Three down, three to go!!
While the major goal of this week is to get through all 6 stages, there was one stage in particular that has caused some PTSD since 2010. As the name suggests, the Circumnavigation of Mount Guyot is not the shortest point from A to B. It’s a BIG day, lots of steep, unrideable (for most of us) climbing, with some of the gnarliest technical descents in the county. On fresh legs, these trails are brutal. Coming on day 3, it makes it all the much more trickier to not make mistakes.
On the stage map, it’s only 13 miles to the top of Guyot from the start. Part of how I deal with getting around these big days is taking each segment at a time. I’ve also decided to take a similar approach to an enduro race. There are so many matches left and I can’t afford to start a fire I can’t contain. While my climbing times aren’t where they could be, a marathon a day for 6 days is a guesstimate how of much you still have for the remaining stages. While the pros are used to performing at theses levels all the time, us mere mortals in the middle of the pack resort to different tactics. Mine is apparently working.
The views from today were unreal. It’s definitely a good reason to do a race like this. As you are slogging your bike up French Pass at what seems like a straight up vertical ascent, you have to remind yourself to look up. There was a line of riders, succumb to walking, for as far as you can see, dwarfed by 13,000′ peaks in 360 degree panorama.
As the week has progressed, you end up riding with a lot of familiar faces. While I didn’t see my Texan friend, I made a few new friends, including Melissa. She currently sits in 3rd overall behind me and she caught up to me on the hike a bike up Guyot. It completely squashed my plan to take a few photos at the top, but while this is a race, and she was right behind me, I did have to keep going. We stayed together up Georgia Pass. She’s from Pennsylvania and wasn’t having a hard time talking so I figured she wasn’t feeling too badly. The Colorado Trail off Georgia Pass is long and technical. Having just ridden it last month, I was hoping I could maybe get some distance on my new friend. I didn’t see her again until I saw her finish. I am still holding 2nd overall with Genevieve solidly in first, and Melissa now in 3rd. There are still 3 hard stages so I will still relish in these podium victories. They do not come easily.
Tomorrow is the longest stage of the week. We head over for a big tour near Keystone Resort, some 40 miles and 7000′ climbing. My friends Amy and Zach Caldwell from Vermont will be joining me these last 3 stages. It’s been really awesome to have them, along with Chelsea, Amy’s mom Marilyn and their son Gunnar, here. Amy and I became friends in 1991 from a local triathlon team in Duluth. We’ve done a lot of crazy things over the years and it’s great that we still are at it, albeit a little slower but none the less competitive. Chelsea has been nothing less than amazing. She’s taken this week off to look after me, keep me calm, fed, and be just all around awesome.