This is pretty early in the season to be racing. But The Warriors Cycling folks managed to pop one off before my traditional first cramp-my-way-to-the-finish event, The Front Range 50 (now 60). Jon, Ken and I made the trip south to Pueblo to check out the inaugural event. I’ve never ridden in Pueblo, much less raced, but Jon had scouted out the terrain a week before, and he gave us the beta on it. Lots of turns. Rolling terrain. Short, punchy climbs. I brought the Bontrager SS since the Yeti’s been placed on the Craigslist chop block. Geared it at 34×16, which is a rather stout gear for me. At this point in the season, I’m generally still building base miles, which usually amounts to riding occasionally and with the amount of effort that would be necessary to not fall over, but still not hurt very much. Turns out that the course is great for single speed. No long flat roads to sing the single speed blues on (e.g. Leadville).
We rolled out on pavement for the neutral start. Despite Jon’s warning to get out to the front ASAP, I didn’t want to blow up or piss anyone off, so I didn’t get too crazy and kept a comfortable pace. I should have listened to Jon because once we approached single track, the inevitable cluster f*ck of 100 riders cramming into a single file line resulted in a parking lot of metal and rubber. Instead of attempting to track stand my way through the first technical climb, I walked, which turned out to be faster than riding. Even once we got back in the saddle, the tight, fast trail didn’t lend itself to much passing. Probably a good thing for me since I went into Zen mode and told myself to be a good boy and stay in the line to avoid blowing up early or slashing a side wall. Deb told me she almost got sick when she pre-rode it because the course has so many turns and rolls (in fact, there was a section of trail named “rollercoaster”). Lots of turns, most of them loose, none of them bermed. You have to be able to handle a bike on that course though, or you’ll find yourself eating shit, or worse, cactus needles. If you ride or race out there, make sure you run tubeless with lots of sealant. Goatheads and pinch flats were the theme for the day. There was tire carnage at every turn, and there were a lot of turns. Our crew got lucky and managed to avoid any major mechanicals.
Because of the high water on the river crossing, the Park Service closed the far loop after which the race is named. So instead of two 35 mile loops, we did three 23 mile loops. Not sure what we missed, but what we did was great fun. Plenty of fast, swervy singletrack. There was also really well built technical shale sections. Much of which looked too technical or steep to ride until you got close enough to see that clever ramps or detours made it all ridable. Some of the views would have been spectacular if I had time to enjoy them. Occasionally, I’d look out over the bluff to check out the lake, only to find myself bushwhacking through the scrub to get back on the trail.
The first two laps felt great. But the Perpetuum solids tucked into my cheek took a whole lap to dissolve, by which time I was in a big calorie hole. I battled with two other single speeders for the entire third lap only to watch them pull away in the last few miles as my cramping legs wouldn’t allow me to make it up a couple of the last steep climbs. I finished 11th, just out of the top ten. No series points for 11th. But it’s early in the season, and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been at this point, so I’ll take it.
Dan and I made a pact to get serious about the Breck Epic. He wants a mint green leader’s jersey. I think we can get him one (if no one fast shows up). Plus, Ken has a whole closet full of them from last year. I’ll just steal a couple. I plagiarized Drew’s training program from last year. Time to get crackin’.