You gotta be kidding me! I didn’t get to sleep till 4 and now I wake up late?! I’m gonna be late for my own party.
…an hour later
Oh, shit. “Ya see that?”
“The cops. I know exactly what they’re here for, and they ain’t riding.”
Thus began the first ever Boulder Ultra Cross.
Actually things began months before, but really the work started in earnest on Friday. T-2 days and I was driving around to last minute sponsors and thrift stores to increase the schwag load. I found some great stuff that was pretty hilarious for the prizes.
My friend Eric had agreed to help out on the course during race day and came along for the pre-ride on Saturday. I had to do the Saturday ride so I could stash a few of the “easter egg” bells that would be hidden throughout the course. Of course it started cold, grey and raining. The first two hours of the ride became a test of my rain gear which I hadn’t had the opportunity to try yet. To be honest I would much rather have been warm and dry. The pouring rain was soaking our motivation as well as bones, but we still managed to finish our task in good spitits and decent – albeit lazy – time.
After a nice warm shower it was time to settle into a good long session of frying up bacon for the one aid station. It’s not something I do too often and actually required a new pan for the bacon to even fit! Just in case anyone is wondering – yes. Cooking a couple pounds of bacon does make your stove a greasy mess.
Game day came both slower and quicker than expected. A very restless night of sleep kept me up. That is till I was supposed to get up. I woke about 5 minutes before 8 – the time I was supposed to be at the shop meeting Eric. (Insert favorite expletives here.)
mad dash – load car – drive fast – have a hard time making words – hi Eric – coffee not working – what do you mean I’m not making sense? – cannot brain today; I has the dumb
I felt jittery, nervous, sleepy, and uncoordinated. Is this really what it’s like to be the MC? The feeling was sort of like the nervousness before a big race, but since I was organizing it was magnified by the number of people who began to arrive for the start. Then the visitors arrived…
“Are you Shane?”
Yes, I am. How can I help you?
After a brief exchange I assured the Boulder County Sheriff day shift supervisor, and the Sheriff in charge of Boulder County Open Space that the course would NOT run on Betasso and that there was an alternate route planned (we went directly up Four Mile Road). I had found out late in the game that a permit is necessary for organized events on county land if there are more than 25 people. As I had only expected about 20 people (in my silly little head) this was a non-issue. That is, till I found out just how many people were getting really excited about this. Fortunately all was well, and I managed to get some valuable contact information for planning future events in the area.
Outta the gate
With that taken care of it was nearly 9:00 and time to do pre-race announcements. These are the bells, this is how you find em, don’t get lost, don’t miss this turn, be a nice rider, yadda, yadda, yadda. Any questions? No. Ok. Line up and GO!
Inhale – exhale. Ahh… When the riders took off so did 80% of my tension. This this was really happening. While Eric, Matt and I were doing a little BSing and coordination a couple riders from Frites and Mayo decided to roll up…30 minutes late and one without a lid. 20 minutes later they returned after getting slightly lost in the first 3 miles. Once they learned that there was a true DNF prize they redoubled their efforts with full intention of finding and completing the full course. Double bonus for tenacity – they were a full hour behind the start.
Damn they’re fast!
Ten am meant it was time to get on course. It took far more time than I expected to catch up to the riders – they were moving fast! After less than 90 minutes I found a few folks already off course. My prize for being the bearer of bad news was dissapointed looks. Some turned back to get on course, some didn’t.
I had to hurry so that I would make it to Sawmill Road before the lead group. This intersection was a stage victory in the course and one of the first few through had the opportunity to pick up a bell. Thus, it was imperative that I get there before they did. I was also supposed to meet Eric and Matt there. They were going to man the bacon station while I scooted to the top of Lickskillet and then to the shop. I made Sawmill just in time. The lead pack crested the hike-a-bike section just as I arrived. I handed off the stage bell to Trek Store team rider Lance who couldn’t locate a pocket and precariously placed the bell in his bibs! Time for me to hit the next point.
Lickskillet Road. Many had no idea what they were in for. This is apparently the steepest driveable road in boulder county. It has a nasty reputation and it deserves it. I caught the lead pack at the base of the hill where Justin Simoni was in the lead on SS with a couple geared riders just behind. I drove to the top, parked, and ran to the end of the steepness so I could document the riders approach. Lickskillet is slow going and I fully expected to see the geared riders take the advantage. Nope. Justin came into sight, absolutely crushing the grade and preventing anyone from catching him. Time to get to the finish before these guys finish!
Racing towards boulder. “Shit!” Turn around. Warp factor 9 to Sawmill Rd.
(runs from the car looking for Eric and Matt somewhere on the HAB)
“Eric, I need the keys! Hurry, they’re almost done!!!” (Eric had the key to the shop so he and Matt could put some ice on the keg.)
Finally at the finish. Whew. I got here before they did. I didn’t see em on the road so I don’t know how far back they are. (Ten minutes.)
Justin Simoni rolled in with a time of 3:20:59. Just Justin on his Cross Check and some crickets. The next riders were 5-10 minutes back. Damn. It’s a damn fast time for a 50 mile course with over 6000 feet of gain on a mixture of surfaces. To do it, win it, and ride all of Lickskillet on a 42×19 singlespeed is massive!
Riders trickled in for several hours. We all relaxed, chatted about the day, did our work on the keg of Fat Tire and enjoyed the sunny day. Awards time came around and I handed out schwag to all the bells and to Justin for the win. We had to wait for the DFL for several more hours, but the joke prizes and the tasty beverages were appreciated with a laugh by all.
Many thanks to the everyone who made this happen. Several amazing sponsors came through and helped make the prizes something a bit more special. Thanks again to Pro Bike Express, Mountain Khakis, Skratch Labs, RecoFit, and Boulder Cycle Sport for providing schwag to inspire the riders. Thanks also to Ablaze Food Truck who showed up to help make sure we were well fed after the ride.
A very special thanks goes out to a few folks. First to Arron and Mosaic Cycles for opening the shop so we could have a place to finish and hang out. Aaron does amazing work and I highly recommend reaching out to him if you’re in the market for a custom Ti or steel frame. Thanks also to Eric for helping out on course and riding in the rain for hours while we staged some bells, and to both Eric and Matthew for helping on course and taking many of the amazing images you see above.