Mount Ogden 50k: Image Credit
First thing first. The Mount Ogden 50k was a great event. Sometimes first time races suffer from logistical and organizational shortcomings. Not so with this one. Sometimes first year races are well organized, but nobody shows up. Again, not so. It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise that I only heard of, and decided to race on Wednesday. Put the 2010 version on your calendar. And now, how did the actual racing go for me?
It was very nearly a perfect day.
After a 4:30AM wake up call, and a two hour drive with Chris and K.C. up to Snowbasin Resort I found myself calm, and confident about the day’s prospects. I felt good warming up and was anxious to drop the hammer. 50k is only 32 miles. And from the research I had done about the course, it was going to be a fast 32 miles. The climbing was fast and even, and the descending, the same. It turned out to be one of the most exciting, grin-inducing courses I have ever ridden.
The race consisted of two 16 mile laps. I jumped out in front of the Men’s Open group with Jay Burke, the mastermind behind the Park City Point to Point. I knew that in the past he and I had put down similar results in longer races, and so I tagged him as a wheel to follow. With the course being fast, and 32 miles not being all that long, I decided to approach the race as I would a normal cross-country event, that is, hammer from start to finish. 10 minutes in and I was feeling immortal. And that is when I heard the clak clak clak clak of my brake cable slapping against my spokes.
I pulled over and quickly retied the flapping cable back to my fork, using the twisty-tie from my race number. But in the 30 seconds it took to do that, the entire universe passed me. I knew there was some open double track climbing somewhere out on the lap, I just had no idea where, and now I found myself behind about 50 riders that I can’t be entirely sure had any intentions of “racing”. I quickly passed as many as I could on the twisty, narrow singletrack. Eventually I had to begrudgingly sit in, and wait for more open ground.
Of course that did not stop a few hero’s from trying to pull off the most boneheaded passes I have ever witnessed. More than once I was nearly taken out or run into the trees by some delusional road-raging hammer head with very little to no racing experience who was just hellbent on passing me so he could make up the 5 feet between me and the next rider. I had to ride both, as aggressively, and as defensively as I ever have. One exchange with a racer put a smile on my face, after he nearly went over the bars, nearly taking us both out after passing on the inside of a fast switchback:
Me: Are you serious?
Me: Where you gonna go now?
10 seconds later he tried to pass yet another rider, and ended up in the trees. (And just so I can be a complete jackass, I think he ended up finishing some 25 minutes after I did)
This is what nearly the entire first lap looked like. Image Credit
When the course finally opened up I had spent about 30 minutes just coasting along in the wheel to wheel traffic. I was angry, and ready to drop the hammer. And so, that is what I did. I quickly left the congestion behind. I snuck past Sam, knowing that he’d probably not be far behind (he ended up only 1 minute behind me) and went on to ride as light, and as fast as I have all year. The climbing was tailor made for me. Steady, smooth, and long. I must have passed 10 riders during the last 6 miles of the first lap – all uphill.
The second lap I spent, blessedly, alone. I was able to stay focused, and pick off a few more riders. I had that unmistakable feeling that I was off the front, or very nearly so. I put my head down and gritted out the last 2 miles of pavement hoping to finish in under 3 hours. I crossed at 3:00:53. Good enough for third overall (and third in age group). Or so I thought. Somehow two other riders snuck into the results ahead of me after the preliminary results had been posted, bumping me down to fifth. Not a big deal, but a small mystery nonetheless. However, I felt that I had ridden strong enough to win, and I found myself wondering what may have been had I not had to spend those few seconds fixing my cable. But, I was pleased that I was able to fight my way back into the fray after losing so many places.
The bottom line? Fantastic course. Well organized, great prizes, and a healthy turnout. I felt amazing, which went along way in cleansing the palate of that ill-tasting fiasco at The Canyons, and putting myself into a positive frame of mind as I start to pull things back a little bit before the Park City Point to Point.
Chris Holley smoked the Men’s Pro field, finishing in 2:38. K.C. finished second in the Women’s Pro race at 3:02.
2010 will definitely see me return to the Mount Ogden 50k.