together for 3 of the 4 laps before Sodergren was able to open up a 20 second gap midway through the final lap.  She was able to extend her advantage by riding some of the rock features that forced the majority of the women off their bikes.   The win extends Sodergrenís lead in the conference standings.  The menís race also came down to a two-man race with Fort Lewis teammates Grotts and Ishay riding together for the entirety of the race. The two matched each other pedal stroke for pedal stroke both on the technical and power sections of the course. Ishay emerged with the win in the hard fought battle in the final quarter mile of the race. Gregory Carpenter, Dylan Stucki, and Payson McElveen, all of FLC, rounded out the top five.

Racing continues with the final conference race of the season in Durango, CO hosted by Fort Lewis College.  

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