Claro Brasil Ride
November 14-19, 2010
USA team riders, Sonya Looney and Jeff Kerkove, finalized their 2010 racing season by taking on the new 6-day mountain bike stage race known as the Claro Brasil Ride. Held in the Bahia region of Brazil, the course offered the riders a mix of technical singletrack, jungle singletrack, and rough jungle roads. Known to be hot and humid, the Bahia region greeted the riders to very wet conditions, raining on 5 of the 6 stages. The weather would take its toll on riders and equipment.
Stage 1 was a 13 km Prologue around the host village of Mucuge. A minor case of chain suck and a small crash would have Jeff and Sonya sitting high in the overall GC at the end of the day after finishing in 3rd place.
The longest stage at 139km, Sonya and Jeff would start slower than the other teams and ramped up the pace in the end. Riding through thick jungle singletrack and over steep jungle roads, the team would catch all teams but the leaders. Topeak-Ergon would finish 2nd on the day.
A 85km stage, the team would go on to struggle over the very rocky and technical Stage 3. Sonya was plagued with off and on back-muscle problems. This resulted in a slower pace on the day. The team would still finish 4th on the day.
At 96km, Stage 4 saw the team struggle again on the day where the course forced a broken frame for Jeff after only 10km of racing. Still able to ride the broken frame, Jeff and Sonya finished the stage in 4th place, but lost nearly 1 hour in the GC to 2nd place.
With a 135km to cover on Stage 5, the team was able to continue thanks to support from Topeak Brasil in the form of a demo bike. Riding on a barrowed bike, which was too small, drama unfolded 2km into the stage when Jeff broke his left pedal. The broken pedal would be ridden 133km all the way to the finish line in pouring rain! Jeff and Sonya would ride to 2nd place on the stage
While easy on paper, the 107km stage tested the mental capacity and equipment of Jeff and Sonya. Heavy rains left the course flooded. Jeff and Sonya would catch race leaders with only 20km to the finish line. They would share the finish line with race leaders Brian and Jenny Smith in a show of respect and sportsmanship. Jeff and Sonya finished very muddy and in 2nd place.
Both Jeff and Sonya agree, “Claro Brasil Ride’s slogan was that it was more than a race, it’s a stage in your life. It was a great experience to not only ride a new stage race, but also experience a new culture, a new way of seeing things. We were pleased that we were able to get 3rd place in the GC with all of the major issues, but disappointed that bad luck prevented us from getting 1st or 2nd place.”
Team Topeak-Ergon (Sonya Looney and Jeff Kerkove), 3rd overall in the Mixed Category
Source: Jeff Kerkove