Thursday, August 25

USAPCC Stage 3: Vail Time Trial and ramble

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 3: Vail Time Trial, 10 miles

Like I said yesterday, I've ridden the TT course. During the Triple Bypass, after cresting Vail Pass and coasting into the rain on the backside, I crossed my first 100 mile point, my first century, just a few short miles above the end of the TT course. As I watched my cyclocomputer tick over to 100 I was coasting along a sodden bike path along I-70 doing about 30 mph around windey curves.

After I saw my century mark pass I laid on the pedals, anxious to get to Avon and the end of my ordeal. I was starting to get cold. My hands and feet were tingling uncomfortably. I was done. And the perception was that summiting Vail Pass put the trial of the Triple Bypass behind you, but there were 30 miles left to go. Mentally those were 30 of the hardest miles I've ever ridden.

So when I saw the course route I couldn't help but relive a few of those memories. The area around Vail Pass was one of the most enjoyable parts of the ride I did, and also the most stunning scenery. Below Copper Mountain the bike path climbed up Ten Mile Creek Canyon below thousand plus foot cliffs of granite. At Copper the path turns west and meanders up through sub-alpine meadows to the pass itself, which is unremarkable due to development centered around the interstate. There is a rest area and some maintenance buildings at the summit.

But the descent on the west side of the pass takes you back into forests and on a clear day (unlike the day I rode) you can see the Gore Range sweeping off to the west beyond the town of Vail.

Racers today will begin in town and race east up toward the pass along the frontage roads. I'm not sure I'll watch much of the live video coverage. Vail is a gaudy resort town in my book. Some people like that sort of thing. I don't.

Eagle County (Avon) is where Moto-fascist Benzinger (Martin Erzinger) struck cyclist Steven Milo with his Mercedes and fled the scene. Benzinger got off with a slap on the wrist because he's rich and manages the assets of rich people.

Municipal Vail is a nexus for cycling related events in my life. We also manned an aid station for the Copper Triangle in Vail a few weeks ago.

I can't imagine there will be much to report except numbers at the end of the day. I'll catch a little of the video to make sure I don't miss anything stunning, but for the most part I'm uninterested in time trials. I didn't watch a ton of the prologue on Monday either.

I'm stoked Hincapie won yesterday's stage. I like George. I started to become a fan while reading Armstrong's It's Not About the Bike and I've followed Hincapie out of my peripheral ever since. He's about my age and has been racing forever. He's not Lance, but is one of the most recognizable American pro cyclists out there.

In a different life I would have gone into bike racing when I was a young lad and I'd be there alongside these guys. I'm serious. I've never shied away from riding a bike and when I was young I was strong in the legs, long-suffering and apt to move through the world under my own power. I could have been a strong cyclist right out of the gate. I won a varsity letter in cross country with little to no effort on my part as a freshman in high school.

There was potential then. I'm a bit too old to get into road cycling now, but I'm warming to the idea of mountain bike racing for sure. They say middle aged men are prime for mountaineering, endurance is optimal, strategy and judgment are peak and its during middle age that mountaineers find their rhythmn and excel. There's no reason that doesn't translate well to long distance MTBing in the west.

I can be scrappy when it comes to covering a lot of miles in a short period of time. Need I remind you of my Clingman's Dome attempt a few years ago? 28 miles on foot in 24 hours over frozen snow, gaining considerable (for the east) elevation... I was coming off a bout of flu that stripped 20 pounds from my frame. It was December.

I'm doing this to bolster my Leadville confidence. It's going to take me a year to quell the butterflies. Of course my South Table exploits yesterday went a long way to boost my confidence. My shoulder is doing well and I felt strong climbing and then blasting along the top of the mesa in a couple of laps.

I've got to work on my speed. Speed is something I've never had in spades, nor cared much for. But on my first attempt at the LV 100 I want to crack 9 hours. I know I sound naive saying that. But I'm not. I know how far I am from being able to pull that off.

I've never been able to get into the TdF, but I've followed the USAPCC like a fiend. I love it! It's inspired me like nothing else cycling related. I've had some strong commutes and rides this week. I hope i can keep the momentum up come Monday morning.

Final results for Vail TT:

1) Levi Leipheimer (back in yellow!): 25:47

2) Christian Vandevelde: +01

3) Rafael Infantino: +05

4) Tom Danielson: +33

5) Stef Clement: +41

6) Tejay Van Garderen: +51

7) Dave Zabriskie: +1:00

8) Jens Voigt: +1:02

9) Cadel Evans: +1:02

10) George Hincapie: +1:11

Tomorrow's Stage 4 goes from Avon, CO to Steamboat Springs. I'm familiar with both towns. They're rolling closer and closer to Golden and then Denver!

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