Times Staff Writer
Six bikers jockeyed for position for miles as Dave Wiens — founder of Gunnison Trails and, by extension, the race in which he was riding — fought to take, and hold onto, the lead.
“My goal was to feel strong throughout by pacing smart,” said Weins. “I wanted to break six hours.”
That he did, finishing the race in 5:15:29 to claim first among 179 men and women in the 64-mile Full Growler on Sunday at Hartman Rocks Recreation Area.
With the Full Growler nearing an end, Wiens rolled into first at Rattlesnake trail and began to separate from his competition, eventually crossing the finish line nearly two minutes ahead of second-place Josh Tostado.
“I'm very happy, I truly didn't think it was possible,” said the former professional mountain biker and current executive director of the International Mountain Bicycling Association. “I have to thank my feeders on course — my wife Susan, sons, Ben and Sam and Dodson Harper. Also to Dan Crean and his team at Double Shot Cyclery who dialed in my bike to perfection, and to all of the volunteers and spectators on the course, too. They were awesome.”
After founding the Original Growler races 10 years ago, Wiens — the former race director — finally decided to experience the event as a competitor for the first time this year.
“It was a bucket list race, even for the guy who created it,” he said.
The Growler came to fruition in 2008 thanks to the creators of the Sage Burner — Jake Jones and Scott Drum.
“They hatched the idea for a 50k trail running race at Hartman Rocks and asked me to mark the course,” said Wiens. “Once I got started and realized the work involved, I knew we had to race bikes on it the day after the Sage Burner.”
While organization of the Sage Burner has since changed hands and now takes place in the fall, Growler weekend continues to draw riders from across the country each spring.
Winning in his blood
It may have taken Dave Wiens 10 years to compete in the Original Growler, but his son — Cooper Wiens — has competed in the Half Growler in the past. For the first time on Saturday, Cooper won the 32-miler collegiate Half Growler men’s race in a time of 2:35:09. In past years, he struggled to break into the top 50 finishers.
“Since the Growler was usually after track season, I was never in shape to ride a mountain bike for three hours,” said Cooper. “As such, I generally had a lot of difficulty after the first hour of the race.”
This year, Cooper — a former Gunnison High School (GHS) track and field standout — was able to lead the charge, thanks to his dad, with whom he rode as soon as he returned to Gunnison after attending Fort Lewis College this past semester.
“We mostly just ride,” said Cooper. “I do probably one specific ‘workout’ per week, but the rest is just riding for varying amounts of time and intensity depending on how we are feeling on a given day.”
Dave and Cooper also worked on their strategy — fueling, hydration, starting, positioning, pacing and lines, which ultimately allowed them to execute the plan on race day.
The help that Cooper received from his dad allowed the young racer to shake off nervousness at the finish line. Since Cooper knew the trails well and had a good race the previous weekend in Grand Junction, he knew that he could perform well.
“My plan was to hit the first singletrack in the top 10,” said Cooper, “and then go from there depending on how I felt.”
The highlight of the weekend, however, came on Sunday for Cooper, when he got to watch his dad win the Full Growler.
“I told him a week before that I was pretty sure he was going to win, ‘half-jokingly,’” said Cooper. “It turns out that, even at 53, he still has the ability to be that fast. He’s one of my heroes, and his achievements continue to keep me motivated and inspired.”
(Brandon Warr can be reached at 970.641.1414 or email@example.com.)
1. J.J. Clark, 2:37:12; 2. Shaun Martin, 2:46:24; 3. Sam Furness, 2:55:01.
1. Jennifer Hare, 3:21:06; 2. Ksenia Lepikhina, 3:25:30; 3. Leia Schneeberger, 3:26:36.
1. David Wiens, 5:15:29; 2. Josh Tostado, 5:17:15; 3. Kalan Beisel, 5:18:58.
1. Elizabeth Carrington, 6:44:09; 2. Mindy Mulliken, 6:58:38; 3. Tracy Thelan, 7:16:17.
Sunday Half Growler
1. Will Foley, 3:01:22; 2. Ian Anderson, 3:01:35; 3. Zach Pickett, 3:05:44.
1. Katrina Englested, 3:37:28; 2. Tracy Paradise, 3:38:15; 3. Sarah Stubbe, 3:41:05.
For Saturday’s full results, visit https://my2.raceresult.com/95194/.
For Sunday’s full results, visit my5.raceresult.com/95762/.