Adventure

Moriah Wilson and Brennan Wertz win the Grasshopper Adventure Series Huffmaster Hopper

Moriah Wilson and Brennan Wertz win the Grasshopper Adventure Series Huffmaster Hopper

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Round two of the 2022 Grasshopper Adventure Series is in the books, and Moriah Wilson (Specialized) and Brennan Wertz (Scuderia Pinarello) went home with the wins.

On Sunday, the pros raced the 89-mile, 4,800-foot Huffmaster Hopper course. According to race director Miguel Crawford, the Huffmaster has “a more traditional gravel feel” than other Hoppers. The course was made up of equal parts pavement and dirt road.

Related: Kate Courtney and Luke Lamperti claim Grasshopper Adventure Series season-opening wins

Wilson and Wertz came into the 2022 gravel season strong. Two weeks ago, Wilson picked up a dominating victory at the Rock Cobbler. There Wertz placed fourth and a week before he won Gravel Miami.

The men’s podium was completed by Sandy Floren (Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Equator Coffee) and Skyler Taylor from San Francisco. Flavia Oliveira and Maude Farrell finished second and third for women.

How the race went

The first 40 miles of the Huffmaster course is on gravel and therefore favored the tactics and dynamics of the roadies. The first 25 miles are flat while the next 15 are gently uphill.

Wilson described those first 40 miles as “a little cold and boring with lots of yo-yos and breaking waves.”

Strong groups formed and pushed the pace until the first significant climb (gravel) at mile 40. This is where Wilson decided to take action.

“I remember last year I kinda put the hammer on the first climb, and I felt pretty good, so I decided to do it again this year,” she said. “I’m more of a climber, so I figured if I was going to put a gap on someone, this would be the place to do it. I was able to create a little space and rode with a guy through the aid station.

After the aid station at mile 45, the course continues on a mix of pavement and gravel through rolling terrain. At mile 68 there is a short climb on Huffmaster Road, followed by a gravel descent. About six miles before the Huffmaster climb, Oliveira and the group she was with grabbed Wilson.

Oliveira chose a road bike during the day. (Photo: Brian Tucker)

“I rode Flavia a bit, which was fun to ride back and forth with another woman,” Wilson said. “Then I dropped her on the Huffmaster climb. Luckily I had 42 Pathfinder tires which really helped me on the descent, so I flew as fast as I could to the finish.

Oliveira was on a road bike and said she didn’t want to take any chances on the descent.

Geoff Kabush, who finished 10th on the day, said his day slipped into the second feed zone, around mile 68.

“I missed the leading group of four guys about 30 yards from the feed zone,” he said. “I did it all in two or three minutes and couldn’t get into the group, so I went solo, then I was with four guys, then after Huffmaster eight or nine guys. I think we’re minutes from Sandy and Brennan.

Wertz’ victory was only guaranteed at the finish line. After riding ahead all day, his group dwindled to four as they approached Huffmaster Road. Then it was just him and Floren for the last 15 miles or so of the race.

“A guy fell on the road, then there were three of us, then Alex [Wild] flattened on the descent,” he said. “We got to the bottom and he was gone. Then it was Sandy and me. I tried to attack him several times, but he was in my wheel each time. We’re very similar riders, so it was fun trying to fight him a bit. I couldn’t get away from him and we had a little sprint battle and I just kind of nicked him at the line.

Wertz noted that he thought he had the perfect setup for the Huffmaster—he chose deep ENVE 4.5 AR wheels and 35mm Rene Hearse Bon Jon Pass tires for his Pinarello Grevil.

The Huffmaster Hopper was a fundraiser for the Adventure Therapy Foundation.

Floren leading Wertz. (Photo: Brian Tucker)
  1. Moriah Wilson, 4:19:46
  2. Flavia Oliveira, 4:21:42
  3. Maude Farrel, 4:24:38
  4. Katerina Nash, 4:30:59
  5. Caroline Dezendorf, 4:35:09
  1. Brennan Wertz, 4:10:43
  2. Sandy Floren, 4:10:44
  3. SkylerTaylor, 4:11:51
  4. Aria Kiani, 4:11:51
  5. Bradyn Lange, 4:11:52