This past weekend was the Tour de Los Alamos, a fun and challenging race held on the outskirts of the town of Los Alamos. The course consists of two 27 mile laps, three if you are a cat 1-2-3 racer. The route meanders up through ponderosa pines and then down into a steep canyon for a really fun and fast descent. Then, highway 4 leads you into the longest climb of the loop, delivering you to the start of another lap or the finish near the gates of Los Alamos National Laboratories. A few things make this a challenging course, the first is altitude. Los Alamos sits at around 7,300 ft elevation giving little air for the racers to take in, this can be a big advantage for the people who are more acclimated to the limited oxygen supply. Another challenge is the amount of rollers littered around the course. It makes getting in a groove a lot harder, especially if you don’t have the correct gearing on your bike, or at least I felt this way yesterday.
My buddy Mike picked me up at an eye squinting time of 5:30 AM. The drive to Los Alamos takes about 1.5 hours from Albuquerque, and we wanted to get our bibs as well as a good warmup in before the race. Temperatures were amazing! When we got there it was only about 55 degrees, a welcome change from the near triple digits we’ve been dealing with in our home town. By the start of the race, the temperature was up in the 60’s but never got above 80. Going into the race I wasn’t feeling the best. My legs weren’t where they needed to be if I was going to compete for a podium. On the drive up, I decided that today would be a “fun” day, and I would do all the don’ts in a race.
The race started near the center of Los Alamos and was neutral until we got through the guard shack of the labs. We started with a gradual pace up the first of many climbs and then started a short descent into a series of rollers. This is where I made the best/worst decision of the day and decided to attempt a “break away.” The pace got very slow as we started over the next roller and I was sitting forth or fifth wheel. I pulled out of the line and got out of the saddle and hammered over the climb. Then I tried to push it as hard as I could on the descent when I noticed there was another hill. I was also having a hard time getting into my smallest cog, which doesn’t make keeping or creating distance easy. So I got caught pretty quickly, but I will admit those 5, or however many minutes, were the most fun I have had in a road race all season! Almost immediately after I got caught we started the long descent. I was sitting on the rear just hanging out and catching my breath. As we descended through the canyon with a fun sweeping turn, I decided I would work my way to the front and give another pull. We worked through some rollers and on the second to last one I tucked on the descent and went from last wheel to first wheel and got a good 5 minute pull in. I was able to lay off for a few minutes and get a good rest before we started the long climb back to the guard shack. I went towards the rear to let some other people decide the pace on the climb given there was a bit of a headwind, and I don’t like headwinds. This is where I learned a valuable lesson, when you start a climb don’t get behind the bigger guys because most likely they will get dropped. Sure enough, a gap was made and I was boxed in behind two guys. I probably could have made some effort to get back to the lead group but for some reason lacked the desire. I was able to catch up to a small group of riders in the rollers where I had made the infamous “break away,” but it is hard to get cat 5 guys to team up and work together well. As so, the small group was shattered by a guy who kept surging during his pull and then swerving around the road. The guy totally exhausted himself and was left by his lonesome following some choice words by another rider. People don’t take too kindly to others putting them at risk for a silly bike race. I was glad to see him go as he lacked proper cycling etiquette and fashion, he was wearing all black… no colors! For reference please listen:
After the small group I was in broke up, I was able to work together with another rider named Jon. We worked through the rollers up to the final climb where I could not keep up, kudos to him for having the fitness to finish strong! The finish was pretty anticlimactic for me, but I heard someone cheering for me as I finished… thanks mystery person for bringing me home!
At the finish area I met back up with Mike where he told me he won the sprint for third at the finish! Awesome job, Mike! We also watched the sprint finish for the cat 1-2-3’s with ABQ rider Kip taking first and the Los Alamos local Fortunato taking second. These two guys always seem to be challenging each other for the win with their quads made of solid gold!!
The only part of the day I was really distraught about was seeing someone at the very beginning of the day with more fashion than me. As you can see from the picture below, this gentlemen was second to none in the fashion department. A true testament to the future of cycling attire! He has a nicer bike than you too.
And then there was Gerhardt with a special number!
As usual, here is a link to my data from the ride: http://www.strava.com/activities/151191438
Here is a link to the race website: http://tourdelosalamos.org/