Saturday, July 21, 2007

7/21/07 - Mt. Evans Hill Climb - Austin Seroogy

I was nervous about this race all week, didn't know if I was really
prepared or not. Last year I finished in 2:26. It seemed like I lost
a lot of time on the way to Echo Lake where it took me well over 1:15
just to get there. I don't think I'm any stronger this year, so this
time I needed a better strategy with some goals. This time my goal
was to be at Echo Lake in 1 hour and to Summit Lake in 1:45, and then
to just do my best on the switchbacks.

I was running a little late getting to the start with only about 5
minutes to spare. This meant that I started at the very back. Way up
near the front I saw Jose and the rest of Blue Sky. For the first few
miles, it seemed a little sketchy at the back and there were two small
crashes along the way. I found a good wheel to follow and tried to
work my way up front to get with the rest of the team. By the time
we were at the first switchback it seemed like we were riding at a
pretty good tempo and things were starting to get sorted out. There
weren't too many people around me at this point, but I could see Jose
up near the front of lead group and I slowly started to bridge up to
them, trying to conserve energy the best I could. It was still hard
to figure out exactly what was going on up there, but it looked like
some riders might have made a move, because after coming around a turn
I saw Jose leading a paceline. I finally caught Jose's paceline
just before Echo Lake. Soon two riders accelerated and Jose
encouraged me to go after them so that's what I did. Up to this point
I averaged 260 watts, and felt pretty good. I followed them through
to the pay booth, where they caught another one of their teammates,
then the three of them got behind me. After the first turn, they
started to fall back, and after a mile or so I looked back and
couldn't see them anymore. That first half was really the most
exciting part of the race. After I dropped those 3 riders it was a
long lonely grind up the rest of the way up. At this point I just
rode a good tempo pace of about 240 watts up to Summit Lake and made
my time goal of exactly 1:45. Now all I had left were the
switchbacks, I thought "no problem". Well, they were a lot harder and
further than I remember them from last year. At this point I was
feeling the altitude and my power dropped another 5 watts. I'd look
up, towards the summit, and it seemed like the switchbacks were never
going to end. Not much happened here, other than slowly passing
mostly citizen riders and a few racers. I was excited to cross the
finish line and see 2:12:38 on my computer. I ended up getting 10th
place with an official time of 2:13:03.

I had a good ride down with Jose, and he thought that might have been
in the top 10, so I stopped at the school to check the results. Not
being too familiar with racing, that was a pretty odd scene. After
about a half hour they had the results posted for the 4's, then the
dispute period started. The first unofficial results had me in 9th,
my time looked right, about 20 seconds higher than my computer, but
starting at the back it did take a while to get rolling. Anyway,
there were lots of riders claiming that they were faster than what the
results showed. They would use their stop watches and bike computers
as "proof". I went and loaded my bike in the car and came back to the
school, and another set of unofficial results were up. This time I
was bumped down to 11th. This time there was a new winner with a
claimed time of 1:51. I talked to some other guys that were in the
top 5, and they were disputing his result. They said that one guy did
break away near the end of the switchbacks but there's no way he put
over 10 minutes on them in the last few km. I guess the lesson is
that if you're near the front pay attention to who the other riders
are around you in case there are disputes. In the final results he
was removed, and I came in 10th place.


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