Snow-crit result doubles Jake Wells’ Winter Mountain Games success; Tim Allen takes second
It was a question that really didn’t need to be asked. “Jake, are you going for the double?”
Jake Wells (Stan’s NoTubes) considered his answer as the snow fell in earnest Saturday evening. He stood astride a snow bike at the base of Vail’s Golden Peak, meeting friends before taking the start of the snow-crit race in the Winter Mountain Games p/b Eddie Bauer. The day before he had won the x-country MTB race at the Games on the same bike from Twenty2 Cycles.
His answer: “Yea. We’ll see. I came in second last year.” Then, as if he’d convinced himself of the possibility, he added, “I’m feeling good.”
The men’s category of the snow-crit unfolded just like the x-country race. Two strong leaders gained a lead on the field soon after the start. At the x-country contest it was Wells and Colin Cares (Kenda/Felt). At the snow-crit Tim Allen (Orbea-Tuff Shed) and Wells led the way.
Climb. Descend. The twenty riders in the snow-crit repeated that formula for up to nine laps of the one kilometer course.
They climbed out of the start line, up and under the Golden Peak bunny slope lift. That climb, Wells later said, “takes a lot out of you.”
The first portion of the descent stole any chance of catching a breath; off-camber, every competitor slipped, fell, or tripoded their way across it and into a tunnel that delivered them to the long sweeping downhill which carried them back to the start/finish line.
In lap four Wells created a ten second gap over Allen.
Like Cares in the x-country race the day before, the snow-crit marked Allen’s maiden voyage on a snow bike. The snow-crit decides winners for both fatty tire-equipped snow bikes and standard mountain bikes. Allen won the snow-crit on a similar course last year on a mountain bike, likely with tires one-half as wide as the cushy snow bike tires he traveled on this year.
The race ended after about thirty-eight minutes when Wells polished off his ninth and last lap. Allen followed forty seconds later to claim second place.
The back-to-back wins represented a rare gift for a guy who said he doesn’t win much. The last time Wells thought he had carried off two wins in as many days happened in 2010 at Frisco Cross.
“It’s like fishing,” Wells said, speaking about bike racing. “You may go out and fish all day long and not get anything and then you get that one bite or that one that gets away.” Or the line tugs and you pull in the prize.
Winning, Wells said, no matter what race, is “like catching the big fish. It’s what motivates you going into the season or motivates you to continue on in the season to keep working hard, to know that that fitness is still there and you can still come out on top.”
He added, “There are a lot of people that never win, that never get on the podium. It makes it a little more special, I think – maybe the older you get or the more mature you get…the wins may be few and far between, so you try to take it when you can get it.” Wells’ racing age is thirty-five and he’s not taking his Winter Mountain Games success for granted.
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Scenes from the 2013 Winter Mountain Games snow-crit, including post-race interviews with Allen and Wells.