Saturday, March 15, 2014


Words By Bob
Photos courtesy of Brian Leddy


On Saturday, the first race of Scott Nydam’s Gunslinger series kicked off and – man – was it a rip roaring adventure.  The 51 mile course started downtown, went out Superman Canyon (with two separate dirt sections and three sketchy bridges), descended to Churchrock, headed east on the frontage road to a loop at Iyanbito and then backtracked to a finish at the Hogback. Around 2pm dark, ominous clouds hovered to the east as 18 racers gathered at the food coop and self-selected into A and B categories with the Bs getting a head start.  A report: 

1.     TIM’S TAXI CAB.  Scott Nydam attacked the A group early (As he did in Dirk’s Dark Side Classic.  Is a pattern emerging?) when the snow started coming down in Superman Canyon.  After a wild scramble in the snow, Dirk Hollebeek and Chuck Van Drunen – two good friends and arch rivals – formed the most temperamentally mismatched chase duo in the history of cycling and set their sights on Scott.    A few minutes earlier, the B group (which was ahead of the As) was joined by Tim Pikaart at the turn to Superman Canyon. 

      Tim’s brief sojourn into the race is sure to have a featured place in the ultimate history of Rez Dog racing.  After joining the B group, Tim played Good Samaritan by ferrying dropped riders back up to the lead group and all was copacetic. When first Scott and then Chuck and Dirk (the “Chuck-Dirk-Chase” or the “CDC”) caught and started passing the Bs, Tim’s taxi tactics inevitably sparked controversy.  Tim gave the CDC a monster pull down the hill to Churchrock to help their effort at bridging up to Scott.  The problem was that Andy “Bobcat” Stravers was not far back from the CDC and was putting in a gigantic effort to catch the CDC that was doomed by Tim’s Taxi cab.  At the after party, opinion was divided (how could it be otherwise?).  Some felt Tim owed Bobcat big time – perhaps on-call babysitting services for the next two years – while others felt Tim’s tactics should be institutionalized into future Gunslingers.  They said Tim (or some other wild card) should be designated to ride whatever portion of the course he wants to ride and have the prerogative to give random pulls to whoever he wants, whenever he wants – like a joker in a poker hand.  As always: we just report; you decide. 

2.     FRONTAGE FRENZY.  As the race headed east from Churchrock, bedlam broke loose.  The dark skies poured down a mixture of rain and snow on intermixed, frantic groups of A & B group racers who seemed to be scrambling for their lives.  Racers desperate to hang on had to suffer through a shower of freezing water from the wheel they were following.  Several underdressed racers, including Chuck and Greg, bailed and called it a day.  At the end of the frontage, after the downpour eased, Dirk was able to dash in front of a train onto the Iyanbito loop, leaving B group riders Nate Haveman and Chuck Whitney waiting at the tracks to be caught by the remaining Bs – Lee Perlow, Jen Witt and Bob Rosebrough – and Bobcat who, after Chuck’s dropout, was the third place A racer. 

3.     INTRIGUE IN IYANBITO. On the climb up the Iyanbito loop, the Bs began to splinter with everyone trying to stay on Bobcat’s wheel.  As a gap formed with Nate and Bob still hanging on, Andy looked back questioning whether he should wait for Jen.  Bob urged Andy on, “She dropped me like a hot rock in the Dark Side even though she was my teammate.  Then talked shit about me.  Let’s go!! Don’t wait!!”  With Andy doing almost 100% of the work, they pulled away and dropped Jen.

4.     CARNAGE IN THE CANYON.  What would Superman Canyon, with its primitive surface and Paleolithic bridges, be like after the storm?  In short:  carnage.  After fishtailing around a bit,  Andy went over the bars on a bridge and then bound up in slick clay.  At one point, he picked up his bike and carried it over his head as he sprinted 100 yards in frustration.  Nate’s cleats busted leaving him to gingerly spin as he fishtailed.  Lee cramped in both legs and Chad Meekhof spun sideways on a bridge and then buried his front wheel up to the skewer in a slot.  If that wasn’t enough, a pack of three rez dogs, who had been lethargic on the way out, came out to attack each passing rider.  
5.     NINE LEFT STANDING.  After three plus hours of racing filled with incredible beauty (a herd of wild horses burst onto the road in front of the Bs going out; the surreal backsides of Pyramid Rock, Churchrock and Kit Carson Cave Mesa and the base of the red rocks at Iyanbito) and unforgettable suffering, there were only nine racers left standing:  Scott, Dirk, Chad, Andy and Lloyd Ellis in the As and Bob, Lee, Nate and Chuck W. in the Bs. 
A CONCLUDING QUESTION.  Will Scott ever be beaten in a grass roots road or cross race in Gallup?  Let’s analyze this at two different levels. First, the physical level.  That’s easy.  Yes, the other A group Rez Dog racers are clearly physically capable of working together as a group and reeling Scott back in when he attacks early.  Will it happen?  Never!! Putting aside physical abilities, will the A group hefe’s put aside their ancient rivalries and inherent incompatibilities and pull together?   No!! Not only No, but Hell to the No!!!  It’s never going to happen.  They will never, never, never, never ever be capable overcoming their congenital and temperamental differences to work cohesively to bring Scott back.  Scott will win every grassroots race he enters in Gallup – forever.  He will attack early in every race and leave only chaos in his wake every time. Is that clear?  I hope so.  Now, let’s move on.