The Waffle House Chronicles...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mt Evans Race Report

As many of you know, I signed up for one race this year. It just so happens that race was the Bob Cook Memorial Mt Evans Hillclimb. Guh! It was something I wanted to do for a long time and we were going to be in Colorado anyways so I talked myself into it. I didn’t train much but I figured it’s just 28 miles…no sweat, plus I figured the ride down would be sweet! I even talked a co-worker of mine (Wolfgram) into racing as well.

We left Madison Thursday after work. We hit the Sonic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and took up in some hotel in Des Moines. We woke up early on Friday and headed west. We made awesome time and were in Denver before 3pm. We weren’t sure what to do so we checked into our hotel and headed up to Idaho Springs which is where the race starts. I see a guy training in a full Team Discovery kit. It was Tom Danielson. We drove up to the halfway point to check out some of the scenery. It was amazing and beautiful. Although all I could see was how long and steep it was. We chilled out at Echo Lake which was nice too. Went back down and picked up the free jersey (what a nice race perk) and ran into Wolfgram and talked for a bit. We parted our own ways and Jess and I headed to Golden for supper. Had some nice pizza slices outdoors, it was beautiful. Went to bed.

Got up super early (4:30ish) and got ready. I wasn’t sure what to expect temperature wise for the race since it started early, had lots of shade and lots of exposure and ended above 14000 feet. I was one of the few who opted for leg warmers which paid dividends near the top.

We got to the race an hour early which ended up being an hour and a half early since I thought the race started at 7 but it started at 7:30. So Jess got an extra half hour to chill on the mountain. Wolfgram and I lined up right in the front. I told him we should drill it and get in the front group. The siren went off and I was the first person to the sketchy corner and then I gapped the field. Pretty soon there were five of us up front and soon after there were only four. Unfortunately I was dropped back to the 30 strong peloton and hung for about 4 miles before pack sliding back when the climb got steeper. I realized then that this ride was like no other. After 5 miles I could barely breathe, my legs were tight and I had a headache. Guh! I kept waiting for Wolfgram to catch me so we could struggle together. I kept chugging along. I saw Jess at Echo Lake and she said I was doing pretty well. At that point I was probably about 100th out of 300 people which I felt was pretty good for a fat, untrained flatlander.

Jess snapped some photos and then I headed on to the top half, which is much harder than the bottom half. At that point the pros, who started a half hour behind, were catching me. Tom Danielson did in 45 minutes which took me 1:15. Good thing I brought the camera to capture the moment he passed me:The next 14 miles were the toughest 14 miles (or 2 hours) I’ve ever had physically. The grade was constant and my speed was too (between 5.9-6.5mph.) With 12 miles left I cleared the tree line. The suffering on my body was so bad that I really wanted to quit. I was maxed out in my39X26 gear just chugging along. My heart rate hovered around 170bpm and that’s all I could do. As weird as this may sound, I really wanted to go to sleep. I really think if I lost some focus I could have fallen asleep while riding, which is just plain weird. Nausea set in as well as one of the worst headaches ever. I guess the altitude didn’t like me too much, or at least didn’t like me working so hard. I kept chugging along though and kept watching people pass me, first pros, then some cat 3s. But all was not lost. I got to Summit Lake at 12,800 feet and knew that I only had 1400 of vertical left. Switchback after switchback I kept trying to count them so I could count down how many I had to go. Just when I thought I had about a mile and a half to go I saw the 1k to go sign. That kilo just flew by and pretty soon I was rounding the last corner to an unceremonious 42nd place age group finish. 3:13 and change for the 28 mile climb.
Up top it was about 40 degrees and windy as hell. I took shelter behind a van while I tried to drink as much water as I could. I snapped a couple photos too. I wanted to climb to the geographic high point but it would’ve been difficult when I was cold and wet and in bike shoes. I also worried about Wolfgram. I know he wasn’t that confident about this race so I hoped he was ok. But maybe 10 minutes after I finished I see the familiar Team Schwinn garb coming up the final stretch. We both finished. Of course as fun as the decent could’ve been, it sucked almost as much as the race itself. With cyclists all over we had to be careful. Sheer faces with no guard rails. Crappy pavement with potholes and cracks everywhere. Oh yeah, and somehow on the climb there were two descents, well after my legs were tight from climbing, sitting around, freezing and then grabbing the bars, those two small climbs were horrid! And trying to clutch the bars with cold fingers and stiff shoulders was just about enough. It got better as we went on but when we neared Echo Lake I just wanted to quit cycling all together. Jess’ was rockin’ her ESP though and was waiting at Echo Lake to take photos of us descending. Little did she know how clutch she would be, we hopped in the car and that was it. Race over.

My final thoughts after the race were mostly negative. The euphoria of making it to the top was short lived as I was so cold and the descent was so hard. Am I glad I did this race? Kind of. I am glad I won’t have to do it again. I am glad I made it. Of course the writing should have been on the wall. Overweight untrained Wisconsin cyclist with not enough gearing taking on his first 14er by bike. But then again, no one has ever accused me of being too bright!


  • That sounds miserable...yet I'm oddly jealous of your misery. I'm not doing any races this summer and I miss the starting line butterflies.

    By Blogger J.Bro, at 7/23/2007 9:47 PM  

  • you make me laugh (in a good way of course!). Good job.

    By Anonymous kelson, at 7/25/2007 9:54 PM  

  • By the way, you better not have burnt out like you did post iron-Man. When I come to visit, we best be riding bicycles

    By Anonymous kelson, at 7/27/2007 2:19 PM  

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