Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Tour de Flatirons: Stage 4


I love scrambling on Dinosaur Mountain because there are so many great rocks so close together. Stage 4 of the Tour took place there and linked the most rocks we've ever done in a single stage: five. We started with Tiptoe Slab on the Front Porch and then ran over to Der Zerkle and did Sunnyside II which leads directly to the East Face of the Hand. After the tricky downclimb (an exposed, awkward ramp or a super tight, on-your-belly tunnel) you're at the Fi Fun on FI in just a minute. From the summit of FI we had our only mandatory rappel (Front Porch was fixed with two lines as well and people split on downclimbing versus rappelling). Once on the ground it was not much more than a minute before we were scrambling up the South Ramp of the Box. After a neat downclimb to the east, then north, then west, it was a long run back to the start.

Kyle ran off the front, crushed everyone and won the race. Same old, same old. But things were interesting and exciting back where I was racing...

The climbing on the Hand and FI is a bit tricky and I expected to do well here and either drop my rivals or gain on climbers I'm not usual near, like David Glennon. I was wrong. Instead I raced two guys that I have buried early in past stages: Backpack Brian and The Spy. Of course Sonia was there too, but that goes without saying. The last time we had a techy stage I was able to stay up with Sir Crimps-alot, David the Near Great, David Glennon, and close to Ryan Marsters. I had hopes that this would be a similar stage. Dang it. Wrong again. My hopes never die. I guess 'never' is a long time, but one good result seems to fuel my hope for entire Tour.

As is my role these days, I soon led the last group. All four or five us battling it out to avoid the Lanterne Rouge. For this stage that included my shadow (Sonia) and Tony. Tony fell back before we got to the Front Porch, but I caught two others that would stuck on me like stink on a warthog: Backpack Brian and The Spy. Backpack is solid, obviously, as that is a requirement of the Minions, but still I don't like that he races with a chalk bag. It's not my natural aversion to chalk, but that he needs it to feel secure. If you need chalk to feel secure, then I think maybe you shouldn't be racing. Sure, for scrambling, but racing? These need to be easy enough where the crutch of chalk isn't necessary.

Regardless, I couldn't shake these two. Three. I didn't think I could match any of them on the run out  and I tried hard to gap them. I pushed really hard to the top of the Front Porch, then eschewed the fixed lines to use my secret weapon: super fast downclimbing. I put some space behind me, all three were on me before I got to Der Zerkle. The super steep trail up to the start of this rock nearly broke me. I think I got passed by Backpack or the Spy or both on Der Zerkle, but I got them back on the Hand. They fell in behind me and ended up showing them all my secrets on this rock. It fell to the descent, once again, and here I had another secret weapon - my exposed, awkward scoot section. I executed that blazed over to FI and before I knew it Backpack and the Spy were on me. Sonia was gapped, but these two were even a greater worry for the run out.

At the top of FI there was a queue for the rappel lines. I was thankful for the rest. I didn't have a gap on these guys, so having to wait for a line wasn't a disadvantage. Sonia closed ranks, but she'd have to wait for a line, so even though she was standing just feet from me, I was effectively at least 40 seconds ahead of her. On the rappel lines were DC and the Little Monster. LM rapped really fast and I grabbed his line, the one I knew allowed me to rappel right off the end of the rope once on the ground. I blazed down the line and caught DC. When he made a minor route finding error, I got in front of him and called out directions to follow me.

At the Box I was running scared now. I had a sizeable gap on all my chasers and needed to get out of sight. DC was on me, but I wasn't worried about him. I'd never hold him off to the finish, but having him in between me and others could only help matters. I scampered up the South Ramp on the Box and somehow dropped DC. I saw the Little Monster descending from the top as I ascended the last bit. I tagged the top and descended down and off the rock, only seeing DC as a chaser.

Halfway down to the Mallory Cave I stepped aside and let DC pass. I used him as a carrot and tried to keep him in sight. He didn't know that the descent via the climbers' trail against Der Zerkle was on course, so I once again got ahead of him there. I didn't hold him off for long, though, as he passed me before I could get down to the Mesa Trail. I suffered into the finish, looking over my shoulder for any chasers. None appeared. Once again, my only advantage was in the descents. It was enough on this day to avoid being the caboose, but I'm getting closer and closer to the tip of the tail.

Fun stuff!

Derek's Report:

Crazy fun as always. 56:50+1 (huge sorry to Dan and whoever was below me on the hand. Plate of rock dislodged, and I didn't even see/notice it when stepping). I was further behind the people I usually want to keep up with (Erik, Colin, Stefan, etc.), but everyone is so darn fast! I didn't have everything today, but it's so fun racing everyone who was around me (Mt. Vinson, DG, Sir Crimps, Corn Muffin).
I started out strong and actually feeling really good. Better than last NCAR stage. I crushed Front Porch, staying right on Erik's feet (I mean RIGHT on him, haha). Erik passed DG and I tried to but he got in front again when the angle eased up a bit. Stefan and DG got on the rap lines, while Erik, I and Colin right behind me did the downclimb. I probably did the downclimb in PR time but I probably still held up Colin a bit.
DG passed us again going up on the connection to Mallory Cave Trail. He said something like, "Downclimbing is unfair!" as he cruised by us. I responded, "Talk about unfair!" and Colin shot back, "You're not supposed to have breath right now!"
I hit a vertical wall on the hike up to Sunnyside. I mean a wall. I couldn't go uphill for the life of me. I kept Colin behind me for a bit, but he had so much breath he said, "How's school going?" and "How's Mom?" I couldn't believe it! I was absolutely maxed and dying. He passed me before the rock.
On the rock I had to hold off Dan V who was raging up to me. I did only to the Hand, where he passed me taking a better line. Also on the Hand we could all see Cordis, who was basically up with Colin... What?? I'll have to read what went wrong in his report. :)
Dan started gapping me while I now had to hold off Sir Crimps and Corn Muffin. I reeled Dan in a bit when Crimps got too close for my comfort, and then I almost caught up when I did the Hand ramp descent while he did the hole crawl. He got some more space on Fi though and Crimps and Cornmuffin were still right there.
At the top of the raps Dan and I had to wait for DG who was being careful getting set up with the anchor below him. I fully support! Dan got the fast rope and was right above DG on the way down. I knew Dan would likely get off the skinny rope first, so I waited on it. At this point Crimps was next in line, then Cornmuffin, followed by Marsters. I zipped down my skinny and was off.
I second guessed the way over to the Box (I went the right way originally, then backtracked and started going the wrong way), and ended up basically stopping until Crimps caught up and pointed me the right way. I followed him up the Box with CornMuffin now right on me. Vinson had passed DG.
I had Corn right on me on the descent and we caught up to Crimps with DG not far ahead. Crimps let me pass and then I caught up nicely to DG, basically right in time for him to miss the Der Zerkle climbing trail and for me to drop down it. He cut over quickly though and I was only ahead of him for about 20-30 seconds before I made a small mistake and he retook the lead.
As soon as we hit the regular trail I said "Bye, David!" There was a pause and then he came back with "Yup, see ya later!" :) I actually stayed pretty close to him on the more rocky part of the trail but by the time we got to smooth stuff he was gone and passing Dan. I closed on Dan until the same point, and then I tried hard on the rollers, but just couldn't bring him in. I had John A and Crimps all but beaten, though, which was good. Corn was pretty close to me heading up the last rock steps but I probably got him by ~30 seconds or something. Dan V got me by 34 too.
Super fun course. Hurts SO bad. :)

1 comment:

Gayla Wright said...

You all have a desire to punish yourselves. Obviously, you enjoy this sort of thing. It is a great challenge. I say, “go for it and enjoy”. Naña