So if you read this website you probably have already heard all about the race. This is what went down from my perspective.
We rolled out of town under warmer temperatures then last year and with about 400 more starters then in the past. The race almost went bad in the first few minutes when the big Star and Bars flag on the lead truck fell off and send the group scattering to the side of the road. Luckily no one crashed and the we were off. The first climb was much easier then last year when Shriver, JHK and Levi were setting a super hard pace. This year Alban and I rolled off the front of the group on the lower slopes with out much reaction. Alban flatted right before the Carter lake feedzone but his didn't have spare wheels there and his CO2 didn't work. That left me alone off the front with 80 something miles to go.
I cruised the pavement downhill and soft pedaled to the turn off for Hagerman Pass when Jungle Jay, Alex Grant and Greg Krause came across. We kept the group together up the backside climb of Powerline so we would be able to roll it on the flats out to Columbine. Krause was taking some big pulls on the road sections but was having trouble with the downhills and we would have to wait for him after every downhill which was a toss up between having the extra fire power and waiting. We hit Columbine and I managed to ride off the front of the group. I felt like I was climbing great and staying with in myself but at the top Alban had almost bridged over a three minute gap.
Alban caught me on the descent where we were almost crashing into riders coming up the entire way down the mountain. There were many more riders in the race this year and people were fanned out all over the road. In addition to that we rode out to Columbine slower then last year so we started running into people higher up the mountain. Alban and I rode in the scrub brush through the first single track sections because so many people were coming the other direction. We managed to make it back through the next aid station with out running into anyone and rode together for the next few rolling miles.
I got a small gap on him going up the mile long single track section and instead of waiting and riding with him the next 8 or so rolling dirt road miles to the Powerline climb I just kept riding my own pace. I was worried he had closed that big gap to me on Columbine so fast that he would be really dangerous if we hit Powerline together. The gap hovered between 25-45 seconds into the base of Powerline climb that is about 20 miles to the finish. I finally cracked the gap open by the time we descended down Powerline to almost 2 minutes. I kept it pegged and opened it up to over four minutes by the finish.
I felt great for most of the race but in the last twenty miles my stomach turned to knots and I couldn't eat anything. Luckily I could still drink and was able to keep together to the finish.
I couldn't believe how strong Alban was riding at such a high altitude. I thought the altitude was my biggest advantage but he was so strong on all the climbs and flew up Columbine. He is the Marathon World Champ just last year and he was like a rocket up that climb. If he hadn't flatted I think we would have ridden a much faster race. I learned a lot last year and feel like that experience was the main factor in my race. I opted for the S-Works Stumpjumper 29er. The course is really smooth so the lighter weight of the HT was a bigger benefit then the comfort of the suspension.
I had such great support for the whole race as well as the buildup. Sarah Tesher hooked me up with my base camp training area in Silverton, 9,300. If you're training for this race, I think the best thing you can do to improve your chances is get acclimated.
When I wasn't in Silverton, I was sleeping in my Altitudetech.ca tent at home. It also helps to have the best wife ever. Even after constantly supporting me, driving back and forth to Silverton and having me sleep in a tent for the few nights I'm home, she slept on the couch the night of the race so I could have the perfect night's sleep. How many guys have slept in bed when their wife is on the couch, probably not many. WIth that kind of support how could I not have a great race.
Meg's parents were also out there supporting me. They were all over the course on the way back giving me time splits. With the race being so close those were key in helping me gauge my efforts.
What ever it was, I'm glad it worked.
That's a whole lot of Zipp 303s which means cyclocross is just around the corner. But before cross starts I have a little trip across the pond for World Cup Finals and World Champs. I'm hoping for some good form but I'm excited to spend some time at sea level after all this time up in the air.
I wonder how long it's going to take me to drive from Zurich to Val di Sole.....