The Rocky Mountain Endurance Series jumped off the line this weekend like it had a race to win. As did some 650+ riders. For, what’s considered an early season race, Pueblo in April felt a bit like Albuqueque in July. Racers and participants alike had a blazing hot start to the season and what appeared to be a very enjoyable time.
The energy of the race was one of anticipation and eagerness to get the season up and rolling. Another year to test limits, strive toward goals and attain personal gains. Long lines gathered at registration both the evening before and morning of the race. Race morning found a massive crowd buzzing at the start with wonderment about the course, the heat, the distance, and the unknowns. One of the big reasons VooDoo Fire and the other races in the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series are such a huge success is because, Race Director, Thane Wright, an avid mountain biker himself, has made the locations accessible to the whole Front Range, said Event Announcer, Larry Grossman. There was more than one mention of a “last minute” decision to race, all of whom were glad they did. Proving that the location made it conceivable to leave work on Friday and head out to a race with little preparation as is not the case for many events.
VooDoo Fire was many racers’ first test of fitness, equipment, and general race smarts since last year. The early season excitement added an element of commonality across the fields. Few knew what to expect from their legs, lungs and lycra. And as the first racers made their way through lap one it would seem much of the lycra was dirt-covered.
A combination of dust, heat, speed and several hundred bikes whizzing through the course made for some pretty extreme conditions. Numerous flats and other mechanicals were reported. This would also sort out some of the race leaders and certainly finishers. Sixth place Pro finisher, Matheny, (Honey Stinger), reported changing four flats before crossing the finish line of the 66 mile marathon race. Others who were fortunate enough to roll through without mechanical issues reported seeing a lot of “carnage”. Nearly every personal race blog that went up that afternoon and through the weekend would use the word “carnage” to describe the race. All in good humor and recognizing that there is more to a mountain bike race than just good legs. Thankfully, after the lost Garmins were found and the flats patched, no major injuries would see anyone off the course.
Lots of dust covered faces with white-teethed smiles mingled after the finish, separating the dust bowl riders from their faithful sun-burnt fans. Mountain bike season in Colorado had arrived. After, all categories finished, including: Cross Country (22 miles), Half-Marathon (44 miles), and Marathon (66 miles), lots of weary but cheerful racers joined under a pavilion in the shade for a meal and awards. At any given part of the crowd you could hear a battle stories from the day.
Sari Anderson (Honey Stinger) picked to win the women’s pro race did not disappoint. She “girled” a lot of boys today Grossman told the crowd when she impressed with her lead on lap one, and that she did. The men’s pro race was a two man duke out between Fernado Riveros Paez (Bandwagon Racing) and Kalan Beisel (Orbea-Tuffshed). The two held a sizable gap on the rest of the field for the entirety of the race. In the final few miles leading into the finish Beisel said he flatted and Paez got away from him, otherwise there likely would have been a sprint finish.
And of course it’s never a party until a clown cheers for you in the desert! This is only a sample to the food platter of this year’s endurance race season! More to come. Stay tuned and Long Live Long Rides.