Gearing up for the Life Time Grand Prix
Lachlan Morton and Alex Howes to ride 6-race series
Alex Howes and Lachlan Morton are no strangers to racing the alt calendar.
Between the two of them, the pair have raced events like Unbound Gravel, GB Duro, Three Peaks, Cape Epic, and Old Man Winter, not to mention the off-road bikepacking trips. Now, they’re taking on the Life Time Grand Prix.
A series of six, off-road races held across the United States between April and October, the first edition of the Grand Prix promises to be spectacular. The three mountain bike races are the Sea Otter Classic, Leadville Trail 100 MTB, and Chequamegon MTB Festival. Unbound Gravel, Crusher in the Tushar, and Big Sugar Gravel are the three gravel events.
Life Time required prospective riders to apply to the series and took into account each athlete’s racing experience, their motivation for participating in the series, and how they contribute to the growth of the sport. The field is limited to 30 women and 30 men and riders earn points based on their finishing position in each individual race. The male and female riders with the most accumulated points from their five best races will be the winners after the final race, Big Sugar Gravel in October.
The series kicks off on Saturday in Monterey, California with the Sea Otter Classic. There, Lachlan and Alex will race Fuego XC 80k, a race of two laps with 1,700 meters of climbing. Both riders have had to rearrange their road racing calendars to make time for the race. “The race schedule has changed a bit to work around the GP,” says Alex. “Not complaining though, as it means more time at home with the family.”
For Lachlan, this will be his first time racing at the Sea Otter Classic and he’s looking forward to it. In fact, he’s excited to get the entire series underway. “Most of [these races] are new to me. The only races I've done are Unbound and Leadville so I’m definitely looking forward to both of those. I had a blast at those previously and they’re great events. I’m looking forward to getting involved in all of them. I think Life Time have done a really great job of putting on great events and I'm sure all of the events are going to be special.”
Don’t mistake his enthusiasm for naivety. “I know there’s going to be a fair share of discomfort and tough hours out there on the bike but I’m excited to have that level of competition and racing again in the States,” Lachlan says.
Alex feels ready to get the Sea Otter Classic underway and says his training has been going well despite an injury that kept him off of the mountain bike during the off-season. “Things are coming together nicely leading up to the first race. I'm taking a more relaxed approach to the early part of the season — October is a long way away! — but I have some decent condition after a European racing block in March and enjoyed a four-day mountain bike trip out in the desert to get reacquainted with the mountain bike. It's been a good six months since I'd had a proper ride on the mountain bike since breaking my hand last fall, but I'm hoping the little trip is enough to get rolling again.”
On the road, the EF Education-EasyPost duo race together as teammates, but they will compete as individuals in the Life Time series. “Alex is a teammate but we’re not going to race as teammates,” Lachlan says. “I don't think the team structure really suits this kind of racing so we’re not going to race as teammates. I think initially just being consistent is what pays in the long run. The tactics are kind of unknown as the series is new. No one really knows how it’s going to play out.”
“I’m very excited to race [at the Sea Otter Classic]," Lachlan says. "I have no real expectations which is great because I know if I approach it in that way I’m going to get the most out of it. I’ll be excited to race stateside again. It feels like it’s been awhile.”
For Alex, he sums up his attitude towards the Sea Otter Classic in just two words: “Let’s race!”