Vail Grind is a mud bath on wheels |

Vail Grind is a mud bath on wheels

Shane Macomber/Vail DailyBryce Miller tucks a rock in the last single track section of VRD's season ending mountain bike race on Vail Mountain.

All you need is mud.That, plus a bunch of smiles, a few bent rims and a lot of rain and you’ve got Wednesday’s Vail Grind – the sixth and final race of the VRD Beaver Creek and Vail Mountain Challenge.”It’s epic conditions,” said a mud-caked Charlie Evans at the finish line. “It went from fun to slick to snotty to sticky to low visibility. I slipped a couple times. But, the hard man survives.”Granted, there was more to the Grind than just the mud. Being that it was the last race of the series, champions were crowned in the 18 respective divisions Wednesday, and final standings were decided by a number of exciting neck-and-neck dashes to the finish line at the bottom of Vail Mountain.The mud, however, was topic No. 1 for every brave soul who entered the race, including division winners Mike Skellion and Brad Grohusky.Skellion won his sixth race in a row to pick up the Single Speed title, while Grohusky notched a second-place finish to grab the Men’s Vet Sport title.”It keeps it real, ya know,” Skellion said. “I’d prefer not to (race in the mud), but in a race situation like this, it’s fun.””This has got to be one the most interesting races with the rain coming down,” Grohusky said. “There were people walking their bikes, kicking their bikes, grabbing sticks and scraping off the mud and cursing a little bit, but I think, overall having a great time.”

A good way to end the summerSchool starts today for a number of the 11-and-under and 14-and-under racers who hammered in Wednesday’s race.Bummer. Most of the young’uns agreed, however, that getting coated in mud and flying down some dicey singletrack was a perfect way to get all the summer yah-yahs out before they had to start clocking seat time in their desks.”It was good way to finish the summer,” J.T. Schmitt said. “It was a fun race. There wasn’t too much mud, but it was fun.”Schmitt barely eked out a win in the 14-and-under boys division over his friend Zach Bailey, who finished one second behind. Bailey actually reeled in Schmitt on the downhill section of the 3-mile course that the younger racers pedaled on, but Schmitt eventually regained his lead and was able to finish first. “It was a sprint,” Bailey said. “I haven’t won yet, but I’ve gotten either second and third place every time.”Both racers agreed that the toughest part of the Grind was trying to pass other riders on the slippery singletrack sections. “They don’t really separate the 11-and-unders from us, so it was kind of chaotic trying to pass them,” Bailey said. “It was a lot more chaotic going down. You’re going fast, and they’re going slow.”

Heidi Kloser, who picked up the win in the 14-and-under girls race, said that she liked the downhill-singletrack sections the best, even though they were a little perilous.”I didn’t have anybody to pass on, so I could just cruise,” Kloser said. “Except, there was a surprise uphill, and I was in too high of a gear, so I had to run.”Kloser’s little brother, Christian, also picked up a win Wednesday, beating out Brady McDonald in the 11-and-under boys race. “It was kind of fun doing it in the mud, instead of just riding in the dirt,” Christian Kloser said. “For some reason, I felt a littleSee Grind, page A26 safer going in the mud than in the dirt probably. When the ground’s a little wet, it grips better than when you’re just riding in the dirt.”McDonald said that he had a good vibe coming into the race after a summer vacation in which a day didn’t go by that he wasn’t on his bike.”I was planning on coming in the top-three,” McDonald said. “I know this mountain real well.”

SingletracksBrice Miller, of Thredbull, Australia, might have had the best quote of the evening after crossing the finish line first in the Men’s Masters division.When asked about racing in the mud, Miller said, “It’s kind of like mud wrestling. Where are all the pretty girls to wrestle with?”Team High Maintenance’s Julie Morrow also had a great one-liner befitting of a woman who expects nothing but the best.”It’s great for the skin,” Morrow said jokingly, when asked if mud was a good exfoliant. Morrow’s teammate Wendy Liall said the Grind was her favorite race all summer.”It was awesome,” Liall said. “There’s nothing you can do. If you came to race, then you’ve just got to enjoy the mud. I loved it.”Really, mud is all you need. Contact Nate Peterson at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at

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