Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tour de Flatirons: Stage 1

The 2014 Tour started today with a great linkup on Dinosaur Mountain. We had a great turn-out with ten scramblers showing up to hurt. The course started and finished at the NCAR trailhead and covered the TipToe Slab on the Front Porch to the East Face, South Side of Dinosaur Rock to Sunnyside II on Der Zerkle.

We started a bit after 5 p.m. and the front runners were established early. Stefan, the veteran and multiple Tour winner, went to front, but super fit newcomers Matthias and Ryan went with him. Trailing them were Jon Sargent and Dan Mottinger followed by Tony Bubb and myself. Trailing were Willie Mein, Adam Massey, and Stuart Paul. Paul, also a Tour virgin, was in long pants and carried a pack with his climbing shoes. Switching to climbing shoes at the base of each route is a wise strategy, especially if you haven't done these routes before. Many of our veterans started this way and isn't unwise to continue this way.

I gapped Tony a bit before the base of the Front Porch, but Willie closed to within 20 seconds of me. Up ahead, the Stefan and Matthias gapped Ryan a bit, but Mattias missed the cross-country link-up to the Dinosaur Rock. Stefan stopped to call Mattias back since he wasn't sure of the link-up himself and didn't want to take advantage of Mattias mistake. In the 15 seconds he waited, Ryan caught up and they headed for Dinosaur Rock. These two would stay together for the next two climbs and have a brutal battle on the run out. Stefan was able to endure a bit more pain to take the win and remain the King, but he's the first to say that had Mattias not gone off course, he might have taken the win. Mattias ended up in third.
The Front Porch's TipToe Slab - the first rock in the stage
I gapped Willie at the top of the Front Porch and got out of sight on the descent and cross-country section. At the bottom of Dinosaur Rock I saw Jon and Dan above me. I encouraged them to be safe and closed on Dan at the crux crack. I told him to be solid and not worry about me. I figured we'd top out together and his superior fitness would ensure that I'd fall further behind from there. But it didn't go like that.
Dinosaur Rock - the second rock in the stage
Above the crack Dan went straight up a bit, which is one way to do it, but I think traversing immediately left by a few feet is easier. When he balked I told him I thought my way was easier and he moved to follow me. He had lost his scrambling mojo. Dan had only done this climb once before and he thought it was sketchy then. It is definitely key to really know these routes if you want to go fast and be safe. Dan did the right, of course, and was safe first, second, and third. Speed comes fourth in these races, if it comes at all.
Stefan and Ryan downclimbing off the back of Dinosaur Rock

I moved on without Dan and wouldn't see him again until the end of the stage. When I got to Sunnyside II I got another glimpse of Jon and he poured on the gas, because I never saw him again. Just as I started up this last route I saw Mattias run by on his way to the finish. I went the rest of the way solo, hurting badly the entire way. After awhile I wasn't worried about getting caught from behind. When I started the stage I was hoping to break 50 minutes, so I could just back off the pain and jog it in right? Of course not. How could I call myself a Minion if I did that. I thought I had a chance to break 45 minutes, so I suffered. I was a bit embarrassed to be breathing so hard and moving so slowly while hurting so badly.

Shortly after I finished, Dan arrived, covered in trail rash. He had taken a digger running out. The most dangerous part of these races is the run out. The trails are rocky and technical and your legs are tired and you can't see straight. It's less dangerous for me since I can't move fast enough to hurt myself, but the fleet of foot it takes focus and guts.

Tony and Willie had some trouble with the route finding, but persevered to finish, though Willie is pretty sure he didn't do the right route on Der Zerkle, doing a harder, longer route. Tony was followed closely by Adam and Stuart was the lantern rouge.

Full results and times are still pending, but here's what I know now (asterisks are for racers reporting times not from this running):

1. Stefan Griebel, 35:53
2. Ryan Franz, 36:23
3. Matthias Messner, 38:30
4. Jon Sargent, 42:10
5. Dylan Cousins*, 43:27
6. Bill Wright, 44:06
7. Dan Mottinger, 46:59
8. Willie Mein, 49:59
9. Tony Bubb, 57:20
10. Adam Massey, 57:37
11. Stuart Paul, 1:26:14

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