G3 #1 – Keystone, CO

There’s a first for everything, and the first G3 race was pretty darn cool. Three burly courses and lots of great racing.

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I was busy racing, so no photos. Please send ’em!

A new format

Three runs — two downhills and a Super D — over three days; fastest combined time wins.

Talk about getting your money’s worth: Total times ranged from 34 to 50+ minutes. With entries running $70-$100, that’s a fantastic fun-to-dollar ratio.

Pros, semipros and vet pros started in minute intervals. For everyone else, it was supposed to be a free-for-all/go-whenever-you-want type of thing, but once the organizers thought it through, they assigned start windows for each class and seed positions for each rider. You could go out of order if you wanted — to rip with your bro — but few riders exercised that option.

Downhill #1

Talk about getting your money’s worth. Depending on your speed, this was three or four normal downhill runs.

Milky Way flows and jumps and drops and clatters much like Garbanzo at Whistler. Rail the turns, stick the off-cambers and watch your lines lest you get sucked into an unfortunate tangent. Join the old DH course for a quick traverse, a rocky turn, a couple doubles and another traverse. Dive, dive, dive into a new section of high speed, rocky, jumpy love then enter a new trail called Jam Rock.

Holy cow, I can’t imagine riding this as a beginner! Steep. Rocky. Steep. Crazy optional lines. Pros: elevated bridge to steepness to rocks to more steepness to more rocks, then a beautiful drop-in and an infinite rock booter. Beginners: Steep. Rocky. Rocky. Steep! Not easy! But tré cool.

Dive into flowy Mosquito Coast for a sec, cross over to wide-open Paid in Full for a couple turns, then survive Motorhead to the finish. Hope you’re not tired — rocks, switchbacks, rocks, braking bumps! Hold form on the final traverse and cross the timing pad like the champ you are.

Fastest pro: Justin Leov, 10:36

Super D

I was expecting to rock my Enduro SL down Mosquito Coast like the champ I am … but NOOOOO!!!

This course was very DH at the top, very XC at the bottom. Loggers Way, fully pinned across random rocks, to miscellaneous rocky flow to River Run, a ultra slow/tech tree sesh. Speed, check. Pedalling, double check!

Bike choice ran from full XC to all-mountain to full DH. Justin Leov won it in 15:19 on a Yeti 303. Jared Graves rolled 15:21 on a Yeti 4X. Two exceptional athletes, a 0.2% time difference.

I ran out of parts and had to ride my Demo 8. It felt great on the WFO stuff, but elsewhere I would have been faster on the smaller bike. I think. I was pretty tired by now!

Downhill 2

Back to the original DH course. It’s a complete combination of single rocks, rock gardens and rock ledges; tight switchbacks, flowy corners and WFO ski runs.

Detailed course description from last year.

By itself this is a serious, physical course. After the other two … sheesh! Jared Graves won it in 8:14.


There was talk of awarding the overall by points, but I’m glad we did it by time.

Fastest pro: Justin Leov, 34:18

Average schmoe: 40something minutes

That’s like a Downieville run — very, very cool.


The new Vet Pro class rocks! It’s perfect for guys like me who are too quick for Vet Ex but not super competitive in Pro or Semi. Matt Thompson stepped down (hey, he’s a pro and he’s a vet) and crushed us in DH #1. He beat me by 45 seconds — ouch. He held his own in Super D, and it looked like he’d take the overall. Unfortunately he hit a tree in Sunday practice and missed the final race. I hope Matt is OK.

In Jr. Sport, Dylan Patterson and James Ontiveros stepped up big time. Dylan won the first two events and flatted in #3 to end up 3rd overall. James took the overall.

Because he’s training for the Australian Olympic BMX team, Jared Graves was worried about his endurance. No worries there; he finished only 10 seconds behind Leov. That’s only a 0.4% difference over three long runs.

The courses weren’t closed. I’m all for bro racing, but encountering civilians in your race run … not good. I suffered that fate in DH #1, and it reminded me of a crappy day in 1997: I ran off course to miss some hikers, hit a tree, fell in the creek, almost drowned, couldn’t speak correctly for a couple months. I understand if we can’t close the park, but can’t we close the active race course?

Since we wore timing chips, I expected the results to be flawless. Not so. Lots of mistakes. But it’s the first try, and I’m sure they’ll nail it next time.

As for me: I was nervous! Haven’t raced DH in a while, lots of expectations, personal life changes, blah, blah, blah.

DH #1: Clean and controlled, a bit too cautious. Almost hit a civilian on the tech bridge; stop; unclip; struggle through the section. 3rd in Vet Pro.

Super D: I was expecting to kill this. Not quite. Clean run, but I didn’t trust my fitness enough. I should have pinned the pedaling sections 100% and trusted myself to recover, but I cruised at 80% — not enough on the big bike. Oh well, 5th place.

DH #2: With MT out, Damon Gilbert was way ahead. The rest of us … too close for comfort. I knew I had to rock it. And I did — until I burped my UST rear tire on a superfast ski-run corner. Poo! Flat tire from there. Rode pretty well considering. Came in 3rd behind Bill TeSelle (nice work) and Damon.

Wound up 3rd overall with a time of 39:04. It felt great to be in the mix. Keith Darner came in 5th, and it was a treat to share a podium with that guy.

In case you don’t know Darner is the man: My FOX 40 blew up, and he loaned me his spare. Very generous. Thanks brother!

Next time: G3 #2 at Sol Vista, Aug. 18-19. These courses will be super fun but much shorter and less physically taxing. www.g3gravityseries.com

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