. Huntsman Senior World Games

The Huntsman Senior World Games

The Colorado road racing season is over for all practical purposes in September. Not so for other parts of the world including St. George, Utah where a four event USAC sanction race is scheduled in early October as part of the Huntsman Senior World Games. Races in three categories are held for men and women ages 50 and up in five year increments. Category 1 for 55+ and 60+ are at least as competative as any Colorado master's race of those age groups. Each year we get to do a 5k hill climb, 40K time trial, 45 minute criterium and 62K road race. None of these events is easy, the road race having three substantial hills and a five mile 3% climb into a head wind. Then a screaming descent.

As the sole representative from Colorado Velo, I participated in 2003, 2004 (both years on my old 6-speed MASI 3V) and again in 2006. I was set to go in 2005 but "forgot" the date - a story for another day. I've stayed in a campground each time, including a beautiful state park, Snow Canyon, Utah the last two times. It was really nice to be able to ride a short distance to both the hill climb and road race.

On day 1, I had great hopes for the hill climb having been to the "Mike Carter School" of hill climbing this year, plus being about ten pounds lighter than last year. I managed fourth losing third by one second. Second guessing your strategy goes into high gear when that happens. If I had just started the final sprint a little earlier, or... It's easy to think about such things when one is recovered.

The next day was 40K time trial held on an almost totally flat course. I pinned the numbers on my skin suit the previous night as the event was 37 miles away and I wanted plenty of time to get ready. Well, in Enterprise, Utah, where the time trial is held, I was greeted by 45 degree weather and fog. Fortunately I had tights in the car along with a long sleeved jersey and silk underwear shirt. I kept the skin suit on as an extra layer, but my perfect pinning job had to be redone. Now there is little time to warm up as I fumbled with safety pins in the cold. Fortunately, the 40K start is a couple of miles out of town and I rode hard all the way out. Again I had high hopes as climbing ability seems to translate into time trialing and I was encouraged by the previous day's result.

I went as hard as possible without going anerobic from the start. As I saw the speed creep up toward 30 mph, I thought this would be a good one. That and the fact that I went back through town and on a few more miles without being passed by a guy who owns the 55+ record and who started one minute behind me. Well, shortly thereafter, my thirty-second guy caught me followed almost exactly 30 seconds later by the minute guy. Being the eternal optimist, I relegated myself to third as I was still at 27 mph or so and not laboring. Then I started to pass others myself.

After the turn around, I took a quick drink and accelerated back up to 25 (there was a slight headwind). I almost ran over the guy who turned just before me and in fact came out of the left pedal as I swerved and almost went down. I settled back and still felt I had a good chance for third. Then disaster.

About a mile from town and after passing several more riders, I lost concentration and ran off the side of the road. And with little control in the aero position I watched the bike bounce away as I slid in the gravel. Nothing broken, nothing displaced. Found the bike, remounted the chain and rode off just as the riders I had passed went by. I overtook them, but now third was out of the question as was my goal to break one hour. I managed 1:03 which translates to a 59 minute 37K, Colorado's state TT. I was happy with that and had lost just a little skin as I was bundled up for the cold. Bike's ok with new scuffs on the left break lever and then there's my ruined 15 year old tights. I took a few pictures from the Enterprise scene before leaving for a well earned lunch back at the campground.

My criterium start time the next day was 12:45 which meant that I could sleep in until the sun came up and warmed the air outside of my tent. Got to the park early enough to shoot some pictures, did a long warm up first on the trainer then up some short steep hills I found. I was ready!

The criterium was fast from the start with two guys getting away after four laps. Well, no more just sitting in! Fran Scannel and I picked up the pace and a few laps later we ran them down. Unfortunately, the rest followed us. Now with three laps to go, the same two guys try it again, only this time I jumped right on their wheels and stuck. That effort would cost me later. Still managed sixth and got a second podium hug and ribbon.

Now the road race on the fourth day was upon me. The early start was about five miles from the campground. That meant getting up early, being cold and riding down the canyon at about 45 degrees F. It really wasn't that bad and I got to the start early enough for a good warmup.

The Category 1 50-59 neutral start wasn't and I even struggled a little to keep up. But after a few rollers and a couple of unsuccessful attacks the group settled down and it started to get boring. Having recovered from the "neutral" start I saw a good opening just before a downhill and took off. The guy who had won the previous day's criterium followed me and surprisingly we got about a five minute lead. After the second hill, and still ahead by several minutes, we started to think our break had a chance to succeed.

Well, halfway up the third and longest hill, the two guys who had placed first and second in both the hill climb and time trial caught and passed us. We never saw them again. We got with two then four other guys and shared the work for the last 15 miles or so, 1/3 of which was into the wind while going up a 3% hill. I've been alone up that hill in past years and was determined not to repeat. Fortunately we all shared the work and stayed together. There were four of the six places left to sort out and there were six of us.

At the top of the hill was the turn off into Snow Canyon and a steep downhill for several miles. Five of us stayed close while my break partner proved to be the superior descender and built a big lead. Now five of us were going for the last three places.

At the bottom of the canyon was a wide right turn before the final two miles to the finish. A couple of guys mounted what appeared to be a feeble attack, but none of us were really up to it at this point. I ended up eighth, the last of the first chase. In spite of that we all had come within a couple of minutes of the course record. Came to find out that two of the guys in our group of six were 50-54, so I got my second sixth place for 55-59, but missed another podium hug as I had ridden back to the campground before all other 55-59 riders had finished.

And now a short slide show of Snow Canyon.

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This site written by and photographs taken by: Gregory Jones Albrecht
using just a text editor.