Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rist Canyon "Hill Climb"

When I saw this race on the calendar at the beginning of the year, I wrote it off because I didn’t want to do just a hill climb up Rist. When I found out that it was much more of a road race, I decided to do it. I haven’t trained seriously since June, but I like to support a local race and I was ready for some punishment.

The race starts out climbing immediately as you go from Masonville up to Horsetooth Mountain Park. I was wondering if anyone would hammer it from the start. It seems like there’s always “that guy”. This time “that guy” didn’t show up until we came around the reservoir. On a flat section, someone attacked hard and then blew up spectacularly.

We hit the south dam and the real attacks started. There were big surges up all of the dam hills, but the group stayed largely intact to the bottom of Rist. I’m not sure how intact, because I was actually doing a decent job of staying near the front for once. I felt more comfortable in this pack than usual, so that was nice.

The pace up the lower parts of Rist were really reasonable. I felt comfortable, but the group wasn’t getting any smaller. Someone from H.A.R.T. threw in some really good accelerations that broke things up. I followed some of them, but I knew I was going to have a hard time accelerating like that right now. With the speeds slower speeds up Rist, drafting isn’t a huge issue, so it was better for me to go a constant speed than to try to match all of the accelerations.

As we came up on a steep section near the top, I just knew an attack was coming. I was completely gassed by that point and didn’t even try to go with them. My legs were cramping. A side cramp I’d had since near the beginning had turned into a tight back and I was struggling. I went into survival mode at that point and just tried to not let anyone pass me.

We hit the final steep switchbacks near the top, and I was really happy I put a 12x27 cassette on my bike. It’s hard to turn over the gears up there when the gradient is around 15%. I managed to hold my position and finish 7th. The caveat – I’d like to DQ two people in front of me that crossed the yellow line. :) I love how the ACA makes a big stink about the yellow line rule, and then rarely (it seems) enforce it with DQ’s.

I thought the pace was reasonable, but then I looked at the ride data at home. I climbed Rist in 50 minutes. Last year, I think I was doing around 52 minutes. Sick. Nevermind that the pros probably climbed it in under 45.

Allow me to gripe one more time. The results (again) were all screwed up. Maybe I’m a vampire, because this isn’t the first time I haven’t shown up on the initial results. I stuck around for a bit, and then went home, grabbed my moto, and went back to make sure they got my placing. I’m not generally all that concerned, but I’d at least like a record that I was there.

Something to look forward to next year: They’re turning this into a stage race. It’s too early for details, but I talked to the organizer. They’re looking at a prologue, road race, crit, and a TT. The crit would be the old downtown Fort Collins crit course which has been sorely missing from the schedule that past couple years. They’re also trying to start and finish the RR in Old Town which would be super cool.

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