Swank 65 and Couch Potato Reports

Swank 65 – Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

Couch Potato

A cold start to the 2015 Couch Potato

Swank 65 and Couch Potato Reports

Despite lingering snow up high on the course, conditions were looking good for the 16th edition of the Swank 65k race on Sunday. Despite chilly temperatures that lingered in the mid-forties all day, the sky was clear and the sun was out. A modified course had riders tackling more technical singletrack than ever, and with the first technical climb up Daniel Ridge trail coming early in the race, the start was more important than normal for those looking for a good result.

Rolling up the Daniel Ridge climb, David Forkner (Greenlife) went off the front, cleaning many of the more technical sections, and opening a small gap on Matt Williams (Epic Brewing), Jacob McGahey (Industry Nine), and Spencer Lowden (Sycamore Cycles). Forkner was able to stretch his lead on the descent off the back side and he headed into the first aid station at Gloucester Gap with a sizable lead on a chase group that included McGahey, Williams, Lowden,  Nick Bragg, and Matt Champion (Sycamore Cycles).

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Men's Swank 65 podium with Williams, Forkner, and Champion left to right

Men’s Swank 65 podium with Williams, Forkner, and Champion left to right

Williams led out the next big descent down Butter Gap, and was able to real in Forkner, but after being gapped on the Long Branch climb Williams missed a set of course markings and slipped back to forth. At aid station two the race headed up the main climb of the day to the top of Farlow Gap. At that point Forkner and Champion were together off the front, with McGahey in third less than a minute behind. Williams was in forth with Bragg and Lowden just behind him. Nicknamed the death climb, the gravel road up to Farlow Gap is long and unforgivingly steep. Up front, Champion tried several times to drop a suffering Forkner, but the Greenlife rider was always able to claw his way back to Champions wheel. Behind them Williams made a move, and rode past McGahey, making contact with the leaders at the top of the climb.

As riders dropped into the snow drifts high on Farlow, Williams led, with Forkner and Champion in hot pursuit. Though he cleaned the tricky upper sections of the trail, Williams cramped hard on the hike-a-bike, opening the door to Forkner, who took advantage. He caught and dropped the Epic Brewing racer, taking the Enduro section win and a lead into aid station 3. The gap was less than a minute, but Williams didn’t have enough left in the tank to shut it down, and Forkner was able to cruise home for the win. Williams hung on for second, while Champion took a well earned podium, finishing third.


Nina Otter takes the top spot at Swank 65

Nina Otter takes the top spot at Swank 65

In the women’s race, local ringer Nina Otter (Liberty Bikes) dominated from start to finish. Though Otter described having a few issues on Farlow Gap, they didn’t hold her up too much as she took the women’s win by over two hours, taking the women’s Enduro win in the process en route to finishing a stellar 15th overall (she also took 15th overall in the Enduro). Emily Watts was second, and Sara Ray Carrell rounded out the podium in third.


Open Women

  1. Nina Otter  (Liberty Bikes)      4:21:54
  2. Emily Watts                              6:39:55
  3. Sara Kay Carrell                       7:04:31
  4. Gracie Erwin                            7:17:52

Open Men

  1. David Forkner (Greenlife)                  3:25:35
  2. Matt Williams (Epic Brewing)           3:27:54
  3. Matt Champion (Sycamore Cycles)   3:32:19
  4. Nick Bragg                                          3:37:01
  5. Jacob McGahey (iNine)                      3:37:22
  6. Spencer Lowden (Sycamore Cycles)  3:51:00
  7. Brad Cobb (Motor Mile Racing)        3:53:05
  8. Wallace Campbell                               3:56:32
  9. Art Odell (Sycamore Cycles)              4:08:24
  10. Michael Hudson                                4:10:52

Couch Potato Report

Some of the earliest snowfall in recent memory made for an epic edition of the Couch Potato this year. With several inches on the ground and temperatures hovering around the freezing mark, organizers wondered if anyone would even show up. Impressively, more than 120 racers toed the line, ready to tackle everything the course and the weather could throw at them.

In the men’s race it was regional fast man David Forkner who showed that he’s just as quick on the mountain bike as he is on the road. Forkner cruised to the win over seven minutes up on William Harrison, with local Ian Baldwin wrapping up the top three.

In the women’s race Christine Putnam rolled in two minutes up on second place Heather Davis, with Bevin McGahey in third.

Justin Marquand and Ian Baldwin tied for the win on the day’s Enduro segment down the Daniel Ridge trail, while Annie Pharr won the women’s Enduro.


Open Women

  1. Christine Putnam                   3:13:12
  2. Heather Davis                        3:15:44
  3. Bevin McGahey (iNine)        3:23:34
  4. Kat Welling                           3:23:43
  5. Annie Pharr                           3:29:15

Open Men

  1.  David Forkner (Greenlife)            2:16:00
  2. William Harrison                          2:23:21
  3. Ian Baldwin (Chainheart Bikes)   2:29:39
  4. Chris St. Peter                               2:30:51
  5. Philip Thomas                               2:37:42


Posted: December 13, 2014
Filed under: Couch Potato,Swank 65

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