For the second year in a row, Giant Factory Off-Road Team rider Carl Decker won the Lost and Found Gravel Grinder in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of Northern California. The 100-mile endurance event is the first of three races in the Lost Sierra Triple Crown, a series that also includes the Downieville Classic Cross-Country in August and Grinduro in October.
Last year Decker won the Triple Crown and is aiming to do the same this year.
“Every race that the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship puts on is special,” Decker said. “But particularly for me, as defense of the Lost Sierra Triple Crown is one of my priorities this year.”
Last year Decker won the race on his TCX Advanced Pro cyclocross bike, but after inspecting this year’s course, he made a change to his bike strategy. He also wore the Giant Pursuit helmet and Giant Surge shoes.
“I decided to bring my XtC Advanced 29 hartail mountain bike in case the course was truly nasty,” Decker said. “After riding the opening and closing segments of the course, I decided it was worth the gamble—I’d ride the mountain bike.”
The competition was tough this year, with a handful of top pros including Geoff there to try and steal the title. After his win, Decker sent us his recap on how things shook out.
My neon orange XtC Advanced 29 is the same bike that I rode to victory at the U.S. Singlespeed Nationals last year in Mammoth, California. With its simple adjustable dropouts, it doesn't take long to swap from SS to gears and back again. And with SRAM Eagle 10-50 gearing out back, this bike flattened the hills of the lost Sierra nicely.
Halfway through the race, the lead group had been winnowed to five historically strong racers: Geoff Kabush, Barry Wicks, Tobin Ortenblad, myself and Jamey Driscoll. We all know each other well from years of CX and MTB racing, and we were all quite evenly matched in terms of strength and skill. It was shaping up to be a great race among old friends.
In pre-riding the closing miles of the track, I noted one particularly rocky and nasty section, immediately following the final feed zone. It was here that I hung my hopes of getting away from the group and taking a stab at a victory. The section was called "Vicious Cows" and it was mostly flat, but loose and rocky with several shaley washouts.
I rode with conviction through that feed zone and into that section of track, and a couple miles later, was confident I had shaken the group. But when I dismounted to hike through a stream crossing, I heard footsteps behind me. Kabush had managed to keep up through the rocky melee, despite having drop bars and 40c tires!
The effort had taken its toll on him, though. When I attacked on the next hill and into a short descent, a small gap opened up. With one major climb remaining, I rode all-out in an effort to be out-of-sight at the approach to that hill—and thus (hopefully) reducing Kabush's will to chase.
And it worked. I rode to my second win in two tries at the Lost and Found event. And back into the hot seat for the Lost Sierra Triple Crown. Later that afternoon, I'd share the podium with Kabush and Wicks, two guys I've shared countless rides, beers, burritos, and podiums with over the years. And all of us have designs on that new, incredibly flashy Triple Crown head gear.
The gloves are gonna be off for Downieville and Grinduro. It's going to be a great summer.