Keith Bontrager diary: Breathless and cold in Colorado

Kona World Challenge 24 hour in Colorado - September 21, 2005 - There is very little oxygen in...

Kona World Challenge 24 hour in Colorado - September 21, 2005 - There is very little oxygen in Winter Park, Colorado. I think the people out in California must be hogging it all like they do with the gasoline. Dunno.

The rides I was scheduled to participate in were close to the race site, so I'd get a chance to try out the terrain and the air. The terrain was great, one of the best spots for XC riding I've been to. But the air - the base at Winter Park is around 2700 metres, and the trails around the ski area go up 600 metres or so from there.

Lester and Larry organised the get together. They are the reps in the area and get around to a lot of good shops, so they invited the folks in the shops who ride and work on bikes to attend. There'd be very little discussion about selling things, which is good, because I am out of my element in that topic. We'd be talking tech in between (my) gasps for air.

The first ride was short, an afternoon warm up. And, as is the case with most short group rides, it was brisk. I went OK on the fireroad to the fist climb, and went well on the climb itself for about as long as I can hold my breath, which was not too much of a surprise having raced up in the area in the past. I'd been up for races in Breckenridge a few times over the years (it's also a great XC riding area and 300 metres higher than Winter Park) and knew the feeling well. This time I wasn't coming up to race on the day though; there would be five days of gasping before the actual 24 hour race. Hopefully that would be enough to make it a bit better on the weekend.

The ride went well enough, with some good singletrack climbs and descents. The lads were kind to me for the most part and didn't leave me for dead. The hardtail I'd brought was going to be fine in this area too, as were the fat, smooth tubeless tires as long as it stayed dry.

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