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Steamboat Springs Stage Race: Stage 2

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Marabou Ranch was the site of day two of the Steamboat Springs Stage Race.
Marabou Ranch was the site of day two of the Steamboat Springs Stage Race. Photo: C. Johnson

Day two of the Steamboat Springs Stage Race was a 4.5 mile circuit race held just outside Steamboat along the private roads of Marabou Ranch. This gorgeous setting provided race goers with plenty of scenery and racers with plenty of pain. Read on to hear about the day and see more pics. Marabou Ranch is a small private community just outside of Steamboat Springs. This small enclave served up the perfect 4.5 mile circuit featuring a rolling section, a 1/2 mile climb that lead into a screaming fast and twisty descent, a short flat section before rising up again for a 1/4 mile back to the start.  Since the race was mostly on private roads racers were allowed to use the entire road, and we needed it. 40 M.P.H. on the descent was easily achieved. We not only had to negotiate the quick left, right turns, but the poorly place manhole covers too.

Once again we had perfect conditions, blue skies, no wind and mild temperatures. I rolled off at 10:40 with approximately 30 other Cat. 4 riders. We would be riding 6.5 laps of the course for a total of just under 30 miles. We took the first few laps pretty steadily, although some riders were already off the back. On the third lap two riders dressed in Honey Stinger kits and racing for the U.S. Nordic Combined Team (shouldn’t they be on skis?) took off on the descent never to be seen again. This left a group of about 12 of us to fight it out for 3rd place.

The author leading the fight for 3rd place.
The author leading the fight for 3rd place. Photo: C. Johnson

Racing in the Cat. 4’s is interesting because some riders understand how to pace line, echelon and work together while others simply hammer at the front. This was certainly the case with our group. We tried to bring the front two back, but every time we got a little rhythm going someone would fail to pull through, or try to hammer off the front. Our first split told us we were 30 seconds back. That grew quickly to 40 and one minute.

I took my share of pulls at the front but was also mindful to save some energy. I was the strongest of the group up both climb and with the finish line at the end of the harder of the two I felt confident I could take 3rd and the 10 second time bonus.

My plan almost worked. On the back side of the last lap I felt a twinge from my hamstrings on both legs. I don’t cramp often, so I wasn’t sure why this was happening. I immediately started to stand in hopes of alleviating the issue. I didn’t look back, but my acceleration was enough to cause the group to split from 12 to 4.

Splitting the bunch up the climb.
Splitting the bunch up the climb.Photo: C. Johnson

As we crested the quarter mile climb I sat back down and again felt the twinge in my hamstrings, not good.
I didn’t look back and I kept my own pace. I was expecting guys to come around me, but no one did. I knew there were still riders on my back wheel, but I didn’t know how many.

It turned to only be three guys that followed me. As I stood up to get over the rollers and keep my hamstrings from going into full on arrest I hoped I’d have enough for the last 1/2 mile climb to the line. Just 100 yards from the start of the climb one rider hammered past. He was a younger kid, probably 16 or so, and myself and the other two riders figured he would blow.

The three of us hit the climb together trying to pace the kid back. The other two pulled around me with 400m to go and as I stood to respond everything locked up. All I could do was sit down and soft pedal in. Unbelievably the youngster held on for third while I came home 6th.

I was a bit bummed about missing out on the podium, but my effort was good enough to put me into 3rd on the G.C. by one second. There are now seven guys less than a minute back of me so it’s going to be fight. The two riders that took the early flyer are over a minute and a half up on the rest of us, so it will take something special to crack the top two.

Tomorrow’s stage is a rolling 55 mile out and back that again finishes with a climb. We will all be feeling the efforts from the previous days efforts so it should be interesting to see how it unfolds. My goal is to mark the guys I need to and I hope to put some time into the leaders.

Totally awesome random bike. Photo: C. Johnson
Totally awesome random bike. Photo: C. Johnson
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