Since I need miles, miles, miles, I opted for the Challenge, a timed 40 mile race (although my Garmin only showed 35 miles?) I got up, had my usual Generation UCAN smoothie with banana and peanut butter. I got my bottles around, got dressed (bundling up with temps in the 30s!), put the Red Machine in the car and headed down south to the El Pomar Youth Sports Park. The skies were clear up north with the sun rising, but a cloud loomed over Cheyenne Mountain. Sure enough it was a bit cloudy there but thankfully no wind! I had about 20 minutes to get my bike ready with my race number, get the warm ride gear on. Rocked the pink Punk Rock Racing jersey (under a jacket for the start). The race went off at 8:00, with different age groups every couple minutes. The women was combined to a 19+ category and we started with the juniors. The Juniors,whom I'd seen before racing at the velodrome, took off pretty quickly and Brin, another female kept up with them. I was a little slower to start and my legs were feeling it! Pretty soon Stacey, the third female in our group, caught up to me. She was big ringing it on the dirt trail. Me, I just had to go my pace, spinning as we rode up the trail. I tried to keep her in sight, but I'm sure any chance of catching her fell by the wayside when I stopped to use the bathroom at a gas station. Let's just say, although I wasn't just cruisin' along, I wasn't going very fast on that first lap. It just felt hard.
The race route started on the Santa Fe trail (about 2/3rd dirt). The course was well-marked with bright green arrows spray painted along the way. One section that was weather destroyed asphalt had "Springs-Roubaix" painted in front of it. And they weren't kidding. Holy bumpiness! And with the chill in the air and body still a little stiff, that was one heck of a jarring ride - maybe 0.2mile but it felt like forever. Pedaled up through downtown and then we hit the Sinton Trail that took us west. I had flashbacks of marathon training in 2009, as that was the last time I'd been on that section of trail. One "creepy" section where we had to go through a narrow tunnel (focus on the light - focus on the light at the end of the tunnel !). Then the course followed the trail up through the outskirts of Garden of the Gods park. This is where we started going downhill and I picked up some speed. Then we were back on dirt by Rockledge Ranch for a half a mile or so. Picked up 30th and made a left onto Pikes Peak, then onto the Midland trail that hooks back up to the Santa Fe near America the Beautiful Park. This point was where we either went north or south - north for a second loop or south to go back to the start/finish. I headed north and started on my second lap.
Legs were MUCH happier on this lap so I pushed the pace where I could. I made a quick stop at an aid station to try a double espresso clif shot (not bad!) and top off my water bottle. I made it up the last hill and was on the home stretch. I caught up to the Team Lawrence, a family of 5 on a tandem. I passed them but then they caught back up to me when I missed the turn to the trail and ended up on a dirt road. oops. I got on the right path and then tried to drop them. :) Stoplights weren't necessarily in my favor and they were trying to catch me. We were almost side by side on the downhill stretch of Springs-Roubaix (still just as rough, maybe more going faster downhill) but then I broke free (I think one of them dropped a water bottle). Made it back in about 2:21.
We waited for both ride and racers to finish up, enjoyed an awesome barbecue, chatted with fellow cyclists and then we remembered those who have given up their lives to suicide by reading names and a balloon release. A simple, yet very touching ceremony.
|Photo from Tim Bergsten of Pikes Peak Sports|