As smoke from the Plateau Fire hovered in the air and flames erupted along a hillside in the distance, more than 125 mountain bikers arrived for the annual Escalante Days Bike Race on Aug. 11.
Leading the charge in the race, which was moved to Sage Hen after the fire closed the McPhee Overlook and Boggy Draw trails, was Durango native Travis Browne, who defended his title in the 50-mile Endurance race with a time of 2 hours, 50 minutes, 49 seconds.
Close behind Browne for much of the race was Ridgway resident Nathan Miller, whose time of 2 hours, 53 minutes, 32 seconds put him about 7 minutes clear of third-place finisher John Kilsh.
In the 33-mile expert category, Durangoan Riley Amos rode clear of the field and finished with a time of 1 hour, 57 minutes and 53 seconds. Mancos resident Michael Grajeda crossed the line in second at 1 hour, 58 minutes, 12 seconds.
Cortez resident Gabriel Rogers placed first in the 18-mile sport division at 1 hour, 13 minutes and 40 seconds. A 13-mile beginner race was also held, as was a first annual 5K fun run.
The Escalante Days Bike Race, which is put on by the Dolores Rotary Club and raises proceeds for the club’s foreign exchange program, was described by race organizers and volunteers as a success despite the late change in trails.
Next year, the race is scheduled to return to its usual course, which takes riders through Boggy Draw and along the McPhee Overlook before finishing in downtown Dolores.