The Whiskey 50 was about a 5 weeks ago and I can’t remember having such a long break in the middle of the season ever. Since I didn’t go to Europe for the 3rd and 4th round of the World Cup I had a chance to take a real break and do some actual training.
The break was awesome, right after the Whiskey we packed up Coop(baby passport and all) and headed down to San Pancho Mexico for a week. It is the perfect place for a break because with out a bike I can’t ride so I just relax and try not to get sunburned. Since I’m not riding it’s tough not to gain a lot of weight but with the Mexican Diet Cokes it wasn’t too bad.
It always seems like time goes slow when I’m on vacation until it’s time to leave and then it seems like I just got there. After a week on the beach it was time to head back to Tucson where we packed up our winter home and made the trip back up to the thin air of Durango, CO. The weather had been perfect in Tucson in all winter and right on cue once we got back to Durango it snowed but I still wasn’t training much so that wasn’t really problem. I did get a chance to use these.
Once I finally started training again, the weather turned around and the trails were great from the precipitation we got. A bunch of the FLC Cycling Alum from my time at the Fort came into town for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic and we had a little team reunion. It goes with out saying that if I’m signed up for the race it is usually canceled due to snow in the passes and it held true again this year. The IHBC usually goes the 50 miles from Durango to Silveton. 50 miles isn’t very far for a road race but it does start at 6,500 ft, finish at 9,300 ft and go over 2 10,500 passes on the way. This year it snowed a few inches on Coalbank pass Friday night before the race so they decided to shorten it to only go to the ski resort, Purgatory, 25 miles and 2,500 ft higher then Durango.
As it turned out Saturday was beautiful but I wasn’t complaining about only going to Purg. My brother and Ned got off just past the Glacier Club golf course(16 mi into 25 mi race) and I got a free ride from the two other guys chasing all the way to Purg. Troy out sprinted Ned to take his first win in quite a while and win his first IHBC.
As soon as the race weekend past the weather turned great and I was able to go ride with out bringing a rain jacket or having to wear leg and arm warmers. Rude and I got some good MTB’n in and even busted out a Junction Creek/CO Trail loop one day. All the rivers, creeks and waterfalls are flowing right now from the quickly melting snow back.
So with a good 2 weeks off and 3 weeks of solid training I was ready to get the season going again this weekend at the GoPro Games up in Vail. The GoPro Games started as the Teva Games and is a giant outdoor festival in the center of Vail. There are tons of events from rock climbing and slack lining World Cups to kayak races, SUP races, running events, HUGE slope style and finally the mountain bike race. I’m so surprised the MTB circuit hasn’t embraced this race more because there is thousands of dollars of prize money, thousands of people and the entire town is an expo area. Vail knows how to put on events and they definitely do this one right.
The course is the Lionshead loop from the old 2001 World Championship and World Cup course. The race starts at 8,200 ft and climbs up to almost 9,000 ft along mostly fire road and double track. The descent is super fun single track through aspen and pine forests with a few fire road climbs thrown in to keep the legs from recovering too much. We lined up for 3 laps on Satruday afternoon under clear blue sky.
The pace was on from the start with Fernando and Keegan nailing it at the start before Howie took over and really lit it up. I was on my limit right from the start and by the time we hit the top of the climb 11 or 12 minutes later Howie had a 10 second gap on me and I had distanced the chasers as well. We all came together on the descent and when we started the climb for the 2nd time it was Howie, Fernando, Keegan, Troy and I all together. Howie attacked again midway up the climb and it was the same scenario, Fernando an Keegan went with him initially but dropped of the pace and I closed it to about 10 seconds again at the top. This time there were only 4 of us starting the last lap together with Troy having fallen off the pace. Howie didn’t wait and attacked right at the bottom this time and it was playing out the same with Fernando and Keegan chasing but this time I was suffering and couldn’t close. I rejoined Keegan and Fernando halfway down the decent but when Keegan attacked on one of the fire road climbs in the middle I couldn’t respond and would have to settle for 4th on the day with Howie taking the W, Keegan 2nd and Fernando 3rd.
I of course was hoping to win but was happy with how I rode having not made any mistakes and just not being able to follow those little guys up the climb at the end, still need to lose a few more lbs:)
On the way back to Durango I rode through Leadville Looking from the start/finish line there is still quite a bit of snow in the mountains out yonder that will need to melt before we line up for the throw down in Ausugst.
Finally I’m off to Blitz 2 the Barrel today in Bend, OR for my first attempt at what is quickly becoming a legendary race. If you want to see what it’s all about check it out here: http://www.blitz2thebarrel.com What could be better then a midweek downhill XC race that ends at a Brewery with an arm wrestling contest?
I wonder how many times Winston is going to knock over the garbage while I’m gone…….