Ramos, Ryalls hustle short distance for wins
South Shore locals Chris Ryalls and Amber Ramos had to hustle a little farther to win Reno’s premier mountain bike series than they did to get to the course.
Both traveled 12 miles from South Lake Tahoe to Sierra at Tahoe for the race, but had to ride 19 miles to win their respective divisions. Ryalls wrapped a Kooka Kup season title with his first-place finish in the men’s pro division, while Ramos, 13, dominated the pro women’s field for a win in her third race on the circuit.
“It was great,” said Ryalls, who clinched the senior pro men’s championship, finishing the race in one hour, 47 minutes and 52 seconds. “Good fire roads to climb up and a great singletrack to come down.”
Ryalls made his move at the beginning of the race, and never was challenged. After he built his lead, he made sure he would have no mechanical errors, and kept pace over the up-and-down roller-coaster terrain of Sierra’s course.
“They hung with me up the hill, and I got a little gap at the end of the first gap,” said Ryalls, who races for The Bike Smith shop in Carson City. He actually traveled farther – 19 miles – over the race course than he did to get to Sierra.
“I think it’s added incentive to try to win a local race and win a championship,” Ryalls said. “This is a great race they put on.”
Ramos, the youngest entrant in the women’s senior pro category, beat her nearest competitor, Rosemarie Dittfach, by nearly five minutes. Ramos didn’t take home a Kooka Kup, but dominated her category in the final Kooka Kup event.
“I really like this course,” Ramos said. “I think it’s an awesome course, lots of climbing, which is good.”
Ramos pulled away from the field on her first two laps, but her brother, Travis, told her she had only a 30-second lead going into the final lap. Ramos suspected he was joking but dropped the hammer anyway to blow the race open.
“I kind of had an idea he wasn’t telling me the truth, but I went fast anyway,” she said.
Amber recently wrapped her season on the National Off-Road Bicycle Association national championship circuit but has one more race left on the schedule: the Ridgecrest Classic Oct. 24 in Ridgecrest, Calif.
Nearly 50 more participants turned out for this year’s Huckleberry Hustle than last year’s, for a total participation around 170. The Kooka Kup, a points series for mountain bikers in northern Nevada and northern California, concluded its second season with Sunday’s race. The event crowned Sunday’s top racers and the top participants in the series. It also honored a number of junior racers and winners of special honors: Paige Galeoto of Reno won the drawing for the series sportsmanship award, after she stopped to throw her tire pump to another competitor. Galeoto, who finished third in her category, placing her third for the season, walked away with a new bike frame for her efforts.
While Kup organizers plan to rotate the series championships around its race sites, the future of the Huckleberry Hustle seems secure at Sierra, with positive feedback from the series organizers and sponsorship from the Fantasy Inn.
“We’re definitely going to bring it back next year, and it’s an excellent race,” said race director Sean Sweeney of Sierra. “Only positive comments.”
For Huckleberry Hustle results, see Scoreboard, page 2B.
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