Professional USA Cycling mountain biker Shawn Gregory has raced through some of America’s toughest terrain.
Whether it’s riding in a 50 mph dust storm in Southern Arizona, or through blowing rain, sleet and snow in Colorado and New Mexico one day, to racing in 100 degree heat the next. The 40-year-old, Dolores resident has even done the Race Across America that runs annually from California to Maryland. It seems like Gregory has done it all, until now.
Gregory will ride 470 miles through the Colorado Rockies from Denver to Durango in the 2011 Colorado Trail Race on Monday, Aug. 1. Gregory is racing to increase awareness and help raise funds for The NEST (Nurturing Environment for Safe Transitions) in Cortez. The NEST, located at 140 N. Linden St., is a child advocacy center that provides a safe, child-friendly environment that eases the emotional trauma experienced by children during the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases.
Gregory was already planning to do the Colorado Trail Race and got a hold of The NEST director Rose Jergens and board member Terry Gorsuch to see how he could help out the organization with the race.
“I thought that it would be a good opportunity to help out some kids,” Gregory said. “I was feeling how lucky I was to participate in something like that. There’s people that don’t have the opportunity to do it (mountain bike race). I thought it would be great to help out.”
Jergens, too, feels this is a great opportunity for The NEST to benefit from Gregory participating in the Colorado Trail Race.
“Shawn’s been a good supporter of the advocacy center,” she said. “This is a fun thing to do. It’s nice to kind of juxtapose a fun kind of activity with what we do.”
Beginning at the foothills above Denver at State Highway 67, the elevation is 5,500 feet above sea level. Racers will roughly be at or above 13,000 feet for most of the race. In total, there is a 65,000-foot elevation gain in the race that can take up to two weeks to complete.
Gregory is ranked No. 2 in USAC 24-hour racing endurance solo singlespeed, and hopes to finish the race in five to eight days. He knows it won’t be easy because not many solo singlespeed racers have ever finished.
“This race will be extremely difficult,” he said. “There is no doubt I will be cold, tired, (and) physically, emotionally and mentally beat down during the race. But that can’t even come close to the suffering these abused kids are faced with.”
The unpredictable Rocky Mountain weather can quickly go from blue sky to monstrous hail and lightning storms. All racers must be self-supported or they will be disqualified. To get ready for the race, Gregory is riding his Trek singlespeed bike with a backpack full of survival gear, which includes a water filter, and food. Normally, Gregory races very light weight.
“I’ve loaded up my bike with a lot of weight and have been riding around up in the mountains with it for the past month,” he said. Gregory raced in the Breckenridge 100 and placed fifth in the male 24-hour solo singlespeed category on July 16.
“It’s probably the toughest 100-mile race in Colorado,” Gregory said. “I felt really good towards the end. At the end of a 100 miles at over 13,000 feet, I felt great at the end. It made me feel like I have been training properly.”
Gregory says he must consume 220 calories an hour and sleep 1.5 hours a day to be able to finish the race in 5 to 8 days. The toughest stretch is between the Collegiate Peaks detour near Buena Vista to the Weminuche Wilderness detour by Silverton. Gregory says people go “two or three days” without seeing another person.
“Most of the people dropout in that section, mostly because they didn’t get enough calories,” he said.
Riders wear GPS units for health and safety rules. Daily race updates will be on the Colorado Trail Race Website at www.climbingdreams.net/ctr/. Gregory will also update his daily blog, when he has phone reception, at http://shawngregorymountainbiker.blogspot.com. He is being sponsored by Kokopelli Bike and Board and Osprey for the Colorado Trail Race.
To make a donation to The NEST, log on to www.bigloopmaps.com/theme_Racing_for_Charity_01.html.
For more information about The NEST, log on to www.nestcac.org.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at [email protected]