The ranch is situated on private landowners property and the slope style and dual slalom are both rider built. The venue is situated about 25 minutes above Grand Junction on Little Park road and the courses are incorporated within the scrub brush high alpine desert to make both of the slope style and dual one of a kind. Once we returned to our Kelty tent city we cooked up some serious race fuel in preparation for the always exhausting slalom race to come.
Teammate Jess Pedersen joined us for the dual and between the both of us, over the past 3 years we have accumulated podium finishes every year and were looking to do that once again. The course was pretty much the same minus some minor changes, so I was pretty confident going into qualifying. The aggressive trail riding style mixed with some rhythm that makes up the course in around 50 seconds suites all of our riding styles and we were ready to give it a go, especially since the track was packed and pretty tacky compared to past years.
I was one of the first riders to line up for our 1 run qualifier that I have held top spot of the past 2 seasons and I was looking to make it a 3rd. I snapped out of the gate and navigated the tight turns and berms letting it go towards the end taking a few chances and ultimately one too many as I boxed the 2nd to last berm overcooking it and punching my hand hard into a tree. I quickly got up and finished but once I took me glove off my throbbing hand I discovered a very deep gash below my knuckle on my middle finger of my left hand. A big thanks to Jamie at Shimano for coming to rescue by playing temporary medic until the EMT's finally found me and got me cleaned up.
My day was done as I was on my way down to the ER as Jess and Michael were finishing up with qualifying. Jess set himself up well qualifying in 2nd and Michael kept it smooth but made some mistakes and qualified in the back of the pack. As the X Rays came back negative Michael got knocked out in the first run by eventual race winner and while I was getting stitched up Jess was knocking rider after rider off on his way to the final. Splinted and bandaged I arrived just in time to watch Jess roll through the finish aboard his Rampant .05 of a second from winning it all as he finished 2nd place on the day in an insanely close finish.
Overall it was another successful Ranchstyle for Team Geronimo with Jess picking up the slack and Michael representing well in my absence. I was extremely bummed to have been sidelined, but feel very fortunate that I will be returning and competing soon as the first of the NAET Enduro Series and Oregon Enduro series kicks off in Hood River next weekend. In the meantime, its time to recover, then put it into high gear and continue to improve our fitness levels as an onslaught of Enduro racing will be upon us soon.