By Dave Iltis
On a beautiful summer day on July 26, 2014, The Chris Allaire Memorial Solitude Intermountain Cup was held on a brand new course at the Solitude Mountain Resort.
Several hundred racers lined up in multiple categories to compete on the single track trails.
In the women’s race, Emma Maaranen used a great start and kept it steady throughout the race to take the women’s Pro Category win. Meghan Sheridan and she bolted out to an early race lead on the first climb. “It was so fun, it was a really great course with amazing people. It was so fun seeing all the junior riders.”
Kathy Sherwin (Stan’s No Tubes) made up for a slow start by building up steam to get close to reeling in Maaranen. At the finish, Maaranen took a wrong turn, “I didn’t see the finish line and started to head out for a fourth lap and jumped off my bike and had to run in for the finish. Note to self: know the race course.”
Although she is not new to mountain bike racing, it was Maaranen’s first Intermountain Cup Race. When asked about the event, she said, “It was a great group, I can’t wait to do this next year!”
Sherwin said, “I didn’t feel like myself at the start. I was about in fifth. I was able to work my Cannondale, the shocks, and anything I could to eke it out. I was able to make my way up to second place. And at the end, she (Maaranen) had a mishap. As she was running back around, I was coming down. She deserved it, she was in front of me the entire race and definitely was working hard all season.
Commenting on her race, Sherwin also said, “It was really good. Because I don’t have what it takes anymore, you do what you can to gain advantage. You use your shocks, your lockouts. I almost made it happen, but it didn’t quite work out.”
Debbie Mortensen (Diamond Peak) rounded out the podium in third, perhaps in part due to her navigation of the A-line.
In the men’s Pro race, Alex Grant (Sho-Air/Cannondale) was fourth after the first short climb. After the first lap, Grant was in the lead by close to a minute over second place Switzerland’s Oliver Zurbrugg (Wheeler). Grant kept it pegged the entire time and ended up winning by 4:09. Grant said, “I knew that with the big long climb coming up, it would sort out there. A couple guys tipped me off that there was a really strong Swiss guy racing. I knew Bryson was strong. I kept my eye on those guys He hit on the first climb. I followed him and let him set the pace for the whole climb. I jumped around him and punched it on the downhill and opened up a gap because I know the trail pretty well. I pushed it on the second climb and rode my own pace.”
When asked about upcoming races, Grant said, “I have the Breck Epic next week, a 6-day race.” About his season, “It’s been overall a great season. I’ve had some great races and a couple of rough ones. I had my best ever finish at Cross Country Nationals with a fourth place. I was really happy with that. Only 2 and half minutes off the win.”
Zurbrugg held on for second, and race organizer Bryson Perry (DNA Cycling) took third.
The course had some twists. This year, the long climb to the top was removed, and replaced with more rolling single track on Solitude’s lower slopes and through Honeycomb Canyon. But the most interesting twist was the addition of an A-line on the bottom of the descent. Riders could chose to roll over a large boulder and hop two logs, or take the safer but slower route around a switchback. Most of the pro’s and few great bike handlers took the A-line, while most mortals played it safe. Another event to keep the crowd happy was the ‘huffy-toss’, where riders and spectators through a not so great bike as far as they can to win prizes.
The Solitude Intermountain Cup was the last race of the year in the series. Under new owners Bryson Perry and Kelly Peterson, the series is seeing some new energy, new twists, and a perhaps a return to the glory days of the series.
For more information, visit IntermountainCup.com. For results, see the results section in this issue.
For other mountain bike races, see Cycling Utah’s calendar in this issue.