Although I am steadfastly doing my best to deny it, February is here, and that means my first masochistic adventure of 2012 will be taking place in a couple weeks when I head down to Arizona and ride through cactus infested single-track for 24 hours with four other like minded team mates. With such a feat now looming ever higher on the horizon, I accepted an invitation to experience my first ice bike race. Not to be confused with snow-biking, which involves balloon tyres and soft snow, ice biking require a little more in the way of traction.
(Andrew) Shep(herd), Wayne and I spent Friday evening in front of the wood burner with a drill, 500 sheet metal screws and some de-comminsioned tyres, and the end result was a rather intimidating looking device! The joy of tubless made the whole thing even better – I inflated the tyres first time with a hand pump, and even though the screws were sticking clean through the casing, they still sealed up and didn’t loose any pressure. [end stan’s commercial]
So leaving town at 8am Saturday morning, the 2 feet of snow made itself felt as we got stuck in the driveway – the short delay was soon dealt with however and we drove into the great beyond. Shep’s tiny car was skillfully piloted up some questionable terrain and we found ourselves in the middle of a winter festival in no time at all.
On the list of things that are enjoyable, getting into lycra in a car park when its 20F/-7C is not near the top:
We rode over to the course, which had been plowed across the lake into the 3 feet of sitting snow. No course markings needed here as any deviation lead to a abrupt stop and a powdery landing!
As we lined up, the sun finally made its appearance, and although the high mountains weren’t visible, the sheltered wooded valley looked amazing under the fresh snow.
As the race got underway, we realised that this little gathering was rather low key. The organisers were completely thrilled to have us out racing, and every spectator and helper was smiling the whole time. There was no timing system (that I saw anyway). The race was started by a guy with a temperamental microphone, and the melee of abilities on the start line made for an interesting first lap!
After a couple ‘dismounts’ into the snow, I got clear of the field and set a steady pace around the tight course.
The next 45 minutes were a balance of finesse and power supplemented with some drifting and a lot of hanging on for dear life. Shep’s smile pretty much sums it up:
After foolishly taking the bacon and vodka that was being liberally handed out in the start/finish area, I held on for the win. I enjoyed every minute.
The small town feeling of the festival; the friendly people; the ice hocky being played alongside the course all added up to the best Saturday morning of this winter so far. Although a cycling race, it was so far removed from the cycling community that it was refreshing and humbling. We had people taking photos of our bikes and our ‘special shoes and pedals that are like ski bindings’. I got asked multiple times how my wheel stayed on with only half a fork!
the podium was promptly held after the race, and we were handed envelopes with actual prizes in them. If a small town winter festival can hold the best organised bike race in Colorado, then there are some promoters out there that should reconsider their future.
We left smiling and happy. We were also treated to a fantastic view of the flatirons on the way back into town