It was a cloudy morning, 7:15 am, at the Durango Recreation Center parking lot, the start line for the 2009 IHBC road race to Silvertion, CO. 47 miles of mostly climbing, over two 10,900 ft passes, Coal Bank, and Molas.
I’d been getting some training over the past few weeks on the mountain passes, but not as much as I would’ve liked. The passes had snow, and pretty cold up there until the first week of May. I felt pretty fit for the event, and wanted to at least set a PR. I raced the Masters 35+ group, which was the second largest category at IHBC, only behind the 45+ Masters. 145 Starters!
Sometimes there is a tailwind for the first flat 11 miles north on Hwy 550, but not today, and with the chilly conditions, nobody wanted to push the pace, as with some other years. During the local group rides in Durango, we are normally rolling 25-30 MPH on this stretch, but not today. I was seeing 20-21 MPH, which is pretty slow for a large group like this. I went to the front and rolled 25 MPH a couple times, but couldn’t get any interest, so went back into the pack. After passing Hermosa Creek, saw the RR crossing gates coming down! One of the maintenance carts was coming down the tracks! We had to stop. The Masters 45+ group piled up behind us while we waited. After a few minutes, we were on our way again.
We waiting for the climb at the KOA (the steepest section of the whole race, mile 13), to start pushing. When we rolled by Rockwood, a few miles of climbing later, we were down to a lead group of 20. I was breathing hard, but not at 100%, so I sat in and let the others set pace.
At Cascade Lodge, the start of Coal Bank Pass climb, we were still about 16 strong. The first mile we were all waiting for the first attack. I was sitting in the group, feeling steady, at 10-11 MPH. I decided it was too easy of a pace, so I exited out right side and stood up to raise to pace. Most of the group jumped on my wheel. I settled back into a good hard pace. Within a few seconds a second attack jumped, and only a few riders stuck on. From there, we were all broken up into smaller groups, 2-3 riders each. Coal Bank climb had put us all in our place!
I rode a hard pace, caught a couple riders, and ripped the downhill on my Zipp 404 tubulars to the bottom of Molas Pass. I was caught about a mile into the climb by one rider, and I tried to stick his wheel. After a mile or so, I came unglued, and shifted to settle into my own pace. Another rider from Durango, John, caught me about a mile from the top of Molas Pass, and we rode together to the top. Now for 7 miles of screaming descent down to Silverton!
John and I worked together down the hill, screaming through the turns at 35-40 MPH, and hitting straights at 45-55 MPH. We hit Silverton together, with John leading the charge. The last 2 miles to the finish line are slightly uphill, and take forever. John drilled it at 1 K to go, to 30 MPH. I was drafting, but the legs were not happy, so I had to let him go ahead. I eased up knowing there wasn’t any threat from behind, and rolled through the finish about 10 seconds behind, for 10th place, 2:38 hrs.
I signed up the Omnium event, which included a Criterium on Sunday, and a TT on Monday. I won’t write much about these two because I didn’t recover well at all, through the rest of the weekend, and felt like crap, and unmotivated for these events. The Crit went ok, but I had no spunk and finished at the back of the lead pack. I hoped to save and recover for the TT the next day.
As soon as I hit the first little roller during the TT, I knew I was not going well. I was shifting and rolling too slow over the top of each hill. The legs were still not firing well. I rode as hard as a could, and ended up 3 minites slower than last year’s TT time. I was expecting to be a little faster, not slower!
For the Overall Omnium placing, I ended up 7th. I’m only satisfied with that, knowing I lost points on the second and third days. Next year will be better, for sure!!