One weekend with the Topeak Ergon Racing Team

There are weekends and there are weekends. I mean, there are super boring ones and there are super crazy ones. If you are on the road with the Topeak Ergon Racing Team (TERT), it’s always a super crazy one! Like my first weekend in Colorado…

It started all with the second race of the Epic Rides race series in Grand Junction, Colorado. This was my first stop in Colorado after a super awesome stay in Utah. Team USA, except Yuki Ikeda, was united to race the weekend in Grand Junction. Jeff Kerkove, the team commander, organized a basement flat via Airbnb. When I’m looking for a place to sleep, my first action is to open the Airbnb app. I had so many great experiences with Airbnb here in the states, met super nice people and stayed in awesome locations, so i highly recommend this app! When you use the App you will always find something crazy, like our basement flat in Grand Junction. The host was a priest, so the flat was full of bibles, quotes and sayings. But the funniest thing was a human size frog puppet, which was as big as a man! Karen, the team clown, placed the frog puppet on the toilet to frighten the next bathroom visitor. You little rascal!

Jeremiah Bishop, Mr. Rocket Man himself, came down after prepping his bike for the upcoming race. The rest of the team was super tensed and wanted to force him carefully to use the bathroom. After endless minutes, Jeremiah finally decided to use it. You should have seen his face! Haha! So what to do with a huge frog puppet? We decided that he needs to join us at the table and grabs a beer. I think it was one of his best evenings. Please, don’t ask me, why someone has “toys” like this in his basement!

The race day was really good. Together with Jeff I supported Karen, JB and Bryan Dillon, the young gun, while they were racing. Giving them nutrition, taking photos, mental support. And all within seconds, because of the fast pace!

Later, when JB crossed the finish line, the race moderator said that JB is “a missile. He has the ability to save his bullets”. Oh dear, he was so right! I finished the day with a nice dinner in an Italian restaurant together with JB, where he told me about the upcoming day. One or two days before he asked me if i could support him, while he will race 100 miles on the Kokopelli Trail to Moab. Sure!

Yeah, supporting for me was driving next to the trail with my Sprinter van and give JB water and food when he needs it. But supporting for JB was a completely different thing. “Did you race 100 miles before?” he asked me. “What? Nobody told me anything about supporting you ON a mountainbike before! I’m not a racer, just a fun biker! And especially not a 100 miles racer through the desert!”. Holy shit!

So JB organized a Specialized Levo E-Bike and a spare battery for me. The rental guy said, that we shouldn’t care about the range, everything will be fine. Funny guy… JB relaxed in the hotel room and tried to recover a little bit of his 40-mile race in Grand Junction. Just to make that clear: This crazy guy raced 40-miles on Sunday and rode another 100 miles in race mode the next day! I went to the grocery and bought all the stuff he told me: Coke, fig newtons, pre-cooked bacon (what the f**k?!), virgin coconut oil, plain coconut water… Got it all!

My race day:

Thanks god that i got Jeffs’ old Sprinter! We met the organizer of this project and two cool timing guys from Salt Lake City 45 minutes outside of Grand Junction. Sadly nobody told me, that they want to use my Sprinter as a support vehicle and that there won’t be any gas station out there. Especially no gas station with diesel. So I had round about 30% diesel left inside the tank. Extremely adventurous, when you don’t know the location of the next gas station in the middle of nowhere!

Everybody took care about JB, so my setup and preparation needed to be super quick. The timing guys gave us two ankle sensors, I had two action cams mounted to my bike to capture our adventure. Race mode on, everything else off! We started on a long road, one of the timing guys and the organizer followed us in a car to take some pictures and videos. JB was behind me, chilling in the slipstream. We missed the first turning, because JB behind me had the navigation device and tried to talk to me, but I listened to music so i didn’t hear him. Sorry for that dude!

After 30-miles over fire and jeep roads, we crossed a bridge. That should be our first meeting point with the support team, but nobody was there. Maybe they are still on the way? We had an average speed of 19.7 mph or 31,7 km/h on the first 30 miles, so we were nearly flying! After 20 minutes we decided to keep on riding and started a very long climb. Five minutes later my E-Bike battery was dead. Immediately, I had no chance to hold JBs race speed for another two seconds. The high weight and the wide plus tires are like an anchor without the electrical support. So I turned around and took the road to the next city, JB continued on the trail.

Even on a paved road, an E-Bike without support is no fun. Indeed we met the support team in the next town. It was around mile 40 or 45 and not mile 30, as they said before we started. Huge difference my friends! 😉 JB refilled and I decided to store the E-Bike inside the Sprinter to join him for the grand finale. First priority was to find a gas station to refuel the Sprinter, because no diesel, no support!

So we went off towards Moab, where we should have meet him again at mile 56. We parked the car of the timing guys at the beginning of a jeep road and moved all their stuff into my Sprinter. Four guys, two bikes, test samples, a lot of my personal stuff, all the support goods and the timing equipment in one van? That was tight! And extremely chaotic! When we entered the jeep road, the first sign increased my heartbeat: “High ground clearance needed!” Oh Jesus! I have a 2-wheel drive Sprinter and not a 4-wheel drive off-road machine! We creeped over super rough road sections and through riverbeds. If that wasn’t adventurous enough, the low fuel gauge went on! You can imagine how I felt? You need to reach the next support station, otherwise JB will run out of water in the desert, but you are riding off road with a common Sprinter, which ran out of fuel. Dude! That was by far my most nerve-racking adventure here in the States!

I decided to turn around. Inside the riverbed, because it was the only chance! Happily we met some ATV guys there and gave them a bag with all the stuff JB would need. We drove to Moab and reached the next gas station without any drop of fuel. But we did it! I think i have never ridden with such a low fuel consumption before! All right, refueling, a quick walk to the toilet and then off to our last meeting point at mile 84!

We waited about 30 minutes at the last support station, as I said we would have missed meeting JB. At this instant, JB came around the corner. Yeah! He did it! And he met the ATV guys and got the nutrition bag! I was so relieved… JB persuaded me to join him for the last part down to Moab. He needed me on the E-Bike for mental support on the last big climb. “Okay, I will join you!” I said. The last uphill was a road, which was under construction. Super long climb, with a lot of loose rocks and ground. But with an epic view!

On top i noticed that we will take the jeep road down, which is part of the Porcupine Rim. That was my favorite part, when I rode it before! Extremely fast, super flowy and some smooth jumps inside. Yes baby! From that point on, we descended 20-miles down to Moab. This ride was just incredible! We set a new Strava KOM for that section: 30:55 min with a top speed of 46.5 mph or 74,8 km/h although we stopped for photos and videos! Descending this super fun jeep road into the sunset between these gold shining red rocks was one of the best experiences i ever had on a mountain bike!

 

Down in Moab, we met the support team. They were happy that we survived the last part without any injuries and crossed the finish line before it got completely dark. JB and I were super happy that we reached the finish and that all the pain is over. Thanks to the ergonomic and super comfy Ergon Bike grips and saddles we used, we had no pain there, but, as I said, JB raced the day before and i had never ridden such a long distance in race mode. Especially not on a trail like this and not under so hard conditions!

We grabbed some pizza slices in town and started our way back to our hotel in Grand Junction, which was another 2 hrs drive. Nearly dead, but extremely happy and with an unique adventure in the pocket, we fell into our beds. Incredible day!

To close this chapter, please listen to my warning! If you meet this Jeremiah Bishop, be aware of him! He isn’t just super crazy, he is super fast, a super tough cookie and a super nice dude! It was super fun to rock that thing with you! 😉

ps: This project was so surprising, changing and challenging for me, that I had no chance to cover it on my social media channels. Sorry for that folks!

The next post will be about my other adventures in the super cool state named Colorado. Stay tuned!

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