Winter Park is barely thirty miles from Boulder. You would think that nothing could significantly change in that distance. In fact, its a good job it is no longer possible to drive over Rollins pass; the direct route into the Grand Valley may provide too large of an atmosphere change to handle successfully. As it is, the drive up and over Berthoud Pass is a primer into the Mountains. Once crested, the top of the pass offers unrivalled views across the back-end of the front-range. James Peak and Indian Peak Wilderness areas tower over the valley forming the grand barrier into the Grand Valley. Winding down to the valley bottom, the mountains spread, and become lazy slopes of beetle-killed trees interspersed with shimmering Aspens. The resort of Winter Park is seen before you get to the town, and its here where I have spent a good chunk of my summer.
Without meaning to, I accidentally won the series overall at the Winter Park series. To be truthful, I tied for victory with Tim Allen. Tim is a true Gentleman of cycling and someone whom I was very happy to share the top step. The “Accidental” part of my win may have you thinking that I do not value it, but that it not the case. This is the first time I have successfully completed a mountain bike series, and the happenstance is that I had no plans of doing so at the beginning of the year.
I came into the season with grand plans of racing my way across the US, and achieving some UCI points. The reality is that, although my form was excellent this year, the pursuit of national racing has its foibles, the main one being the time, energy and expense it takes to achieve. Although I have great support for my racing, its no-where near enough to finance a full season. So after a couple really good races in Arizona and Colorado, I turned my attention more locally. The reasons were multiple, but a large one was employment. With my visa imminently ending, I have had to pay a lot more attention to the world of work than I had anticipated. Travelling across the US was therefore less of a priority. I settled into racing the last five races of the winter park series happy that I could still get national standard competition just a short drive from home. My new, undisclosed, goal was to win one of the races. Alas, it was not to be. Its a testament to the quality of the fields these local races attract, that even though I strung together some of my best races of the season, I always walked away with a lesser podium spot. So to win the series was a fabulous way to rescue what had otherwise become a lack-lustre couple of months of racing.
What next? Well, I would rather like to race the Fall Classic in Breckenridge. That’s happening on the 8th of September and is entirely dependent on Cannondale hurrying up and warrantying my bicycle. If that doesn’t happen, I will call the Mountain Bike season to a close and jump on the Cyclocross bike. I haven’t done much CX before, but I’m sure some misplaced enthusiasm (and naiveté as to the suffering which will ensue) will get me through.
Before that, though, I will mostly be focussed on not getting kicked out the country in four weeks time. Fingers crossed.