Yep, that’s right I have now raced 3 weekends in a row so far this May. This could be one of THE most solid season kick offs I have had to date. Not only is my racing going awesome, but the training is also going equally as well if not better. I guess in the back of my head all that is on my mind is that this is all training for Leadville and the more I do now, the less I will suffer come August!
So this past weekend my racing schedule took me up to Boulder for the annual Sunshine Canyon Hill Climb. Just like last weekend I was tinkering with my bike the night before the race and I won’t lie, I was messing with the wheels on the bike again. However, this time around it was my road bike and I had much more success. I swapped out my Easton wheels for my climbing specific wheels. My climbing wheels and racing tires take nearly a full pound of rotating weight off my bike and it really does make all the difference in the world. So back to the race…the Sunshine Hill Climb is one of my favorite climbs out of Boulder. It climbs 3,400 feet of vertical over 9 miles and the road even turns to dirt for the last 3 miles. It is a climb that challenges even the best of hill climbers and the now retired Tyler Hamilton even has a house a few miles up on the canyon. In years past Tyler would even come out with a giant cowbell to cheer the racers on. Unfortunately I did not see Tyler out there this year.
My race, the category 3’s, kicked off just after 8am with a start temp of a balmy 48 degrees (sense the sarcasm?). The first ½ mile was a neutral rollout for which I was thankful. I can’t tell you the last time I rode in a pack of 75 guys and I would probably be the one to crash and take everyone out. So once we left the neutral start the race was on and was it ever on. The strong riders surged to the front and set a rather strong tempo. I kept my pace up for as long as I could and was able to keep the lead group in sight for the first 3-4 miles. After that the race was rather strung out and I was riding with a small group of riders. I moved up quite a few positions as the race wore on and was able to reel riders in during the less steep sections of road. I seemed to have a serious lack of power on the super steep sections and lost good chunks of time during these stretches. I did not expect to have great power on the steep sections this early in the year so that was not too disappointing.
After about mile 5 the road turned to dirt and kicked up even steeper. I kept pace with a small group of 4 riders and we were able to catch up to another group of about 4. Once we were on the last mile of the course all of the riders in my group started to get itchy legs and put some serious power down that I simply could not match. I did catch up to my friend Keagan during this last mile, but being a good 15 pounds lighter than me he was able to surge ahead and put 30 seconds on me by the time we reached the finish line. My final time was 53:15 and this was a full 5 minutes faster than my 2007 finish and also a new PR!
Overall, my legs were feeling pretty good for this first steep hill climb of the year. I do wish I pre-rode the course since it has been quite sometime since I last ventured up it, but nonetheless I was happy with my finish. I think I am starting to shed my ski legs for my bike legs. The next race looks to be The Burn Off Road Time Trial up in Buffalo Creek, Colorado on May 30th.
Big shout out to Phil and Kris for cheering me on around mile 3 on the canyon. I was definitely questioning my sanity at this point for paying $35 to race uphill for an hour on a Saturday morning when most people are still asleep. Ahh that is racing right?