Valley riders compete at USA mountain bike championships |

Valley riders compete at USA mountain bike championships

Local riders Jacob Barsness, Levi Gavette and Lucca Trapani, along with Fort Lewis College rider Henry Nadell (not pictured) competed at the USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Championships at Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia last weekend. (Photo by Jeanne Golay)

The Roaring Fork Valley was well-represented at last weekend’s USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Championships at Snowshoe Resort in West Virginia.

Local Glenwood Springs High School Dirt Demons Jacob Barsness and Lucca Trapani, along with Colorado Rocky Mountain School Oyster Levi Gavette made the trek to the annual event, which brings together the nation’s fastest young racers.

On Thursday, the trio competed in the non-championship Short Track Cross-Country event. The 20-minute, 3-lap timed event was held in ideal dry conditions on the slopes of the ski area in the eastern part of the state. The Men’s Junior 15-18 division contested a 1.1 mile course, which gained 121 vertical feet per lap and included a short but challenging rock garden section. Barsness abandoned after getting caught up in a crash on the fast and furious opening lap. Trapani completed all seven laps, finishing in 19th place with a time of 29:53.

Gavette completed six laps to finish in 40th place with a time of 27:46. Due to timing and safety issues when the leaders overtake other riders, all riders finish on the same lap as the race leader and receive a pro-rated placing if they are lapped and pulled early.

The following two days brought torrential rains, which thoroughly soaked the course before Saturday afternoon’s championship cross-country event. The start was on weather-delay for nearly two hours while organizers watched a strong storm cell pass through the area eastward from Ohio. Finally, they were off late in the afternoon for five laps around the 3.9 mile course, which netted 575 vertical feet per lap. More daunting than distance and climbing were the challenging technical sections, which included an intimidatingly steep rock garden — the same flat rock garden as in the earlier short track course — and a wet, slippery root section surrounded by deep mud.

After nearly two hours of grueling effort, Gavette and Trapani ended up just 17 seconds apart, with Gavette finishing in 35th place with a time of 1:53:59, and Trapani in 36th place, in 1:54:16. Barsness came in 63rd place in a pro-rated time of 1:11:39.

“That was the hardest race I’ve ever done,” Trapani, with the other boys echoing the sentiment, said. “I focused on pacing myself and clearing the rock gardens well.”

Indeed, numerous cyclists endo’ed on the first few passes through the rock obstacle, as they picked their way through looking for the smoothest line in the crowded field of 82 starters.

A few riders took the more aggressive line on the right, which required total commitment to a double-jump with a 2- to 3-foot drop on each maneuver.

In the end all three boys kept their bikes safely beneath them and were caked in mud but smiling.

Next up is the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) high school season which kicks off Aug. 27 with the Frisco Bay Invitational. All three will compete in the varsity division of the South Conference.

A fourth Roaring Fork Valley native, Carbondale’s Henry Nadell, placed 23rd in the U23 Men’s cross-country race on Sunday, and 20th in the Pro Men’s short track event on Friday.

Nadell, a 2016 CRMS graduate, is currently attending Fort Lewis College in Durango on a mountain biking scholarship.

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