What a finish to another incredible Tour. While we had consistently the largest fields this year, today was by far our smallest field, due to weather issues and rescheduling twice. But it was worth the wait. The conditions were nearly perfect, with the extra moisture on the trails, particularly the Woods Quarry trail, providing better traction than when completely dry.
Kyle, like on every stage, went to the front and stayed there. He finishes as only the second person in the 15-year history of the Tour to win all five stages. And he did it convincingly. From stage 1 on, everyone else knew they were racing for second place, even defending Champion, directionally-challenged Cordis Hall and Oats, who ran the day before in much wetter conditions.
|Me starting up the Hammerhead.|
Jason Gory Killer, handicapped all Tour by having to run stage 1 solo, worked his way up the standings and he finished with a really solid second place in stage 5. He'll likely finish 4th overall in the Tour, but final results aren't in because so many still have to run this stage.
Logan Newguydanus finished third in the stage and will finish second overall in the Tour -- an amazing feat by a rookie and one only matched by Matthias in his debut. Ryan Franz, third in the 2014 and 2015 Tours returned to the podium this year and he finished third in the stage.
|Kyle leading the field, as usual|
With only 13 scramblers at the start it wasn't hard to determine my competition: Sonia (of course, as always), Corn Muffintop, and JonO. Sonia has been my shadow on all the approaches and generally stays right with me until I either get someone between us or do a fast downclimb or rappel. I've been able to get away from her before the run out. So far, anyway. My biggest rival is really Muffintop. I beat him in stages 1 and 3 and he returned the favor in stages 2 and 4. Generally we were just one place apart. He proclaimed at the start, "I have but one goal. Beat Bill." He had just rolled his ankle on the warm-up, so maybe I had chance. I'd been finishing in front of Jon as well, but we were all super close in our fitness.
The four of us were quickly gaped by the rest of the field. Muffintop led us, but we were all close. A minute or two before the talus I went by Muffintop, but didn't open any gap at all. All four of were within ten seconds of each other. When we hit the Regency the order was me, Muffintop, JonO, and Sonia. Muffintop pulled out a small towel, wiped off the bottom of his shoes and offered it to the rest of us. I wasn't falling for that ploy and pressed, getting a gap at times, but then they would close it down. JonO moved into second place early on the Regency and at times I was holding him up, he was so close behind me.
I was redlining, but I was now getting close to the summit of the Regency. I knew I had to be in the lead for the West Face of the Royal Arch, as that was a bottleneck. I figured I was could be the slowest runner on the way out and knew I needed a lead if I had any hope of avoiding last place. I had a moment to think about that and thought if I did get last, it would be my first last place finish in a Tour stage without also making the podium.
|Derek downclimbing from the top of the Regency with Colin just below him.|
I stayed in front by the barest of margins. I felt JonO could have passed me if he really wanted, but if I went any faster, I'd puke. At the top I engaged the only thing I can do faster than my main rivals: downclimb. I don't have the fitness to gap anyone on the run up, the scrambling, or the rundown. All Tour the only advantage I'd get would be in downclimbing and rappelling. There my superior weight was a slight advantage. I gaped JonO on the descent, was a bit slow through the slot, and tried to get out of site on the Royal Arch. No luck. He closed the gap on me.
Just as I arrived ledge to go through the tunnel Colin downclimbed off the Royal Arch. I followed him up the slags and through the arch and immediately felt another climber behind me. It was Derek. I had got in between these two and I hoped I didn't cause Derek too much time. He'd later report that it was only a few seconds and he caught Colin on the run over to the Hammerhead.
|Topping the West Face of Royal Arch|
I still had to climb the West Face, though. It went smooth for me and JonO was just twenty feet behind me. I downclimbed fast, though, as usual, and could see David Glennon and The Mountain downclimbing below me. I pushed to increase my lead over my chasers and ran a really good descent over to the Hammerhead. By the time I came through, all the hikers on the trail were well versed about getting out of the way of runners and I wasn't impeded at all. In fact, I was encouraged by a number of the hikers.
I found Sheri at the base of the Hammerhead. As I started up the rock she gave me some encouragement and told me Derek was rocking it. I finally had a decent gap, but it had hurt. I was fading a bit, but gainly steadily on David Glennon above me. Below, it wasn't JonO, but Sonia. And she was gaining. Dammit woman!
I caught David at the top of the Hammerhead and he stepped aside for me to show him the fastest descent, which was down sharply to the north on steep blocks to two huge logs. I was careful here, but quick and gapped David. Jumping off a small ledge further down I slipped and fell back onto my butt, coming to stop straddling a big tree. I had to roll onto my back to swing my leg around it. Back on my feet I zipped down, getting a nice lead on David and hopefully on my rivals.
Halfway down the Woods Quarry Trail, I stepped aside on a switchback and David went by. I stayed as close as I could, using him as a pacer. I was pushing things harder, at least for my limited agility and wimpy ankles. I ran harder down the rocky portion of the Kohler Mesa Trail, keeping David in sight and closing on The Mountain. I hadn't seen him since the Hammerhead. Also, when David caught him, The Mountain knew he was under pressure and he upped his effort. I didn't lose ground, but I didn't gain any more.
|JonO starting up the Hammerhead hot on Sonia's heels.|
On the lower switchbacks, thinking I was safe from all rivals and only wondering if I could catch The Mountain, I suddenly see Muffintop on the switchback above me. He even waved at me! A shirtless, Rayban wearing Corn Muffin was bearing down on me. David, a switchback further down, called out encouragement, "Yeah, Bill!" I think he was surprised I was still in sight. I pushed again and was nearly spent by the time I hit the wide flat trail. I eased a bit to avoid puking and thinking there was no way I could hold Muffin off. He came out of nowhere so I assumed he was going much faster than me. When he didn't come by halfway down the road, I switched my mindset. It was now too close to be passed, I upped my effort and my stomach turned. I dry heaved a couple of times. I knew if I could get to the singletrack I'd be nearly impossible to pass.
|The Mountain (in the lead) followed by David Glennon, Sonia, JonO, and Muffintop on the left. I must be behind the tree.|
I got the turn and didn't hear footsteps, but the effort had been too much and I hurled a little. It was well worth it. I held off the Muffin by 20 seconds, which was a lot more than I thought I had. It was desperately important too, because with my finishing place, we ended up tied on points for the Tour, both with 92 (Kyle won the Tour with 5 points). The tiebreaker is total time. Muffin had completed all five stages in 5:08:32. I did them in 5:07:46. That'll do. All that for what will probably be around 20th place. We all have our battles in the Tour...
|David Glennon chasing me at the start of the Woods Quarry Trail|
Goals for the day we’re to beat Erik S’s wet and solo time and beat Colin mano-a-mano. I beat him on the Angels Way stage but only due to route error, so I wanted a legit victory. He had been up at Longs Peak this morning doing crazy ice things, so I thought I had a shot!
I stayed right on Colin for a ways running up the approach, but eventually left him to try to bank some time for when he got to the rock. Once we were there, the train of scramblers ahead of me were going left, so I just followed them even though I’d never gone that way before. Just so much easier than finding a route myself.. haha. Colin and Stefan said the same thing and followed me that way.
Stefan and Colin caught and passed me at the one section of the left variation that was tricky. I wanted to stay high at the traverse into the slot/chimney, but it was too thin. I waved the others by and they descended just a bit before it got easier. I fell in line.
Stefan stretched a gap on Colin and me and caught DG at the summit. They both downclimbed the face to the easy walkoff while Colin and I went over the top. We both got by DG a little bit later with no issues (DG is so cool about that).
Stefan has a nice gap given his ridiculous downclimbing abilities and Colin gapped me just a bit up RA. We were basically together at the West Face though. I stopped here for just a tiny bit and felt a wave of nausea come up. I was working hard!! I’d have to keep it together if I wanted to stay with Colin.
Downclimbing RA, we were right together but what would you know: my dad got right in between us! It was actually pretty cool and it slowed me up maybe 3 seconds, so no big deal.
I caught back up to Colin on the RA trail and he tried to wave me by but I said no. I knew I’d be ahead of him for 10 feet once we started uphill, and that would be too demoralizing! So I stayed on his butt.
He gapped me just a bit on Hammerhead too, as usual. I caught up to him right before we hit the trail again and now I started thinking about my final move.
Colin gifted a slight error a bit further down Woods Quarry and I capitalized, passing him and trying to push hard before he could get on my wheel. He even made a noise of effort to keep up. We were close for a ways but I stretched my gap and didn’t see him again.
Near the Kohler Mesa junction I caught a glimpse of Derek #2 (“hey number 2” —Scrubs :)) and was remotivated! I pushed hard down to Skunk but didn’t seem to reel him in at all... huh... it was almost as if HE was pushing hard too!! Unfair!
I kept pushing but came up short. He got me by 30ish seconds.
Goals were 2/2 today!! Erik’s 50:something wet solo time is super impressive though...