The UCC/JW Floors mountain bike team traveled to Saint George, Utah to make their presence known out west at the opening race of the National Ultra Endurance Series. This 900 rider event is the season opener for the National Ultra Endurance Series for both the 100 mile and 50 mile categories and often sets the pace for the series leaders. Our team competed in the 50 mile categories. True Grit Epic is a long, tough and technical race through some of the most beautiful county in the West. Some portions of the course are so technical that course workers are standing by to attend to injured riders!
UCC/JW Floors team member results were as follows:
40-49 men – Pascal Bonaventure 2nd, Justin Rivers 4th, Bryan Taylor 8th, Dan Mahlum 10th, and Paul Todd 14th out of a massive 168 participants in class!
50-59 men – Jeff Jacobson 2nd, Greg Twitty 9th out of 78 participants in class
60+ men – Ken Winston 1st out of 16 participants in class
Race report from Pascal Bonaventure – Category Men 40-49
Great road trip and race with my teammates. 168 starters for the 40-49 class. I did not get a chance to pre-ride the course and the plan was to follow Dan’s lines through the technical sections of the waterfall section and Zen trail. We executed the plan. I lost track of our placing as we passed the slowest riders from the previous wave of open men and women. About 2 hours into the race Dan was pacing our small group of 5 riders. I asked him to let me take a pull. I felt fresh and decided to up the pace to drop our competition. When I looked back after the climb I was by myself with a solid gap. I kept the pace high in Zen mode for the remaining 25 miles and ended up in 2nd place behind Cameron Brenneman from Colorado. Teammate Justin had an amazing result as well. Unfortunately Dan crashed hard while passing in a very high speed section, breaking several vertebrae. But he managed to soldier on and finish the race!
Thank you to Ken for driving and coordinating everything.
Race report from Justin Rivers - Category Men 40-49
It was great to be at the start of the race with teammates - Dan, Paul, Ken, Pascal, Greg and JJ. My category, the men's 40-49 category, had the highest turn out for the True Grit 50 mile Epic Race. The temperature was cold before the race; I wasn't sure how many layers to put on and went with just the arm warmers. That was the right choice.
We left the historic downtown of Santa Clara. It was a paved start - about a half mile, before turning left onto a dirt fire road for the first climb. I found myself near the front of the group before entering a dirt wash that had puddles and some slick spots. Feeling energetic at that point I came out of that section still near the front of the group. Knowing that was not where I should be, I backed off a bit and found a steady pace.
As we made our way down the first fire road, I knew that a climb was coming. It had rained the night before and there was water running down the trail. I passed a few riders on the way up and found a good rhythm.
On a very technical decent down the infamous “waterfall”, I took the line to the right side of the trail with no issues.
While going up the Zen trail, I was able to make passes by taking a more exposed line. Eventually I caught up to Dan and Pascal. The three of us entered the aid station about the same time. I could not find my drop bag but had enough water in my Camel Bak to keep going. As we got to the top, and began the descent into Bear Claw Poppy, I tried to conserve some energy knowing there was a long climb ahead of me. At the end of that climb, there was another decent. That downhill was a very fast single track, and that is where I came across Dan, who had crashed. I stopped to make sure he was okay, and he told me to continue on. (Bad ass Dan finished the race with a broken back.)
From there I climbed the switchbacks and was able to pass by some of the riders who had passed me on Bear Claw Poppy. Now in more technical terrain I was feeling stronger. I made some good line choices through Barrel Roll. I stopped for a rider who asked me for a CO2 cartridge. Knowing the end was close at this point, I was feeling very motivated to finish strong.
There was one more single track descent and a final short climb. We then turned down the fire road, and headed back toward the main street in Santa Clara. I could see a rider about 1000 feet ahead of me which gave me motivation for a sprint finish. I overtook him just before the line.
It was an amazing trail. I really enjoyed the race.
Ken, JJ, and Greg navigating Barrel Roll trail during race course pre-ride sessions. Easy peazy!