One for all
Single-speed bike carries GJ's Anderson to third-place finish
When it comes to mountain bike racing, Grand Junction’s Vince Anderson has a singletrack mind.
He also has a single-speed mountain bike.
One gear and lots of grit nearly led Anderson to the overall 40-mile race title Saturday in the Grand Junction Off-Road.
Anderson, 43, mashed the pedals and methodically ground his way to the front, where he stayed for much of the race.
He won the men’s single-speed competition and finished third overall with a time of 3 hours, 32.08 minutes.
Durango’s Kirby Bryant was fourth overall, also riding a single-speed bike.
Things didn’t start out the way Anderson planned.
Riding a single-speed bike, he knew he would trail a number of riders when he hit the Tabeguache Trail in the Lunch Loop area only three miles into the race. And that’s where he had trouble.
He hit a rock on the double track as he was trying to pass some riders, and the result was a broken spoke and it dropped him even farther behind.
After stopping to remove the broken spoke from the wheel, Anderson went to work.
For Anderson, the race was literally in his backyard, so that was a huge advantage in working his way to the front.
“I live right by the Lunch Loop area, and I know the course pretty well, so I knew where I could pass people,” he said. “I saved my energy and took opportunities to get around one or two.”
Once he hit the technical part of the course in the Butterknife section, Anderson said he knew there were no passing opportunities, so he just took it easy and conserved his energy.
His main focus was waiting for the long climb on Windmill Road to make his move.
The grueling 45-minute climb was right in Anderson’s mountain biking wheelhouse, and he started passing riders in bunches.
“That climb really suits me well. It’s just long and steady and I really started picking people off there,” he said.
Being a single-speed racer, Anderson said the key is finding the right gear — because he only has the one — to allow him to handle the hills but still be somewhat competitive on the flats.
“I played around with that quite a bit,” he said. “I had to find the right gear.”
After the hill, Anderson’s steady grind to the front of the pack was complete. As the race neared its end, Anderson, Evan Ross and Kenny Wehn all arrived at the pavement together.
Anderson was in the lead for much of the final three miles, but when the last part of the course flattened out, the single-geared bicycle was no match for the geared cycles of Ross and Wehn.
Doing so well and winning the single-speed competition in a race and on a course in his backyard was special for Anderson.
“I’m elated. I love mountain bike racing, and to win my category in my hometown is great,” he said.
There were 23 racers who competed in the single-speed competition.
Bret Underhill, 47 of Cave Creek, rode in the 30-mile race.
The appeal of the single-speed bike is simple for him.
“I like to punish myself,” he said with a smile. “I have a geared bike, but I don’t ride it very much.”