Geoff Kabush and Katerina Nash completed weekend sweeps Sunday, each winning their respective 50-mile championships at the inaugural Carson City Off-Road.
Kabush, who won the pro criterium on Friday night, was clocked in 3:18.15, nearly a full minute ahead of Benjamin Sonntag (3:19.24), Todd Wells (3:19.25) and Russell Finsterwald (3:19.25). The latter three staged a wild sprint to the finish.
Nash, who hadn’t raced in either of the previous Epic events because of World Cup events, beat two-time Epic winner Rose Grant (3:52.50-3:54.38). Amy Beisel was third in 3:57.17.
Kabush was one tired guy after the race.
“It seemed like we climbed forever,” he said. “I was surprised at the pace I was on. I’m known more for my descent (racing). I was just holding on. I was a little unsure. I suffered so much (climbing). The heat was definitely a factor today. You have to make sure to be hydrated and get protein. I had friends at Spooner and Marlette (for water and food).
“I wanted to be in front when we hit Secret Trail. Russell (Finsterwald) had the same idea. It was dusty and dirty up there; hard to see. I was looking for pavement telling me we were back in town again. It was nice to get home.”
Kabush, who lives at sea level, has been in Carson City for the past 10 days. He said course knowledge was definitely a factor in the final outcome.
It was a bittersweet day for Wells, who had won the second of three Epic events. He still managed to win the overall title (combined time for all three races). he pointed out he wasn’t just trying to protect his slim overall lead (less than a minute) over Sonntag.
“I definitely was trying to win,” Wells said. “Getting the overall is a nice consolation.
“About two-thirds into the race around Secret Trail between the third and fourth (stops), the group completely blew apart. We all got kind of separated.”
Sonntag finished second in the overall standings, and Nic Beechan, despite finishing outside the top 10, still managed to place third overall.
Nash’s win can’t be considered an upset by any stretch of the imagination. Grant had said in a pre-race interview that she was concerned about Nash, and that the Czech-born rider was her only serious challenger entering the race.
Nash, Grant and Beisel rode together for much of the race. It was on the descent into town where Nash took control. Reports from the road had Nash leading by 45 seconds around the Kings Canyon part of the course.
Nash had such a big lead that she took a wide final turn and slapped hands with many of the patrons on hand to see the riders finish.
“She got me on the descent,” Grant said after the race. “Her lines were amazing. She was smooth. She is a very good competitor. It was incredible to ride with her.”
Nash is no stranger to the area, having graduated from the University of Nevada. She has ridden plenty of times on the Tahoe Rim Trail, and she admitted that course knowledge helped quite a bit.
“I know the area well,” Nash said. “I’ve ridden the Tahoe Rim Trail many times. When I got into town, I rode and got familiar with the Carson City stuff. It always helps.”
Grant didn’t do a pre-race run.
“I was definitely at a disadvantage,” Grant said. “When you don’t know the course, you are a little more cautious. It was a good day (and weekend).”
Beisel, thanks to a good race on Sunday, moved ahead of Maghalie Rochette and into second place in the final overall standings. Rochette, who finished ninth, dropped to third place overall.
The course received good reviews from Wells and Kabush, especially the scenery they encountered.
Wells said the three Epic courses were similar in the way they are set up.
“You have beautiful scenery,” he said. “It was a good mix of trails. I think the weekend went great. There was good support and things seemed to go off very well.”
The one difference Kabush noticed is the climbing.
“On this course, the (main) climb is at the start of the race,” he said. “This course has the most climbing. I’m sure most people will come here and ride again.”