The UCC/JW Floors mountain bike team participated in a resurrected old classic mountain bike race called the Sagebrush Safari. The course starts out with a 6.5 mile climb up Morena Stokes Valley Rd to 4 Corners, then up Los Pinos Rd, just near the top of Los Pinos Mountain (elevation 4600ft). No time to catch your breath before heading into the Spur Meadows downhill. This trail contained a high speed descent and was littered with sharp rocks that claimed many a mountain bike tire (the trail became littered with racers repairing flat tires) After roughly 4 miles of descending the course intersects Morena Stokes Valley Rd to climb back again to 4 Corners. From there racers jump onto Wrangler Trail. This is the trail that makes the Sagebrush Safari as epic as it is. It contains many types of terrain including loose dirt, hard pack, massive rock slabs, rock gardens, punchy climbs, and flowy descents. After about 4 miles the Wrangler Trail dumps onto Skye Valley Rd for a brief screamingly fast descent to Bronco Flats Trail and then to a new section called Ranger Trail. Ranger is a technical, yet rideable climb, up to the next section. The next section is one of the most fun fire-roads you’ll experience, Gunslinger Trail. After which you reach Morena Stokes Valley Rd and for the final time make your way back up to 4 corners. Once you reach 4 corners the course leads to Kernan Cycle trail. Kernan is the final (fast, “whoopy”, and at times technical) descent back down to the paved road. Once on the paved road the final 2 are flat and fast to the finish line.
Team results summary is as follows:
40+ Expert men – 3rd place Jeff Jacobson, 5th place Pascal Bonaventure, 9th place Larry Tanzo, 10th place Steve Boyd, 12th place Greg Twitty, and 13th place Bryan Taylor out of 19 participants
55+ Open – 1st place Randy Liechty, 3rd place Jack Kairy, 4th place Ken Winston, 9th place Dennis Mudd out of 19 participants
Race report Sagebrush Safari Category 55+ by Randy Liechty:
I was excited about this race as Sagebrush was my first bicycle race 25 years ago! I started that race in the beginner class age 35-44. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. During the race I thought to myself, this is really hard so I stopped and asked the race marshal if I was going the right direction (some things never change) and confessed that I was a beginner! He laughed at me and said "just keep going". I did finish, and placed 35th out of 66 in my class! That day I realized that Sagebrush is a real mountain bike race! The modern version is 27 miles long with 3600 feet of climbing.
When I arrived at the race on Saturday it was awesome to warm up with all my great teammates. This is a great group who ride and train together on the Wednesday night ride. We are fortunate to have amazing support from UC Cyclery and all of our sponsors.
Ken Winston, Jack Kairy, Dennis Mudd, and I were staged in the 55 group near the rear. At the start of the race all categories left at the same time so the three of us move up through the large peloton to our other teammates near the front. I worked my way up to Greg Twitty and Bryan Taylor in the 40+ group at the start of the long climb so I could try and stay up with them on the decent. They are the best on the descents and as a nervous old guy, I am more confident following them down then guiding myself solo on the fast descent! Greg pulled away because there was a rider between Bryan and me. We never saw Greg again. This whole time I was waiting for Ken to fly by me because he is such a great descender. I found out after I finished that Ken had flatted at the start of the downhill (along with many other racers). I continued the race riding behind Bryan to the finish line. I am grateful to have Bryan leading me through the technical descents!
I am looking forward to many more races with a great team!
The UCC/JW Floors mountain bike team participated in round 3 of the California Mountain Bike series. This is the premier race series in southern California with 7 races and 3 different venues. This round was a UCI sponsored event attended by elite level pros including the woman’s XC world champion Kate Courtney and took place at Vail Lake in Temecula on March 23. It was a beautiful day and the 6 mile course with 700 ft of climbing had hero dirt. Cross country races consisted of 3 or 4 laps depending on age group and endurance races consisted of 6 or 7 laps.
The team made their presence known, winning 4 first places, a 2nd, and three 3rd places. In total, 14 from our team competed. Team results summary is as follows:
45-49 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 1st place Larry Tanzo, 3rd place Bryan Taylor, 4th place Pepe Velez
50-54 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 3rd place Jeff Jacobson, 4th place Steve Boyd, 10th place Greg Twitty
55-59 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 7th place Jack Kairy
60-64 Cat 1 Cross Country men – 1st place Ken Winston, 2nd place Randy Liechty, 3rd place Michael Hines
Open Endurance men – 4th place Chuy Topete
40-49 Endurance men – 1st place Pascal Bonaventure and 4th place Simon Planken
40+ Endurance women – 1st place Rhonda Geiszler
I had a little less than a week to get the derailleur repaired for Vail. Found out it was just a very loose clutch adjustment screw. Went to test it on Tuesday and found out the hard way that the cassette had cracked. My chain dropped off my cassette into my wheel and took out spokes, the pulley cage and bent the derailleur severely!
Thanks to John and Dave at UC Cyclery I was able to gather parts for an almost all new drivetrain and have the MTB ready for Saturday’s race just in time. So I lined up at the start at Vail and was nervous, yet excited to test the new drivetrain. After all this time away from MTB racing I didn’t recognize a lot of racers and it’s hard to figure out ”who is who”. Pepe Velez and Brian Taylor helped me out by pointing out some strong guys and possible race winners. I was able to pre run a lap and knew we started on a fire road that turned into a tight single track. After we started I went hard to get to the front to enter the single track in the top 5. Unfortunately they started my age group (45-49) with the age 40-44 Cat 1’s, so I had no clue who I was with on the first section of the single track. After about half a lap in I started asking guys I was with, what age group they were. I REALLY think the leg markings need to be brought back. I’ll donate the Sharpies!! Only one rider in the group was in my age group. I believe his name is Gilles Brouchard from the Tasco team. He was setting a fierce tempo and we were already creating a gap from some of the group we were in. I noticed one rider was working very hard to stay close to us and realized it was a rider that Pepe had pointed out and referred to as a possible winner.
I figured this early in the race that I would settle in for a while and see if this gap we had would last. After lap 1 and 1/3 the way into lap 2 I decided to try a little attack. It worked! Between feeling good and having traffic to help block anybody from following my wheel I was able to pull away for good. But because of the start with two separate age groups I started wondering if a rider in my class had snuck away with the front group. So I started to push even harder after shedding the last group I was in.
I felt really good on the 4th lap and was fortunate enough to get in a small group with LEGEND Tinker Juarez and ride strong to the finish for the W! I had an absolute blast and I definitely have the “racing bug” again!