September 15, 2005 – The 2005 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships kicked off on Thursday as Travis Brown (Boulder, Colo.) and Gretchen Reeves (Boulder, Colo.) each rode to national titles in the 66-mile marathon event.
Brown, a veteran rider who last won a national title in 1999 in the shorter Olympic-style cross country event, held off Jay Henry (Avon, Colo.) for the win, clocking a time of four hours, 18 minutes and 11 seconds over three laps of a 22-mile loop.
Brown made his move early in the second lap while in a three-man breakaway that also included Henry and Michael McCalla (Moab, Utah). “Jay stood up and went to the back of the group and I wasn’t sure if he was just hurting at that point or what,” Brown explained. “It was pretty early in the race and I decided to force the pace there to see what would happen and I got a pretty good gap.”
Initially unsure of his relatively early solo effort, Brown kept his composure and managed to maintain a significant enough gap on Henry throughout the remainder of the race. “I was pretty committed at that point and tried to hold him (Henry) off, and I managed to get over the top of the steep climb with about 20 seconds. It was kind of a long time to be on the attack, it ended up being an hour and 50 minutes from the first effort but it was good. Up to that point the race was at a pretty reasonable pace.”
Henry finished three minutes, 34 seconds off the pace of Brown to claim the silver medal while recent 24-hour solo world champion Chris Eatough (Ellicott City, Md.), McCalla and Nat Ross (Vail, Colo.) rounded out the top five respectively.
In the open women’s event, Reeves verified her reputation as one of the top ultra-endurance riders in the U.S. as her national championship on Thursday complimented her impressive ninth-place finish at the world championships a month ago.
Reeves turned in a time of 4:56:06 on the same 66-mile course to beat 2005 NORBA National Mountain Bike Series champion Monique Sawicki (Calimesa, Calif.) by nearly 14 minutes.
“I wanted to go out really hard on the first lap and get a little gap, and I did,” Reeves explained of her tactics. “I’m doing a world cup in Germany in a couple of weeks so I wanted to go out at that pace. After the first lap and a half I just kept steady and made sure I ate a lot of food and made it to the finish line OK.”
In total, USA Cycling awarded eight national championships on Thursday led by the efforts of Brown and Reeves in the elite-level men’s and women’s open events.
Other riders that earned a stars and stripes jersey on Thursday included: Nathan Winkleman (Huntsville, Texas) in the men’s 19-29 age category, Jeff Wardell (Boulder, Colo.) in the men’s 30-39, Mike Hogan (Louisville, Colo.) in the men’s 40-49, Wayne Gorry (Payson, Ariz.) in the men’s 50+, Alexis Jones (Huntington Beach, Calif.) in the women’s 19-29, and Ellen Guthrie (Salt Lake City, Utah) in the women’s 40+
Thurday’s competition also included the non-national championship discipline mini-marathon event.
On Friday, traditional cross country racing takes center stage as U23 and pro men’s and women’s categories vie for a national title.
2005 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships
Open Men – Travis Brown (Boulder, Colo.)
Open Women – Gretchen Reeves (Boulder, Colo.)
Men 19-29 – Nathan Winkelman (Huntsville, Texas)
Men 30-39 – Jeff Wardell (Boulder, Colo.)
Men 40-49 – Mike Hogan (Louisville, Colo.)
Men 50+ – Wayne Gorry (Payson, Ariz.)
Women 19-29 – Alexis Jones (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Women 40+ – Ellen Guthrie (Salt Lake City, Utah)