Steinberg wins Grand Mesa Grind race by more than seven minutes

It’s not every day a bicyclist catches a motorcycle, let alone passes one.

That was the case Saturday when Brent Steinberg passed the lead escort during the Grand Mesa Grind mountain bike race in Palisade.

“I kept yelling at him but he had his helmet on and it was windy,” Steinberg said. “I needed to get by him so I just took the risk and shot to his left.

“It kind of shook him up a bit. I flew by him. We were doing 30 (miles per hour) at that point.”

Steinberg finished with a time of 2 hours, 58 minutes, 5 seconds to win the 38-mile expert division of the bike race, which was delayed last weekend because of rain.

The postponement of the race allowed Steinberg, who has placed as high as fourth in national races as part of Mesa State’s cycling team, to participate. He had scheduled another race last weekend.

Steinberg finished the race more than seven minutes quicker than his closest competitor, Eagle’s Mike Skellion, who finished in 3:05:56.

This was the first year Steinberg and Skellion entered the race.

Skellion camped out in his van Friday night before the race for the second straight weekend, including the trip for last weekend’s cancellation.

“I had come down and listened to it rain all night long laying in my van,” Skellion said. “I had pulled the plug before I even knew it was canceled.”

Luckily the weather worked out nicely for the rescheduled event.

“The conditions were really ideal,” Skellion said.

Except for the creek crossings, the trails were dry and in good condition. Riders said the biggest issue was the wind.

“(The wind) blew you all around into rocks,” Steinberg said. “You couldn’t hold your line at all. It was tough.”

There were also areas that were muddy last weekend, with animals leaving some ruts from their footprints.

“I was thankful I was on a full suspension (bike),” Skellion said.

This year the course added four new miles of single-track trail.

Fruita’s Mike Driver, who was in last year’s race and finished third this year, said the new section added a fresh degree of difficulty to the course.

“That was a lot of fun because it was just real narrow single track,” Driver said.

“The descent off the top of that hill is like nothing else in this valley. I mean it is fast, rocky and you can’t rest. That’s the best part — you’re exhausted by the time you hit the bottom.”

The sixth annual event is known for its climb over three quarters of the way up the side of Grand Mesa. Rondo Buecheler, who organizes the event, said the expert riders climb more than 4,800 feet.

Buecheler made the call last weekend to postpone the race because of concerns about damaging both public trails and the riders’ equipment.

Buecheler was pleased with the crowd the race drew despite the postponement, with 150 riders showing up for the three classes, which included shorter courses for the beginner and sport classes.

“To have this many riders show up when the race had to be rescheduled is amazing,”  Buecheler said.


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