A Bucket List item in the books! Honestly, my first bucket list item! Maybe I'm getting old... The Boulder edition of Rapha's 'Gentleman Race' series was incredible and I now more thoroughly get the vision Rapha had in creating these epic days and the justification for the term 'gentleman' in the title of the race series. My whole experience was through posts displaying sort of black and white images of helmet less cyborgs that looked like to me were the discards of the pro peloton. Not true. The vision and people were way more core than that.
Colorado. My home. Absolutely endless miles of dirt road....and this race proved I hadn't seen as much of it as I thought I had. My teammate and fellow New England transplant, Johs Huseby worked with Rapha to extract the sweetest nectar out of this ride...creating a route that admittedly made it one of the most brutal routes I've ever seen....nor done.
107 miles, 13000+ feet of climbing. Pavement, dirt road and scree-filled dirt trail. Absolutely not a trivial century, but rather a test of focus, equipment, will, balls, eating/drinking discipline and the ability to control type A behaviors to cohese as a team. Why? The team must finish together in order to place. Each team was composed of 6 riders.
So it was a typical Boulder Saturday.
While many used road bikes, the weapon of choice was a cross bike with sturdy exploration tires....
Boulder fielded a number of teams, including a team from my squadra, Boulder Cycle Sport. But my good friend and coach, Frank Overton of FasCat asked if I'd be part of his crew and it was all he needed to say. Johs had put together a solid, if not, world class crew for BCS and I did not want to hamper that team's mojo. Frank and I had a plan to stay gelled. Keep it balanced and have a crew of guys that were physiologically, mentally and fitness-balanced ed by a solid road captain...
From left to rgight you see...
Matty from Fascat, Tom from JBV Coaching, Erik from Boulder Cycle Sport, the Big Cat Frank from FasCat, John Verheul from JBV Coaching and yours truly.
You can see the full route below, and I won't take you blow by blow, but the route was epic. Frank had us tight tight tight as a team. No one went too far. Fit/spry guys stayed in the pack of 6 and everyone had 'a moment' but stayed true to the goal of staying together.
We're here climbing Flagstaff with my peeps from Boulder Cycle Sport...
Gaps naturally formed with teams. It was to be expected. We were the 2nd of the last to go off and caught countless folks. But encouraging and even pushing them hard on the way. Everyone from hardened women pros to legends like Andy Hampsten riding on the day on the roads he trained on to get fit for the Giro were seen and communed with.
I do not know what to say when it comes to the beauty of our state. We live in extremes....fire, flood...altitude and wild. This is what we have. I was honored to ride the roads we train on with so many newcomers...and with Johs's help, seeing so many new 'hooks' of routes to bring my routes (and those I'll show my boys) together in an array of bliss. I suspect Rahpa is going to have some emotive imagery to demonstrate the Front Ranges beauty on the event, so what I will say is this in sort of a summary fashion...
- My backyard is insane. It's just insane.
- The people that communed for the Rapha event are beautiful people. They're not in it for the imagrey...as much as to make the memory.
- I entered the day confident, but more interested in learning how to suffer in a new way.
- I exited the day accomplishing that with a new found appreciation for teammates who give a shit and want to crush the goal..together.
So I have Rahpa to thank for that.
When I lined up, I never thought for a millisecond I...or we...wouldn't finish. But the reality was everyone 'got it'. I mean the most instinctual sort of feeling between (what are normally type A personas) that 'we're in this TOGETHER.' We'll do this TOGETHER. Never was a FasCat teammate within 100ft of the group. Almost always together. So many times was a guy like Verheul motivating me to move on and dig dig dig. Go one gear deeper. His hand on my back when he's pushing his own watts to ensure I knew he was there. So JBV...you are a teammate for life. Me, pushing a bro when he went down in a dusty crappy corner and I viscerally felt the need to give back to the team and push hard over Sunshine...a large mountain summit...as my teammate spewed blood from the crash.
The take-a-way from it all was: T E A M. My team was composed of amazing souls. Hard dudes. Good dudes. Disciplined dudes. They 'got' the epicness. Wanted it. But could control themselves....meaning their instinct to go an win personally. They all demonstrated an empathetic capacity to survive, and take each teammate through the portal with them.
And that was the key. We all finished together...in 8 hours and change saddle time.
A day in the saddle never to be for gotten. Finishing a strong 3rd place...even with emergency medicine required (topic for another time). Epic days.
The day in GPS...