After skipping the "Hammerfest" last year to go to Utah's Tour of the Depot (and having to deal with snow!) we went back down to South West Texas for another edition of the 'highest' TXBRA race of the year - held at 5000-6800ft.
|Friday evening spin with Bicycles Outback ;-)|
Long-time promoter David Ham handed the race over to Holland Racing recently and Andrew changed the format up a bit, making it a 11mile TT up to the Observatory, a afternoon road race and another road race Sunday (that was the plan at least).
The P/1/2 race was a bit slim with only 19 guys, but still it hurt enough going up to McDonald Observatory in the TT. Pacing yourself was the key here, as it was just man/woman vs. time. I was lucky to have some guys in front of me to keep me motivated in ~40min of uphill-tt-mode. It was enough to win but just by 5seconds as Kiwi Ryan Wills (THSJ) rode a perfect TT, too and Kiwi Logan Hutchings (THSJ) took 3rd 1:30 back.
|TrainingPeaks File here|
This made for a fun road race in the afternoon since it was basically me vs. 4 THSJ boys but all I had to do was just to follow Wills and watch out who's going and who's not. Phil (SS) took off early with another THSJ guy and Troy Dunton so that worked perfect. Everyone just rode steady Tempo up the hill and it didn't really shake up much. We were maybe 10-15guys coming over the first pass. From there it was pretty negative racing since nobody would ride and the only time I had to jump was when Logs or Ryan went. Once we made the turn-around to go back towards Ft. Davis the air got a bit "sticky" and you could feel the smoke actually. Phil still had 3minutes or so but was no GC threat. A few other guys were dangling in between. There was one major climb, maybe 1.5-2K long and I went all-out up it and only Wills and Mario Arroyave were on my wheel. We started riding, but Wills wouldn't pull through. Just Mario and me. I didn't had to ride since I was leading but what should I do? Sit up and wait so the group re-groups and Wills has 2 teammates to work me over and let Phil get gain more and more time and take over GC? OR ride it with Mario and Wills and make sure we stay in sight of the leaders on the road but risk getting jumped by Wills and if he just gains 5seconds on me I shuffle down to 2nd GC. I decided for the latter, rode hard with Mario and Wills was sitting on for the majority. He tried jumping me probably 3-5times on the flats / rollers and Mario got dropped. I was able to respond every time, though. Once we got some guys who were in no-man's land he still refused to work (don't blame him, though) and that gave Logan and a few others time to catch us on the descent. THSJ attacked left and right - even on the downhills but I felt good and was able to respond. "Heartbreak Hill" - our finish line - was close so we all just sprinted for 3rd place and I just made sure I finish ahead of Wills, which I did. So all good for the day.
Unfortunately the wildfires in the area got worse as the weekend went on and the officials had to call the final stage on Sunday (73miles) which was a major bummer. The smoke was just too dangerous and all Emergency vehicles/sherriff's in the area where busy dealing with evacuating the Davis Mountain Resort etc. With the race canceled, there was no stage 3 and I ended up winning. Never had that happen before to walk away with a GC without racing the last day/stage. Kind of weird. I sure wish we could have raced and get in another 3 1/2hrs of hard work on the bike in before heading further West to New Mexico.
|fires in the distance|
|Friday evening fire/smoke looking from Prude Ranch West|
I drove to El Paso in the morning to get out of the already thin smoky air and ended up riding there for a few hours there. It's been a while (6years) that I rode a bike in ELP but it was actually not too bad at all. TransMountain Rd into the Franklin Mountain State Park is the place to go for some climbing and I did a loop from the East to the West over the 5280ft Pass back down towards I-10 (10-13min of descending at 30-40mph!) and the Valley and then back to town via HW85/Paisano Dr along the Rio Grande. That was actually quite interesting. You can throw a rock to Mexico from the sidewalk. There's some high fencing everywhere and every 1/2mile a border patrol car. People (on the other side) are hanging out at the river, listening to music (loud) and kids are playing in the Rio Grande river. There's a small road (Anapra Rd) which actually crosses the Rio Grande and you can ride your bike over and you're pretty much in Mexico. I stopped by the "Camino Real" - a historic site/point which settlers/travelers used back in the 16-19th century to cross from the Gulf of Mexico towards the Pacific or just to settle in the (now) New Mexico area since it was the lowest (elevation) of crossing the Rockies to go West.
|riding up Transmountain Rd East to West|
|view from above, looking South|
|view for the 10minute descent heading down to I-10|
|Rio Grande looking from Tejas to Mexico|