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Pagosa endurance athletes excel, local race on horizon

The true Pagosan is by nature a rugged individual who is forced to shovel inordinate amounts of snow during long winters and in spring seek mental shelter within one’s mind from the mud that is deep enough to eat up cars.

These necessities tend to keep the human population in check around these parts. In between these arduous seasons, the Pagosan likes to ride his/her bike among some of the most glorious landscape in all North America.

On July 16, Pagosan Morgan Murri, along with 750 other mountain bikers, competed in the Silver Rush 50-mile mountain bike race in Leadville. This challenge dishes out 50 miles of extreme trail that starts at 10,200 feet and reaches 12,000 feet four times with more than 8,000 feet of vertical gain. If you don’t like burning lungs, pounding heart and wobbly legs, then this is not for you. Even on the descents, loose rocks and tight steep turns conspire to throw you off the bike.

Of the 750 that started, only 488 finished and Morgan placed eighth overall with a time of 4 hours 27 minutes and 42 seconds. On Aug. 13, Morgan will return to Leadville to compete in the Leadville 100-mile mountain bike race.

Says Morgan, ”I used the Silver Rush as a final bike race training day in preparation for the Leadville 100.”

Morgan is a talented athlete who makes most sports he pursues look easy. On July 2, a mere two weeks before the Silver Rush 50 mile mountain bike race, Morgan, with more than 380 runners, finished the Leadville Trail Marathon, running to an elevation of 13,185 feet. He placed 11th overall in a time of 4 hours 38 minutes and 34 seconds.

“I used this event as final running race training for the epic Trans Rockies Run.”

The 120-plus mile Trans Rockies Running Race will take place just a week after the Leadville 100 mountain bike race, beginning on Aug. 21. This is a six-day stage race running through the most challenging terrain in Colorado from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek. Each of these races in and of themselves are brutal, but to string them back-to-back demands the utmost in mental and physical preparedness.

May the force be with you.

Nicki Alley is another talented local athlete who, in just her fourth triathlon, excelled in the high altitude “Tri-it-high” triathlon in Leadville’s 10,200 feet thin air. Placing second overall women and 20th overall of all competitors in a time of 1 hour 23 minutes and 3 seconds, Nicki’s blazing bike split and strong run kept her within 3 and a half minutes of the overall women’s champion. Congratulations Nicki.

Pagosa Country is a wonderful place to explore on a bicycle. Without a doubt, my favorite time to ride is when photosynthesis does its magical chemical transformation on the vast aspen and scrub oak forests. But summer is also good.

Riders who participated in last year’s premiere of the 6 Hours of Brockover, staged in the best of the Turkey Springs network of single track riding, have a distinct yearning to be a part of this year’s ride again.

If you prefer fast single-track, Turkey Springs is the ticket with around 70 miles of twisty trails that feature a bit of everything a mountain biker could desire; from rocky bouncy riding to smooth pine-needle-laden cruising.

The idea for a local mountain bike race with an endurance slant was started by Jurgen Montgomery. Most endurance races tend to go long, 12 hours or more. Jurgen wanted his race to be a little more racer-friendly, for the solo rider, as well as for teams of two. In short, enjoy the experience and not end up a sore-butt.

Here is the skinny on 6 hours of Brockover.

Who gets to ride for free? The first 70 to register.

Where is the event? It starts at the end of Newt Jack Road, which is off Turkey Springs Road (FR 923).

When is it? Saturday, Aug. 6, and will start promptly at 8 a.m.

What is 6 Hours of Brockover? This is the best 12.5 miles of single track in the 70-mile single track net work of trails in Turkey Springs.

What is the race format? Imagine tour de hamster; complete the most laps in 6 hours and you win. You will need to be already into the next lap on the sixth hour. From there you duke it out with other riders on the trail to the finish line. Some like the camaraderie of a two-person team while others prefer to solo it. Last year, Tre Metzler won the race with six laps in six hours. This is a friendly event with a loose format and all levels of riders are permitted. You might only complete two laps in the six hours, but that is just fine.

Next year, Jurgen will be handing the 6 Hours of Brockover to the Morning Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs. They will use the event as a fund-raiser. For this year, if you wish to participate, call Jurgen at (970) 398-0176 or e-mail pagosamtgoat@gmail.com.

The Turkey Springs trail system has attracted a lot of users over the past several years. This extensive network of trails is easily accessible to hikers and mountain bikers alike.

One of the most used trailheads into the Turkey Springs area is at “Gate 5.” This spring, PLPOA constructed a new parking area at the trailhead. Last week, a group from the local bicycle club, Wolf Creek Wheel Club, worked alongside PLPOA employees from the Department of Property and Environment to build an access path from the parking area to the gate, plus do some trail repair in a low lying section. It was remarkable how much got done in under three hours of sharing in an activity that produced tangible and beneficial results that will be enjoyed by many.

The Wolf Creek Wheel Club also built and installed five cattle guards at different fence crossings in the Turkey Springs area. A big thank you is owed to Ben Franklin, Tre Metzler and Ken McClain, members of the Wheel Club, for their good work. And to Mike Clinton, we also extend a muchas gracias for organizing last week’s workday at ”Gate 5.”

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