What better way to get into shape than to race at 9,000 feet on Vail Mountain while pinned! 3 laps on this course is pretty brutal, but also damn fun! Climb for 20 minutes, then rip the descent for 10 minutes. My race was a bit flat, but not too bad. Totally 100% my fault, as I went a bit harder in the previous day pre-ride than I should have. As for the race, I felt good for the first 2 laps, then went back a few places on the third lap. I ended up 35th overall out of a field of 60ish strong racers. Crazy how this event brings out the top mtb talent!
Race file on Strava: http://app.strava.com/activities/59135607
Press release from the team....
Kerkove deflated at the 64-mile Gunnison Growler
May 26, 2013
The Gunnison Growler is the brainchild of Topeak-Ergon team rider, Dave Wiens. Encompassing two 32-miles laps out at Hartman Rocks Recreation Area south of Gunnison, CO, the Growler is deceivingly difficult event which throws an unrelenting course filled with rocks, steep climbs, and altitude at all who dare to take on this beast. This year, Jeff Kerkove, represented the team at this event, which is becoming a Colorado classic.
Beginning at 7 AM with temperatures hovering just above freezing, Jeff rolled out of town with the field at the front of the race. With over 350 riders on the start line, the race was a buzz rolling out of town. Jeff started strongly sitting in the top 10 as the race crested the infamous Kill Hill.
Riding a conservative pace, Jeff raced along with a group of 5 riders, each taking turns leading the charge. At about mile 20 of lap 1, Jeff struck a rock on course, which led to a small leak in the rear tire. Over the next 30 minutes of racing, Jeff would be forced to stop and add air to the tire with his CO2 inflator. With 3 CO2 cartridges in his pockets, he used all 3 in 30 minutes. He rolled on a flat tire for a few miles before entering an aid station where he was fortunate enough to be able to put Stan’s sealant in the back wheel and continue on.
Photo by Kevin Krill, crestedbuttephotography.smugmug.com/
Now sitting in about 50th place after all the stopping to inflate the tire and a lengthy pit stop at the aid station to put sealant in the wheel, Jeff began his charge to catch back up to the front of the race.
The effort would prove to be not enough, as he would only work up to 26th place by the end of the 64 miles.
Jeff following the event, “I felt really good going in and was where I wanted to be early in the race. Unfortunately racing is a game of risks and luck. Luck was not on my side and I did what I could with the remaining course I had left. However, I am happy with my fitness heading into early Summer.”
Next for Jeff is the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, CO and the Bailey HUNDO in Bailey, CO.
Jeff Kerkove, 26th, Open Men
It doesn't happen often, but I got to sleep in my own bed for the first running of the Firebird 40 here in Eagle, CO. The Firebird 40 was part of the Eagle Outside Festival, a 2-day outdoor festival located in the Brush Creek area of Eagle. FYI, don't miss it in 2014! In addition of the high dollar prize purse mtb races, there was a massive bike demo and expo. So, once again, I got to mix work and pleasure.....racing first, then working the 2-day expo.
Due to the long winter and BLM permitting issue, the organizers didn't get to use the single backcountry 40-mile loop to race on. Instead, we were forced onto a 7-mile loop in the Eagle Ranch area on the east side of Eagle. This was a great mix of singletrack, double track, and rec path. Going into the race, I just wanted to feel good from start to finish. I wanted to ride hard. Take risks. Empty the tank.
The lead out was neutral on a narrow rec path for about 2 miles before we turned onto a road to sprint for the single track. I stayed at the front for the duration. I wanted to be one of the first riders out of the 90 rider field into the singletrack. Our field was staked with the Wells brothers, Hoke, Cares, Henry, Sonntag, etc. I found myself at the front chasing the leadout vehicle. Surprisingly, I felt good. About 100 yards from the singletrack I let up to see who would roll past. I had Todd Wells and 4 other go floating by. I was 5th into the singletrack with a pegged HR. I had nothing to loose.
I remained in 5th until the doubletrack. At this point, I started to gas out on Lap 1 of 5. It was a long race and I knew I would get my legs again. Just a question of when. I drifted back to 25th or so, back riding with the guys I typically see while racing; Jon Davis, Jason Hilimire, Travis Sheefer, Matt Schiff, etc. The pecking order was set for the day. We would battle all race. Living in Eagle, it was a huge help to know the course. Riders were over shooting corners and crashing in the twisty blind corners. I was able to keep a smooth race.
Bailey's Climb proved to be the toughest part of the race. This short steep climb crushed riders. Riding aboard the new SRAM XX1, which kicks ass by the way, I was at the limit riding the 32 x 42 gear combo. I was at XC pace. No time to recover. Full gas from the gun! Surprisingly it felt good.
For the remainder of the laps, myself and the riders in sight would battle. It was a good healthy race. In the end, I finished in 21st place out of the 90 or so that started.
Strava file: http://app.strava.com/activities/53684131
Next up, I get to race on this course again in a few weeks time for the Vail Rec. District XC Series. But, before that is the 64-mile Gunnison Growler. I haven't taken part in this race for a few years. Looking forward to putting rubber back on Hartman Rocks.
In the meantime, the trails are perfect here in Eagle. Going to load up on miles Friday-Sunday before chilling out heading into the Growler. If you need your dirt fix, come to Eagle. Trail map here: http://eagleoutside.com/activity-overview/#/mountain-bike/
Release from the team below. On a side note, sign up for an enduro event! Super fun riding and racing in a chill environment. Egos and attitudes checked at the door. Amazing day of riding hard on trails with 120+ of your best friends! All you need is a 5"-6" travel bike and willingness to ride amazing trails!
Kerkove gets a taste of enduro racing in Moab
May 4, 2013
This past weekend on the Magnificent 7 trail system west of Moab, UT marked the opening round of the Enduro Cup Series, a three race enduro series in Utah. Enduro racing is a rapidly growing racing format that combines downhill riding skills with XC like fitness on a series of timed stages. Racing aboard a 6” travel Canyon Strive, Jeff Kerkove of Team Topeak-Ergon threw himself into the mix of the Enduro Cup – Mag 7 event.
The event at the Mag 7 trails was a very pedaling heavy event. The course favored the rider who had great fitness as well as superior bike handling skills. Jeff was introduced to the course and format quickly with the opening stage. While the stages were only 2-3 miles long and took 5-7 minutes to complete, the effort level is that of XC racing. “I was pinned at max effort right from the start!”, said Jeff after the event. Racers would mimic this effort over similar timed stages 4 times during the day.
Jeff following the event, “The racing was super hard….harder than I thought. I crashed early in Stage 2 with a front tire wash out on a sandy corner, which cost me some time. Enduro racing is racing on the verge of in control and out of control. Every second counts! While the competition is intense, the vibe is super chill and all the athletes competing are on the same page about having a great bike experience. After trying this Moab event, it has sparked interest to try more enduro racing.”
Jeff would finish consistently in the top 20 on all stages. “I had no idea of my results after each stage until the event was done. It was full-gas on each stage until the finish. I am happy with 19th place for my first time trying this format and a racing against a very talented Pro Mens field.”
Stage 2 - Upper Bull Run: 27th
Stage 4 - Lower Bull Run: 17th
Stage 6 - Arth's Corner: 20th
Stage 8 - Great Escape: 17th
OVERALL: 19th, Pro Men
Sorry! Long time no update. Been busy with travel for work and getting the Topeak-Ergon USA partner product aligned in time for the riding and racing season.
Good news is Spring is finally here, but it came to Eagle, CO while on a 2 week road trip to California and Arizona for work. Two great events Ergon and the team was part of; Sea Otter and the Whiskey Off-Road. Throw in some riding and racing and it makes for an amazing 2 weeks!
Sea Otter was 100% work, so no racing. We used the MTB Gran Fondo to get away from the booth and to network with our core customers. Was one of the best Sea Otter in recent members with perfect weather, huge crowds, and massive stoke from the riding public.
There was no high expectations with the Whiskey Off-Road as far as the racing goes. The Ergon booth in the expo was busy for the 2-days prior to the event and I used the free time I had to get out on the trails and get miles in the legs.
First up was the MTB Fat Tire Crit! As always, it's a hard fast fun few laps for me. Only a hand full of guys survive this thing. Impressive the speed and depth of talent in the mens Pro field. I had the Epic Cam on the back of my saddle for the duration of the crit. Here is a sample of one of the laps.
Saturday was spent working the Ergon booth in the expo and getting out with Yuki to check out the course some more. As you can see, super fun course!
Sunday was race day! Was excited to actually race for the 2nd time this year. I didn't expect anything great just from the sheer lack of time on the bike this Spring, but still felt good and motivated. Race started with drama for me, as I couldn't find my Garmin Edge 500. So, no data during the race. Oh well, just ride based on perceived exertion.
Race started with 80+ pro men. All fast. All great riders in our sport. We rolled out of town as a group and it wasn't until about 15 minutes in that the group split. Before we even hit the dirt, the groups were made for the day. I found myself near the back with heavy sluggish legs. It was early and I just kept pushing hoping that the legs would loosen up. I wasn't laboring in my breathing, just heavy legs. I found myself alone for the most part. I had riders behind me...and a few up front. We all played cat-n-mouse all day. I didn't get caught up in any racing drama and only did what I could do.
The climb up Skull Valley this year was warm! Temps topped out near 90F at the lower elevations. I climbed feeling like I was dragging a boat anchor. I passed a few riders, but was also passed. There was not gas in my tank. I had one speed; slow.
I crested Skull Valley with a few other riders in sight. We duked it out in the remaining miles of singletrack. The last 20 miles of this race are the best! Some ripping singletrack followed by 7 miles of pavement back to town.
I rolled into town at 3 hrs 40 minutes.....which is the same pace as last year, surprisingly. The course this year was longer with an additional 10-15 minutes of dirt road and singletrack. My placing? 58th. Ouch. Seems everyone I talked to this year improved their race times, but not their placings. The talent this thick at this event.
As for the sluggish legs. I thought it was from the 2 weeks of travel and days working the expo. Which, I am sure contributed a bit to it, but the reality of it was 2 pedal spindles that were nearly 100% seized. Lesson learned.
Glad to be back in Colorado! Riding here is getting damn good at 7000 ft! I have 3 races over the next 4 weeks I am looking forward to....
Enduro Cup - Moab, UT
Firebird 40 - Eagle, CO
Gunnison Growler - Gunnison, CO