Indian Peaks — RME Series Race #3
Team Alchemist had a nice showing at the third installment of the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series at Indian Peaks. This was the inaugural year of the race, and it didn’t disappoint.
Alex C. considers these trails his backyard stomping grounds. He rides the single track around Sedalia regularly. His beta: really fun course, and really hard. I threw on a 20 tooth cog for the climbs that were advertised as soul suckers.
Mike W. volunteered to load up Mabel with the Boulder crowd for the ride down. One aging minivan, six guys, six bikes, and XM radio tuned to Brittany Spears. Don’t tell our wives.
The start of the race was pushed back because the registration line was as long as the race course. In Thane’s words, “We didn’t know it was going to be so popular.” Nice to see such a good turnout and show of support for the race, which supports the local Search & Rescue service. As the day unfolded, the rescue crews utilized every bit of every resource they had available.
Alex, Stuart, and I were on single speed, and we went off just after the pros. Stuart and I trailed the pack in second to last, and last place, respectively. The first lap was supposed to be a “half lap”, but as we pulled into Aid #1, it seemed like we had done nearly a full lap. Turns out we did most of the full lap but skipped the best part of the course, Ringtail. On lap two, we turned it loose on the windy, hard packed singletrack. Ringtail is the signature piece of trail in the area, and is what keeps the locals grinning. We descended about 3000′ along the buffed out, banked trail, hitting speeds over 30 mph in tight, treelined terrain. We were eventually spit out onto an exposed trail that gave us views of some impressive red rock formations. Ken later told me that we were riding next to the Arrowhead golf course, which is one of the coolest intergalactic golf courses in the universe. I swear it was built by aliens.
What goes down, must come up. All that descending wasn’t free. We had to climb back out to get back to the start. I caught Stuart at the remote Aid on lap 2, and we rode together to finish the lap. There were several sections of the climbs that were too steep and loose to ride. They were even hard to walk. This is the part of the course that broke many riders. I think there were more DNF’s in this race than in all the other RME races combined.
The climb back out is broken up by one particularly fast, technical descent. A number of “Slow” signs were scattered along the way to mark the 2′-3′ peaks that were placed in the trail. You had to either commit to hit them at full speed and launch off of them, which could easily clear a 10′ gap, or slow down enough that you kept both wheels on the dirt and roll over them. I’d like to say that I maintained my speed and gave my best shit-eating grin as I supermanned through the ether. But after a couple close calls of landing front wheel first, I slowed way down and took the latter approach, dribbling one wheel after another, over each of the berms. Anything in between fast and slow would buck your rear wheel upward and send you ass over apple bucket.
After crawling over the biggest of the bumps, I had to hit my brakes hard and veer off the trail. A branch had been laid, apparently intentionally, across the trail, diverting traffic off to the right. A racer asked if I had a cell phone, and I was sorry to say I didn’t. Several yards down the trail, I could see why he asked. A couple racers were off the trail to the left helping a third, who had obviously taken the last berm the wrong way. The injured rider’s face had been split wide open from the upper lip through his nose and mid face. It was gruesome, even for someone who has seen a lot of gruesome stuff. He had a couple folks with him, but I felt like I should stop anyway.
Flashes of the Laramie Enduro went through my head. Last year, I stopped for a racer who crashed and dislocated his shoulder. I put it back in, but lost a handful of minutes and several places. This time, there was an EMT there holding C-spine, and except for his face, everything else appeared to be okay. I let them know I was an ER doc, but the two guys assured me there was nothing more that could be done at the moment. I asked for the injured rider’s name and figured the best way I could help at that point was to ride my ass off and find help. As it turned out, we were in the most remote part of the course, and I didn’t come across help for over half an hour.
Stuart and I pulled into the main aid after lap two and stuffed our faces. To my surprise, he asked me if I was going to do another lap. Uh, yes? I didn’t know he was that deep in the hurt locker. But we saddled up for lap three, if reluctantly. I took two bottles with me for lap 3, but misplaced one of them in the cage on the climb out, and somehow ran it over with my rear wheel. Ah, the humanity. I backtracked to retrieve what was left of my crushed bottle. I poured the rest of the contents out and stuffed the raisined thing into my bottle cage. By that time, I lost contact with Stuart, who was feeling good again. I finally saw him again after Ringtail as I was approaching the remote Aid station. He had just pulled out. Another rider was refilling his Camelback, and I wanted to catch Stuart, so I paused for half a second, and then skipped the Aid. Big mistake. I was about half full (or empty depending on your outlook) in the remaining bottle, but not nearly enough to make it back home.
We stayed together for a while when we were stopped by a course official. We weren’t the only ones. There was a long line of riders stopped on the trail, some waiting for 15-20 minutes. The injured rider was finally being evacuated out. It had been over 2 hours from the time I had passed him the first time. That’s a long time to be lying there bleeding with your face turned inside out. I drank most of the rest of my bottle as we waited, and saved one last sip for that If-I-don’t-have-something-wet-in-my-mouth-right-now-I’m-going-to-shrivel-up-and-die moment. After 10 minutes or so, we applauded the efforts of the search and rescue crew as they took Keith out on a stretcher, and then mounted our bikes for the rest of the climb out. Ken caught us on that final climb. He passed me and asked why I never acknowledged his calls. That was when I realized he had been ever so close most of the race yelling ahead, “Wooooohooooooo!!!” That whole time, I thought it was just some fella who was having a really wonderful time riding his bike. Ken was on fire, he blew my me and took Stuart with him. Damn. Alone again.
I had cracked. Dehydrated and spent, I just limped home from there. I hurt about as much I’ve ever hurt on a bike. Came in 8th SS, which I’ll take, all things considered.
We had a very nice Team turnout for the race. Dice and Alex C. picked up big points for the Team competition with 4th place finishes in the Women’s Open and SS cats. Stuart took 6th in SS., coming off the couch to crush me. Ken finished 9th in a large 40-50 men’s field. The way he was riding, he would have won the Clydesdale Cat, but this year he decided to stop eating ice cream. WTF? Mike S. brought home some much needed points in the Men’s 30-40 Half Marathon. John A. and Noel rode like warriors, knocking out the Marathon in 7 hours-ish. Sean and Kevin also rode well, grabbing points in the Men 40-50 Half. I think Rich was riding well in the Marathon and was right on my tail at one point before snapping his derailleur off. Rich, I think it’s time to put that new derailleur on now. Mike W. hammered out the Half and figured that was fun enough. He is wise beyond his years. That was a tough course. Nice work out there Team. We are just 60 points out of fourth place.
Some race pics. Missed a couple of the Team. The Yann site had copyright issues: