One of the final National Championship qualifiers happened this past Saturday at Soldier Mountain. There were some extremely wet knee-deep stream crossings and reports of quite a few tire and chain problems. But almost 100 riders showed up to race in one of the last qualifiers before July’s National Championships.
The 2011 Knobby Tires Series Soldier Mountain Slaughter was a monster of a course. In fact, Ketchum racer and bike celebrity, Don Wiseman was just happy that he finished. (Apparently so were the race officials… his official time says “He finished!”) But for another Ketchum rider, a green home consultant and Maine transplant, the race helped him beef up his skills for the big race.
“This Soldier Race had one of the most difficult high-speed descents I have ever done on a Cross-country course because it had ruts and rock garden that you would hit going really fast,” John told us about the course. The ride itself had a grueling half hour climb at the start, which included the trouble-making stream crossing but also gorgeous views of the Camas Prairie and the mountains.
John Reuter, a Cat 1 racer and the only rider in the 19-29 age group at Soldier, finished third overall. Only two pros; Josh Berry and Ryon Butterfield, beat him to the finish. And now that he has officially qualified for Nationals and will spend the next month getting into gear, John had a few things to say about the wicked course being put together for Nationals during the Ride Sun Valley Festival.
“Soldier seemed to be very similar terrain to what will be at Nationals because it is going to be a lot of serious uphill since you literally are going to climb halfway up Baldy and then descend. Though, I hear that the downhill at Nationals is going to be super buff and smooth.”
Now, while we know we are stoked about the upcoming Ride Sun Valley and the Cross-country National Championships, what does an actual racer have to say in anticipation of the event. “I don’t know what to expect in terms of the field, it will be fun to see who the competition is. But all in all, I love that we are going to have all these elite bikers in town. It really brings a lot of great energy into Ketchum.”
We couldn’t agree more. July and Ride Sun Valley couldn’t come fast enough. Unless of course, you haven’t qualified. In which case, you better get yourself to Jug Mountain next weekend! (Check out www.spondoro.com for more information about next weekend’s qualifier at McCall’s Jug Mountain.)