Muddy Soulstice |

Muddy Soulstice

Sloppy conditions prevail during race

The Lane of Pain became the Lane of Rain on Wednesday, turning the third Town Challenge mountain bike race of the season into a mudfest.

The sky was threatening, but no rain was falling when the men’s open class left the starting line of the Summer Soulstice race, which was held at Howelsen Hill.

But several minutes into the more than 11-mile cross-country race, the weather took a turn for the worse. Steady rain, combined with the already-saturated ground, resulted in muddy, slippery and, at times, dangerous conditions for the riders in the race.

By the time race-winner Marko Ross-Bryant reached the finish line, his bike, clothes and body were covered in a thick layer of mud.

“It started raining five minutes after we started, and it never let up,” Ross-Bryant said. “The weather made for some tricky riding.”

Ross-Bryant said he hung with Barkley Robinson for most of the race and pulled away shortly after the Lane of Pain.

“You just have to push yourself for the whole race and hope that everything goes your way,” Ross-Bryant said. “When conditions are like this, there is a lot that can go wrong.”

Most of the participants in the 170-plus rider field were slowed by mechanical problems, and two unlucky riders had to be transported to the hospital by ambulance after suffering injuries on the course.

But Ross-Bryant was able to navigate the course without injury or mechanical failure en route to his first victory of the season. He finished the race in less than an hour, with an unofficial time of just more than 58 minutes. He was less than a minute in front of Brad Cusenbary, who finished second, and a couple of minutes ahead of Mark Iverson, who finished third. Tom Bedell placed fourth, and Robinson, who won the first two races of the summer, placed fifth.

Ross-Bryant said his Yeti bike was perfect for the tight course, and he felt that his bike gave him and fellow Yeti rider Cusenbary an advantage over the field.

“These bikes are just so fast in the corners,” Ross-Bryant said. “They’re perfect for a course like this.”

Karen Tremaine cruised to the win in the women’s expert division in just more than an hour. She was followed by Tara Lynn Johnson in second and Jo Richards in third.

Other winners included Ian Gale in the men’s expert 19 to 29 division, Nate Juden in the men’s expert 30 to 34 division, Pat West in the men’s expert 35 to 39 division and Dan Vargas in the men’s expert 40-plus division.

Wiley Thayer won the men’s sport 19 to 29 division, and Travis Taylor won the men’s sport 30 to 34 division. PJ Wharton won the men’s sport 35 to 39 division and David Miller won the men’s sport 50-plus division.

Airn Tolney won the women’s sport 19 to 29 division, and Julie Franklin won the women’s sport 30-plus division.

Gerry Vernonwe topped the men’s novice 19 to 29 division, Jon Casson won the men’s novice 30 to 39 division, and Tony Hancock won the men’s novice 40-plus division. Jen Murphy topped the women’s novice 19 to 34 division.

Katherine Ingall, Carter Miller and Bryce Gordon all won youth classes, and Koby Vargas, Trent Naused and Malcolm Pitzer-Ritter won children’s classes. Danny Armstrong won the Miller Light class.