Perhaps the best bike race in the country for amateur riders happens during April in Silver City, New Mexico. For veteran riders (40+, 50+) and 1,2,3 Women we had a 26k time trial followed by two 75 mile road races, a criterium and a third 75 mile road race all held on five consecutive days. Pro 1,2 men had the same schedule except longer road race and criterium distances. Needless to say, The Tour of the Gila was well attended by riders and teams from around the country.
First up was the time trial held about eight miles southwest of Silver City in Tyrone, a small town out on NM Highway 90 and beyond the Silver City traffic. An out and back course that started with a 3% hill; the same hill on which we came back down to the finish. The race flyer stated that a 53x11 wasn't enough. Well, at least for me, and especially with a light head wind, I couldn't generate much more than 45 mph on the way back. I know others did way better, cause there were some incredible times. After the vets finished, I walked around the parking lot taking a few pictures and hitting the watermelon stand frequently while waiting for the Pro 1,2 men and women. It was hot and dry in southern New Mexico. Click here for a short slide show of the Time Trial.
The next day was a 71.9 (94 for Men Pro, 1, 2, 3) mile road race that started in the middle of town and proceeded over rolling terrain until a turn off to a ghost town named Mogollon. About 50 people live there in the summer. Well think The Mike Horgan hill climb times two on the difficulty scale. The hill to Mogollon soon kicked up to an average of 14% with sections approaching 20%. A 39x25 wasn't low enough and I ended up standing for the last three miles to fight off leg cramps. It was torture and I had one of those "What the hell am I doing out here!" moments. But it did finally end and I would live to fight the next day. The next thing was to stretch a little, replenish water and ride back down to the turn off and hope to get a ride for the 65 miles or so back to town. I saw a couple of guys actually riding back. I managed to hitch a ride with some really nice people who even bought several of us lunch at a pasta stand a local church had set up on the road back to Silver City. If you guys ever get to this site, click on my E-mail link and send me your address so I can get your $10.00 back to you.
That evening at the campground I was craving salt and wanted to hit Blake's or Sonic down the street for some greasy food and high fat protein. But with a 79 mile road race the next day, I settled for two 350 calorie protein bars and an entire jar of dill pickles (salt replenishment).
Speaking of the campground, it was great. Not only were we given a free tent site, but the park had wireless internet,
another free perk. We were like a little community there. The manager even baked us a cake! And the permanent
residents were a delightful cast of characters.
Click here for a few scenes from the campground.