After the rain and wind subsided overnight, the Hanson Hills Challenge was run under a brilliant sun and cool breeze. Hanson Hills is one of the best mountain biking venues in the state, hands down. Today, a number of the state’s very best made the race a classic.

The 10.5 mile course, with 600 feet of climbing per circuit, was in ideal condition after a few days of much needed rain. The trails were absolutely perfect. The sandy sections were run off rather well, and the black soil portions were flat, perfect and fast. The great conditions made the Elite showdown even more high stakes, with even a small mistake resulting in some serious consequences.

With Jorden Wakeley off taking fifth at the Mochican 100 Saturday (though he was spotting taking a recovery ride late in the day), the race was as wide open as ever. John Cowan, North Country Cycle Sport’s powerhouse, took on the role of favorite with the dangerous Elite field packed with contenders. Leadout Racing’s Dan Korienek was also on hand, as well as City Bike Shop’s Jeff Craven, Shawn Davison, Earl Hillaker and Bill Gallagher. Cowan got out to a commanding lead on the first lap, though things were far from settled by the first trip through the start/finish area. Locked in a duel to the death, Korienek and Craven were neck and neck after one, tailed closely by Davison, Gallagher and Aaron McCreedy.

The pace remainder nuclear after lap two, and the gaps stayed tight behind Cowan with Korienek, Hillaker and Craven all riding within a minute. Davison was shortly behind and gaining ground, but ran out of real estate on the last lap. Cowan took the win with a sub-two hour time, almost eight minutes ahead of the group Korienek, with the Bearded One taking second ahead of Hillaker and Craven, with Gallagher rounding out the top five.

In other Expert categories, Logan Tyler won the 20-29 class ahead of the well-named Cheyenne Smith (sounds like an action figure, no?) and Michael Bigney. The 30-39 class was a bare-knuckle brawl, with Scott Simpson taking a well-earned victory over Jason Bowne and the incomparable Jon Dub-Nine, Einstein Racing’s stylish phenom who took a top ten finish at the West Branch Class Road Race just the day before, even after riding in the service of teammate (and dapper Gent) Ryan Kennedy. A special nod as well to Alex Gonzalez, who rode “The Grind” at Boyne Saturday, reportedly all six hours by himself. That’s ‘solo’, folks. He took fifth today on Short’s Brewery fueled legs.

Check out the full photo gallery right here. 

Here’s the Strava data from Yours Truly, who limped along in the Sport Class after a late start this morning and some very miserable miles yesterday.

Here are the FULL results as well.