Roan Cliff Chaos race ‘a great course’ |

Roan Cliff Chaos race ‘a great course’

Jon Mitchell
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
Dean Hill of Aspen prepares to ride in the second of three laps June 14 during the cross country race of the annual Roan Cliff Chaos near Hubbard Mesa next to Rifle on Saturday, June 14. Hill, who won the expert division, was one of several riders who raved about the course and used it as training for upcoming events.
Jon Mitchell / The Citizen Telegram |

Dean Hill is used to mountain bike rides a lot longer than the annual Roan Cliff Chaos. The June 14 race was a welcome reprieve.

“This is a great course,” the 44-year-old from Aspen said. “It challenges you and there’s a lot of technical skills needed. Plus, there’s enough climbing that it hurts, but it’s still a lot of fun.”

Hill, who races for the Limelight racing team out of Aspen, was one of several riders who race on a regular basis and made it a point to come to the annual race near Hubbard Mesa. At least three racing teams participated, which drew 39 riders for the June 14 cross country race and the June 15 hill climb race.

“That just spreads more word about this event by word of mouth,” said Wayne Edgeton, the assistant director for the Rifle Parks and Recreation Department. “It tells people about this course and about coming to Rifle and doing this event. The more people we get out here, the more fun it is.”

Limelight, Bicycle Outfitter and Gear Exchange each brought teams to the event, which features a beginner, sport and expert competition divisions. Those who competed in both events had a chance to be crowned either the King or Queen of Chaos, if their combined times were better than everyone in their respective divisions.

Hill, who has been racing mountain bikes for the past 15 years, has big events like the Breckenridge 50, the Breckenridge 100 — and other races that last as long as 12 hours — on his riding resume. He came across the finish line faster than anyone else in the expert division, practically leading from start to finish before crossing the finish line in 1 hour, 54 minutes and 14.56 seconds.

The Saturday race gave Hill a chance to hone his sprint skills, which is a step outside the box from long, grinding endurance races. There are other incentives that got him out of the Roaring Fork Valley to the Roan Cliffs, too.

“I’m getting sick of paying $150 for things that last 2 to 5 hours,” said Hill, who finished first in a race that had a $25 registration fee for one race, and only $40 for both races. “You hardly pay anything, but you still get a good workout in.”

Randy Tuggle of Glenwood Springs, who works for and rides on a team from the Gear Exchange in Glenwood Springs, won the sport division title with a time of 1:08:24.46 on the 12-mile course. He competed in the sport division simply because he’d never ridden the course before which, by his standards, “didn’t make me an expert yet.”

Tuggle didn’t even know he won the race until long after he’d finished. That, along with the overall layout of the course, made the race a nice escape from the usual endurance events he enters.

“It’s a lot harder when you’re used to something different,” Tuggle said. “But it’s a nice course and a really fast ride.”

The race terrain on the cross country course is fairly rough, but has spots in it where riders climb as many as 300 vertical feet. The course sits on a 6-mile loop, and experts follow the loop three times to finish. The hill climb goes up the JQS Trail from Hubbard Mesa to the top of the Roan Plateau, with riders climbing 2,600 vertical feet over the 8-mile course.

Charlie Wertheim of Carbondale was the top finisher in the expert division of the hill climb, making his ascension in 56:00.28.

Bobby Brown of Grand Junction was awarded the overall King of Chaos title in the expert division, finishing second in the June 14 cross country race in 2:01:46.50 and second in the hill climb in 59:14.18. Aiden Clark, also of Grand Junction, won the King of Chaos title in the sport category. Twelve-year-old Miles Willis of Grand Junction was the King of Chaos for male beginners.

Michelle Rexach of Rifle was the only Queen of Chaos for the two days, claiming the title in the beginner class. She finished the hill climb in 1:39:34.62, and she crossed the finish line in the cross country race in 59:36.67.

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