The Weekly Dirt: Marley’s first century, Factor Bikes x Team Amani, KowTown Gravel
A weekly roundup of what's happening in the off-road.
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There was a fairly busy spate of off-road racing in late February and early March, from the Huffmaster Hopper to BWR AZ to last weekend’s Mid South and the Cactus Cup. Now, there are a few weeks to reorganize before the Life Time Grand Prix kicks off at Sea Otter and spring comes in earnest (🙏).
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Unless, of course, you’re Christopher Blevins and Matt Beers, Sofia Gomez Villafañe and Katerina Nash, or Keegan Swenson and Lachlan Morton, and you’re in South Africa ahead of the Cape Epic stage race. That kicks off Sunday, and I’m so excited to follow some of the best off-road endurance cyclists in the world as they tackle the Tour de France of MTB stage racing for eight days.
Until then, here’s what’s happening in the off-road.
Marley Blonsky’s first century
If you follow the Mid South on social media, you know by now that Marley Blonskey, co-founder of All Bodies on Bikes, finished DFL at Saturday’s gravel race. Nevertheless, she finished, and the 100-mile event was her second century ride ever.
Last year, Blonsky set a then-unmet goal: to ride her first century at Unbound Gravel.
“I always felt like an imposter, having never actually ridden a century in my entire cycling career,” she said. “I set the goal of completing the Unbound Gravel 100 and wasn’t entirely certain I could do it. While maintaining a 10mph doesn’t sound that hard, I really like to take breaks while riding.”
Watch Blonsky’s Journey to Unbound p/b Pearl Izumi here:
Kate Courtney and Skyler Taylor win muddy Mendo Hopper
The rain won’t abate in California, but the faithful still race the Grasshopper Adventure Series.
On March 11, the third Hopper of the season went down despite historic weather conditions. Race organizer Miguel Crawford had to cut the singletrack from the course, but Kate Courtney still managed to win on a mountain bike. Skyler Taylor of San Francisco won on a gravel bike, albeit with wider tires than what he raced the Huffmaster Hopper on.
The Mendo Hopper benefitted the Mendocino Composite MTB Team, as well as the Mendocino Coast Cyclists, a stalwart crew that has been building and maintaining trails in Jackson State Forest for decades.
The next Hopper will be a MTB affair — no more rain, please! — at Lake Sonoma on April 15.
Factor Bikes x Team Amani
In 2022, Team Amani made their US racing debut on the Factor Ostro gravel bike.
This year, Factor Bikes has designed a limited edition of the bike in collaboration with riders from the East African team.
The Ostro Gravel Team Amani includes an eye-catching ‘cheetah fork’ and incorporates Team Amani’s signature earth tones. ‘Captain, Friend, Brother’ is inscribed on the top tube of the bike, a tribute to Sule Kangangi who passed away in Vermont last summer.
Factor will give 10 percent of all proceeds from bike sales to the team’s Gofundme campaign, which was set up to raise funds for a permanent home for the team in the Rift Valley of Kenya.
It was Kangangi’s dream to build a permanent, world-class cycling facility to provide the younger generations of his home region the opportunity he never had. The facility will offer aspiring talent access to equipment, training and a platform/chance to develop into top class bike riders.
KowTown Gravel comes to Kremmling, CO
Kremmling, Colorado doesn’t have the alpine allure of the state’s central or southern Rockies, nor has it been developed into a desert mountain bike mecca. What it does have, however, is some of the best gravel in the state.
KowTown Gravel, a new race that debuts on July 1, wants to showcase just how good the riding is.
With three courses to choose from (85, 68, and 29 miles, all with at least 75 percent gravel), the event will capitalize on the stunning backcountry around Kremmling. All of the routes roll out of town along the Colorado River and toward the Williams Fork Reservoir. The 85-mile route includes a lollipop loop that adds 2,300 feet of climbing to the 68-mile option.
Free tent and vehicle camping with showers is included in the race fee; an afterparty with live music, food, and beer will greet riders at the town square after the event.
Registration and details at kowtowngravel.com
Skarda, Amos win Cactus Cup
Alexis Skarda and Riley Amos won the Cactus Cup stage race in Arizona last week, with the best average result after three days of short track, XC, and enduro racing.
Amos nearly swept the series, winning both the short track and the pro XC races. He was 10 seconds back from first place in Sunday’s enduro race. That win went to Zac Petruska of Scottsdale, Arizona.
Two other Coloradans, Cobe Freeburn and Austin Beard, made up the men’s podium.
Skarda, also from Colorado, had solid results every day, with third in the short track and enduro and second in the XC race. Nevertheless, Katerina Nash and Anna Yamauchi weren’t far behind in the overall standings; the two women from California finished 13 and 19 seconds back, respectively.