2016 Cycling Recap: Drew Free

Adventure Cycling KÜHL Cycling Team By Kühl Editor

Drew Free is a member of the KÜHL Cycling Team. Raised at the base of the Wasatch Range, he took advantage of any activity that got him outside and grew up an active skier and hiker. It wasn’t until his mid-20s that Drew fell in love with mountain biking. Since that moment he's been driven to improve his ability while balancing work and family. Thanks to some patience from his wife and three children, he's found success, measurable in both results and personal accomplishment. Drew focuses on endurance and stage racing but strives to be a versatile rider who is comfortable riding and racing anything on dirt. Drew has his sights set on several key races in 2017, starting with ICUP and True Grit in March.

2016 Recap

Deseret Rampage
Result: DNF
My first race was the ICUP Desert Rampage. Despite heavy winter training the first race of the season is always a little nerve racking.  I was really excited to race my new bike but a little nervous on what kind of top end fitness I would have.  As the race started I felt really good and was riding comfortably in 3rd place about 1/2 hour into the race. Unfortunately, I suffered my first flat of the race. I put air in hoping it would hold and continued on course only to stop at the lap line to put a tube in. This moved me back to last place, somewhere around 18th. I spent the next 3 laps working as hard as I could to move back to 8th.  On the final descent of the day I pushed the limit trying to catch 7th and flatted again. Unfortunately this resulted in my first DNF in over 5 years. I was disappointed with the result but optimistic going into True Grit the following week.

True Grit 50
Result: 4th Place Open Men
What an awesome event! The start was fast, but roughly 30 min in I managed to get away and ride conservatively in 3rd place. One hour in to the race I was able to close down the gap on Tinker on the technical Zen trail and move into second coming into the first feed zone. That was short lived, and Tinker was able to get away from me on the long dirt road roughly 2 hours in. I later hooked up with team mate Chris Holley, and we rode the remaining hour together, getting an occasional glimpse of  Tinker riding in second. On the last climb of the day, Chris put roughly 15 seconds on me, and I went on to finish 4th. Second through fourth place were separated by only 2.5 minutes

Cactus Hugger
Result: 4th Place Open Men
The third race of the season, I started to get my race legs. This race started fast, and by the end of the 1st lap I found myself riding comfortably in 3rd place. Some unfortunate luck towards the end of the lap cost me two dropped chains and allowed 4th to close the gap. We rode together until the start of the 4th lap when I suffered a few cramps. I pedaled through them, but unfortunately it allowed just enough time for 3rd place to get away.  I chased but could never close the gap down again.

Gunnison Growler
Result: 5th Place Open Men

Result: 2nd/ Open Men.
The Wasatch Back 50 is a two-lap race in Heber City, UT known for its rough climbs and pedal-friendly flat sections. I've wanted to do this race for a while, and it was a good primer going into the Breck Epic. The race started fast, and from the gun I went off the front with one other racer. We continued working together to build a decent gap on the closest chase group. We rode the first lap within 15 seconds and ended up finishing just a few minutes apart.  This race is known for its rough climbs and pedaly flat sections.

Crusher in the Tushar
Result: 11th Open Men

Breck Epic
Result: 6th / Open Men.
Another great year racing the Breck Epic. I love the highs and lows that go on throughout a stage race. An incredibly deep field and added mileage and single track on day 2 and 3 increased the intensity and difficulty from years prior. I absolutely LOVE this event. Yes, the riding is incredible and the race is really well organized, but the best part is the people. From volunteers to fellow racers, it is a great event with a very unique vibe. I was really excited to finish as well as I did and looking forward to this event next year.

Park City Point to Point
Result: DNF
This has always been one of my key races.  I've raced in every edition of Park City Point to Point, and fortunately I've always had good luck and good rides. With 2 weeks rest from Breck Epic, I was excited about the race and felt good the week leading up to the race. The race started well, and I was able to get into the lead group of 5 riders. We rode close for the first 4 hours. Unfortunately I came down with a stomach bug on Friday, and at about 4.5 hours I felt the consequences of that bug. As hard as the decision is to make, I had to pull the plug fearing that I would put myself into an emergency type situation if I kept riding. This was an incredibly difficult decision for me and only my 2nd DNF in my entire racing career. In a weird way, I think it's good to have these types of day on occasion. It wasn't the way I wanted to end my racing season, but it kept me motivated for the coming year.

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Kühl Editor