09 June, 2007

the winter park series inaugural hillclimb

ah yeauh. planned this event since the end of our school year...i've heard that it's one of the best race series around since we've moved here but never participated until now. the cool thing too, is, my colleagues and homeboys hez-chilly and alec also raced it. i believe this is both their first mt bike race too. how cool is that? we rode this past weds at apex and billy and alec weren't feeling it at the end of the ride (to do the hillclimb). billy decided to do it anyhooz with his son; this change of heart, according to alec, was enough to swing his wishy-washiness to commit. so 6:30 ante meridiem, today, we meet at the break place in morrison. with alec and i in my tacoma and hez chilly and hogan in the ridgeline we roll over to winter park. my start time's at 10:36 (and alec and billy's about 10 minutes apart) so we all have enough time to register and donate our monies to the corporate behemoth we all know and love: starbucks. the nutty thing about this mountain bike race is that they allow 'cross bikes. hello. this is a mountain bike race? so. note to self, "i'ma cheat next year and roll in my 'cross machine."
when i stage i notice my category, sport men 40-44 combined with the 45-49 is huge, and, to boot there's a 'cross (dresser) biker in my field as well. uncool. the announcer counts us down and we're off. it's like a criterium start and everybody's lining up in descending skill level. oh look who's in front, 'cross boy...the lead group's tear drop shaped and i'm pulling caboose at the southern end of the teardrop. the pace is high and starting at 9k feet can be physiologically challenging (read: either, or, both lungs and legs'll start screaming). we're middle ring climbing and noboby's changing positions and my legs are boinin'!!! if i continue at this pace i'ma gonna pop! so i back off and establish my own rhythm. i can see up ahead (they're--the 15 or so riders--are about 10 meters ahead of me) people are popping too. there's a guy in an old school, pink, once jersey (it's a spanish bank, pronounced OWN-say, espanol for eleven...)whom i target for no apparent reason to try and catch (maybe it's because he's wearing an old school, pink, once jersey). the gap from once dude who's 5 meter behind the lead group is staying consistent at around 10 meters. at this point the gaggle of 15 is now discontinuously, single-filed. i increase my torque spin and i'm closing the gap. i keep it in the middle ring and once dude's spinning the little'un. i catch and pass him and because i'm a roady i conceal my breathing to let him know it was effortless to catch him (when in reality i'm redlining). this inspires me to increase my rpms and drop it into a more difficult gear. now i'm passing all manner of people but i don't know who's now in my category because we're catching all manner of other categories. we catch the expert women and hey! i pass the 'cross dresser. i'm pumped now and i rock the bike out of the saddle on the crest of a small hill onto a flat section where i'm spinning the middle (chainring) small (cog). i think i'm at least top ten now and with the last switchback in sight followed by a steep riser i see people dropping it into their granny. i keep it in my middle and pass a whole slew of other people. i look down at my watch and i pull a low 45 minute time. excellent. my goal was a 40 something because alec and his analyzing self figured out by comparing his gps profile with another local climb similar to this (not comparable length-wise but rather elevation gain-wise), that a 40 something would be comparable to 50 something at our local climb. he also predicted from billy's time at our local digs that billy could potentially podium. in fact, billy was a minute and change off of a podium finish. yea math and science! after i finish i ride down the hill to see my boys. alec's drilling it and i yell at him to pass this last rider, which he does! his goal is to do it in under an hour. he was a minute off. next comes billy, looking strong crunching his middle ring on the climb. last but not least comes hogan, riding like a man doing this hella-hillclimb at age eleven. righteous. this blog entry's picture is lunch rock (aka the finish line) in winter (obviously). it's a pretty exposed ridge at 11.2k feet, just a smidge below colorado's treeline (which is 11.5k feet). cruel? maybe. fun? ah yeauh.
at the bottom of the hill, after the hillclimb, billy has this scary, omniscient side of him that if he uses it for evil, we'd all be in trouble. he's angling for us to wait for the free shwag give-away because "we will win" he says, if "we're patient." and sure enough as the minutes tick off we're winning some choice shwag. alec wins a chain cleaner and koobi saddle coupon worth $140. billy wins a $20 gift certificate at a local seafood grill and i win a $20 gift certificate at an organic deli, along with a white lightning compass/whistle combo (what the shnap is that concoction?). so, with certificates in hand we have lunches free of charge. how cool is that? this hillclimb turned out to be very satisfying in terms of culling an honest race effort from the participants--us--and the returns from this effort via lovely shwag. check out my times here. i'm officially in 5th place overall in my category. maybe i should do the xc race next week just to defend my ite general classification (this is what roadies call g.c. pronounced jee-see)?

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