Even in the best of times, Bootleg Canyon is a beast of a challenge. And that was exactly the case at the third and final round of the 2017 DVO Winter Gravity Series. Conditions were ideal for a weekend packed with MTB action at this storied venue on the outskirts of Boulder City, Nevada.
Or Bootleg might better be described as a wild beast. Just when you think you have it tamed, it turns around and rips off a limb.
Just ask four-time and reigning UCI World Cup Downhill Champion Aaron Gwin. The YT Industries rider from Wildomar, California, has seen it all, and as he put it, “On a difficulty level it’s as high as any track in the world. There’s no traction, the rocks crazy, it’s long and usually hot, dry and windy. You definitely need to be fit and hit your lines. It’s really easy to make mistakes, and if you crash you’re probably going to the hospital. It’s a tough track, but that’s why I keep coming back. It’s challenging but fun, and it’s always a great time coming out and racing with all the guys. The first time I ever rode a downhill bike was right here, and it scared me out of my mind. It’s hard to compare with any other track anywhere.” The 29-year-old stopped the clock with a 4:07.16 in his final race run, topping the Pro Men’s class by just over 9 seconds.
Runner up on this day was another Bootleg veteran, Logan Binggeli (KHS Factory Racing). “Bootleg Canyon is one of a kind,” he stated. “It’s definitely a West Coast track; it’s dry, loose and fast. I think it should be on the World Cup schedule. There’s a reason why Steve Peat came all the way here to test years ago. There’s a reason why Gwinny’s here. It’s a unique and challenging course, and I think it’s here to stay. Thank you, Brent Thomson. [The original Bootleg trail builder, who died in 2009.]
Steven Walton (Commencal) aced the Junior Expert division with a time that would have put him fifth in the Pro ranks (4:20.76). He rolled his eyes and stifled a laugh when asked about this venue. “Boot is kind of its own ballgame. It’s one big cheese grater; pretty sketchy, really.”
Current USA Cycling Pro GRT Women’s champ Samantha Kingshill (College Cyclery/Truckerco Posse) echoed these words. “It’s very unique. It would be hard to find something as steep, rocky, technical, and physically demanding. Bootleg is definitely one of the courses where you do not push it. You have to warm up to it and then flow with the geography.” Kingshill captured both the Dual Slalom race on Saturday and the Downhill on Sunday.
One notable victim at this event was previous round winner Bruce Klein (KHS Factory Racing). A sliced rear tire just after the start of his run ended his day and his title shot.
Even the event promoter, Downhillmike Scheur, admits that Bootleg is “One of the gnarliest courses on the West Coast. The exposure and sharp rocks are simply too much for some riders. Bootleg is not for everyone.”
The crowd that gathered for the generous awards ceremony certainly seemed to have enjoyed the weekend’s festivities. A stack of sweet medals, several tables overflowing with swag, thousands of dollars in cash and a year’s worth of bragging rights makes for a happy group. And no one was complaining about being able to walk away with his or her limbs more or less intact, either.
Fitness model Christine Eikmeier, aka Johnny Ringo, squared off with Samantha Kingshill in the Women’s Dual Slalom final. Kingshill prevailed.
Angelo Loskota was the man to beat in Saturday’s Dual Slalom.
Sean McClendon (Deity/2SIX Stallions) topped the charts in the Open Men’s Downhill.
Italy’s Alessia Missiaggia (GT Bicycles), the reigning Junior Women’s World Champion, was a stylish second place in Pro Women.
Full results for the event and the series can be found here: downhillmike.com/2017-reaper-madness-results.html
Major props to the sponsors and supporters of the 2017 DVO Reaper Madness, namely: DVO Suspension, Box Components, GT Bicycles, KHS Factory Racing, Promax, All Mountain Cyclery, Kore North Bikes, Novatec, HT Components, SNMBA, MJT Designs, Canfield Bros, Absolute Black, Truckerco, Deity, Kali Protectives, ODI Grips, 4Low Parts, Onza, Smanie, Maxima Racing Oils, Scurvy Dog Clothing, Whiteface Mountain Bike Park and Blue Dog RV. Also thanks to the Boulder City Parks and Recreation, Dan Haskin and the late Brent Thomson and friends.