The relay format of the race ended up being an unbelievably good time.
Since Chris is in position to win the series, he teamed up with our old teammate Shawn for a speedy team, Brett and Erik teamed up for a single speed assault of the course, and Michelle and I rocked it for an all girls team -- me single and rigid, her geared and squishy.
There's not much of a race report for this one. It was a great ride on and around the Mt. Massive Golf Course, with spectacular views. Four laps -- one person doing a 2 mile lap through the golf course in the snow, the other person doing the same lap, one person doing a 6 mile road loop around the golf course, the other person doing the same lap... then... EAT! Michelle took the 'rider 1' position for our team in an attempt to let her ride the less chopped up and thus easier to ride snow lap. I had a great time hanging around and watching other people come and go, standing by the propane heater and enjoying some good laughs with total strangers.
Shawn and Chris took an early race lead and it was fun to watch both of them come in totally cooked after a 10-11 minute first lap. Soon Michelle came in and I got to take my turn on the snow lap. The anticipation of standing around and watching other people come in exhausted really got me fired up for the lap. The snow was surprisingly rideable, despite the reports from other riders that it was really chopped up. I managed to find some good lines parallel to other tracks, and I was able to ride through all but one or two small sections. I'm pretty sure my smile never left my face on that lap. My tire pressure and gearing was absolutely perfect for this course and I found myself completely alone for the entire two miles, minus one giggly conversation with a cross-country skier on the course. I think I did my first lap in 17 minutes -- pretty good I think. Chris's hot lap was around 11 minutes for comparison. Not bad, at least he wouldn't have been able to lap me if given the chance :)
I came back through the timing area and Michelle took off for her road lap. My hands were freezing, so as I stood warming them in front of the propane heater, Erik was nice enough to up my tire pressure a bunch for the road. I took a few pictures of the boys coming through with Erik's camera and soon got to watch Chris come in from his own road lap for the winning time! I'm glad I got to be there as he finished, getting to talk with him for a few minutes before heading out for my own final lap. He had crashed on the ice, but was okay, thankfully. He ran in and got me an extra jacket, expecting me to probably get cold on the fast parts of the lap.
Pretty soon Michelle came in, looking pleased to be done, and I headed out on the road. I was spun out... a lot... on most of this lap. Unfortunately I'd gotten enough time off the bike to seize up the legs, so the few small hills proved to be a bit painful.
Overall the road lap was easy, fast, and unfathomably beautiful. The views of Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert were breathtaking. It was fun to look up at them looming above me, remembering our fun trip this summer where we climbed the two of them over a weekend. I thought about how we fought off the mosquitos to make burritos on the camp stove in the parking lot. I remembered how we ran to tag Massive's summit and then ran off, narrowly avoiding a huge downpour and lightning. We laid in the back of the Element watching a documentary about Antarctica on the laptop as Turbo snored beside us. I thought about wearing a hole in my sock on the way up Elbert, then sitting on the summit for nearly an hour in the beautiful sunshine...
As I rode on the snowy/icy road, I realized that I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. There is something about have the ability and opportunity to ride my bike at 11,000 ft in the winter. The views actually brought tears to my eyes. I whooped and hollered at my own good fortune of getting to be here, having fun, feeling good. Before I knew it I was coming down the final stretch, thinking about the cookies that I'd heard rumors of before the start. What kind would there be? How big would they be? Mmmm, cooooookies...
When the race was finished, we enjoyed some good food, and yes, delicious cookies (peanut butter and HUGE if you want to know -- yes... yes... well worth the ride just for those). We hung out and enjoyed some time with good friends. Chris and Shawn won the race by a minute or two, Erik and Brett turned out to be the only team to both brave singles, and Michelle and I got second in the girls division -- out of two, but either way, we got second! Ha! Michelle was a real trooper for doing a snow race after more than a year off the bike, and only having put in one or two rides on her mountain bike ever. She did awesome and hopefully had a little bit of fun along the way here and there!
When we were done, we drove into town and exchanged some good schwag for new sizes (LOVE my new Melanzana hoody that Chris gifted me!), and purchased some cookies with a few gift certificates (AWESOME cookies from "Ugly Cookie Company" in Leadville -- yum!) and drove home.
The next race will be March 8. I did this course last year, and while it had its miserable parts, it was definitely a course I am looking forward to going back to. Since it will be an early start on a Sunday morning, we are hoping to make a weekend of it, taking advantage of a five-course gourmet, snowshoe-in-dinner in Leadville that we won last year. I'm already giddy about that weekend. An awesome way to celebrate our 8th meet-aversary :)
(pictures taken through the dirty car windows. More hopefully tomorrow from Michelle's camera)