The Hill Climb, love it or hate it, it has become the signature kick off of the Winter Park series. Starting at the base of Winter Park Ski Resort 9,080', you climb 5.2 miles on a fire road for a total of 2,062' of climbing. Not a long race but a lung/leg burner for sure! We were amazed at how much snow was still at the area. None of the other MTB trails are open yet as the resort is still trying to clear the snow. The base was actually under several feet of snow just a few weeks ago.
I knew this was going hurt but that's okay. The start is fast and uphill immediately, I was in top half of the field for the first 1/2 mile or so and then felt myself trickling toward to the back. I told myself not to worry and found a gear I could excel in and set my sights on gaining back spots. I could see a girl about 28 sec ahead of me, I thought she was in 3rd so I really wanted to catch her. Bit by bit I started gaining on her. Eventually I did catch her and then I had to put in enough time to hold her off, oof, push a little more. The next 2 girls were about 30 sec ahead and I set my sights on them. But it wasn't to be, I had nothing left. The final push is the steepest part of the race and I finished tired, a little loopy (I'm blaming the 11,000' altitude!) and happy. I took a few breaths and headed a little bit back down course to cheer on Carl.
I woke up Sat morning not feeling great. Wasn't sure if it was uncharacteristic pre race nerves or something more. Got in a decent warm up, then lined up second row. I got my typical cx racer start--jumping from the field to hold second wheel all the way up the start straight. Given my fitness and the current stage of our training, I soon paid for the effort as riders came streaming past like the tide. I recovered by the 1 mile mark and started picking off racers, but felt really flat for the last two miles of the race and lost about 6 spots.
Every year, it seems that I am disappointed in my first race and that humiliation serves to motivate me in training going forward. Generally, we do some races in May, but this season kicked off with the Winter Park HC, and true to form, I'll be digging a little deeper in the intervals in coming weeks after this one!
Thanks for reading.
Photos: Mountain Moon Photography