People in Aspen look at me funny. A lot. Like when I don’t know where Highlands is. No matter how many times I tell them: I don’t live here in the winter, and I have no desire to live here in the winter. 30 bucks is too much for a lift ticket. You think I am going to pay 80?. “Oh, well it’s way higher in Vail” they say, not realizing that I don’t care. Anyway…lots of weird looks at registration (upon finally reaching Highlands) when I say I’ve never ridden to Maroon Bells before. I figure it can’t be that extreme if the freaking transit bus goes there.
The race starts with a bit of downhill, and my teammates, or at least the few who climb worse than I do, started it by gunning off the line. Mad field splittage resulting in a group of 12 with 3 ute city guys. Awesome. Except I can barely keep pace, sitting at the back. Still, dudes in front of me keep dribbling off, and I keep chasing back around them. I’m keeping a good spin up, shouting up ahead every time someone attacks etc. And after a while, I don’t feel so awful.
I probably feelt ok because the course is pathetically easy. It’s like 7 miles at 5% grade. Maybe once or twice it kicks up to 7%. It should have been the sort of climb I love, and I should have been mashing, not spinning, but there’s that altitude thing (not as bad today as it was at Woody Creek, 4 days earlier), and every once in a while, I try to spin uphill because the guys in CTS jerseys worship climbing 120 rpms like some sort of weird cycling Jesus.
Eventually, by a humorous “Marmot crossing sign” the road kicks up, and some guy attacked. The field splits up a bunch, and Elliot who used to ride for University of Colorado takes the win. Mike won a sprint for third, and I think Dylan, Ute City man #3 was right ahead of me, wherever we ended up. (I couldn’t stay for results). It was a pretty silly race, I thought, but when I got back to Highlands and the people saw I’d climbed the thing in 34 minutes, out came the funny looks again.