FARMINGTON — Just like last year, 15-year-old professional mountain bicyclist Quinn Simmons came within a few seconds of winning the Road Apple Rally, but he'll have to wait at least another year before he takes the top prize home to Durango, Colo.
Nick Gould, 38, fended off fellow Durango rider Simmons by just four seconds on his way to the 36th annual Road Apple Rally pro race championship today at Lions Wilderness Park.
Under a bright, blue sky with temperatures firmly in the middle 60s, Gould won the 30-mile pro race in one hour, 44 minutes and 17 seconds. Simmons was just behind him at 1:44:21.
Randy Flores was third in the pro category at 1:48:57, and Brent Winebarger, last year's winner, took fourth with a time of 1:53:02.
Simmons, who finished three seconds shy of Winebarger's top time in 2015, said he thinks Gould had a little more endurance than he did.
"He had more power at the end than I did; it's just kind of a long race to me, I'm not really used to stuff like that," Simmons said. "He had a little more endurance there in those last, like, 500 meters."
A bigger bike chainring on his front wheel might have contributed to Gould's narrow win, according to both top finishers.
"I should have put a bigger (chain) up front," Simmons said. "I spun out on that last descent."
"I put a 34 (teeth chainring) on at the front, and he had a 30. So I had a few more teeth." Gould added. "There's a couple of corners here at the end that are a little bit loose, and he braked a little bit, and I saw that he wasn't going as fast as me, so I just put the hammer down and got a couple of seconds on him."
It's been nearly 15 years since Gould has competed in the Road Apple Rally. He said he's close friends with Simmons and Simmons' father, who were both at Gould's wedding over the summer, and competing against Simmons was his favorite aspect of today's race.
"He's just 16 (actually 15), and he's really fast, so it's just fun to see him come up and keep getting better," Gould said. "To be able ride with him there right up until the finish was just really fun."
In the male category one expert 30-mile race, Gaige Sippy took first with a time of 1:55:54, while Angela Des Cognets of Golden, Colo., was the highest-placing female finisher among the category one experts. Her time was 2:08:10.
There was also a 15-mile, category 3 beginner's loop for Four Corners Area cyclists of all ages, ranging from 11 to 64. Jake McBride, 33, was the fastest-finishing male, crossing the finish line with a time of 1:02:23.
Farmington native Sheri Peterson, 55, was the first female to finish the beginner's race. She competed in the Road Apple Rally in 2013 and 2014, but had to skip it last year after breaking her arm while road biking. Peterson said the trail rode really well.
"It was really good. The rain really helped it by packing down the sand," Peterson said.
Peterson said the downhills of the trail were her favorite parts, as well as riding with her close friends.
"It's awesome; the weather was great, and five of us all ride together," Peterson said. "That's just our goal, to ride every year and have a good time."
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.