becky gardner

Becky Gardner Finishes Salida 720 12 Hour Solo!

Kona Rider Becky Gardner recently completed her first 12-hour solo race aboard her Process in Salida, Colorado at the Salida 720. She was the only female solo finisher! Congrats Becky! Check out her race report below.

 

After a few weeks of racing, riding, and traveling around Northern California I finally made the trip back to Salida, Colorado where I call home for the majority of the year. Although Salida is home to countless amazing biking trails, we rarely see many races taking place on the amazing terrain. Except for this year, thanks to my friend Keith Darner of Chocolate Bunny Productions, Salida was to host its first 12-hour race on Cinco De Mayo called the Salida 720. The race uses Salida’s S Mountain trails system which is jammed packed of technical, rocky, and loose terrain, making it far more technical than most other 12 hour races. Being primarily a downhill racer most my life, the thought of doing a 12-hour race was terrifying to me, but I put fear aside and decided I was going to participate in the local event anyways. To really top off my 12-hour experience I decided to push my limits and to do the race solo!

Getting hooked into a last minute surf/bike trip to Santa Barbara, I showed up from my month-long California trip the day before the race started which didn’t give me much time to prepare. I had just enough time to quickly get my bike tuned as well as I could and try to get a good night’s sleep before the long event started. My mechanic and beastly single speed endurance racer friend, Andrea gave me some advice saying to just ride slow and take my time.

The morning of the race 130 plus racers lined up on Salida’s F Street Bridge ready for a good old fashion Le Mans start. As the whistle blew and we ran to our bikes at 7 am, I remember Andrea’s words and tried to get in the back of the pack. This was almost more mentally harder than riding for 12 hours straight. Being a competitive person I had to let people pass me as I watched them charge up the hill into the trails. I had to tame my inner competitive nature and let it go as I took my time up the hill. In a 12 hour race, a majority of the people are on teams of 2,3, or 4. These people will be doing only a couple laps as they relay with their partner while the solo riders will be riding all day alone. Throughout the long tiring day, you’re passed by fresh riders doing their first lap of the day.

 

The start of the race did not go ideally as a few minutes into the race as I started climbing I realized that the cassette on my bike was not working like it should. I had two working gears and was forced to ride the 15-mile course as a single speed. Luckily my awesome boyfriend who was filming at the race got someone to bring a spare wheel to the bike to the shop, and after my second lap of single speeding I was able to swap out wheels and was dialed for the rest of the race.

 

I was feeling good on the bike and was having way more fun than I thought I would. Usually only participating in races that you’re sprinting the entire time it is nice to do a race that allows you to pedal at a reasonable pace. That is until I got into lap 4. This was around mile 50 when Colorado’s intense afternoon sun decided to beat down on us. I slowly finished my lap and was 100% convinced I was done for the day. I sat down at my pit, tired and beat from the day, my friends and other participants tried to convince me that I should be super proud of how much I had ridden. I wasn’t satisfied and I knew I wanted to do another lap and finish the race strong but I just wasn’t sure I could make it happen. And just in the nick of time, some local Salida shredding galpals showed up and gave me a little pep talk and I knew I could get it done. So I headed out at 5 pm for my 5th and last lap of the day. To my surprise, this lap was the easiest of the day! Turns out after a while your body stops trying to convince you to stop, and I finished the day with ease.

After riding from 7 am to 7 pm I finished the day up being the only woman to do the race solo and completed 5 laps which is about 75 miles of technical single track- definitely the most techy trail I have ever ridden in a day. Three years ago I was strictly racing downhill and now I am competing in 12 hour races as a solo athlete…. Times sure have changed!

All photos by Curtis Gillen.

Ryan Gardner reports from Mexico’s Trans Puerto Vallarta

With the major portion of the enduro race season still a few months away but a month or two of training already on the books, Becky and I decided to head south for a few days and check out the Trans Puerto Vallarta. The Trans PV was new this year and included some awesome trails we had already ridden in the little mountain town of Mascota Mexico. We were also treated to some new trails in San Sabastian and mountains surrounding Puerta Vallarta. The whole race took four days with travel to Mascota and included 15 special stages. It was the perfect opportunity to test new bikes, dial in suspension, and shake off the cobwebs from a few months away from racing. Plus, it’s hard to say no to warm temps, tacos, and those chill Mexican vibes.

After flying into PV we built up bikes including my brand new Process 153 29”. I only had one day on this monster before I crammed its big wheels into my Evoc bag, but I had already set a few PR’s on my home trails. This bike breathes fire.

 

After a bike building session, 5-6 tacos, and a margarita (It’s ok to go full gringo) we were off to bed and excited to travel to San Sabastian the next day.

 

The trails of San Sabastian (and neighboring Mascota) are old. Really old. Most of the trails we raced are leftover mining trails and roads from the 1700’s. Even the estate where we camped for the first two nights was built sometime around 1750 and was the center of gold and other mineral mining for the surrounding areas. From here, mules carried the valuable metals down to the Puerto Vallarta so they could be exported. From these ancient paths, the riders of Mexico have reclaimed (sometimes very) narrow single tracks. This, coupled with the dry season, made for some exiting blind racing as riders struggled to find speed, traction, and flow throughout the day. Ryan had a solid day placing second behind good friend and training partner Cory Sullivan by just one second, and ahead of the rest of the field by over 30 seconds. Becky crushed the first four stages before taking a big crash, splitting her knee open, and taking a stem to the sternum. Even with the crash, she finished the day in first place.

Once back to camp, riders were treated to cervecas and a mountain of carnitas. This particular combination results in near instantaneous sleep. Not even the snoring of racers and barking of extremely photogenic Mexican dogs could keep us awake.

Day two of racing saw us move to the steep and fast trails of Mascota. The tracks here are varied and include some wide open sections, some incredibly tight switchbacks, and some pretty gnarly rock gardens. It was in the latter that I made a critical error. My Process 153 had been egging me on all day, seemingly frustrated by my pace. The whole bike comes alive at speed and it’s a constant battle to keep things under control on a trail you have never ridden. I got just a little too excited in one gnarly rock garden and instead of rolling a 4ft boulder, I pulled up and hucked out towards a side hill hoping to keep some speed. Unfortunately, I landed juuuuust a bit to the right and clipped a knife-edged rock which put a 2.5-inch slice in my tough casing WTB vigilante. It was an immediate flat for me and a 30-minute time loss as I finagled a fix to get me back to town. After some Mexican ingenuity and the incredible durability of my Vigilante, I was able to get it patched up and win 3 of the 4 remaining stages including a super tight trail on which my “dinosaur bike” was supposed to be slow.

 

Becky, denouncing stitches which would have taken her out of the race, soldiered on to the amazement of everyone in the field. Rocking last season’s Process 134 and fueled by ice cream stops and adorable Mexican puppies, she rallied through the day only losing one spot on the timesheet by day’s end.


That night we set up camp at a beautiful ranch outside Mascota. There was only one cold shower, but the home-cooked food and late night pizza delivery made up for it. Talking that evening with friend and event promoter Alvaro Gutierrez Leal, he confided that the next morning’s transfer to the stages was what he was most worried about. It was a three-hour drive through 4×4 roads, in two-wheel drive Toyota vans. Turns out he was right. After a few sketchy river crossings and putting some serious wear on the clutch plate, we arrived in the coastal mountains above Puerto Vallarta.
Where the first two days were loose, these trails were on another level of negative traction. No front breaking here. Every stage of the day was wide open with almost no traction, some sand, and scary off-camber corners. We were also given some “Mexican surprises,” like a trail that enters a backyard, loops around a house, and then exits through the front gate. A flock of chickens presented a few opportunities for nose-bawks.

After finishing on a steep and sandy track known as El Scorpion we gathered together for a chill ride back to the ocean, buckets of beers, more tacos, and a bit of Raicilla (the traditional liquor Mascota made from wild agave and brewed in backyard stills). Due to the tire fiasco, Ryan finished off the podium. Becky finished the race in second place, injury and all!

 

 

Photos by Nico Switalski

Words by Ryan Gardner

 

 

5 Girls That Shred – Featuring Kona Super Grassroots Rider Becky Gardner

OutThere Colorado has recently started a five-part series focusing on women in the outdoor industry, one of which being Kona Super Grassroots rider Becky Gardner.

“Over the course of five weeks, OutThere Colorado’s ‘Girls that Shred’ series will profile five women with roots in Colorado who have made a lifestyle out of outdoor adventure. From climbing to mountaineering, snowboarding to mountain biking, these five women are out there kicking butt on a daily basis. OutThere Colorado is so excited to showcase women who make strong beautiful everyday and who are beautiful in their strength.”

Head over to OutThere Colorado to read up on the project.

Third times a charm. Becky Gardner’s Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals report.

Last weekend I traveled with Fort Lewis College to Snowshoe Mountain located in West Virginia. It took three flights and a three hour drive but the twenty-something of us made it to the mountain late Wednesday night.  Growing up on the east coast and enjoying the rowdy and rocky nature of the courses which play to my strengths, left me in anticipation for the weekends race.

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All Photos: Max Thilen

The next day we walked the course and to my surprise we were given a relatively smooth track with a massive pedal section that appeared to be much faster and less technical than most east coast courses I’ve encountered. Although at first glance the course seemed easy, Fridays practice showed us just how tricky the fast paced track was once you were up to speed.

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Quick turns and fast straightaways had everyone feeling pretty awkward and slow. I told myself to take it easy in seeding later that day and just see where my time would put me. My seeding run went smooth and as planned with a couple encounters from other racers, but still put me in the top spot going into race day. 

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Saturday’s downhill race was late in the day and the gloomy sky showed signs of rain. However the trails stayed dry and my run went as planned as I came down in 1st landing my third National Downhill title. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to race and attend Fort Lewis College and I’m stoked on being the National DH Champion for three years in a row. However my achievement wasn’t the only highlight of the weekend, the rest of the team crushed it in their events as well giving us the overall team win and crowning Fort Lewis College as the Division I National Champions. 

You can follow Becky on her Blog here.