Local Mountain Bike rider tops women’s field at Colorado Trail Race
Steamboat Springs — There is no entry fee, no trophy for the winners and no check presentation on a podium at the finish line.
For the mountain bike racers who enter the Colorado Trail Race, the thrill of testing their bodies and their determination along the 539-mile trek from Waterton Canyon to a finish in Durango is worth the time they invest.
At the end, riders are rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing they set out on one of Colorado’s greatest adventures and completed it with the items they could carry on a bike. There is no pre-arranged support from friends and family, and no emergency medical treatment if the worse happens.
The rules state that they must complete the journey on their own, and while they can take advantage of some services that are offered along the route (hotels, repair shops, restaurants during regular business hours), those services have to be available to all the riders.
The idea that she would have to do it on her own was part of what motivated Steamboat Springs rider Jessica Lobeck to set out on the course July 24. But after completing the journey faster than the other nine female riders who started with her, Lobeck admitted there was another reason for her quest.
“I wanted to set an example for my daughter that her mom, and that a woman, can do great things when they put their mind to it,” Lobeck said.
The Steamboat Springs rider enjoyed great weather for most of her trip but had to contend with a rugged, mostly single-track course on a journey that included a number of high mountain passes — Georgia, Kenosha, Tennessee and Marshall.
Lobeck finished the course in eight days, 16 hours and 31 minutes and was one of just three women to complete the course. The finish rate wasn’t any better in the men’s field where 29 riders out of 60 actually finished the race.
“The Colorado Trail Race is a monster,” race organizer Stefan Grieble wrote on the race’s website. “If the monster is in a good mood, you may experience Colorado’s beautiful sunny blue sky and wildflowers blooming as far as you can see. But, be warned, the Colorado Trail Race’s mood can change on a whim, and you may just as likely find yourself getting besieged by massive hailstones and lightning bolts. In short, don’t come to this race unprepared because no one will be there to rescue you.”
Lobeck discovered just how true Grieble’s words were on the final day of the race. After enjoying mild Colorado weather for the first seven days of her ride, Lobeck ran into some rough weather on the last day as she made her way through the San Juans toward the finish line. She finished the last portion of the course in driving rain.
“You never know what to expect in a race like this,” Lobeck said. “One small thing can go wrong, and that’s all it takes.”
Lobeck said there are points when riders are forced to get off their bikes and push them up the trail.
“There are some stretches with a lot of hike-a-bike,” Lobeck said. “Mentally it’s very hard to be pushing your bike up the hill instead of riding. I think in some ways that was the hardest part. There were times when I thought this is the best thing ever, and other times when I thought this is the most horrible thing that I’ve ever done.”
But while this was Lobeck’s first endurance trail ride, she has been around the sport for years. Her husband, Erik, has competed in the Continental Divide Trail ride. Through it all she never lost sight of her ultimate goal to see her husband at the finish and set an example for her 6-year-old daughter, Gigi who was also there to see her mom finish a grueling race.
Lobeck was the top women’s racer in the event, and Jefe Branham topped the men’s field, finishing in four days, 17 hours and 33 minutes.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Grant D’Entremont sat in the lobby of the Residence Inn by Marriott in Steamboat Springs as staff members and construction workers rushed to take care of last-minute details.