Via the Topeak-Ergon newsletter......2014 marked the seventh running of the Gunnison Growler, a 32-mile and 64-mile mtb event put on by Topeak-Ergon USA rider, Dave Wiens. As a fundraiser for Gunnison Trails, the Growler brings in over 700 riders from all over the USA to tackle the demanding trails that loop around the southern edge of Gunnison, CO at an elevation of over 8,000 ft.
May 25, 2014
May 25, 2014
Gunnison, Colorado, USA
In his 6 attempt at the Growler, Jeff Kerkove of Topeak-Ergon USA toed the start line on Sunday to cover the 64-mile course. Mother Nature also decided to toe the start line, by greeting the racers with rain and temperatures in the high 30Fs. With rain overnight and at the beginning of the race, it was sure to effect course conditions, as well as rider preparation for a 6 hour day on the bike.
The race rolled out of Gunnison at 7 AM and the racers bolted for the course to begin the first of two 32-mile laps. Jeff having raced the Growler a handful of time previous settled into his pace. "The race always starts fast, but the course is super demanding and you have to pace it perfectly so you don't go backwards on Lap 2," stated Jeff. Dress head to toe in thermals and carrying a Gore-Tex rain jacket, Jeff was prepared for the weather to get only worse. Lap 1 gave riders a slippery and greasy 2.5 hours on the bike. Jeff rode a consistent lap and rolled in after Lap 1 in 14th place, right where he wanted to be. At the transition of Lap 1 to 2 Jeff grabbed more GU nutrition and dropped off his rain jacket as skies began to brighten.
"Lap 2 I knew what I had to do. I felt good and pushed my pace just enough to start reeling in some of the fading riders in front of me," said Jeff. With nearly 350 riders covering the course on Lap 1, Lap 2 became perfect conditions. With no more rain during the actual race, the course only got faster. Jeff pushed his effort and worked his way into 9th place near the end of Lap 2. "In the final miles I was wheel to wheel with 9th place, but spun out climbing up a steep muddy rock and was passed. It formed a gap and I could not bridge back up on the short remaining miles of the lap." Jeff would finish in 10th place on the day, his best result at the Gunnison Growler.
"All I wanted was a good race today. In my previous attempts at the Growler I always seem to have bad luck; pacing, mechanicals, etc. But today, I rode my perfect race, my bike and equipment was perfect. Everything went as planned, " said a muddy Jeff after his 5.5 hour day on the bike.
Next up for Jeff is the GoPro Mountain Games XC race in Vail, CO and the Bailey 100 in Bailey, CO
Jeff Kerkove, 10th, Pro/Open Men
Photos © Kevin Krill | Crested Butte Photography