Evan Geankoplis, center, won first place in the Pro Men’s category of the Big Mountain Enduro series race Saturday. Carson Lange finished second, while Richie Rude, Todd Renwick and Clayton Otto placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Younger)

All day Saturday, mountain bikers heavily populated trails around Telluride and Mountain Village. Two events, the Telluride 100 Mountain Bike Race and the Big Mountain Enduro (BME) series race, brought around 600 riders to the trails.

A total of 42 racers completed the full Telluride 100 course, while 41 riders finished the 40-mile version of the race, according to the posted race results. Initially, 150 racers were registered — the race’s permitted maximum — but a few did not start, reported race director Tobin Behling. There were approximately 20 local racers, including John Carmola who has completed the Telluride 100 all six years that the race has run.

Durango resident Todd Wells, a former Olympian in Mountain Bike and Cyclocross, defended his Telluride 100 title and took home first place with a time of 6 hours, 45 minutes and 40 seconds. This year, Todd Wells was joined by his brother Troy Wells, who finished second with a time of 7 hours, 16 minutes and 30 seconds.

Due to this year’s altered course, Todd Wells’ 2019 time was about an hour faster than his winning time of 7 hours, 42 minutes and 17 seconds last year. Due to late season snow and avalanche debris, the Telluride 100 was slightly shorter and had less elevation gain than its traditional route, which made the race quicker, Behling explained. Black Bear Pass road is still not clear enough to host a mountain bike race.

The altered course did not appear to draw any complaints from riders as Behling received quite a few positive reviews.

“They really, really enjoyed it. We added some additional singletrack that we hope will stay in the course in the future. Those were the sections with strongest commentary,” Behling said. “We also added a section on Wilson Mesa with incredible views.”

After his win, Wells posted on his Instagram, “Telluride 100 is a wrap. Altered course was about an hour faster than last year, still well over 6 hours in the saddle. If you haven’t done this one, put it on your list. The scenery is incredible, and it’s got a lot of high altitude.”

On the women’s side, Liz Carrington, also of Durango, finished first with a time of 9 hours, 3 minutes and 23 seconds. Carrington is a seasoned Telluride 100 racer. She won back-to-back race in 2014 and 2015, earned second place in 2016, third in 2017, and second place last year in 2018.

Over in Mountain Village, Evan Geankoplis of Fair Oaks, California, was the first place finisher in the Pro Men’s category for the BME race. Enduro races are only timed on the downhills, and Geankoplis’s total time was a combined 22 minutes and 54.2 seconds for the four stages. Lia Westermann, of Salt Lake City, Utah, won the Pro Women’s category with a total time of 25 minutes and 55 seconds.

Local female mountain bikers had a strong presence in the BME racers. In the amateur Women 21-39 category, Telluride residents Ashley Smith and Tatiana Armstrong finished in second and third place, respectively. Smith completed the race in 25 minutes and 23.9 seconds, while Armstrong was about 40 seconds behind her with a time of 26 minutes and 00.7 seconds. The Amateur race featured three stages. In the Open Sport category, which featured two stages in the Telluride Bike Park and one backcountry stage, six of the nine female finishers were from Telluride.

Telluride resident Will Falltrick won the Amateur Men 21-39 race with a total time of 18 minutes and 36.6 seconds. Winslow Scott claimed the Open Sport Men’s category win for Telluride with a time of 22 minutes and 6.6 seconds. Asa Van Gelder, also of Telluride, won the Master division with a time of 20 minutes and 47.4 seconds. Local kid Logan Petrie placed second in the Youth/Groms division with a time of 19 minutes and 23 seconds.

“It was awesome to have so many Telluride locals out racing on their home trails,” said Scott Pittenger, Telski director of mountain operations at Telski.

A brief, yet intense, thunderstorm blew through the region Saturday afternoon. Portions of the BME races were temporarily postponed, as officials decided to close the bike park for an hour. The storm downed a tree on the Stage 4 section that had to be removed before the race could continue, according to Alex Brown, Telski events and sponsorship manager.

“We had a few hiccups, but all was good considering it’s our first year doing the Big Mountain Enduro. Moving forward we should just anticipate a thunderstorm this time of year especially in July,” Brown said.

During the thunderstorm, riders in the Telluride 100 continued as normal. Riders prepare for inclement weather, Behling explained.

“A 20-minute cell came through but that’s typical this time of year. We’ve never had a race without some precipitation, whether it be rain or snow,” he said.

For next year’s iteration of the Telluride 100, Behling has big plans. He is working to add the Telluride 100 to the National Ultra Endurance Series. On the national mountain bike race circuit, the race could draw a more competitive pool of riders to Telluride.

“Hopefully this will bring in more participants from outside of the Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona area,” Behling said. “Our fingers and toes are crossed that we’ll become a part of that series, which would bring some more national talent out.”

Though this was only the first year the BME race series came to Telluride, Brown hopes the partnership between Telski and BME will continue.

“We are hoping to have the BME back next year, although a specific date has not been determined,” Brown said. “Events like these are a great way to get the Telluride Bike Park on the map as well as Telluride becoming a mountain biking destination.”