|Greg, Derek, and Dylan are 1-2-3 as they start up Dinosaur Rock|
Stefan closed up behind me and said, every encouraging, "Nice job, Bill. It sure helps to know the course, doesn't it." Indeed it does. In fact, the only reason I haven't slipped further in the field is that I design the courses. In the future I'll have to keep the course secret until the gun time and then everyone will have to follow me and...I digress.
The Tour de Flatirons is so fun it hurts. Literally. It hurts so good.
Like last year, my favorite stage is on Dinosaur Mountain. The variety of rocks, the tricky links, the devious downclimbs, the brutal, rolling run out. I love it. It makes for great racing with many lead changes.
On the first try at this stage, on our third scheduling of the start, only the fastest half of the field showed up. That's not true. Two of the back half showed up: Colin and me. I was in last place when we turned onto the Porch Alley trail. Thank goodness the rain came and washed out the stage. The fastest five scramblers were already on the last rock, Der Zerkle, and elected to finish the stage. The rest of us re-ran it tonight.
|This is after our aborted attempt at Stage 3 (five did finish)|
This time was field was larger and, while it was close, I was never actually in last place. Already it was a better experience! And no rain. And it just got better from there. With the front of the field off doing Stage 4, the head of the race was up for grabs. David and Greg took the reins and turned up the pain dial. Derek, improving with every stage, hung on.
Back in the mid-pack, I got passed by Colleen on the flat section before the water tower hill. Sonia, detecting a threat to her female dominance, gave chase. I inched by Colleen on the water tower hill and Sonia was so close behind me I was sure if I was giving her a piggyback ride or not. It would certainly explain why Derek was sprinting away from me.
I was suffering at my limit trying to move fast enough so that I didn't have to give track to Sonia, when we turned off on the Porch Alley Trail. I was trying to stay behind Jason Wells, Brian Crim, and Stefan. At the Front Porch, Jason turned it up to 11 and showed his Naked-Edge-speed-record climbing speed and that was the last time I saw him. I turned my attention to Brian. Either I've been slipping back in the field, or everyone else has been getting faster. I prefer to think the latter and Brian is a lot faster this year.
I moved on the Front Porch to the right of Brian and slowly reeled him in and then barely got ahead of him by the top. I hit the descent right behind Erik, who was held up a bit by Dave. Dave graciously crouched out of the way and Erik and I both went by. Erik and I sped to the bottom of the rock and he closed on Stefan and gapped me. At the top of the hump over to the Mallory Cave Trail, David went by me and I tried to dig deep.
|Greg running to victory|
At Dinosaur Rock, Stefan went up the more techy north start, while the rest of us went around to the south, where Sheri was taking photos. She tripped Erik, gave Dave an elbow, and cheered me on as I closed on them and now Nikita. Stefan gapped our group as we queued up behind David, who once again stepped aside and allowed us all to pass before the crux. I stayed on Nikita's heels to the summit, where Eric Lee (who also rigged a rappel line on the Front Porch for us) was taking photos.
Here, without gravity to fight, I made my move. I buzzed down the descent, using Danny's lower-off/jump trick, passing Nikita, Erik, and even Stefan! I knew Stefan wasn't at the top of his game, as he's been concentrating on much more important things and still nursing a serious heel injury. Still, a heady place to be. I stumbled through the woods and tried not to slip on the mossy rocks getting down to the base of Der Zerkle.
|Stefan emerging from the slot on Der Zerkle with Spencer and Willie in pursuit.|
I sped up the lower part of Der Zerkle, while still giving beta to Stefan. I barely held him off getting to the Overhang Slot. I'd done this section numerous times and Stefan had only seen it once, a couple of weeks ago. I squirmed through in record times (for me) and got a gap on Stefan. He reeled me in on the upper section, but I topped out first, downclimbed the back, and then started down the north-side descent that I had done for the first time that morning.
|Derek avoids twisting his ankle here and finishes in second|
I tried to get out of sight down the north descent, but Stefan was too quick. Yet, he didn't follow me. I scooted down as quick as my uncoordinated legs would allow. I hit the Mallory Cave Trail, assumed I was still ahead of Stefan and tried to work hard as I could without tripping and falling. Caitlin was alongside the trail and she urged me on. I got down to the Mesa Trail junction without being caught, but definitely running scared. Sheri was hiking out and she pushed me to keep running. I ran all the way to top of the water tower hill, albeit slowly, looking over my shoulder regularly.
Ahead of me was Dylan. He had apparently got lost a couple of times, because he was ahead of Derek at one point. Now he was jogging it in. And I was working at my limit and still not able to catch him. In fact, he was urging me on. "Way to go, Bill! Come on, Bill!" I was gassed but now I was heading downhill and pushed to keep up with Dylan. I was so dead at the final climb that I switched to power hiking for thirty seconds to gain the mesa. I started running again, chasing Dylan, but with no chance to catch him. As I neared the finish the Minions gathered there, with a clear dislike of Dylan, were cheering me on wildly. I upped my effort and closed on Dylan who was just clowning around. He can run twice as fast as me. but it was motivating nevertheless and I finished in 43:23.
Greg won the stage, at least tonight. Sheri remarked that Greg was "running way faster than anyone else." Impressive indeed. He didn't have much of gap on Derek at the top of Der Zerkle but then put two minutes on him during the run out. Jason Wells was third, Brenden fourth, ? was fifth or fourth, Dylan sixth, me seventh? Can that be right? It sounds like a mistake, but remember the top five were missing. Danny was missing as well. All much faster than me.
Erik came in 58 seconds behind me and then Stefan 10 seconds behind him. Then Spencer, Willie, Ben, David, Nikita, Brian, Sonia, Ryan, Angela, and Colleen. I'm probably forgetting a few others. I'll update when I get there times.
Bill Hanson was out there shooting video with his drone and I can't wait to see that! Thanks to Sheri and Eric Lee for the photos and rigging. Congrats to Greg. Lookout Minions, Derek is moving up each week.
|Angela kicking it in.|
In the first try at this stage, the top three decided to neutralize the positions when the rain started to fall. Kyle was in first, so he won, with Cordis in second and Jason Killgore in third. They still ran it in and all finished under 37 minutes (sort of). These three ran Stage 4 tonight with Cordis taking it with a brilliant run out. So, as they go to the fifth stage, Kyle and Cordis both have two firsts and two seconds. That means whoever wins Stage Five will be the overall Tour winner! Exciting stuff.