The race format was the usual relay lap format, but this lap was dominated by the dreaded Dam Climb at the start. Each lap was 12 miles including about 1300 foot of elevation – most of which was realized in the initial Dam Climb. The course then was a mix of flowy downhill singletrack and meandering double track.
Lap one saw Simon taking point. The start was initially controlled by motor quad, then as soon as the climb started, the peloton was off. The crowd was cautious initially…knowing this hard and long climbing loop needed management. But then there’s always that one guy….!! After about 150 feet a young guy broke. This cascaded down the peloton and it was then LT and beyond all the way up! This climb separated the men from the boys….fast (in that the boys were all faster!!). The younger riders were super strong on this lap – impressive to see how good the next generation will be. Simon kept in the leading group, and on the descents caught up a majority of the leaders. By the middle of the lap, Simon was in 5th place overall, with a sizeable gap to next group.
Lap two saw Ken take the baton, and give charge to the leaders. At the end of the lap is a fast steep switchback climb, followed by a fast decent, in front of the relay exchange stage. Kens descending skills came into their own and Ken gained two places late on that section. Ken came in smiling after his initial lap…”I made up 2 places for you!” was the exchange. Then Simon was off for his second lap.
The Dam Climb seems steeper every lap. And the subsequent descents all too quick! But it was nice to have the space between us and the chasing pack to enjoy the singletrack. By 2 pm, the temp was nearly 90 ⁰F. The air was so dry that the race became somewhat one of attrition. The solo riders were tiring and many only put in 6 hours…cramps were setting in and the Dam climb was getting ever steeper. Simon had a 34 chainring which at this point he now wishes he swapped out for a 32. Most of his climb was spent in the 50t rear with a cursing mantra quietly being muttered…
By Lap 6, the team had more than a 15 minute lead. Admittedly, the competition was light but with Ken’s consistency and Simon’s charging lead, the duo managed 8 laps – one lap higher than other teams. Ken and Simon got a deserved win for the team on a day that was very hot, dry and with a lap that was one of the longest we have seen in this venue.