The planning for the May Rodeo Rally began serendipitously back in January, when, as you might recall, I took advantage of a warm winter Colorado day and set out on a solo dirt adventure south of Denver. The beautiful route and photos must of stuck in the craw of one Matt Deviney to such a degree that he worked tirelessly on finding a way back to Denver so as to avoid the treacherous no-shoulder/pucker-inducing-death-ride segment of Santa Fe north of Sedalia, between the small town of Louviers and Titan Road. We both recon’d different routes over the ensuing months, but neither could completely pre-ride the route and were skeptical we could find a better way back to Denver.
“It’s just a recovery ride”
These are probably the most mis-used words in cycling, they are around here with the Denver Rodeo crew anyway. Yesterday’s ride was supposed to be a pleasant spin to see if “the sensations are good”, but it didn’t take long for Peder and myself to get bored and start looking for silly things to do. Every time we passed a dirt offshoot of the road we’d yell “singletrack!” and see if the trail went anywhere. Most didn’t but some did, and we hit the derping payload when we took a turn onto the North Table mountain trail system. Yes, we were on our road bikes, but more and more that makes our dirt rides more fun and we were up for the challenge of seeing where our wheels would take us.
Yesterday was the kick off of crit season and the second race with riders under the Rodeo banner. (The first was the Carter Lake road race done by Patrick Charles).
The course for the crit was almost as brutal as can be created for crit racing. A short and intense wall led into the start-finish area, followed by a mean climb in to a headwind, followed by a fast s-turn descent through some tight 90 degree corners… followed by that first brutal hill again. The effort profile for the course actually looked like perfectly spaced interval efforts. Sometimes only a few hundred watts and some coasting were required, but a few times per lap the wattage spiked to 500-800 watts for extended periods during the tough bits. The net effect was that the races all but shattered shortly after starting and often became loosely spaced TT efforts for dropped racers. There was nowhere to hide from the course, nowhere to sit in and rest, each racer just had to go go go until the bell.
Well, I had an early fail as the ride leader today. I’ve never led a group ride before (always suck wheel on that job) I should have known that my son might come down with Streptococcal pharyngitis and need a trip to urgent care for a tonsil swab (poor guy) and antibiotic prescription. I should have also known that waltzing into the mobile phone store to buy a new phone an hour before needing to be on the bike to meet the team was a bad idea. Who knew that took so long? And, I hadn’t eaten breakfast or lunch yet. Fortunately, these guys are forgiving gentlemen. However, cycling with teammates is like date night with your wife or fishing with your brother or best friend – you simply cannot show up late.
Forecasts called for temperatures in the 50s for the first ever Rodeo Denver team ride. As we get started we are a small and humble crew, and we’re okay with that. We haven’t done any races together, we haven’t proven anything, we are simply passing the miles. Such is the nature of fresh starts.
Fresh starts are exciting for that reason as well. How we start out sets the tone for what is to come. We met at the Confluence REI, snapped a pic, and headed for the hills.