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There are a number of heavy-hitters taking the line at the first edition of the X100. 

Race to race, there are a whole bunch of racers taking on the demanding charge the X100. With multiple races going on, there’s a ton of different battles on the docket. All eyes will, of course, be on the battle for the 100 mile title, and there’s a good number of racers capable of taking the win. Foremost amongst them is Jorden Wakeley, returning to 100 mile racing after a bit of a hiatus this season. He’ll be challenged by the rock star himself, Ron “El Chaba” Sanborn of Einstein Racing. Sanborn is just back from taking fifth place at Breck Epic, and he’ll have six full stages at altitude in his legs.

Einstein has a few other options, including Jason Lowetz, who has put in a number of big rides in preparation. TC’s other big squad, Hagerty Cycling, will be lead by Pete Warden in the 100 miler, though they seem to have poured much of their strength into the Team Relay. Grand Rapids has sent the ever-dangerous Craig Gietzen and Tom Linck to challenge for the title, both of whom certainly should challenge for a podium spot if they’re on their day.

The Women’s 100 miler is a small field, and the big question mark comes as we await confirmation of Lauri Brockmiller. The Top Banana Competition leader and Hagerty star has been preparing herself and other riders for the big one for eight weeks. Her batch of Brockmiller Elite Endurance athletes are in every category Saturday, though she’s yet to confirm her chosen even. If she starts the 100, she’ll be the immediate favorite. Marilyn Kamp could certainly challenge, as could Sarah Anderson. It’s a small field, and it will be interesting to see how closely these ladies mark each other.

Hagerty has targeted the Team Relay, and they have selected one of the best possible combinations possible in the team. They’ve put Dan Hofstra, Hal BeVier and Norm Licht together for 100 miles. They have to be the overwhelming favorites, though teams anchored and lead by Eli Brown, John Kerkhoff and others could be in the hunt if disaster strikes. This could be the most entertaining race of the day, with riders stopping and being able to update via Facebook where they stand in the race as the day rolls on. Even these racers be doing roughly 33 miles, and should take 8-9 hours to finish up.

The Singletrack 50 is also hotly contested, starting later in the day and looking to finish around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. You could pick out one of nearly a dozen names and look right smart in your prediction, and the shortlist isn’t so short, either. Legendary singletrack names like Ken Blakey-Shell, Tom White, Scott Labonte, Dean Murphy and Trever Smela all have a shot. These guys will put on a duel in the woods, though with all of them on such equal footing, it may actually come down to the drag race on gravel roads back to Ranch Rudolf. The wildcard is Speed of Light phenom Keegan Meyers. He’s proven himself more than capable of singletrack riding, and none of the names on the start list have his short burst acceleration. A few smart moves  and a companion on the gravel, and Myers could walk away with a big win.  A special mention as well to Jason Mahokey, author, creator and do-all for XXC Magazine.  He’ll have some great insight on what will certainly be a thrilling race.

The Women’s Singletrack 50 should be tough to call, but Hagerty’s Rachel Decker has proven herself a consistent all-rounder. She’ll lead the way, though can expect a stern challenge from Dawn Cluchey and Einstein Racing’s Beth Collins. The wildcard could be Decker’s Hagerty teammate, Sandra Dunn, who has put in some last minute adjustments in the hope of joining Decker on the podium. With just a few women in the field, it’ll be interesting to see if this group stays together through the day, or at all.

The Women’s Gravel 50 signals an intent even bigger than one single race. Hagerty’s two-woman Top Banana Competition lead is relatively safe, but it appears Bridgit Widrig is going to lather some icing on the cake. She’s slated to start the gravel race, which is good for B points status.  A victory would put her over teammate Lauri Brockmiller, at least for now. More importantly, however, it moves the pair even further ahead of the rest of the field, and with no other Contenders toeing the line, they’re running out of points and opportunities to even challenge Hagerty’s dominating duo. Widrig will have to beat Tina Coughley, Cori Shek, and Julie Whalen. Whalen is the rider with the most to gain, and top points could vault her well into contention for a top ten spot in the Top Banana Competition come December.

The Men’s Gravel 50 is comprised of a small but fast field that includes the Einstein Racing duo of John Leach and Ryan Bolin. Leach will be less than a week removed from a top ten at the Gas Light Crit, while Bolin has been preparing carefully for this race and a busy cyclocross campaign for much of the past two months. They are the heavy favorites, and the pair have the firepower to dictate terms from the gun. Both will ride cyclocross bikes on a course that turns from blistering fast to painfully slow at about the 23 mile marker. If they have a lead and can survive some bits of singletrack and steady doses of sand, they should be able to go 1-2, though the order may come down to a gentlemen’s sprint in the finale. They’ll try to fend off Bryan Ellenbaas, Chris Beggs, Jon Haines, Tim Pease and Tony Talentino, as well has Cody Sovis. The Sovis Brothers will again race their separate schedules, with Cody flying solo at Big M, while Wes won the TC Tri Olympic Relay Sunday. Wes will skip the X100 as he prepares for a full cyclocross schedule, which will reunite the Sovii for the fall.

Racing starts at 7am at Ranch Rudolf, with the X100 expected to see its first finishers return to the ranch by 1.30. Expect to see racers trickling in for the rest of the day, with perhaps the last of which vyving for the Creeper Award, given to the lantern rouge. 

The very best of luck to everyone racing, and check back for results as soon as Yours Truly is back to a laptop.