Thanks once again to Addie Levinsky for providing use with the race report!
This weekend was Grand Junction’s Mesa State College’s race weekend. The weekend included an individual time trial hill climb and a criterium on Saturday, and a road race on Sunday. Aside from being stuck on top of Vail Pass on Friday afternoon, all the teams managed to make it up to Grand Junction in time for the ITT Saturday morning.
The ITT was organized (for lack of a better word) by first come first serve registration. Not that in an individual time trial the categories necessarily have to be split up, but it makes the average collegiate rider feel overly pressured when the pros are passing them in minutes up the hill. The climb was a 3.7 mile climb with 1,017 feet of elevation gain up Colorado National Monument. The climb was very similar to Lookout Mountain in Golden, though a little tougher with less corners, and the scenery was absolutely beautiful. There is no doubt it was a painful climb, especially without adequate warm-ups. Though, it was a good way to warm-up the legs for the afternoon/evening criterium.
The criterium was hosted at the Grand Junction Motor Speedway track. Again, the categories were “organized” somewhat strangely. Men’s C, Women’s B, Men’s B then it broke off into non-collegiate categories, which all had very few riders. Starting at 6:30 collegiate Women’s A and Men’s A took the field. Twilight criteriums are a fun, exciting idea. Twilight criteriums in the middle of March on an incredibly sketchy course are not such a good idea. Though, there were only a few crashes in the earlier categories due to very tight corners and a slick course, as the sun went down the prospect for more mishaps rose. The races seemed somewhat slower than a usual speed for a criterium, solely because of the course itself. Although, this changed during the Men’s A race. The sun went down and the men were off, hitting top speed immediately, turning through the corners quickly, and within ten-fifteen minutes people were dropping and pulled out. Towards the last several laps, one of the two lamps went out at the most technical turn, which caused great scare for the prospectors and of course the riders. Their speed barely dropped and with two laps to go there was a break of a few men, and every pack and individual rider made a sprint for the finish; not once did they take it easy. The crit absolutely had some exciting moments, though riders were so unpleased with the course layout there were many that did not finish. Mesa may want to consider putting the course back out in Fruita where it has been in the past… but, after Saturday’s Time Trial and Sunday’s road race it became very apparent that Mesa likes to make their courses as difficult and/or as painful as possible.
Sunday’s Road Race was held off of Hwy 50, onto Reeder’s Mesa Road. The riders rolled out on the Reeder’s Mesa Road and approached the first climb, which nearly decided how the race would go for each individual. The riders then began on the 11-mile lap which were straight roads, seemingly flat, though at times reached a 6% grade. The straight road became increasingly harder, even in the little chain-ring. Finally, a 9 (or so) mile descent approached us which was used for much needed recovery. Groups and individuals began catching up with some of their teammates and competitors during this period until another brutal climb approached, which riders slowly rode up until the last two miles back onto Reeder’s Mesa Road. Many riders, especially those doing more than the one lap (30 miles) dropped out of the race and everyone was absolutely beat by the end of their accomplishments. This was the first road race of the season and extremely difficult, both for being so early in the spring and the course itself was a huge test of physical and mental strength.
If anything, Mesa State knows how to host a race weekend that drains all riders that participate. There could be some changes…mostly in organization and the criterium course, but overall, if riders can handle the suffering so early in the season, Mesa’s race weekend is a great time to test that ability.