KIOWA, CO — It was a great day of racing for COS Racing at the Encierro Velo 100K Gravel Race, particularly in the Masters’ field. Six COS Racing riders took to the start today on a grueling 60-mile course that featured several long climbs and dozens of shorter ones. The top COS Racing performance came from Vladislav Dragomirov – who finished just off the podium in 4th place overall and 1st in the Men’s 30-39 category. Several of our Master’s racers also took podium positions. J Erik Hartel came in 14th overall and third in Masters Men (MM) 50+ while Mike West, Kevin Healy, and Michael Jones took first, second, and fifth in MM 60+.
As one might have predicted, this field was disproportionately stacked with professional gravel and road racers from throughout the region – most notably, team-friend Jonathan Cavner (Rodeo Labs) and former team member and neo-pro Henry York (Rio Grande) – all eager to race hard after a long COVID-enforced racing drought. At mile 5, on a section of road that featured strong crosswinds, Rodeo Labs launched a strong attack that shattered the field. Only Dragomirov was able to match the intensity – for a while, at least. Not atypical of gravel racing, the rest of the COS Racing contingent was left to race solo or in small groups soldiering through deep sand and over washboard conditions. Dragomirov described his race experience as a 54-mile individual time trial after losing contact with the lead trio. Most of our other riders shared his experience.
The race concluded with a Paris-Roubaix-style lap of the interior of the rodeo arena – a grueling slog through soft sand that had many riders dismounting to run their bikes across the line. The race was ultimately won by Nick Gould (Rodeo Labs).
This race was the first cycling event in the region since the lifting of some COVID-19 restrictions. Race organizer Phil Schweizer maintained solid control over the environment, enforced standards of social distancing and face-coverings in the start and finish areas, and had ample quantities of hand-sanitizer and other supplies on hand. Gravel racing is uniquely well-suited to social distancing since fields tend to splinter into small socially-distanced groups and individuals rather quickly. In this race, Rodeo Labs’ early attack set the conditions for a very dispersed race.
Additional solid performances came from David Johnson and George Pollard York, who placed 20th and 26th overall respectively.