On the first day of September a loud shotgun blast launched 200 riders from Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado USA as they started a grueling 135 mile race around the West Elk Mountains at the 2019 West Elk Bicycle Classic.
With Southern Colorado as a backdrop, rural roads, two stop signs, great gravel and kick-ass climbing on Kebler Pass, plus a roaring post-ride party in Crested Butte, riders were prepared for a tough “epic ride.”
The “Westy,” as locals call it, did not disappoint with temperatures hitting 90 degrees on the famous 25-mile Kebler Pass gravel climb to the finish line at 10,007′.
2019 turned into the hottest race in the event’s 6 year history, with riders sweating, suffering like dogs and caked in salt on the final climb.
To battle heat and cramping, aid stations were stocked with pickle-juice, crispy bacon and a full assortment of Honey Stinger waffles, gels and bars.
At the finish atop Kebler Pass, Michael Baird celebrated victory with a time of 6:28:41, former winner Stig Somme finished 2nd in 6:33:17, followed by Christopher Brennan at 6:34:38.
Maureen Boyle won the women’s category in 8:09:04, followed by Nadine Stein and Birgit De Wispelaere.
Full 2019 West Elk Bicycle Classic results here.
Photos ©Matt Burt/WEBC
GRAN FONDO CALENDAR NORTH AMERICA here
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GRAN FONDO CALENDAR UK GREAT BRITAIN here