Pros or not, riders race for own reasons
Some take the races a little more seriously. For the professionals in Wednesday’s Camp Hale Hup, a 24-mile loop through the campgrounds and up single-tracks, finishing in the top three meant prizes. But more importantly, the competition helps them prepare for bigger and better things.
“I’ve been training for the XTerra (triathlon) circuit,” said Vail’s Josiah Middaugh, who raced with the pros for the first time Wednesday and finished fifth. XTerra races are off-road triathlons. “I was in West Virginia last month and I have two more XTerra races in August.”
Middaugh is also working toward the national championships in Santa Rosa, Calif., and then, at the end of August, the half Ironman triathlon that could qualify him for the real thing in Hawaii.
“Hawaii’s my main goal,” he said. “I did the national championship last year. Let’s just say, I’m still figuring it out.”
Middaugh, who was also training for the Keystone XTerra July 28, was beaten out by Eagle’s Jimi Mortenson, a pro who competes on the national mountain bike circuit. Mortenson came cruising around the tight turn into the finish line not surprised he won, but happy nonetheless.
“I think I’m sitting 14th overall in the national series,” Mortenson said. “I’m seventh of the Americans. You have to work your way up to the pro level.”
A bit of bad luck nipped Mortenson during the race. After strict warnings from race organizers requiring bib numbers at the finish line, Mortenson dropped his. Luckily, it was the first lap, so Mortenson noted where it fell and scooped it up on the second 12-mile lap.
“I was hoping nobody else picked it up,” he said. “I just stuffed it here, in my pants.”
In fact, Mortenson had it in his teeth as he passed through the finish line. In the land of dust and rock, that passes as classy, competitive and not the least bit gross. Mortenson’s next national race occurs in two weeks in Durango.
“We all like to do these races because we know everyone here,” Mortenson said. “These are some of the best races and the best prizes.”
Not everyone, though, has the time or want to ride with the pros. In fact, most of the 349 racers Wednesday didn’t. Guys like Jason Bortz or Sean Molloy of Edwards consider themselves beginners, ride with the beginners, but still sport the dusty teeth and grimace of the rest of the finishers. Bortz finished first among the beginners, while Molloy came in runner-up.
“It’s something to do with friends,” Molloy said. “We’re trying to do them all. We’re pushing hard.”
The next race comes closer to home with Beaver Creek Resort’s BC Blast July 31. The looped course consists of some alpine single-track and dirt maintenance roads. Ride time is 5:30 p.m.
For more information, call (970) 479-2280.