Independence day may be about barbecues and fireworks, but you gotta earn your cheeseburger. Which means as much time on the bike as possible over the holiday weekend.
Saturday, I signed up for the Terry McGinnis Memorial Criterium in Holladay. Terry was a fixture of Utah bicycle racing for many years who passed away of cancer last year. I never knew him, but his friends and family should be proud of the event the race organizers and city of Holladay put together in his honor. The course was excellent, as was the community and sponsor support.
Three categories were offered, Masters, Cat. 4/5, and Pro/1/2/3. I didn’t want Dave Harward or Cameron Hoffman to come away from the event with a damaged ego, so I opted to race Masters alongside Jon S. rather than lining up in the Pro/1/2/3 field.
I won the first prime on lap two. Primes were offered every 1-2 laps after that, and I now wish I would have worried less about saving legs for the end and more about winning primes, as they were $25 each. Jon S. ended up taking home $100 in winnings on the day, and a couple other guys won even more.
Instead of contesting primes, I mostly sat in near the front, watching and waiting for someone to attack. With three laps to go I was in great position.
My cheering section watched in eager anticipation as we came down the back stretch. The dark-haired one on the right is Twin B., whom we borrowed from Alex for the day.
On the last lap, I was sitting right behind Jeff from Canyon. I didn’t think he was planning a move, so I had to be mindful of what was going on behind me. Sure enough, as we started up the hill the final time, his teammate Mike C. attacked. I responded and caught him as he got to the top of the hill. We’d had a tailwind on the back stretch all day, which probably would have meant being able to hold it from there to the final corner, and the finishing straight was too short to make up any positions, so it was a race to the last turn.
But the wind had died down, which meant making a move at that point was a gamble. I gambled and came under Mike on the second-to-last corner. I should have punched it and tried to get a gap, but instead went steady hard and just tried to hold them off. Mike and Seth from Skull Candy were right on my wheel. Just before the last corner they came around and it was all over. Seth got the win. Jon led the rest of the field across the line for fourth.
It’s the closest I’ve come to a win this season, but I can’t feel too bad about leading Seth out, even unintentionally. Last Wednesday he raced DMV on his birthday, and I offered to give him a leadout. Instead, I lost track of where he was and almost wrecked him. I think he’d prefer this result over that one anyway. Either way, I was happy to have for once come away from a race with more in winnings than I spent on entry fees.
After the race, we delivered Twin B. to her house and enjoyed a barbecue with the Watcher family, where Alex and I loaded up for the next morning. About nine hours after leaving their house that night, I was back, this time ready to take on a long MTB ride.
Alex, Cory, and I rode up Emigration Canyon to Little Mountain, got on the Mormon Trail and rode that over Big Mountain to Jeremy Ranch. As we approached Jeremy, we spotted two owls. See if you can spot one of them mid-flight in this photo.
After stopping at the Jeremy store for Hostess pies and Rock Star*, we headed over to Pinebrook and enjoyed some wildflowers on our way to Mid Mountain.
*Alex introduced me to Rock Star. It’s my new doping product of choice. I now superstitiously drink one before races. I don’t know if it makes me ride better, but I feel better. At least until it wears off.
Mid Mountain has been re-routed between Red Pine Lodge and Spiro trail. The new trail is not an improvement. I was feeling fine up to this point, but instead of riding fairly level, buff singletrack, I was riding very loose, dusty, bumpy, rough trail with lots of ups and downs. It sucked the life out of me. And Cory too, as he wisely bailed out down Spiro and had his wife meet him for lunch in Park City.
Alex and I continued on up Crescent Grade, Apex, and eventually to the top of Puke Hill, where we were rewarded with nice views of Big Cottonwood Canyon, with Pfeifferhorn in the distance.
We dropped down the Crest, interrupting the excitement of that trail briefly to take in the scenery.
From there we descended Great Western to Little Water, then Pipeline from Elbow Fork to Birch Hollow, then on to Alex’s house on the road.
Alex told me after that even though he told me the ride would be between 95 and 110k, he had actually refigured it and knew it was closer to the 134k we actually covered but didn’t tell me for fear of scaring me off. But really, what’s another 25k amongst friends?