Grand Junction Off-Road Race

May 24, 2017 at 12:20
by Epic Rides  

Year five of the Grand Junction Off-Road is in the rearview. As those who joined us last weekend on Colorado's West Slope may attest, the event has once again upped the ante in pulling together the mountain bike community to enjoy three days of world-class trails, free live music and a serious party on the streets of Downtown Grand Junction. As is standard with all Epic Rides Off-Road Series events, the three-day festival opened its doors at high noon Friday on Main Street, giving attendees access to over thirty industry vendors including full support rigs from SRAM and Shimano, Maxxis Tires, KMC, ProGold, Stan's NoTubes, Skratch Labs, Giant Bicycles, and others.

Because of rainstorms throughout the prior week, crews postponed the 15 Grand Fun Ride to let trails dry out. Nobody complained, however, as the forecast showed nothing but weekend sun. The resulting hero dirt would be a treat for riders enduring their respective backcountry course (15, 30, or 40 miles).

Twist-N-Shout trail has lots of twists and turns.
Twist-N-Shout, the grin-inducing trail that lives up to its name was running fast-n-tacky after a week of precipitation.

Professional Men's Fat Tire Crit

Friday evening's Professional Fat Tire Crit brought the noise to Downtown Grand Junction as streets lined with thousands of cheering fans enjoyed a competition not typically seen at a mountain bike event. Over 100 pros toed the line in their skinnies to determine pecking order for Sunday's main race, and also to carry bragging rights to the barstool Friday evening.

Nick Gould leads a pack of around a corner during the Pro Men s Fat Tire Crit on Friday.
Nick Gould leads the pack around an early corner.
Grand Junction Off-Road 2017
Todd Wells leads Fernando Riveros-Paez through a late corner.

Geoff Kabush wins the during the Pro Men s Fat Tire Crit.
Geoff Kabush reigns supreme at the Pro Men's Fat Tire Crit.

Grand Junction Off-Road 2017
Men's Podium: 1st – Geoff Kabush (Scott, Maxxis, Shimano), 2nd – Todd Wells (SRAM, Troy Lee Design), 3rd – Brian Matter (Linear Sport Racing, Trek, Shimano), 4th – Menso De Jong (CLIF, Niner, SRAM), 5th – Carl Decker (Giant Factory Off Road).

Professional Women's Fat Tire Crit

The pro s round a corner at the start of the Pro Women Fat Tire Crit on Friday.
The pro women race under the Maxxis Tires arch at the start.
Maghalie Rochette puts the hammer down on a breakaway during the Pro Women s Fat Tire Crit Friday.
Maghalie Rochette drops the hammer to set up teammate Katerina Nash.

Katerina Nash wins the Pro Women s Fat Tire Crit Friday in downtown Grand Junction.
Katerina Nash wins the Pro Fat Tire Crit Friday in Downtown Grand Junction.

Grand Junction Off-Road 2017
Women's Podium: 1st – Katerina Nash (CLIF), 2nd – Amy Beisel (ProCycling, Kenda), 3rd – Alexis Skarda (Stan's, Kenda), 4th – Serena Bishop Gordon (LIV, SRAM, Schwalbe), 5th – Crystal Anthony (Maxxis, Shimano).

Amateur Backcountry Ride

The Grand Junction Off-Road has been called "America's most technically challenging "XC" course." While it has its moments, the past five years show a 93% finish rate, which speaks to the gritty nature of the participants and the rider support thanks to Clif, Skratch Labs, EMS Unlimited, and the countless volunteers who make the event hum.

It can't go without mentioning COPMOBA for their thousands of hours put towards building and maintaining Grand Junction's thriving trail system. As a show of thanks, Epic Rides is hosting a fundraiser dubbed Hail the Trail—a campaign where the public can purchase tickets for a chance to win one of three mountain bikes from Ibis, Salsa, and Norco, each valued at more than $6,000. All the proceeds benefit three primary trail groups in each Off-Road Series community, including COPMOBA, and go directly toward maintaining existing and building new trail in each network.

If you'd like to Hail the Trail, visit:

The Grand Junction Off-Road, as well as each course in the Epic Rides Off-Road Series, intends to provide an authentic representation of mountain biking. They aren't repetitive, contrived loops in a park. They are bonafide backcountry rides with a healthy blend of ups, downs, tech, and flow. A well-rounded mountain biker will thrive, while a downhiller may suffer the climbs and an "XC" racer may suffer the downhills.

Grand Junction Off-Road 2017
Whether you walk it or ride it, there will be a can of Four Peaks beer on ice and a good ol' fashioned hoe-down waiting for you after the finish line.

Mountain biking, like many pursuits in life, is what you make of it. The Off-Road Series lets riders decide how to experience the ride. If you want to race, the systems are there to race. If you want to ride casually and savor a long day in the saddle, pedal on. The events strive to be inclusive and preserve the sport's essence by unplugging and enjoying nature while celebrating camaraderie of a tight-knit community. It's a good day on the bike.

Grand Junction Off-Road 2017
Shortly after departing downtown, riders enjoy the early stages of the Lunch Loops trail system.
A racer catches air on the Gunny Loop.
Keeping it steezy and catching some air on the newly added Gunny Loop Trail.

A racers descends a technical section of the Tabeguache Trail.
Riders enjoyed the chunky nature of the Tabeguache Trail.

A 30 Grand racer descends Twist-N-Shout.
Demanding respect and authority, a 30 Grand rider descends Twist-N-Shout sporting Pit Vipers.

Grand Junction Off-Road 2017
Like ants, riders picked their way through Grand Junction's Martian-esque rock gardens.

Grand Junction Off-Road 2017
Complimentary cans of Kilt Lifter for the finishers.
The Dubious Brothers performed on the main stage Saturday.
Free live music for everybody, all courtesy of Epic Rides' Official Beer Sponsor, Four Peaks Brewing Company.

Gov. John Hickenlooper declared May 20 Public Lands Day in Colorado on Saturday.
On Saturday, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper declared May 20, Public Lands Day in Colorado.
Todd Sadow raises a toast toast to mountain bike hall of famer Greg H-Ball Herbold on Saturday.
Into the evening, Epic Rides' fearless leader Todd Sadow raises a toast to mountain bike hall of famer Greg "H-Ball" Herbold.

The Infamous Stringdusters headlined the music festival on Saturday night.
...and then Downtown Grand Junction got down to the boogie of the weekend headliner, The Infamous Stringdusters.

Pro Backcountry Race

Sunday is dedicated to the professionals with some of the world's best vying for their share of a $30,000 cash purse (equally split between males and females): Pros included 2016 Off-Road Series Champion Todd Wells, Howard Grotts, Geoff Kabush, Payson Mcelveen, and Jeremiah Bishop on the men's side, and Clif teammates Katerina Nash and Maghalie Rochette, Evelyn Dong, Amy Beisel, Crystal Anthony and Sofia Gomez Villafane on the women's side. The stage was set for some world-class racing.

Nick Gould leads a group of men down a technical section on the Tabeguache trail.
Nick Gould leads a group of men down a technical section of the Tabeguache trail.

Grand Junction Off-Road 2017
Troy Wells navigates early rock features in the Pro Backcountry Race.

Grand Junction Off-Road 2017
Sarah Kaufman enjoying Twist-N-Shout early in the day.

Amy Beisel leads Katerina Nash and Sofia Gomez Villafane down a technical section of the Tabeguache trail on Sunday.
Amy Beisel leads Katerina Nash and Sofia Gomez Villafane down a technical section of the Tabeguache trail.

Former Olympian and Grand Junction Off-Road Champion Katerina Nash rode with Amy Beisel and Sofia Gomez Villafane in the beginning of the race, but would later pull away during the climbs. Beisel and Villafane rode synchronously until Beisel rode away towards the end, earning her second place. 23-year-old Villafane would finish third.

Evelyn Dong nails a technical section of the Tabeguache Trail Sunday.
Evelyn Dong nails a tricky section of the Tabeguache Trail.

The rocky course had racers on the rivet, pushing both their bodies and machines passed comfort. The course, known for ravaging tires, had many riders reaching for treads like the Maxxis Ikon with EXO Protection to minimize the chance of sidewall cuts. Sadly, it just wasn't in the cards for Todd Wells who would succumb to multiple punctures and DNF the race. That would not be the case for Russell Finsterwald and Geoff Kabush, who spent their day trying to reel in the young speedster in Howard Grotts.

Russ Finsterwald leads Geoff Kabush down a rock drop on the Gunny Loop Sunday.
Russ Finsterwald leads Geoff Kabush down a rock drop on the Gunny Loop Sunday.

On a bluebird day, the USA XC champion Howard Grotts gave'r gas each time the course skewed up, and despite the course being three miles longer this year with the addition of Gunny Loop (East), he cruised to a record of 2:57:14 to take the win and his $5,000 humongous check.

Howard Grotts won the men s race by over three minutes.
Howard Grotts won the men's race by over three minutes.

bigquotes"I wanted to be in the lead during the first section because I knew there were sections that would bottleneck if you were not in the lead group. I did not really know the Butterknife trail because I was not able to pre-ride so maybe I went a little slower and they "got me" near the feed zone at the bottom. I then saw that Windmill was a really good, steep, consistent climb and I figured that was my best chance to get away for good."Howard Grotts, Specialized

Alex Grants shows off the results of a crash on course.
Alex Grant shows off the results of a crash on course.

Howard Grotts wins the pro men s Grand Junction Off-Road with a time of 2 57 14 on Sunday.
Howard Grotts wins the pro men's Grand Junction Off-Road with a record time of 2:57:14 on Sunday.
Katerina Nash wins the pro women s Grand Junction Off-Road with a time of 3 38 12.
Nash finished two minutes ahead of last year's time, winning the Pro Women's Race with a time of 3:38:12.

bigquotes"The course is spectacular. I really enjoy riding the trails here in Grand Junction. I had a really smooth ride and am happy to take the win here... I wanted to get into the singletrack first that was really my goal."Katerina Nash, Clif

Grand Junction Off-Road 2017
Women's Podium: 1st – Katerina Nash (Clif), 2nd – Amy Beisel (ProCycling, Kenda), 3rd – Sofia Gomez Villafane (Assos, Pivot Cycles), 4th – Evelyn Dong (Cannondale), 5th – Crystal Anthony (Maxxis, Shimano).

Grand Junction Off-Road 2017
Men's Podium: 1st – Howard Grotts (Specialized), 2nd – Geoff Kabush (Scott, Maxxis, Shimano), 3rd – Russell Finsterwald (SRAM, Troy Lee Designs), 4th – Benjamin Sonntag (Clif, Niner, SRAM), 5th – Kyle Trudeau (CZ Racing,, Rouleur Carbon).

Pro Women Top 10

Grand Junction Off-Road

Pro Men Top 10

Grand Junction Off-Road

Grand Junction Off-Road

That's a wrap from Grand Junction, Colorado. See everyone June 16–18 in Carson City for the Off-Road Series finale and Second Annual Carson City Off-Road.


  • + 10
 Holy shnikeys wish I could have raced this one. Rode the Whiskey 50, phenomenal event, great track, kudos to Epic rides for putting together some great races!
  • + 8
 There's always next year...thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoyed the Whiskey.
  • + 6
 This is an awesome race here in CO and you can have a blast riding it for fun with you buddies on 5 & 6 inch bikes as well.
Thanks to all who contributed.
  • + 7
 Totally. I ran a 160mm with a coil shock in the back and absolutely nothing light...and no spandex. No problem!
  • + 6
 Great write up! Its so good to see the women getting paid the same as the men too. I cant wait to do the Carson City Epic next month!
  • + 5
 Fat tire crit, they all run skinnies....
  • + 4
 Such a great race! the course change made it even better. already looking forward to suffering again next year!
  • + 5
 Such a fun race! Great job epicrides.
  • + 2
 Glad ya dig!
  • + 3
 i sincerely hope they kept their race gear on during the after party. nothing like drinking beers while tired and covered in dirt/spandex
  • + 7
 Couldn't agree more. Someone once said, "Chamois time is ride time." Just because you're partying in your panties doesn't mean your not training. Always. Be. Training.
  • + 4
 Rad to see a race stepping up with equal payout.
  • + 3
 those fellas are rockin' some sweet ninja boots
  • + 2
 i get to go to college there lol
  • + 2
 Holy spandex convention!
  • + 0
 Lycra lizard jamboree.... yipppee skippy doo
  • + 0
 CO Kazzy demanding respect, the Japanese Cowboy Viper.
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