As she spoke to me between breaths inside her garage on her spin bike the day before the race I could tell Kristin was on a mission.
Connected by a phone line 350 miles away, her enthusiasm and grit to set a personal record (“PR”…hehe) at the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic was coming through the line crystal clear. But she wasn’t the only “Verdean” in Durango amping up for the challenge; account manager, MJ Carroll, was also on a mission to conquer the Molas-Coal Bank-Silverton monster.
Both rode an inspired race; KCO to prove to herself she could attain the super-speedy 3 hour mark and MJ to celebrate a new love of road biking in the company of her favorite riding partner, her mom.
And here I was in Boulder, gearing up for my 13th (geez!) Bolder Boulder but my first as a seriously addicted ex-cyclist-turned-runner.
Let’s start with KCO’s race recap…
As I topped out on Molas Pass (10,887 feet), the last climb of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic road race, I did exactly what I told myself I wasn’t going to do: I looked at my watch.
What I saw literally brought tears to my eyes; I was within range of FINALLY beating the three-hour mark! I was in broad daylight, with people around me as I began to cry audibly and talk to myself (yes, out loud). A tour rider looked over at me and gave me the thumbs up as I rode by him.
Going uphill is my favorite part of road riding, which is why I love the Iron Horse. Nearly 30 miles of this 47-mile race course climb, about half of which are within 3.5-percent to 4.9-percent grade. But that wasn’t what was between me and the finish line – the descent into Silverton was. The road into Silverton not only winds, it has respectable exposure. Add Patagonia-level winds to the equation and other riders (some quite inexperienced) hauling down the mountain, and well, your mind might also have a tough time steeling itself. I thought about my two little kids at the finish line and decided that this was the year for me to not touch the brakes. I went for it!
The brakes were touched in the last hairpin only. I rounded the final turn onto Silverton’s main street and dropped the clutch. I ended up with 3:00:40. As I crossed the line, Elvis leg hit me. Shakily, I looked around for my family. At that exact moment, I had to little people attach themselves to me, one on each leg, looking up at me. “Nice race Mom!”
That was the BEST part of the entire experience! Was it close enough? No. Will I be back again next year to try to beat 3? Yes (much to my husband’s chagrin).
I generally trail run and don’t enjoy road running races but, like KCO, I really had something to prove this year. My girlfriend is a professional runner and through our endless training runs some of her speed has thankfully rubbed off on me. With her guidance in my legs and lungs, I wanted to prove to myself I could get a 38 minute result.
In terms of 10K difficulty, the Bolder Boulder is a pretty challenging one. The course has a lot of gradual uphill and a serious final climb into the Coors Event center.
I felt fantastic on race morning and threw a fist in the air as I stopped the clock in 38:15.
Buuuuut, the satisfaction of hitting my goal only lasted about an hour until I was already looking to next year’s race and a 37 minute spot.
We like to think this is why we’re good at our jobs. We’re never satisfied. We fight hard. And our determination carries our clients over the top. We deal with our fair share of crosswinds in life and business and it’s important to stay hungry…just don’t pack too many gels in your mouth while at your desk. It doesn’t do a lot for office productivity.
About Craig Randall
Craig is an account manager in Verde’s Boulder office. Find him on Twitter @craigrandall for commentary on bikes, music, running, and donuts.