Early on the morning of July 25th, 33-year-old Neil Beltchenko set off from Durango under the Trackleaders alias Ned Bachanko—a pet name coined by Instagram personality Bicycle Pubes (whose account has since been deleted, RIP). Neil quickly gained the upper hand in the race on day one as he made it into Silverton just before a monsoon deluge hammered other riders. He was the only one to leave that evening, saying, “I was really close to heading back to Silverton due to rain and wind at 12,000 feet.” However, his commitment likely gave him a solid lead that he held onto for most of the race. Only yesterday was there a minor threat when 23-year-old Will Bodewes pushed within 25 miles of the leader. However, Beltchenko had already crested Georgia Pass, one of the last major climbs, which set him up for success.
In the end, Neil finished in 4 days, 3 hours, and 7 minutes (04:03:07), falling just seven hours shy of his own course record of 3 days, 19 hours, and 50 minutes (03:19:50) set in 2016 during an ITT. Even so, his finish time is mind-blowing considering the weather and trail conditions this year. In an earlier report, Neil mentioned, “The trail is in the worst shape I’ve ever seen it due to all the rain.”
In an iPhone video Neil’s partner Lindsay captured moments after crossing the finish line, Neil responded, “Pedaling down Waterton Canyon, I was reflecting on all of the beauty of the trail. The vistas, the flowers, the rain, and quality of the trail. In general, it doesn’t get any better than the Colorado Trail.” When asked for parting thoughts on his fifth time riding the CT, Neil stated “it never gets old.” Congratulations, Ned! Rest up.
At this point in the race, it looks like Will Bodewes will finish second and singlespeeder Jefe Branham currently holds the third spot. On the women’s side, the 2019 race winner Alexandra Houchin is carrying the lead, with Leigh Bowe about 30 miles behind at the time of this writing.
Please keep the conversation civil, constructive, and inclusive, or your comment will be removed.