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Race Report: Showdown at 5-Mile Pass

I wrote this origenally as a race report for the Canyon Race Team – so the tone is a little different from what I usually post. More hubris.

The longest race of the Intermountain Cup Series is always a dusty suffer fest at Five Mile Pass. At 11 miles per lap of rocky rolling double track it’s the perfect course for absolutely nobody. Even people who can run uphill with their bike on the back in ankle deep dust.

This year’s race saw some great racing. The strongest representation for the team was in the Men’s 50+ category with Curt Bates throwing down the Watts on the steep punchy climbs and busting away from the Wolfe-man and a couple other sinewy characters in the last quarter lap to take the win with style. Sam rolled, in calm and collected as always, two minutes, two seconds, and two riders later for fourth place.

Or so I assume, because while Expert Women and Single Speed did 2.5 laps, the 50+ men did two, so Jessica and I missed their final moments, though when Curt made his move I was there too see it (5 mile has a long downhill false flat
where all of the geared categories come flying by the those of us with balls too big for gears).

The Expert Women went off one minute before the Single Speed Category, so, while Jessica was duking it out with the likes of Lori Harward and the Revolution ladies, I was turning my 36X18 as fast as I could trying to prove that I’m still faster than her! I caught them on the big running section and charged past – when you have legs as big as mine you take the advantage when you have it. On my way through the Expert Women I saw the third place single speeder in the black and yellow of Utah Mountain Biking.com went pretty deep into the red to pass him on the run up, because having someone run past you while you are walking messes with your head. My hope was that my psychological warfare would end his race and I could just concentrate on keeping my gap to Jessica and the rest of the podium to respectable amounts. Unfortunately, my rigid carbon fork doesn’t do the rocky descents like a squishy fork and Mr. UTMTB.com closed the gap on the descent and made me pay for the matches I burned on the run up.

Then we hit the flats and Jessica came charging by with a couple of the expert ladies in tow, while I spun my gear at a cool 300 rpm. Jessica and I spent the rest of the race passing each other which was fun, since we do most of our training together it was cool to go 100% together. The whole time I was keeping the Yellow and Black of third place in sight hoping to catch him the next trip up the run up. Coming through for the second lap I dropped Jessica and took off to make my move for the podium.

I made the pass on the climb, but with less authority than I needed. Got caught on the descent and fought to keep eye on third until during a long downhill through a rocky river bed I lost my chain. Really. On a single speed – embarrassing. Fixed it quick but had to baby it a little and lost a lot of speed. While I was dealing with the mechanical Jessica and another Expert Woman came flying by. I took off after them and passed them back on some of the short climbs. Then the Men 50+ caught us and we got to see Curt make his move.

Jessica and I came through the start finish just after Curt took the W and just before Sam took fourth, and headed out for our half lap – which was really less than half of a lap but who cares. I got a gap then dropped my chain again, and Jessica caught and passed me. I passed her back and then 10 yards from the line dropped the chain again. Looked back and saw Jessica in full sprint mode so I shouldered the bike and ran like hell only to get chicked at the line by Jessica, who ended up second in her race only by 30 seconds!

Great show all around! I’ll point out that I still won the Morris race, because Jessica had a head start. Also Jessica has made HUGE improvement as a bike handler and is really shredding trail this year.

A shout out to Mike Oblad for taking the W in the Clydesdale division, I’d say more but he started and finished while I was chasing Jessica and trying to stay away from Curt and Sam!

All told, a great weekend for the team: Two wins, a second, and two fourths. Since mountain podiums are four deep, thats five Canyon kits arms up on the podium!

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