Fall Classic Circuit and Hill Climb

The mountain bike season wrapped up on September 12-13 with the Fall Classic Stage Race, the last race in the MSC endurance series. The race consisted of a Circuit Race at the Breckenridge Nordic Center and Hill Climb Time Trial from Carter Park to the Sally Barber Mine on Saturday, then the Cross Country on Sunday. Nick and I rented a condo a little off the main drag, but close enough to all starts so that we didn’t need to use the car all weekend. It was also nice having the full kitchen and being able to cook in the evenings. Not having to go out for dinner saved us a lot of money – Breck is not a cheap town.

Nick and I were starting about two hours apart for the Circuit race. I was lucky and had a 10:00 start time. I say lucky because the clouds were hovering and a cold front was scheduled to move in that evening. The circuit race was five laps for each of us, with the laps taking about 12 minutes at my race pace. I started slower, with the plan to build each lap and gradually increase the pace. It was a fun course, with a few short power hills, a flying down hill overlooking the down town and then a nasty granny gear climb. I followed the plan well, with a comfortable first lap. Working my way through the field, I was in second in the Cat 1 field by the start of the fourth lap. Sarah from YetiBeti was right behind, but I was able to drop her on the down hill on the fifth lap. I probably used a little more then I wanted during the circuit race, but I felt good at the finish. Nick met me at the line with a kiss and a “good job,” then sent me back down to the condo. He would start his race at 12:00.

My hill climb would start at about 12:45. I had about an hour and thirty minutes to get back to the condo, get changed into dry clothes (it was not raining, but my kit was wet from sweat) and get something to eat. I bolted down Ski Hill road, happy that I had my gore jacket on. The wind was freezing! Once safely in the condo, I got changed and settled down to drink an ensure and eat some hot soup. I also wanted to take a short nap, but the weather prevented that. The rain that was forecasted was moving in, and it was heavy. I watched the rain pelting the streets, feeling sorry for Nick – his circuit race had just started. With the heavy rain and the prospect of a cold descent from the top of the Hill Climb, I made sure that I had some warm clothes with me and headed out into the storm.

Naturally, ten minutes before the women started the hill climb, the rain stopped and the sun came out. Everyone started stripping (legally – there was nothing but a few elbows and knees exposed). I opted to stick my gore jacket in my jersey pocket for the ride down.

We started the hill climb according to age classes within the Cat 1 women, with the younger women going first. I had placed second in the 30-39, so started 30 seconds behind the leader, with Sarka 30 seconds behind me. The hill climb began on the “Carter Park Switchbacks” an apt description for the trail that seemed to wind straight up the hill. After leaving the switchbacks, the trail continured climbing through rocky single track. Nick and I had ridden the course the night before at an easy pace, so I knew what to expect. I did not expect riding up hill on tired legs. Right away, I decided to just ride tempo up the hill and just try not to loose time to the other women. Technically, I wasn’t having any difficulty, I just didn’t have the power or spunk to fly up the hill. Sarka caught me just before the finish line, pulling back 30 seconds of the gap I had opened in the circuit race. Every one was jealous of my jacket on the ride down – I was happy I had it.

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