I decided at the end of last season that I wanted to do more early season racing in 2012. To meet that goal, I signed up for the Voodoo Fire race in Pueblo, Colorado, the marathon (66 miles) distance. It is a three-lap course, with each lap (you guessed it) being around 22 miles. My Garmin shows the first lap at 23.3 miles, but lap 1 includes a mile or so of start that isn’t included in the other laps.
Colorado has been unseasonably hot. Athletes that did the race last year said it was a full 25 degrees hotter this year. The start temperatures were around 47 degrees and by 2:00 pm, my car thermometer read 83 degrees.
The course is nearly all single track, which is both a joy and a curse. Though the race had a wave start, it wasn’t long before the various categories were battling for positions on the single track. Passing people meant selecting one of three options including burning up the legs by powering through the powdery talc-like soil and dodging cactus and low brush; waiting for a loose shale section; or really biding your time and waiting for the very, very limited double track. Though some places were much better for passing than others, some impatient riders made risky moves that cost them a fall, or worse yet took out another rider.
There isn’t a lot of climbing in the course, compared to some of the high mountain courses in Colorado. The limited climbing makes the race a great way to start the mountain bike season, because most riders have limited fitness in the spring.
For me, shale attacked my rear tire on a benign section of nearly flat trail about two thirds of the way through lap one. The shale put an inch-long slit in my tire as if it were sliced by a knife. I booted the tire and limped my way back to the finish line where I ended my day.
Riders with flats were all along the course and collecting at the finish line. It’s hard to say how many riders scored a dnf due to flats because not all of them are shown on the finish list – but suffice it to say a lot.
Other riders, like Bill Frielingsdorf, didn’t have any tire problems and went on to score a podium finish. Congratulations to Bill for a strong ride and finish.
Left to right, BillFrielingsdorf (Peloton-Specialized Fort Collins), Nathan Collier (Pedal Pushers Cyclery), Taylor Thomas (E2 Cycling Team Fort Collins)
I’d definitely consider doing this race again because there is plenty about it to like. Though people that ran beefier tires than I did still had tires slit by the shale, I think a heavier tire reduces the likelihood of problems. In addition to a heavier tire, I’ll consider running three to five pounds more pressure in both tires.
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