Area high school mountain bikers compete at Fruita endurance race
Special to the Post Independent
A group of Glenwood Springs High School mountain bike racers made up half the winning team at one of the biggest Western Slope mountain bike endurance events of the season, The 18 Hours of Fruita, last Sunday.
Competing as the Trexicorns, the coed four-person squad took the overall title at the race, which began at midnight Friday and finished 18 hours later on the shores of Highline Lake near Loma.
The Trexicorns completed 32 laps of the 7.3-mile course in 17 hours, 51 minutes and 24 seconds, besting Team Dunn, which finished second with 31 laps completed, in 17:47:37.
Results prioritize the total number of laps completed first, and then overall time. A total of 107 mountain bike racers, wearing headlamps, lined up on foot and ran to their bikes in the darkness to start the race. The Le Mans-style start mimics that of the grand-daddy of all endurance mountain bike races, the 24 Hours of Moab.
Racers continued in various team configurations for the next 18 hours, finishing at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Competitors could enter individually or as members of a team of two, four or eight, men’s, women’s or coed.
The Trexicorns had the winning combination of youthful power and sage experience.
Rising GSHS senior and USA Cycling Olympic Academy rider Chloe Lutgring led the squad, accompanied by GSHS Dirt Demons teammate sophomore Dante Humphrey. Chloe’s father, Hans Lutgring, and Randy Tuggle rounded out the team.
The senior Lutgring is a current coach and Tuggle is the founder and former head coach of the GSHS Dirt Demons.
The popular race has a festival-like atmosphere with costumes, music and punny self-deprecating team names like “Knights of the Buffet Table,” “Will Mike’s Shoulder Hold Up?” and “Team ‘Better Than Howard’s Team.'” Except for the solo category, teams can structure their lap shifts however they want, with some riders doing two to three laps at a shift while their teammates sleep during the night. But every team member has to complete at least one lap.
As the hours pass, the competitive attitude wanes and is replaced by camaraderie and mutual support. Cheering crowds amass along the course and finish area at the Highline Lake Recreation Area campground for the final countdown of the clock to 6 p.m.
The younger Lutgring has made great strides in the larger world of junior off-road cycling, building on her high school racing career with the Glenwood Dirt Demons since 2020. This January, she was awarded a scholarship to join the Olympic Academy, a junior cycling development program which will send her to Europe this summer to compete with the world’s best up-and-coming mountain bikers.
Humphrey is developing as a threat on both the road and dirt. He is sponsored by a Denver-based junior road cycling team and will be competing in Ireland next month. He will trade in his slick road tires for knobbys in the fall and start his second season with the Dirt Demons mountain bike team.
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