Winter Park, CO sits at 9,000 feet. The Mary Jane Circuit started at 10,000 feet. There's not a lot of air to race a bike up there.
Sam and I left had to leave super early in the morning to make the 10 am start. I beat on the steering wheel as the Grumbler struggled to maintain 45 mph on the 75mph road. An old sedan towing a boat blew past us.
We started the climb up into the mountains from Boulder.
After registration, we headed back to the parking lot to change. I felt out of breath after climbing the stairs. I spun back down to the resort with a girl single speeder. She asked what gear I was using, and after I told her 38x20 and cheerfully added that I was from PA, she looked at me like I was an unusually stupid piece of dirt. "Well. I think you're going to regret that." she said.
Sam and I hopped on the lift to ride up to the mountain top. The race was three four mile loops on the summit of the mountain, starting at 10,000 feet and climbing up to 11,000 each lap. After the third lap, it was a Super D to the finish with almost 8 miles of ripping fast descents.
The Pro Men started two minutes ahead of the Single Speeds. We stood on the line, then were off up the first fire road. I went hard, but kept myself in check because I knew that I wouldn't be able to recover if I blew up at the elevation. I went into the woods in forth.
The course reminded me of home with lots of roots and rocks on the single track sections. I followed the guys in front of me down the hill, then passed one of the fire road climb up to the top. The climb switched back to rough single track and steadily wound towards the top of the mountain. The climbing wasn't too steep, so I felt like I was able to recover going up the hill.
I made my move on the single track climb on the second lap, and pedaled into first. I kept griding up the hill and tried to open up a gap. On the third lap I started to run into traffic from the back of the pro/open field and I passed as many riders as I could. I was feeling good, so I just kept riding at a nice steady hundred miler pace.
From what I had seen earlier, the single speeder behind me was a good descender. This was his home terrain, so I figured he would put some time into me on the 30ish minute downhill. I tried to stay smooth through all the banked turns and brake stutter bumps.
The trail dumped me onto a fire road and a geared guy blasted past me almost immediately. I gave it everything to jump on his wheel. I held the pace for a few minutes before he popped me off. The road turned up, and climbed half way back up the mountain.
The trail got rougher and my hands started to get tired from the long bumpy downhill. I noticed the 2nd place guy right behind me, and really hit it to stay ahead of him. I sprinted the rest of the way down the hill and through the finish.
I stood next to the finish coughing. My nose felt like it was bleeding and my lungs were killing me. I've never had my respiratory parts hurt like that. The 2nd SS guy came across the line and we gave each other some congratulations. I looked at the little Master's National Champion sticker on his bike, then started hacking some more.
After I stopped feeling like death, Sam and I decided to take advantage of our lift tickets and get some more downhill runs in.
We were ripping down the hill when I heard a loud pop, Sam's front tire shot out of his Lefty, flew almost 15 feet into the air, he ragdolled down the hill, rolled a few times, then got back on his feet and ran. I skidded to a stop, looked at his naked front wheel, tire folded up on the trail, and started laughing hysterically. That might not have been the nicest thing to do.
A few armored downhillers stopped as they went passed, and I'm sure they were making fun of the lycra clad XC kids when they got down to the bottom of the mountain. We walked down the hill to a fire road and caught a van ride back. It was the craziest crash I've ever seen.
Sam caressed the frame to check for cracks when we got back to Boulder. Unsurprisingly, there was one right under the head tube. Whoops. Silly crabon fiber.
The riding was done for the day, so we sat around under a big tent waiting for awards. A few hours later, they started them.
Win! And I'll never wear a t-shirt under my jersey again because I think it makes me look fat.
Every class was awarded the same thing:
I'll risk sounding jaded. Winning a little medal is lame.
This is what the glass should have been filled with:
Two dollars and a bottle cap was all I had on hand for demonstration purposes, but it would have been nice to at least win my $37 entry fee back.
Or they could have given us oats. I can eat oats. I can't eat a medal.