Christopher Blevins and Anna Yamauchi dominated the cow trails and hillsides around Bakersfield, California and won top honours in Rock Cobbler 10.0.
Blevins held off a late charge by last year’s winner Peter Stetina to record the best time across the 80-plus-mile route, crossing the finish in 4:32:37, four seconds ahead of Stetina. Lance Haidet finished third for the men.
Yamauchi was the top women’s finisher and 17th overall in the main field, completing the ride in 5:18:34. The 22-year-old was four minutes ahead of Anna Hicks, who was second in the women’s division and 19th overall. Last year’s unexpected champion at Big Sugar Gravel, Paige Onweller, crossed the finish line a little more than one hour later and claimed third.
The main event of the 10th edition of Rock Cobbler featured a gruelling 80-plus-mile (128km) route that topped out at 6,500 feet (2,000 metres) of elevation gain. This year’s multi-surface skirmish, which many riders described as “miles of shenanigans,” provided a mix of dirt roads, paved connections, cow trails, gully-washed basins, and super-steep climbs across the San Joaquin Valley of south-central California. A total of 530 riders completed the Cobbler this year, and combined with the shorter Pebble route, registrations eclipsed the 1,000 rider mark for the first time, an increase of 73%.
The top men’s pros led the first of four waves of start groups this year, which included Stetina, last year’s runner-up John Borstelmann and Blevins, who was fourth. A mountain bike world champion in short track cross-country, Blevins was at home on a course with plenty of single track, much of it worn down as cattle paths on severe off-cambered, slippery terrain.
Halfway through the adventure, Blevins surged across a sloppy section of the trail, and Stetina watched him sail away as he had to deal with chain issues from the mud and then stopped at an aid station to re-lube and fill a bottle. It was from that point Blevins took a two-minute lead which Stetina tried to claw back.
“It was like a one-on-one time trial for two and half hours. I began to chase and brought him back to three seconds by the end,” Stetina summed up about the second half of the ride.
“The end was excruciating because the last 10 miles are on pavement, and I was 30 seconds behind. And he could see me, and I could see him, so it was literally a pursuit. So, it was excruciating because you just get to within five seconds of him, and he’s just…
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