Stillwagon rides 200, Sorich wins 25
By Bill Foley
HOMESTAKE — On a day when Butte’s John “Bear” Stillwagon completed the first ever “Butte 200,” one of his pupils stole the show.
Max Kluck, a soon-to-be Butte High junior, won the Butte 100 Saturday with a blistering time of 8 hours, 57 minutes, 16.02 seconds. He beat second-place Carter Hall of Bozeman by 22 minutes in the race that started and finished near Homestake Lake. (Results)
Missoula’s Daniel Dean Mazza placed third in 9:50:11.
On the female side, Rose Grant of Juliana/SRAM Pro Team won with a time of 9:28:04. Gevevieve Thomas of Flathead Cycling placed second at 13:22:50, and Butte’s Jamie Ritter, of the Coca-Cola team, took third in 14:21.
Like with his coach of the Copper Sprockets youth cycling team, the 16-year-old Kluck also rode longer than the 100-mile course. Kluck, though, went an extra 3 miles completely on accident.
“I went out a little hot, took a wrong turn and did three miles extra,” Kluck said. “I worked really hard to catch up, and I just never really let up.”
Wearing the red jersey of the Coca-Cola racing team, Kluck surprised himself with his winning time. That is because Kluck’s attention this summer was focused on competing in the 2021 USA Cycling National Championships earlier this month in Winter Park, Colorado.
Saturday marked the first Butte 100 for Kluck, whose dream is to compete in the Olympics in cross country skiing. He rode the course “just for fun” last summer, when the race was canceled because of the pandemic, and it took him more than 14 hours to finish.
“I had nationals two or three weeks ago, so this wasn’t really a priority race,” he said. “I was just kind of doing it. I didn’t think I was very prepared, but my legs were working today, so I’ll take it.”
(Story continues below photo gallery)
While he knew he was leading the race, Kluck said he knew he could not let up.
“I just didn’t know how much gap I had,” he said, “So, I gave it everything I had until the finish.”
Kluck was one of a handful of Copper Sprockets with an impressive day Saturday.
Aiden Sorich, who will begin his sophomore year at Butte High late next month, won the Sorini 25, which is named after the late Dr. Pete Sorini, with a record time.
Sorich, 15, finished in 2:10:20 to easily win the race. Aidan Richards, 20, whose hometown and team was not listed in results, took second in 2:36:21. Keller Mitchell of the Wheatons team took third in 2:40:46, while Butte native David “Moose” Stillwagon, a former champion, placed fourth in 2:51:34.
“I’m aching a little bit and hurting, but nothing quite like what those 100 riders have to do,” Sorich said, several hours after he crossed the finish line.
He added that Saturday’s win was Step 1 of a plan he and his father came up with.
“We call it the ‘triple crown’ to see if I can try and win each one of the races,” Sorich said. “Next year I’ll try the 50, and after that the 100.”
Luana Georgi of the 4G Construction team, won the female 25 in 2:46:58. Ada Georgi, 15, placed second in 3:05:54. Karli Bjorgum of the Butte Coca-Cola team, took third in 3:15:07:22, just edging out Rachel Holden of team Petunia Mafia, who finished in 3:15:07.33.
Copper Sprocket Caden Tippett, 13, drew a huge ovation as she finished the race in 5:10:50.
Jake Yahrmatter of Missoula won the male 50-mile race in 5:08:51. Travis Walnum took second in 5:17:19, finishing just ahead of fellow Missoula rider Kory Burgess, who clocked in with a time of 5:17:44.
Matt Windsor of the Butte Coca-Cola team took sixth in 5:42:55.
Chelsee Pummel of the ream Rockford/Owenhouse, won the female 50-mile race in 6:19:50. Alisa Wade of Missoula took second in 7:11:15.
Stillwagon placed 27th out of 30 male finishers in the 100-mile race. His time was 13:19:45.
Of course, Stillwagon had good reason to be one of the last finishers of the day. He rode the course twice. Yes, always looking for a new challenge, Stillwagon did the entire course, much of it in the dark, before racing with everyone else.
He started at 6 p.m. Friday and took a little more than 12 hours to finish the course. Then, Stillwagon, who said he nearly hit a deer and an elk on his first nine, rode the second several minutes after the rest of the riders started their first.
“I’m never doing this again,” Stillwagon said shortly after finishing the 200 miles of riding a little less than 25 and a half hours. “I just wanted to finish. I struggled for the last 30 or 40 of the first 100. I barely made it here. I was a little bit behind the split I wanted to, like 25 minutes.”
Stillwagon said he was feeling tired as he started the second 100-mile loop, but he got his second wind and felt strong riding up the “8 miles of hell” between the ninth and 10th aid station.
“I thought I would just go until they pulled me off the course,” he said.
Even though he was clearly spent, Stillwagon popped a wheelie as he crossed the finish line. After greeting family and friends, Stillwagon’s thoughts turned to his Copper Sprockets.
“I was telling everybody, ‘I would not be surprised if Max wins this thing,’” Stillwagon said, pointing out his time. “That’s crazy fast. And he’s 16.”
The coach praised all the riders of the Copper Sprockets.
“These kids are just great kids,” Stillwagon said. “They’re very classy and respectful. They work hard and they do what I ask of them.”
Stillwagon is also an inspiration for his young riders, as was evident with the number of them who hung around to watch him finish his latest grueling endeavor.
“He’s just a great guy and an amazing rider,” Sorich said. “I would not be here without him. He’s the one who got me into mountain biking.”2 comments