A found bike takes first place in Rifle Cliffs Chaos race
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
Michelle Rexach had no idea what kind of treasure she found two years ago.
Rexach, the assistant manager at Cottonwood Springs Mobile Home Park in Rifle, found an abandoned Diamondback mountain bike at the park two years ago when someone moved out of a unit. She couldn’t find the owner, so she became the bike’s owner by default.
“Somebody just left it at the park two years ago,” Rexach said. “I’m glad I picked it up.”
Rexach, 48, was named the Queen of Chaos in the beginner class of the annual Roan Cliff Chaos mountain bike race for the second consecutive year when the race ended this past Sunday, June 16.
The two-day annual event was held on Hubbard Mesa on the Bureau of Land Management’s JQS trail. The cross country race extended to 18 miles for riders in the expert class. The hill climb was the same for everyone, with all riders ascending 2,600 vertical feet to the top of the trail.
Granted, Rexach’s bike wasn’t exactly state of the art compared to some of the other bikes in the race. It was also much better than the other bike she has, which she called a “heavy, Walmart special.”
It was good enough to do the job, however, helping her finish the hill-climb portion in 1 hour, 43 minutes and 13.12 seconds. She finished the six-mile cross country race in 55:26.15.
“I had to walk and push my bike part of the way last year because the pedal was falling off,” Rexach said, laughing. “I could only go on one of the two days. This year was much better. I like coming out to see if I can still do this.”
Carbondale rider Jacques Houot, a 78-year-old man, finished the race in 2:07:23.75. It’s the ninth time the two-time avalanche survivor has competed in the hill climb portion of the race. He’s personally kept track of his times over the years with slips of paper he stuffs in his pockets.
Houot, originally from France, landed in Aspen in 1970 and moved to Carbondale recently. He was exhausted by the ride. And even though he was disappointed his time this year was slower than last year, it’s a small disappointment for a man who has been riding competitively in one way or another for more than 40 years.
“I don’t give up,” he said. “I have to keep moving at my age, and that’s why I keep doing this. It helps to inspire people to keep moving.”
The overall King of Chaos was Mike Skellion of Eagle, whose combined time in the expert-division cross country and hill climb race of 2:51:54.37 was better than the rest of the 49-rider field.
Skellion’s wife, Michelle, won the women’s sport division’s Queen of Chaos award. Eric Pipkin of Grand Junction won the men’s sport division.
Mike Skellion won the overall award thanks in part to his performance in the 18-mile cross country race, which he finished in 1:56:23.37. Earning the title as the overall hill climb winner was Carbondale’s Kevin Willson, who finished first in 54:04.72.
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