Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Monavie Cannondale Epic (Grand) Factor!

Park City Point to Point

The making of a Classic

Team Monavie-Cannondale was recently in Peru where we found one of the worlds hidden epic mountain bike races. This weekend we were right in our own backyard, Park City, Utah participating in the 1st annual and sure to be epic PCPP endurance mountain bike race.

What makes an epic event? Organization, unique terrain, and people?

The Organization: Every event is the product of someones dream. La Ruta has Roman Urbina, BC Bike Race has Dean Payne, and the Leadville Trail 100 has Ken Chlouber. The PCPP is no different and is the product of Jay Burke’s dream of showcasing Park City’s amazing trail system in an Endurance Mountain Bike Race.


The key to organizing a soon to be “classic” is the attention to detail. The PCPP had it covered and should be proud of the event they put together. From well stocked feed zones, drop bag service, shuttles to the start, immediate post race meal, rock’n band, quick results and podium, professional timing, well marked course (more on that later), cool goodie bag, tons of raffles, post race bling, prize money, value, helpful volunteers, mild temperatures, and perfect amount of rain. They nailed it! I am not sure how they pulled off the last two!


post race bling!

Unique Terrain: Peru and Costa Rica have the wild jungles, BC Bike Race has North Shore stunts, The Leadville 100 has high elevation, and now PCPP has the more singletrack than was ever thought possible. At 75 miles it may not be the longest event on the schedule, but with 99% pure rocky mountain singletrack it is possibly one of the the toughest and surely the most fun! Team Monavie-Cannondale’s Alex Grant was quoted after the race saying, “This is the only race I know that has more singletrack than the BC Bike Race.”


Not only is it a crazy ton of trail, but it is well put together, shows off the area’s diversity, and traverses 3 ski areas, including Deer Valley, Park City, and The Canyons. At 75 miles and nearly 15000 feet of elevation gain no one will complain that it is not challenging enough, yet most will be able to complete it in September daylight. It includes many of the local classics including Round Valley, Lost Prospector, Deer Crest, Silver Lake, Bow Hunter, Flagstaff, Tour de Suds, TG1 & 2, John’s, Steps, Shadow Lake, Spiro, and Mid Mountain to name a few.


Spiro by Utrider

With over 300 miles of trails in the Park City area putting a course together would not be that difficult, on the other hand MARKING it would be a monumental task and could ultimately make or break the event. The PCPP team did a great job and used feedback from local riders to fine tune the flagging in some tricky areas. They also had a lead rider out in front of the race to make sure nothing had been tampered with and a cell phone hotline just in case you did get off course. I can’t imagine it was ever used!


Shadow Lake by Utrider

The People: That’s what it’s all about right! The competition, camaraderie, and relationships. Jay established a precdent when he teamed up Shannon Boffeli of to promote this event. Shannon is well know as one of the nicest guys on the scene and is constantly giving back to the sport of mountain biking. The rest of the volunteers and staff followed the great example and were all smiles throughout the long day.

This is a race for the true mountain biker. Whether you are at the front battling for the win or just trying to finish, your motor and skill will be tested. As riders finished and dove into a post race meal you could not find a disappointed racer, everyone was exhausted but happy. For most it may have been the toughest event ever, and for all will now be an annual goal.


Just one of the characters. This is Brad of and he needs a Lefty and a Wobble-naught fit!

For a 1st year event the field of 170 racers was very competitive and included most of Utah’s top talent, riders from throughout the Western states, and a ton of cyclists looking to get there fill of one-track. Team Monavie-Cannondale’s Bart Gillespie and Alex Grant got to the front of the field early in Round Valley and established a sizeable lead by the 50 mile mark. Alex then used his world class climbing legs to solo in for the win and establish the bench mark time of 7 hours and 4 minutes. Bart used a couple cans of Emv at the last feed zone to help him to the finish in a reasonably close 2nd. Team Monavie-Cannondale youngster Brandon Cross also had a stellar ride coming in 1oth overall.

Emv at feed zone 3


Team Monavie-Cannondale is already looking forward to the 2nd Annual PCPP…

El Reto De Los Misioneros, Chanchamayo Peru

In it’s quest to find “Epic” mountain bike races around the world, Team Monavie-Cannondale journeyed to the central Jungle of Peru for the 3rd year of El Reto De Los Misioneros. After spending a week enjoying the beautiful countryside and hospitality of the Peruvian people, the Team agrees it stumbled upon one of the hidden gems of the Earth.

Day 1: SLC-Lima

The nice thing about traveling to Peru for a bike race is the time change is minimal and South America makes for an exotic and economical vacation spot to bring the family! We stayed a night in Lima (population 10 million) before heading East over the Andes into the Jungle.

Organized chaos


Churo bike



Day 2: Lima-Chanchamayo by van

What is the highest elevation above sea level you have experienced? For most the Monavie crew, the drive from Lima to Chanchamayo over a 16,000 foot Andean pass set new personal record.

10 people, 7 bikes, and gear


New wildlife and new foods would become a theme of this trip…



Everything East of here drains into the Amazon.


Day 3: La Merced and San Ramon-gateway to the central jungle…

Perched on the bank of the Rio de Chanchamayo, San Ramon and La Merced are the principle towns leading into the wild jungles of Peru. The tropical heat, lush fauna, and jagged topography are in stark contrast to the Andean highlands we crossed in our travels and provide perfect terrain for great mountain biking.

Our jungle bungalo at Gad Gha Kum, paradise!


The backyard


While exploring the local trails we stumbled upon one of the top 5 trails any of us had ever ridden, anywhere!





Post ride snacks


The thing that amazed us most throughout the trip was the passion and excitement the people had for the race and their community. We spent hours everyday doing radio interviews, posing for pictures, and being invited into homes for dinner, the hospitality is unlike anything we have ever experienced!

Good thing Alex speaks fluent Spanish!



Pictures at the bank


More food- fried yucca’s


A pre-race meeting without native dancing is just not complete.


Day 4: Stage 1 from Momabomba- La Merced (65 km)

The drive to the stage may have been as exciting as the stage itself!

Countless little jungle villages lined the course which included steep double track climbs, long descents, numerous river crossings including one requiring a belay and safety rope, all finishing in the central plaza of La Merced.




Tinker and Alex finish 1st and 2nd, Bart rolls in 3rd, and Matt wins the Masters!


Recovering for the afternoons 2nd stage…


And more picture taking…



Stage 2 from La Merced-Villa Rica (50 k)

The 2nd stage of the day turned out to be crux of the event. Although shorter than the other stages it was mostly uphill with the last 20k a sustained steep jeep road to the beautiful coffee meca of Villa Rica.

Tinker put on a clinic in the jungle heat and solidified his place at the head of the general classification.


Alex rode strong but bonked his brains out on the long climb and was reportedly scouring the jungle floor for edible plants and animals.


Bart enjoyed an adventure all his own as he flatted twice and ripped a tire on the gravel road approaching the long climb. This lead to a search for a rear tire in a small jungle village where he found a local rider who volunteered his rear tire and tube. Bart was able to finish but not without experiencing his own life altering bonk on the 20k climb. Later Bart returned the tire and made Jesus and honorary member of Team Monavie-Cannondale.


*Now is a good time to mention that this is the 2nd flat Bart has experienced in 2 years of epic racing around the globe. Team Monavie-Cannondale has found Stan’s Notubeswheels and Kenda tires to be the fastest most durable combination on the planet.


Thanks Jesus, you saved my race!

Matt had a stellar afternoon and after driving the group on the early pavement sections was able to climb to a strong 5th place overall.


Ultimately it was the crowds at the finish the overwhelmed Team Monavie-Cannondale. The mayor of Villa Rica reported that every resident of the town was at the finish line that night and he had never seen an event bring his town together like this bike race.



We stayed late into the night posing for pictures and even had to buy clothes at the local store to get out of our chamois.




And the photos just kept going late into the night, we meet thousands of the most gracious friendly people…

Day 5: Stage 3 La Merced- San Ramon (83K) “The Passage of the 3 Mountains”.

Long climbs through pineapple and coffee farms split the field into individual races of truth. I think everyone will agree that a highlight was the feed zone where a farmer was using his machete to cut fresh pineapple off the plant and dice it up for the passing racers.


Tinker and Alex again rode off the front on the 2nd long climb and Alex was able to take the win in the streets of San Ramon. They were followed by the top Peruvian climber and Bart hot on his heels. Matt again had a great day dropping his group on the last downhill to win the Masters.

This day was hot beyond words…


Best course markings we have ever seen!


The hills are alive with supportive farmers


Party in the streets of San Ramon went on and on…


Day 6: Jungle Vacation!







So much to do…

Day 7: Back to Lima



Tough to leave all our new friends, but will be back!

Day 8: Lima



So much to see…

Day 9: Peru-home


Possibly the ultimate bike racing vacation! A big thanks to Ronald, Rosio, Sam, and the rest of our new friends in Chanchamayo! We look forward to next year and plan to bring a big crew to enjoy “Epic Racing Around The World” at it’s best!

Stay tuned for info about next years event and how you can experience a bike racing vacation in Peru.

Peru- quick update from Lima

We made it out of the jungle and back to Lima after finishing up the coolest event any of us have ever attended. Sorry for the lack of updates but the Jungle is a wild place and the internet is scarce.


Tinker won, Alex was 2nd, Bart fell to 4th (after salvaging a tire from a locals bike in a jungle village so he could finish, more on that later…), and Matt won the Masters race. The spectators were on a level we have never seen before and one town mayor said the entire town population was out watching the race!


Now for a little more monkeying around in Lima before making it back to the Estados Unidos, check back soon for a full update.

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