Vuelta al Cotopaxi; Tidewater MTB Challenge; AACX; and Triple X Trex Fest Enduro.

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Vuelta al Cotopaxi. Ecuador.

Mountain bikers rousing and preparing for a hard day in the saddle.

Abbey Alexiades raced in the two-day Vuelta al Cotopaxi as part of a co-ed duo with her husband, Alex Alexiades. Abbey’s report on the grueling weekend:

“The Vuelta al Cotopaxi is the biggest race in Ecuador with 250 teams of two competing over two days around the Volcano Cotopaxi.

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The start line on Day 2 of racing. (Photo: Cikla)

The first day was the hardest day I have ever had on a bike. The two long climbs combined with the altitude made this day really hard. Sections of the long climb were so steep I had to walk! As we reached the top of the climb the heavens opened up and the thunder, lightening and hail started. I went from overheating to being so cold. Luckily once we started to descend ee rode out of the storm and then just had to deal with the mud. Not eating or drinking enough led me to bonk pretty badly during the last 10km. We ended up 7th place and a little off pace. Once we arrived at camp, Alex set up the tent while I ate and tried to get warm. We were fed lunch and dinner and were able to get to bed pretty early.

Abbey and Alex.

 

Riders walking their bikes on some of the steep, muddy sections. (Photo: Cikla)

The second day went much better. The climbs were shorter and not as steep and the trail was more technical. I felt much better and was able to have a lot more fun. About half way through we caught up to the third place team but were unable to keep with them on the climbs. The riding was a lot of fun. We finished in 4th place only 6 minutes out of 3rd place. We were unable to make up enough time on the second day to move up too many places and finished 6th overall. There was only 4 minutes separating 4-6th places so it ended up being a very close race.”

One benefit of riding as part of a team.

Day 1 Route Stats:

  • START: The Neighborhood Caspi Virgin Quinche (10,334ft)
  • FINISH: Hacienda El Tambo (12,139ft)
  • DISTANCE: 33.8 miles
  • MINIMUM HEIGHT: 11,482ft
  • MAXIMUM HEIGHT: 13,697ft
  • TOTAL ASCENT: 5,905ft
  • GRADE AVERAGE: 0.9%

Day 2 Route Stats:

  • START: Hacienda El Tambo (12,139ft)
  • FINISH: Barrio El Caspi Virgin Quinche (10,334ft)
  • DISTANCE: 42.8 miles
  • MINIMUM HEIGHT: 10,334ft
  • MAXIMUM HEIGHT: 13,353ft
  • TOTAL ASCENT: 3,904ft
  • GRADE AVERAGE: -0.6%

Watch video from the event. Keep an eye out for Abbey!

27th Annual Tidewater MTB Challenge. Williamsburg, VA.

Jordan Kahlenberg went south for the weekend to race the Tidewater Challenge/VORS Final with GNE’s Virginian rep, Lester Brown III. For all his chillaxin’, Jordan sure knows how to take a win! Jordan’s report:

“This past weekend I found myself packing the car for one last bicycle game weekend.  These games, titled the ‘Tidewater Challenge’, were held near Williamsburg, VA, on private land only open once a year for the race.  race prep was ideal for this one, having spent Friday night at my teammate Lester’s house watching The Simpsons and grazing on leftovers in the fridge.

The unique part of the Tidewater Challenge is that it’s not just a single race, but in fact a series of races which riders can string together in various ways to complete a ‘Trifecta’.  With prices for individual races and for the overall Trifecta, it pays to choose wisely when shooting for the overall.  

Jordan

Open Men’s podium after Sunday’s XC Event. Jordan on the 5th stump; Lester in 8th.

Having not ridden as much of late, I of course chose to do the solo marathon XC (5hr+) on Saturday, versus the Duo Marathon and Short-Track combo.  I gambled on experience to get me through, while hoping that by racing earlier in the day, I’d have more recovery time for Sunday’s XC, which would act as a tie-breaker.  Surprisingly, the gamble paid off!  I won the solo Marathon and got to sit and relax while riders prepped and raced the Short-Track races later in the afternoon.  

With the marathon win under my belt, I was credited with two first-place finishes, with only the XC race left to complete my ‘Trifecta’.  There were some strong riders I’d be going against, but was optimistic I could recover in time to take the overall for the weekend.  Some fast rassers showed up for the XC, most notably Keck Baker of Champion Systems/Cannondale.  Having just recovered from Appendicitis, he was a few pounds lighter (no appendix now) and fresh.  I knew that if I just stayed at the front and rolled with him, I’d take the cake.  Unfortunately, my start was lackluster, and I ended up getting gapped when an overly ambitious rider realized he was in over his head and slowed a bunch of us down in the tight singletrack. “Dude, you’re killing me smalls!”

Having no real matches to burn after the previous day, I tried to keep as steady as possible to maintain my position and hopefully catch any stragglers from the front group.  No dice!  Rode much of the race on my own and rolled in for a 5th place finish and the Trifecta win!”

Jordan takes 1st place in Marathon on Saturday and 5th in XC on Sunday, thus winning the overall Trifecta!

Lester’s report:

“The final event of the Virginia Off Road Series always sends racers to the coastal region of the state with the Tidewater Challenge. This year saw the 27th edition, affirming its place as the longest running mtb race in the state. Aside from longevity, this event stands apart due to its various racing opportunities. The ‘Challenge’ is found in anyone who decides to take on the Trifecta, several combinations of events that are used to determine an Omnium winner. Among the offerings are short track, marathon, cross country and single speed. A racer going for the omnium could look to rack up anywhere from 55 to 80 miles on the same course in a weekend. Finally, the event serves as State SS MTB Championship with an awesome trophy and bragging rights for the year.

Lester takes 4th place in Saturday’s short track event.

Jordan decided to take on the Trifecta which led to an early start Saturday morning for the marathon while I opted for the afternoon short track. Designed as 2 five lap heats, the ability to hold top end efforts and recover quickly was a must. I was glad to have done several cx races leading up to this event and felt in good shape. A smaller field didn’t mean a reduction in intensity and even the race promoter jumped in to give us a run for the money. Consistent racing saw me finish 4th place in both heats and I was happy with my efforts.

Sunday was the XC race and both myself and Jordan were on the start line representing Giant Northeast. Having spent 5 hours on the course the day before, Jordan and I discussed strategy beforehand. The course started with a sprint for 180 turn, opening into a wide stretch with rolling and jump features before the first section of singletrack. The sections of the course near staging and start/finish area were designed for motocross and bmx racing, a passion of the promoter. The rest of the course presented tight, twisty and root-infested single track with a solid dose of short, punchy climbs and wide-open descents. It really offers a bit of everything, making it a favorite for mtb racers all over. I was sitting top ten during the first lap and lost one place during the furious pace. I settled into a rhythm and focused on riding light through the roots and being smooth with power in the climbs. When all of the dust settled I came in 8th place and shaved about 11 minutes off my finishing time from last year. 

It was a great weekend and I was glad to have the company of new teammates for one of the best races in Virginia. Here’s to spreading the word and seeing more Giant Northeast in the state, truly showing the team is #Vermont2Virginia.” 

Lester’s Current Soundtrack: Pharrell – Come Get It Babe

Sportif Cross Cup Series: AACX. Edgewater, MD.

David on the start line in the elite men’s event. (Photo: Joey Sikorsi)

An exciting report from David Flaten, who hunkered down for some hard work on his XTC and earned his first elite CX win of the season — way to go, David!

Yeah, XTC MTB! (Photo: Joey Sikorski)

From David:

“AACX is a regional cross race put on by the ABRT road team. It’s a great venue, and an awesome cross course! Last year I took 3rd place so I had two options to improve from last year’s ride. Several things have improved over the last year. One is fitness, two is knowledge of racing, and 3 is being able to actually think while racing, instead of turning myself inside out as a mindless zombie for an hour. Staying relaxed and fluid while racing I have found reduces crashes, and increases performance.”

Elite men’s podium with D-Flat on the top step.

“The gun went off, and two riders went off the front right away. I sat in 3rd wheel and relaxed while they towed me around for a lap. A good friend of mine, and GREAT rival Kevin Carter was sitting on my wheel and I knew he was going to be the guy to watch for the day. I put a couple feeler attacks out to see who would respond. One of the Haymarket riders was eager to control the pace and keep me off the front. Halfway through the 2nd lap I was feeling fantastic and wanted to throw the Hail Mary. I attacked on a slight uphill right before a technical log barrier that I was able to bunny hop on my XTC 27.5 Team Edition with 100% confidence. I heard a slight tangle behind me as the other riders got caught in some traffic clearing the log. Headed back down a twisty, fun descent, I realized I almost instantly had 15 seconds on the rest of the pack. I had some time to sit up and recover and think to myself if I wanted to go on for 6 more laps by myself, or wait for someone to come across to work with. I’m in it for the training so I decided to go on by myself. I kept things in control, and maintained a healthy gap which continued to grow. I threw a Hail Mary, and managed the touch down! Taking my first elite win of the season. I hope to be back next year to defend my AACX title!”

Triple X Trex Fest Halloween XC Enduro. Schnecksville, PA.

Jess and Joël Nankman and Jake Possinger all decided to hit it up Enduro-style at the Triple X Trex Fest near Allentown last weekend.

Jake’s take:

“Had a great weekend racing the Trexler TripleXXX Fest Enduro this weekend at Trexler Nature Preserve. It was only my second enduro, but I showed up ready to compete with the guys in the Men’s Open category. I led the start of Stage 1, finishing with a good time but wishing I could have pushed myself harder on the small climb. Stage 2 was twisty and fast and let me rip over some jumps and tear some berms. Stage 3 was a long, fast descent with plenty of areas to catch some air. I tried to keep my wheels on the ground with the thought that if I rolled everything I might be a little faster. At the bottom there was a long, fairly flat sprint to the end which gave me an opportunity to put the hammer down. My official result for the day was 8th of 25 in Men’s Open.

Jake is pretty pleased he rides on the same team as Superman and Wonder Woman.

Throughout the stages I kept thinking about how my Anthem was the perfect weapon for the job. The race oriented geometry mixed with 4 inches of travel gave me a benefit over everyone with all mountain bikes. I was able to push it on the climbs and they were not. Another important part of my setup was my choice in tires. Schwalbe Racing Ralph’s definitely saved my day by providing traction in corners and mud while still letting me go scary fast! And of course ProGold kept me running smoothly!

The atmosphere was great and I got to visit and talk with Joël and Jessica (AKA Superman and Wonder Woman) following the race! This was my last MTB Race for the year but I’m more than happy with my result and happy I got to catch up with some other members of my Giant Northeast family!”

From Jess and Joël:

“This week had us and others dressing up in costume for the TrexxxFest Halloween Enduro race. Sometimes racing is about going hard, sometimes it is all about having fun, sometimes it is about going as hard as you can while having fun wearing a costume. This race was all about the last option.

For the TrexxxFest Enduro, each timed stage was between 1.5 and 2.5 miles long.  They incorporated flowy descents as well as a little climbing. There were some logovers, berms, and little jumps to keep things interesting. Overall, the Trexler trails have been designed to be fast, flowy, and fun.  All three stages started at a central staging area, which made refueling and rehydrating easy- just stop at your vehicle to grab what you need. The end of each stage was part way up a climb but not all the way to the top. Also included in the race was an award for “Best Costume”.

The podium for the Open Women’s event with Jess in 4th place.

The location for the race was within the Trexler Nature Preserve. The Preserve, located within Lehigh County, PA, is a place where people can hike, cycle, ride horses, cross country ski, fish, or just view nature. The 1,108 acre expanse was founded by General Harry Trexler as a way to protect endangered bison and elk at the turn of the 20th century. As for mountain biking, there is about 8 to 9 miles of single track trails and the 8.5 mile Border Trail around the preserve.  

As for our race, we looked like super heros but were not quite as fast as who we were portraying. Joël dressed as Superman and I as Wonder Woman. Joël placed 9th in Open Men and I was 4th Open Women. Enduros are not really our thing, we would rather pedal all day for 50 or 100 miles. Despite being a little out of our element, we went with the primary intention to have fun, show some Halloween spirit by dressing up, work on technique and skills, and enjoy the day with friends- and we did all of those things.”

Jess, Joël, and Clifford during a pre-ride of the course.

Read Jess and Joël’s full race report and watch Joel’s video from the race on their blog.

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