What a relaxing time out in the woods at our little cabin in Durango! No TV. No distractions. Just birds and deer, a peaceful spell in the cool shade of oak and pine and aspens. Sampling a bit of the Colorado Trail. Shredding some seriously silly singletrack at Overend (yes, as in Ned!) Park. What a perfect way to saddle up to race the IronHorse Classic on Sunday!
With all this prime trail around here, we still must pre-ride the course. Just a lap. It’s only 6ish miles..with close to 800ft of gain. The initial climb is going to be tough repeated x3. The next couple of flowy track is good. A little off-camber. A little exposed here and there. Then there is the college maze at the top. What drunk person laid this sucker out?! No seriously. It winds thru these trees, taped off so tight I can barely (if at all) get my bike to turn it. I think they offered some students free beer and then said “Have at it, folks!” This will be interesting. Ok. Enuf of that…off for some scenic riding on the CO Trail.
Kevin and teammates Tom & Bryan are out there early in the AM. I get to cheer. What is this I see happening here?? An obstacle course on the lap thru? Oh my! I watch people clean everything. I watch people totally botch it and face plant, followed by the crowd’s immediate response..”Da-ohh!”. Am I going to embarrass myself here?? Kevin clears it all beautifully both laps..I had no doubts 🙂
I get a couple of little runs thru the obstacles before the start of my own race. It’s a little nerve-wracking. I certainly don’t want to be booed for missing something or kill myself in the process. And then there is the bar-thru…this will be interesting…
At the start, it’s on fire. Then the road turns upwards. Then I hit the dirt. Not one woman clears the start and we’re all walking up the first switchback. Then the race begins. I get stuck a bit behind some slower climbers. Not much space to pass. I manage to get around a few. The climb is tough, but all doable. The downwards slope between climbs is fun, but a little rutted..so bumpy on the Fate I chose to race today. I was a little nervous on my choice at first, having ridden the Epic to pre-ride; but in the end it was the absolute best bike to race here with all the tight turns and climbing involved.
Sliding into the drunken maze, I do better than yesterday, but still I end up running thru some of it. Is this a cross race? Whew, back onto a descent. A brief road climb and then the last singletrack back to pavement. I put a foot down on the lefty, but deal. Now the scary part.
Coming into the obstacle course, I’ve practiced the smaller jumps, but the line seems better on the bigger side now. I take it. Over the wood hump. Peddle. Over the two rock gardens. Peddle onto the balance beam. Jump off. Sharp right. Over the teeter-totter. Sharp left into Steamworks bar. Holy darkness! OH-Camera flash! Right turn, left turn. Down the steep-ass ramp. Sharp left. Sand. Water feature. Right turn. Lamp posts, curb. Right turn, curb! 90 degree angle hill. Whew! Two laps to go!
I have been cat & mousing with 2 other women and pass them both on the road to the walk-up. Again I see no one ride this. The climb is a bit harder, but still clear everything. The maze this lap is better..I stay on the bike with the occasional foot down. The descents are a bit faster and I clear all the downward switchbacks. Sweet! One of the gals passes me going into the last descent. Ok, I still made it bit harder for her to do it this time. Back onto the obstacles. Taking the big jumps again, this time a little faster and with a bit more air. People are yelling and hooting every time I clear something. They’re banging empty kegs on the ground inside the bar. I contemplate taking a beer hand-up..No, no, still one more go-round. This is SO much fun!!
Last lap. I catch that chica back before the climb. I know I’ll have to really push to stay ahead. My granny gear sees a little more use this climb, still clearing every turn. Descending just a little faster. Going into the maze I can’t seem to get my legs to work right, here I’m stuck in a tight turn foot out on a tree, frozen. Move would ya! Finally freeing myself, I see her behind me, she closed a bit on that section. Man, she just kills that! I descend well enuf to stay ahead. Hit the road climb hard. I feel a cramp coming on. Ignore it! Into the last descent. Clear it all. She’s right on me til near the bottom. Hit the pavement hard and peddle. The leg wants to cramp. She comes up on me and gaps me just a bit going into the obstacles for the last time. This is where I gain it back. She hesitates and slows. I fly thru it fast. Uh-oh, I shoulda snaked her around the sharp right..we hit the teeters at the same time and I can’t get around her going into the bar. She almost comes to a complete stop at the top of the ramp. If only I had gotten past, I could be gone. My chance… Do I take the deep water feature? Not thinking quickly enuf tho, I follow her right over the other one.
Again she’s slow enuf, I’d a blown right past if only… Hindsight is always 20/20, ain’t it?! Rounding the corners is where she slows again, but no opportunity to go round. There should be no braking here! So I slam it into the last uphill to the finish, knowing I am not a sprinter and she gets me by a second. Boy what a lesson in tactics I just had. Next time.
That was seriously a fun time! Having so many people around cheering and jeering. Filling the pavement with assorted barriers for spectator and rider enjoyment, what a brilliant idea! Having never in my riding lifetime been on a pump track or any sort of obstacle course, I had no idea what I was in for or if I could even ride that sort of thing, but this was truly fantastic! And come to find out I was only 1 of 2 girls who took the big jumps..that’s confidence building! I will definitely be back to do this again! And maybe even throw in the Race the Train event on the day before!