Cyclists nail Little Moab descent on 1st day of Emerald Mountain Epic (with video) |

Cyclists nail Little Moab descent on 1st day of Emerald Mountain Epic (with video)

The sound of rubber on rock became a constant whirring around 10:15 a.m. Competitors in the Emerald Mountain Epic zipped down Little Moab, nearing the end of one lap on the course. The descent is just 0.2 miles long, making up less than 1% of a lap, but it’s a doozy of a downhill.

Most of the course is singletrack or service road, so dirt and gravel. Little Moab is large, medium and small rocks, and sand.

Riders fly down the section, which looks terrifying to anyone watching, but apparently, faster is better.

“The entire course, the first hill, up and over is pretty tacky and really singletrack,” Mike Rusconi said. “That’s the one time you get to rocks and dry. Also, the stair step down is like a ladder. You can’t go slow. You have to go fast.”

Rusconi thinks he dashed down Moab faster than ever Saturday, a trail he’s ridden quite a bit while visiting Steamboat Springs.

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Nathan Depuy, who lives in Steamboat, has been practicing the course leading up to his mixed duo race with Molly Phannenstiel. After a few rides down the trail, Phannenstiel gained a lot of confidence in the tricky sections. She knows exactly which line she likes down the short stretch of slippery terrain.

For Depuy, an equipment upgrade helped him feel ready.

“I actually got new special clip-in pedals for the race,” he said. “I used to have (flat pedals), and when I practiced the Little Moab descent, my feet would come off my pedals, which is a little bit scary.”

Cyclists drop their seats and hover over the middle of their bikes during the Little Moab descent on the Emerald Mountain Epic course Saturday morning. (Photo by Shelby Reardon)

While descending, those who can, drop their seat. They hover over their pedals, both even with each other rather than one lower than the other. Riders allow their body to rattle with the terrain.

“You got to saddle up and go,” Depuy said. “Just send it.”

Some riders were so good at “sending it” that they passed competitors on the downhill. While many cyclists had a clear line down the hill, others had to navigate fellow cyclists.

When Kade Kreikeneier came upon the drop-in to Little Moab, it was the first time he’d seen the trail. Plus, he was fending off the second-place men’s duo rider.

“I know he’s a big enduro racer, so I was just trying to ride it clean and stay on my bike and go as fast as I could without crashing,” he said.

Victoria Mallon was also taken by surprise when she came across Little Moab on Saturday. She didn’t mind it one bit, though, and relished in the Utah-esque section.

“It was fun. I slowed down a little bit because I was coming in fast, but I thought it was fun,” she said. “I look straight ahead and try not to look down. Look where you’re going and let off the brakes.”

On Sunday, runners hit the course. Sneakers are obviously very different than tires, so mastering the Little Moab descent will take a slightly different set of skills in that race.

No matter what mode of transportation one is using, a clean descent down Little Moab is a success.

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