Thursday, October 18, 2007

Gunnison 'Cross

At 6pm on Saturday two roadies hit the road for Gunnison with chestnuts roasting (ok, maybe it was just our asses on Jennifer's heated seats) and visions of Sunday's race course. On the WSC athletic fields, utilizing natural features and some amazing terrain, making for laps straight out of European cylo-cross ... will suit more power riders and has a mammoth run-up. The drive southwest to Salida was marked by rain, snow, hail and lightning. Kevin was certain our positive karma would yield sunny 85-degree temperatures on Sunday. I was somewhat skeptical. Am I a meteorologist? No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Sunday morning we hit the continental breakfast. As continentals go, it was a 7 ... as breakfasts go, it was a 3. Either way we were an hour east of Gunnison and just waiting for the blue skies to open up above us. I decided to keep Kevin apprised of his 85-degree prediction as we climbed up Monarch Pass. 32 degrees, oops now it's 34 degrees, oh wait now it's 27 degrees and snowing. We arrived at the Western State campus with plenty of time for Kevin to perform the patented "no way I'm going outside in that weather" warm-up.

Once Kevin hit the course for one lap of warm-up before his race, I decided to walk a lap to see what was in store for us. It wasn't on any athletic fields, there was 50 yards before the first corner, there was hardly any elevation loss or gain to be found, and only one section of barriers per lap. What am I forgetting, one little detail, oh yeah ... the course was 95% grass with 17 180-degree turns. 17 180-degree turns ... yes, you read that one right. About one u-turn per 24 seconds of racing. I'm no genius, but I think someone pulled a little something something on a couple of roadies, and I could tell you this even without staying at a Holiday Inn Express last night. The course was basically u-turns on grass courtyards between dorms on the Western College campus.

During Kevin's race the rain picked up from a sprinkling to a steady rain, but the cool criterium cucumber kept his composure and looked vigilant in a 4-man group vying for 4th. I can't give you many more details from Kevin's race, as I was huddled up in the car with the heat cranked as I applied alternating layers of warm-up balm and Vaseline. On the last lap Kevin disposed of a few of his companions, but failed to take 4th as the mere 50 yards of pavement wasn't long enough to unleash his massive sprint.

An hour later in the 4s a soaked Kevin took the line with me as the rain started to let up. There wasn't much time to sort out the hole shot with 50 yards into the first 90-degree turn into some double 180s, but a couple guys took off like madmen and promptly piled up in the first corner. I was able to ride through the mess and give it some gas on the front of the field. A group of three of us stormed off the front of the field and built a massive gap -- the group was me, Velonews, and Red Rocks Velo.

I'll spare you the gory details and just spell it out for you. Velonews gets a gap, I ride up to him and drop Red Rocks, then I crash, then I bridge back up, drop Red Rocks again and now Velonews crashes, then I power away solo while Velonews paces himself and Red Rocks back to me, but then just as they make contact I go down again, bridge back, drop Red Rocks again, Velonews crashes again, then Red Rocks and I have a little gap with 1/2 a lap to go, but of course I crash again, game over. I'm just happy I got that out with only 1 sentence. Am I a run-on sentence expert? No, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. Despite getting gapped on occasion, the Red Rocks Velo racer had the cleanest race and took the win, I recovered from kissing the concrete to finish 2nd, with a worn-out Velonews racer (probably the strongest guy today) coming home for 3rd. My efforts netted a case of CLIF-bars (You like? I give you good price) and a T-shirt.

Many thanks to the iron-crosser Susan who was out there racing and cheering once again.

On our return trip we meandered back via Salida to visit the mythical Amicas, a wood-fired pizza joint I can never visit during the Salida Omnium because the place is packed full. We enjoyed some fine pizza, calzones and microbrews before hitting the road for home.

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