By Chris Magerl — Hot and windy greeted the riders who took on the challenge of The Wild Horse in the Cedar Mountain Wilderness on Saturday, May 14, 2016. The normal high for that date is 61. The temperature topped out above 80 on event day.
Tough conditions and a tough course, but despite that, records fell, riders smiled, wild horses were spotted, and many found views and roads they had never before encountered. All only one hour west of downtown SLC.
The Wild Horse benefits the Utah League High School MTB Scholarship Fund. The Scholarship Fund makes it possible for kids who might not otherwise be able to come up with a bike, cycling clothing or entry fees to join in on the fun. In addition to a contribution to the Scholarship Fund, all aid stations and the finish line were staffed by Utah League teams, all of whom received a direct contribution to their team.
The wild horses made few appearances, but a small herd ran alongside one rider before dropping him and heading off into the scrub. There was also another sighting near the second aid station, on the far southwest portion of the course. And there were at least eight horses about 1/4 mile west of the route's turn near Aragonite.
The long route throws down 76 miles of dirt and gravel, with 5,000 feet of vertical. The Little Wild Horse, run largely on the same route, had a more reasonable 31 miles and 1,800 vertical. The views to the west of snow-covered mountains in Nevada are worth the pedaling effort. Both routes cross wagon ruts left in 1846 by the Donner-Reed wagon train party as they headed toward a bad outcome in California.
Last year's male winner, Roger Arnell, was back, but this time on a cyclocross bike. Last year he chose a mountain bike. His time this year was about 2 1/2 minutes slower, at 4:41, but the result was the same. Arnell came into the final 50 meters with Adam Brown, and came around Brown for the win.
The TrueNorth Wealth Challenge offered riders a chance to raise more money for the Utah League Scholarship Fund. TrueNorth Wealth was offering a $500 donation to the the Fund if the first place male and first place female broke last year's course records. Roger Arnell fell just shy of that. Meghan Sheridan smashed last year's time, earning $250 for the Scholarship Fund and taking home a $100 bonus, as well.
Every rider in The Wild Horse and Little Wild Horse crossed the line and took their turn at the prize drawing table. Prizes were based on random draw, not results, so middle or even back of the pack riders had as much chance as the fast folks at coming home with awesome goodies from Kuhl, NoTubes, Feedback Sports, Scott, TRP, Black Diamond and others. Then it was time to step away from the bike and step up to tacos, watermelon and chairs under big shady tents. Riders hung out for hours cheering later finishers and recounting their day.
Watch for The Wild Horse in the spring of 2017 and come see what all the buzz is about.
More information and photos can be found at RideWildHorse.com