The first major bike race to occur in Cody over Labor Day weekend was an unquestionable success, as 123 people took part in the Fistful of Dirt Gravel Race on Sept. 6.
“It kind of blew my mind for what we were expecting for a first year event during COVID-19,” race organizer Janie Schneider said.
The race featured 20, 62 and 100-mile distances, referred to as the “good,” “bad” and “ugly” respectively, meandering throughout the Cody area. All of the races started and finished in City Park.
First-place finishers in each division were given custom made bolo ties made from bicycle gear.
The winner of the 100-mile race was pro rider Peter Stetina who completed the route in 5:08:39. He kept an incredible 19.4 mph pace during the ride. Stetina is a former WorldTour cyclist who has transferred over to gravel tour cycling.
Cody High School junior Landon Rau placed 17th.
Female winner of the ugly was Giro rider Kathy Pruitt, who finished in 6:23:55, good enough for fifth overall.
The 100-mile race transitioned from Stagecoach Trail and the Hoodoo Ranch to a Jeep two-track leading to the sandy depths in the Oregon Basin, and then on to one of the most difficult portions on the McCullough Peaks.
“I was surprised to hear this course was one of the hardest courses people had ever ridden,” Schneider said. “People just loved the diversity.”
Paul Plourde of Sheridan won the 62-mile race with a time of 3:57:33. John Gallagher, 58, of Cody took fifth in 4:34:34.
Fifty-five-year old Barb Shellenberger of Casper took top honors in the female division with a time of 4:47:28. Not far behind her was Cody eighth grader Avryl Haas who placed third.
The 62-mile race also went through the Oregon Basin and McCullough Peaks.
Lauren Brandon won the women’s 20-mile race in 1:06:26 while Cody local Sonya Graves took second, with a time of 1:21:11.
This race went through Beck Lake before making a northern return to town via the Sunset Rim.
Charles Duncan III, 60, took first for the men at 1:11:12. Cody local John Housel placed eighth in that race with a time of 1:21:21.
But Fistful of Dirt was about far more than just results.
The Cody area offers world- class riding and it served as a valuable opportunity to bring national exposure to the local bike scene. Schneider said her staff spent six months planning what she described as a “bucket-list event,” and significant time setting the course.
Due to Stetina’s participation in the event and his promotion of the race on social media, a few national publications gave coverage to the race.
“Cody, Wyoming, went above and beyond in terms of hospitality,” Stetina reported in a social media post.
Schneider said at least half of the race participants were from out-of-state. She said most of those who traveled to Cody for the event came with another person and spent two nights in Cody, spending about $500-$1,000 on average.
“With so many of the races in the area canceling people are just looking for events to do,” she said.
Schneider is already committing to a second edition in 2021.
“We’re already talking about different courses,” she said with a chuckle.
The Ugly (100 miles)
Peter Stetina, 5:08:39
Barrett Brandon, 5:27:17
Paul Thomas, 5:43:29
Lewis Elliot, 5:44:49
Austin Meyer, 6:21:35
Kathy Pruitt, 6:23:55
Alysha Krall, 7:09:00
Myranda Hamel, 7:48:22
Leah Genth, 8:27:26
The Bad (62 miles)
Paul Plourde, 3:57:33
Rodney Schurg, 4:15:04
Dan Dahlberg, 4:23:25
Tristan Troftgruben, 4:33:04
John Gallagher, 4:34:34
Barb Shelenberger, 4:47:28
Alex Jenkins, 5:37:44
Avryl Haas, 5:39:08
Hailey Hoskin, 6:04:18
Maggie Perrault, 6:30:42
The Good (20 miles)
Charles Duncan III, 1:11:12
Travis Clark, 1:16:07
Travis Graham, 1:17:16
Earl Melton, 1:17:23
Riley McKeen, 1:21:10
Lauren Brandon, 1:06:26
Sonya Graves, 1:21:11
Shelley Melton, 1:23:05
Rachael Esch, 1:29:50
Annabel Lombard, 1:35:09