Dirt Demons prevail over adversity in Granby
The Glenwood Springs High School Dirt Demons mountain bike racing team dealt with the most challenging conditions and hard luck of the season Sunday at the Granby Ranch Roundup.
Mechanicals, crashes and weather dominated the action at the third race of the National Scholastic Cycling Association (NICA) South Conference series in the high country of Grand County.
An early fall snowstorm swept through the venue Saturday afternoon causing race officials to shorten Sunday’s course to avoid a mudfest and trail erosion on one particularly soft section of trail.
The course featured a special start lap of 6.8 miles, initially on pavement and climbing 900 vertical feet around the ski mountain. Subsequent laps were 4.8 miles in length with 700 feet of vertical gain. The flowing trail traversed sage brush terrain, incorporating a three-mile segment of the Fraser Valley Trail. All divisions contested two laps, except for varsity boys, which covered four times around the arduous track.
First off in the cold morning air was the junior varsity boys, led by Glenwood senior Aaron Smith, who finished 15th of 128 starters. He was followed by teammates Mark Richardson in 45th place, Telford Underwood in 49th and Elan Bouchet, who finished in 65th place riding on a borrowed downhill bike while his was being repaired.
The freshman boys division followed in the still-crisp air as Erik Novy again led the Demons with an eighth-place finish out of 136 starters. He was followed by Kawak Miranda in 17th, Austin Villarreal in 70th and Grant Anson in 113th place. Glenwood native Ben Heim, competing for Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning, was psyched with his 71st-place finish, extolling, “A hard day in a mountain bike race is still better than the best day at school.”
The varsity and sophomore boys were on course at the same time in slightly warmer noon temperatures. Junior Lucca Trapani led a selective group through the first of four laps, eventually finishing in sixth place among 38 starters.
Senior Jacob Barsness finished in 37th place after receiving a 10-minute penalty for a bike change due to a mechanical failure.
Meanwhile, Roaring Fork’s Lance Weidemann took 11th among sophomore boys in a packed field of 128 starters, divided into two heats.
Demon sophomore Lizzie Barsness continued her top 5 ways, finishing fourth in the junior varsity girls race, despite a hard crash on the final descent which landed her in the emergency room with bruised ribs.
With only 12 competitors at the event, the Dirt Demons dropped to sixth place in the Division Two team competition. The final race of the regular season, and last chance to qualify for state, is the Chalk Creek Stampede at McMurry Ranch in Nathrop on Oct. 7.
Complete results can be found at coloradomtb.org.
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John Iuele’s fadeaway jump shot as time expired propelled the Demons to a thrilling 38-36 overtime victory against the Montrose Indians in the championship game of the Demon Invitational Tournament at Glenwood Springs High School.