This Saturday was the East Canyon "Pedal Cup" road race, near Salt Lake again. Dave went to the mountian bike race in Coeur d'Alene because he has friends up there, and Peter was unable to reconcile his schedule with a play in Sun Valley featuring Bruce Willis. So I was out of local go-to-bike-race friends, and had to go by myself.
East Canyon is twenty minutes from Salt Lake, up in the Wasatch to the east. But that's via a road which is still closed for winter, so everyone had to go around through Park City. It didn't bother me much because I had to drive three hours anyway, and I got to zip through some twisties to boot. So I arrived at the East Canyon Resort in good time, paid my $20, got my number, and was standing around trying to decide whether or not to use the arm warmers.
Then I got my bike out and went for a ride (you thought something exciting was going to happen, right?) to ponder this matter further. It was about a mile and a half to the gate closing the direct route to Salt Lake, as the road comes down into the valley. I rode up to the gate, saw some deer on a hill above, went back down the hill. Nice little hill, not too steep. I did decide to keep the arm warmers on the way down. Went back to the parking lot, checked my tires, talked to Allan a bit. Riding up the road again, I encountered Paul (who I spent some time with in Lo-to-Ja last year). We rode up the nice little hill again, and I noticed that some trickster had painted funny marks on the road up the hill. Like "1 km to go" and "200m", and there was a tape stripe up by the gate. Still, it wasn't all that bad a hill, right?
Time to wait to start. For some reason these starts were in inverse order: women, masters, 5s, 4s, 3s, 1-2s. The course was a 30-mile out-and-back, so I could understand the women going first since they only had to do the 30-mile out part. But even with 10-minute intervals, it seemed to me that there were going to be some people (like me) getting run over by the 1-2s. But Gary assured us that this course had enough climbing to string out people - last year the largest group to finish even close to one another was three. Oh, wait, this is even better than getting run over by a pack of 1-2s.
Looks like about 10-15 5s start in front of us, and there are only 12 4s today. It might be the roundabout drive, or it just might be that the advertised rewards for sixty miles of climbing were medals to three places. We roll out slowly, with everyone content to suck my wheel on the nice flat part. Well, maybe it's flat. I'll reserve judgement on that until I ride it back the other way in a few hours. I certainly don't want everyone getting a free ride while I kill myself even before the first climb, so I am going really slow. This is fine for a couple miles, then the climbing starts, gently at first. Of course I drift to the back. It levels out for a bit, and I am still with our little group. Then we round a turn, and there is a nasty-looking about 3/4 mile of what feels like 10% at least. I say goodbye. Upon reaching the top I begin the customary downhill chase, gathering my buddy Mike from last week and two others. We are quite a distance behind, and chase for about 10 miles, most of it downhill. As we cross the interstate and head towards Lost Creek Reservoir, we catch on to a barely moving pack. Were they going this slow the whole time? A couple of people catch flats on the small but sharp potholes frequenting this stretch of road. I tell Paul that I have half a mind to just keep going at my chase pace, and after he eggs me on for a bit, I do in fact make several pseudo-attacks. I'm not going up the hills very hard, so I am caught on slight rises, but I then I recover and take off again. This goes on until we reach the steep climb to the turnaround, what looks for all the world like another mile of 10% up to the Lost Creek Reservoir Dam. I say goodbye again. Mike is just ahead of me, and I slowly gain on him until the turnaround, where I am a little ahead. Chuck is lounging there at the turnaround, making sure nobody skips it as part of his duties as co-promoter, and tells me they are not that far ahead.
Taking Mike in tow, I bomb back down the 10%. It must be close to that grade, because I know I saw 45 there (max says 47) but it wasn't long enough or straight enough to work up to 55 like Teton Pass. Back over the rollers the other way, and here come the 3s and then the 1-2s. I expect to be caught by them soon, and Mike suggests we wait for them and hop on. I don't feel like I have much of a jump and would rather continue at a steady pace. The 3s must not like that hill either, because there is no sign of them as we once again catch our pack toodling along. I don't even slow this time and just cruise right on by. And of course they let me go, like I'm going to get away on the hills to come.
Back across the interstate and through the small town there (Henefer, if you must know), I pass a couple of straggling 5s. Then there is the turn to go back up the long hill we had so much fun coming down earlier, and my fellow 4s catch me and drop me immediately. Boy, this is a long hill. A few 3s do go by as I near the top, but not en masse. Then down that first steep section, and again I see 45 at least. I catch up with Mike again, and note that my legs feel a bit odd, but not too bad here on this flat along the lake. At this point I have ridden 10 miles further than my previous longest distance of the year, the three previous 40-mile road races. I am going to have to try that training thing one of these days. Anyway, a couple of 3s go by, and we go with them for a bit. Then I pretty much explode and watch them disappear. Plodding along, I am passed by a fairly large group of 1-2s just before the start line at the resort. Then Heather Hall-Albert, who started with the 3s, goes by glued to some guy's wheel. She had been just in front of the follow vehicle on the way to the dam as I was coming back.
This hill at the finish sure seems a lot steeper after 60 miles. I easily made it more than halfway in my big ring this morning, but now I'm grannying away and I just about have to stand up to keep moving. Fortunately, I do know that it's not that long a hill, and it only takes about an hour to get up it. Well, not quite. Then I'm finished, and I stop and puff at the line for a while. What is the altitude up here, anyway? Paul mentioned something about this being a "high-altitude" race in the morning, but I'm not sure what he meant. It's not as high as the High Uintas, where there is still snow on the road, I hear.
Eventually I recover enough to coast down the hill to the resort, slowly put my bike away, and find my way to the back deck of the resort, where there are two platters of bananas and melon and about a gross of bagels. To which I do serious damage, accounting for at least a dozen bagels and a couple slices of watermelon along with the obligatory banana. Then I doze through the awards ceremony sitting next to Allan. He tells me he was c-c skiing up at the High Uintas road not long ago, and there was still lots of snow. I hope it melts before the race, because I much prefer climbing that hill only once. The winner of the 1-2s is Marty Jemison, who Chuck informs us is ranked 85th in the world after recently winning the First Union Grand Prix (in Atlanta, it think?). Allan says they should have just handed Marty the money when he showed up. Oh yes, it turns out there is a small amount of cash being distributed along with the medals. Not that this knowledge would have made any impact on my climbing performance, blood from a stone and all that.
Stuffed with bagels, I get in the car and get along home, pausing to play with a Mustang GT in the twisties on the way to the interstate. Then I sleep all morning the next day, upsetting my carefully-laid-out plans of a day filled doing homework. Oh well, what can you do. I can fail my video class, that's what I can do. Ah, me.