Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fort Collins Cycling Festival (Rist Canyon Road Race)

At 52 miles with lots of climbing, this was already going to be a hard race, but overnight the race organizers made a course change. They decided to tack on some extra miles bringing the total to 64 and over 7000 feet of climbing. These weren't easy miles either. They included some painful climbs around Horsetooth reservoir. Apparently, they did this for safety reasons but I'm not sure why they waited until the night before to determine that their old finish wasn't safe. Another major league flub on their part was that they moved the feed zones (and didn't announce it to my knowledge). While the last minute changes are annoying, I really do appreciate the amount of effort that goes into putting on a race of this magnitude.

The race starts out by immediately going up a the steep hills by the stadium. There were people in the group that clearly weren't familiar with the course because they were hammering it early. I didn't look behind me, but I think we dropped several people within the first few miles. I had intended to stay near the front to keep from getting gapped on the descents, but instead I found myself near the rear of the newly shrunken group. After the final descent before Rist, I managed to get up to the front where I could cover the speed surges.

The climb up Rist was easier than I remembered last year. I stayed near the front and eventually 4 people were dangling off the front. I knew a couldn't hang and I had to dial it back a bit. Eventually I saw Tyson (FCCT) coming back so I knew I'd have someone to ride with. Every once and a while someone would be on our wheel, but they would usually blow up. We settled in finally with me, Tyson, and some dude in white.

Shortly after the feed, one of the Aussie guy up front drifted back, leave 2 up front. Our group of 4 crested the summit together. Tyson bombed down the hill and maneuvered around a few cars, but I got stuck behind one of them because there was another car coming in the other lane. Tyson opened up a huge gap and it was up to the three of us to close it down. I was all ready to work in this group of three, but the other two didn't seem to be into it. The Aussie that was with us would shoot off the front instead of gently pulling through. It was like an attack. I don't know if that was his plan or what. The other guy was doing a lot of soft pedaling. It was frustrating, and eventually I decided I shouldn't be doing much work in that group. If Tyson got away and bridged, I was okay with that. I love the descent through Buckhorn Canyon and the guys in our group either didn't know the course or weren't comfortable with high speed cornering (or both). I went through one corner with my rear wheel skipping on the pavement because I had to make a last minute adjustment to get around a guy who swung way wide. Scary.

Eventually Tyson slowed down, and we caught him around Masonville. About this time, my legs were really cramping. I hung with this group until we headed north on Glade Rd and got dropped when I was taking a gel. (These new jerseys have pockets that are way too high.) At one point I got back on their wheels, but they dropped me again and I knew I was a goner. From here on out, it was a mental battle just to stay on the gas instead of easing into the finish.

We passed the original turn off to the finish and my legs let out a sigh. Man how I would have liked to be finishing. My legs were dead, but I still tried to ride as hard as I could up the next hills. Up one of the hills, I got passed by a group of three. I couldn't get on their wheels as my legs were cramping every time I tried to get out of the saddle. Once they got over Bingham Hill though, they really slowed down as the jockeyed for position into the finish. When I caught them, I told them it was too early to screw around and tried to up the pace so we wouldn't get caught from behind. They were having none of it, so I just sat on wheels.

Coming into the finish, I did everything I needed to do and put myself right where I wanted to be. I knew the Aussie would have a good sprint, so I forced him to come around me (by slowing down and letting a gap open). I got right on his wheel, but as soon as everyone started sprinting, it was clear I had nothing left to give.

Overall the result was good. 9th place. At the end of the day, my computer said 64.25 miles and 7720 feet of climbing. Thanks to Christine, Jenna, and Ross for handing up water bottles to us. I was very happy to only be carrying 1 water bottle all the way up Rist.

(How do you follow up a 60 mile road race? The 60 mile 'A' ride to Ward on Sunday. I think I need a nap.)

Ryan Rides The Dams

Christine Feeds Dave Freeman


Anonymous said...

nice job Ryan! that is one grueling race.

- Lee

Jenna said...

Great job Ryan! And nice photos too - someone awesome must have sent them to you :-)

Anonymous said...

Ryan, did you upgrade to the 3 catagory yet? I am pretty sure that I have a group together from my team to do the gila in the 3s. It would be cool to race against you guys again. In any case I am looking forward to racing in 09-