This is the second of four reports from Stephen Regenold on his experience racing in the Ultimate Mountain Challenge, a multidisciplinary competition at the 2009 Teva Mountain Games in Vail, Colo.
My legs are still sore. My lungs are searching for more air. Stage No. 2 of the Ultimate Mountain Challenge was the Sobe XC Mountain Bike race, which entailed two tough laps up, up, up on Vail Mountain. Indeed, the climbs were excruciating and long, and I could barely find a gear low enough to spin up the slope.
But then you go down. Hold on. The singletrack was technical and tough, including rock gardens, drops, thousands of roots as obstacles, switchbacks, and make-it-or-crash rock “staircases” adjacent to the ski slopes. I rode a Giant Anthem X2, a dual suspension mountain bike new for 2009 that retails at $2,900. It was a nice balance between the beefy downhill bikes many competitors used and a lighter crosscountry model.
Still, the Anthem’s suspension could not keep up. My hands went numb after gripping the vibrating handlebars. (So numb that at one point I had to shift with my palm!)
But in the end the race went well, considering the altitude and my recent arrival from (flat) Minnesota. I took 1 hour 21 minutes to do the two 5+ mile laps (10+ miles total), which put me in 32nd place out of 72 in a tough field that included elite cyclists as well as locals who train on these trails any given weeknight for a common ride.