For the 5th year running, Missoula, Montana played host to the 2015 USA Cycling Pro Cross Country Tour (ProXCT) circuit, ushering in the summer season of racing as it has done so well since 2011. Kona Endurance Team riders Barry Wicks and Spencer Paxson journeyed to the land of big skies and fly fishing to test their climbing legs on the famed Marshall Mountain course, and against the top XC riders in North America. Purpose built for Olympic format cross country, the 5km course presents a grueling series of steep climbs and technical descents, with elite riders completing nearly 5,000 feet of climbing in just 16 miles!
With plentiful sunshine and vast networks of blistering fast trails, it is no wonder that Missoula, MT is one of the destination places for trail riding and XC racing in the West.
The weekend began early with an Eliminator format event in Caras Park in downtown Missoula on Thursday night. The invite-only event was meant to spread some of the race action to the masses, and pitted two riders against each other on a short, twisty track full of obstacles. Spencer was quickest off the line and took the win in front of the big Missoula crowd. Barry held it down for third.
The top-notch crew from Kona dealer Missoula Bicycle Works lent a helpful hand for some final pre-race tuning, and by 7PM on Saturday night it was time for the big show up at Marshall Mountain. Fifty-two elite men filled the starting gates in front of a boisterous Montana crowd, and at the blow of a whistle, the drawn-out evening light was filled with dust as racers zoomed up and down the mountain. Spencer planted himself around the top-10 for the majority of the night, while Barry put on a strong showing in the top-25.
While a podium spot in the XC was the goal, the race was a success nonetheless, and a great tune-up before the crew heads up to British Colombia next weekend for the acclaimed 7-day BC Bike Race! Summer is officially underway, so be sure to stay tuned for more big things from the Kona Endurance Team.
Follow: Instagram: Kona Bikes @konabikes, Spencer Paxson @slaxsonMTB, Barry Wicks @wicknasty. Twitter: Kona Bikes @konaworld; Spencer Paxson @slaxsonMTB, Barry Wicks @wicknasty