Muddy course doesn't slow cyclists

Riders take off on the Escalante Days mountain bike race.

As rain clouds loomed overhead, riders pedaled on. A little moisture was not going to spoil Dolores's premiere cycling event.

Paying no mind to wet weather and ominous rain clouds, 83 cyclists competed in the 15th annual Escalante Days Mountain Bike race, held Aug. 10 in Dolores. Riding on a moist and sometimes muddy course, cyclists of all ages and abilities displayed impressive cycling skills while enjoying the beautiful scenery that the Dolores area has to offer. More than just a competition, the race raised money for the Dolores Rotary Club and showcased many of the community's amenities.

Of all the rides turned in by cyclists competing in the event, none was faster than that of Durango resident and mountain bike hall-of-famer, Travis Brown. Riding on the 35-mile expert course, Brown finished with a time of 1:55:51, barely missing Matt Shriver's six-year-old course record of 1:53:54. Had Brown broken the record, he would have received a $600 prize. Since the record remained intact, a $700 prize will be awarded next year to any rider who breaks the expert course record.

In the women's expert division, Brianna Marshall finished first overall with a time of 2:21:43 and Dana Shinn finished second with a time of 2:27:43.

Age-group event winners in the men's expert division included Stephan Davoust, Skyler Trujillo, Travis Brown and Eric Walecki. Davoust, an 18-year-old from Durango, was especially impressive, crossing the cattle guard at the top of the hill first and winning a $100 prize.

Competing in the always-grueling single-speed division, Kirby Bryant came away victorious in the men's division while Trisha Shaddell won the women's division. Cortez resident Terry Gorsuch finished second in the single-speed division and after the race, talked about the challenges associated with single-speed racing.

"Single speed requires a rider to stand up a lot. You have to push and pull on the handlebars more than a rider riding a geared bike. [Single-speed racing] definitely requires riders to use a different technique."

In the 21-mile men's sport division, Lucas Robbins, Zach Sand, Fabio Wen, Quinn Swope and Dennis Loy all won their respective age groups. Jen Davis, Anne Cheeney, Deborah Sussex and Martha Widener won their respective age groups on the women's side.

Winners on the 13-mile beginner course included Jack Bostrom, Matthew Snow, Scott Kurlander, Tom Seymour, Shawn Collins and Karen Ordemann.

Speaking about what makes the Escalante Days Mountain Bike Race a unique event, Swope stated, "This race has been going on a while. It arrived early on when the mountain bike scene was just beginning. It's neat because it gives competitors the opportunity to line up next to talented, famous riders and go out and compete."

"This really is a great event," added Dolores Rotary Club member Ed Merritt. "Riders always have a good time and families are able to enjoy Escalante Days.

In addition to providing riders with a top-notch racing experience, the Escalante Days Mountain Bike Race benefits a great cause. Proceeds from the race are used by the Dolores Rotary Club to fund Christmas lights in Dolores, foreign exchange scholarships and other Rotary Club Activities.

A great event in more ways than one, the Escalante Days Mountain Bike race promises to continue providing a riders, spectators and race organizers with a rewarding experience in the years to come.