Evelyn Dong brings series lead to Carson City Off-Road | NevadaAppeal.com

Evelyn Dong brings series lead to Carson City Off-Road

Epic Rides series leader Evelyn Dong says she is relieved temperatures will be cooler this year for the Carson City Off-Road event.

The one thing Evelyn Dong remembers about the 2017 Carson City Off-Road is that it was "brutally hot."

The Utah rider was relieved to find out temperatures for the third annual event that kicks off Friday afternoon are forecast in the high 70s and low 80s.

Dong comes into the event as the leader in the Epic Rides series. She was second to Katerina Nash at Grand Junction and eighth in Arizona. She currently leads Amy Beisel by 6-minutes, 40-seconds and Crystal Anthony by 7:35. Larissa Connors is fourth overall 11:41 behind and Sofia Gomez-Villafane is fifth 14:45 behind.

"Grand Junction was pretty good," the 33-year-old Dong said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. "A few of the girls were racing in a World Cup event which was on the same weekend. A lot of the girls will be back this weekend.

"Whiskey Run (Arizona) was a little rough. I didn't quite have it in me that day. I love that course; like Prescott."

Dong is looking forward to returning to Carson. She said she will try to run bits and pieces of the new 50-mile course with its spectacular views late Thursday or early Friday.

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"Last year we couldn't ride the high country because of all the snow," Dong said. "You don't get lost in the views (scenery). You can't look around that much. It (the scenery) definitely helps though. It's much nicer looking at trees than dry, barren land. It's motivating."

Rose Grant, who won the 50-miler last year, had surgery recently and won't be racing. Nash, who won in 2016 and was third last year, has had success here. Amy Beisel, who was second to Grant last year and third in 2016, is also expected to contend.

"Katerina for sure," Dong said when asked who will challenge. "This is like her home turf. Chloe (Woodruff) is in good form. Whether she knows the course or not, I expect her to be up there."

Crystal Anthony, Sofia Gomez-Villafane and Serena Bishop-Gordon have also had success here.

Dong is a relative newcomer to the sport. She was a nordic skier growing up, and all the way through high school. She didn't seriously pick up biking until 2013.

"I just got burnt out (on skiing)," Dong said. "I always enjoyed riding my bike. When I went out (riding) with my roommate I used to get pummeled. The more I got into it, the more I enjoyed it."

Dong has been a quick learner. Her best finish in 2013 was a third at the Pro XCT in Missoula, and she was fifth at the American Nationals in Pennyslvania.

In 2014, she won her first race, taking the Subaru Cup in Wisconsin. She was second at Missoula and also took third at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey and the USA MTB Championships. Dong was third at the 2015 WORS Cup in Wisconsin and also continued her success in Missoula with a sixth-place finish. She had eight top-10 finishes in 2016, including a second at the Missoula XCO. In 2017, she was second at the MTB Tech Dev No. 1 in Utah.

On June 9, Dong won the Missoula XC, so she is obviously hoping to carry that performance over into a good showing in Carson City this weekend.