19 June, 2010

WinterPark Hillclimb Series: Race #1

The (tiny picture of the) course profile. Starts at 9,000 feet (2743 meters) and ends 11,220 feet (3420 meters) some 5.5 miles later (Kenny's GPS begs to differ).

Teammates L-R, Kenny L, moi, and Ben

Carpooled in the Tundra with old friend/teammate Kenny L. and new friend/teammate Ben to do the inaugural event of the WinterPark mountain biking series. It's a hillclimb and to this day I still wonder why I do hillclimbs? It's painful, it's at altitude, and people cheat by using their cyclocross bikes for this particular event...I guess a race is a race and even though I'm to the left of the bell curve of fitness it satisfies my urge as a competitor.
Ben had no warmup as we got to his staging event with less than 30 minutes before his start. We all dressed quickly and got to his stage. Ben races singlespeed. His steed's a Spot. It's a belt driven, ninja quiet ride. Singlespeeders are kinda hardcore in a non-technical, purist, (non-sexual) masochistic sort-of-way because they race on one gear (not a fixie mind you) on all manner of topography and can put the beat down on some geared riders (for example, I got passed by one). Ben's warmup was when the announcer counted down his elite category to race. Kenny, who races a Gary Fisher Superfly (2.0), started before me and he lined up and took off like a scalded cat when the announcer counted them down. As an interesting sidebar, there were a boat load of Gary Fisher Superfly 100s on the course today (a $6000 ride). Me, on the other hand, had to pee something fierce and missed my stage. They didn't put too much significant time on me because after some labored sprinting (on front fork lockout on my seven year-old Yeti hardtail) I was able to catch the tailgunners in my category in less than 10 or so minutes. That sprinting though put me quickly into oxygen debt at this altitude (9,000 feet) and I had to settle down and get my breathing back. Once my heart descended from my throat, back into my thoracic cavity I slowly started to pick off riders in my group. I was able to hang with a small-ish pack that was right at my ability level, always climbing mind you, and this allowed me to mentally rest and get my heart rate just below cardiac arrest.
Once my immediate pack was starting to fade I went around them and started applying more watts to my pedals. On the last half of the course all manner of other competitors groups were in front of me (the event sponsors mark each competitors' calves with their age and their category so you can eyeball your competition). Passed some expert women, some younger sport riders (I was getting past too by some older sport riders) and it was getting pretty congested. I've done this race before and it seems every time I saw a right hand sweeper I always thought the last kicker of the hill would be right around the corner. So after a couple of anxiety attacks when it never appeared, I mentally chilled and prepared myself to not get gassed at the end.
Once I start hearing the cowbells I know the end is near. People who do this race on cyclocross bikes, I believe, are cheaters. So whenever I saw a cyclocrosser I'd do my darndest to pass them. I passed one at the beginning of the final kick and one passed me. Bummer.
When the three of us regroup near the summit we were yelling at the other competitors to pass people before they finished. We also waited for another one of our teammates, Jeff, to finish. The four of us then went down on some choice singletrack back to the base of WinterPark where we snarfed down some free food and Gatorade-type drinks. Nice touch sponsors.
Anyhoo, with missing my stage, I managed to finish 11th out of 36 hominids. Kenny finished third in his group (money) and Ben 4th but listed as sixth because an event sponsor can't count integers properly (but I won't hold that against them because it's such a great series). My fastest time doing this hillclimb was 45 mins back in 2007 and my slowest was the following year at 49 mins.
Afterwards we ride some of the legendary WinterPark ski area singletrack for some post-racing, cool down action. First time in a long time I've only ridden with riders on hardtails. Kinda cool like that...
Be all you can be... A "Most Difficult" rating

What I have to show for all this riding are a groovy watch tan...

...and a farmer's tan that a true hillbilly would envy!

As concluding evidence to another beautiful Colorado day, I present (to) you my backyard, pre-crepuscule.

Next week's the Point to Point XC event (50% committed). Yikes...


Groover said...

So do you race up the ski slopes? Sounds like you could have been in the money if you didn't have to pee? Altitude training! Maybe that's what I should be doing, too. You don't take in summer holiday guests by any chance?

...it's me!... said...

We race up the service roads. Maybe money if I had a larger bladder (that sucked). I'll cut you the homegirl, holiday deal Groover!