Vail Valley biking: Racers survive Davos Dash | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley biking: Racers survive Davos Dash

SPT Davo's 1 KA 08-11-10

VAIL – The Davos Dash is the great equalizer when it comes to the Vail-Beaver Creek Mountain Bike Series.

“Your stomach kind of turns,” one racer said Wednesday. “You feel a little sick. You’re hot and you don’t know how much you have left.”

“You’re on your limit,” another said. “Your face is super red and hot. Your legs are burnt. Your lungs are screaming. Everything hurts.”

The first quote was from Elizabeth Reed, racing in her first Davos Dash and winning the never-ever category. The second was a report from Jake Wells, who won the men’s pro division.

Davos is only 3.5 miles or so, but the course rises about 1,000 feet in the 17-minutes and-change that it takes the pros to make the climb. The pain is equally exquisite for the average rider with a 30-whatever time.

“You’re just trying to choke down the puke at that point,” men’s singlespeed winner Courtney Gregory said. “You get up there and hope someone has a cold beer for you.”

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Record holds, but race tightens

Jay Henry’s mark of 16 minutes, 45 seconds for Davos will stand for another year. Wells won with a time of 17:02 with Henry in second with a 17:28. (Geez, that Henry guy is slowing down after breaking the record twice. We kid because we care, and, more seriously, appreciate what he’s been able to do on this track.) Josiah Middaugh, whom we hear is a pretty good triathlete, was third (17:29).

“It feels good to be going this well at this point in the season,” Wells said. “It’s kind of early for me as far as my season goes. I’m going to be looking to go well in the fall. It feels good to be riding with the caliber of guys I’m riding with.”

Wells is actually getting ready for the cyclo-cross season, which goes from September-December. But even though this is preseason for him, Wells and Henry are in a virtual dead heat for the overall men’s pro title with one race to go in the season. The men’s title will come down to the Beaver Creek Blast on Aug. 25.

“I hadn’t thought about it until (race organizer Beth Pappas) said that we’re neck and neck,” Wells said. “With one race left, I’m sure it’s going to be interesting to see how it pans out. It all depends on the day.”

On the women’s side, Gretchen Reeves took the day off and Karen Jarchow won the day. Yes, she was the only woman in her pro field, but a little perspective is in order. Jarchow was racing women’s beginner at the start of last seasonand started this year as a women’s sport racer. To be putting up a 23:24 at Davos, the fastest time of any female racer, just a year after starting out the series is quite the accomplishment.

One tick

Eagle’s Jeff Thompson is no stranger to Davos. He said Wednesday night was about his 10th time doing the uphill sprint. His goal has been to break 20 minutes.

Last year, he came in at 20:00, just missing his goal.

“Couldn’t they just have called out the time in that last stretch,” Thompson joked. “It was eating me up.”

Thompson had no regrets Wednesday. He finished in 19:59, and 1 second makes all the difference, thank you very much.

“It’s different than other races,” he said. “All the other races, you’re racing against each other. We have a tight-knit group that races against each other. But this race is just a race against yourself and the time sheet.”

Other racers with a wide range of experience echoed the sentiment that the Davos Dash is more an exercise of will than the usual Wednesday night race.

“It’s kind of intimidating because you have a lot of fast racers ahead of you,” said Reed, who will graduate to women’s beginner next year. “You just have to ride where you feel and ride as strongly as you can.

“Thank goodness I had ridden he course on Monday with my husband. That helped me. I knew what to expect.”

“You have no choice to rest on the flats because you’re spun out,” Gregory sad. “When it gets steep, you’ve got no choice but to stand and run what you brung.”

Extra spokes

Many happy returns to Joel Rabinowitz, who celebrated a birthday Wednesday after the race. The Vail Recreation District’s sports director was given a cake with candles indicating that the diehard Yankees fan was 29. Since his mom grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, we’ll call it his Jackie Robinson birthday. … Good job, Rob: The top-three finishers in the clydesdale division were all some form of Robert – Robert Crawford, Rob Steinke and Robb Hamina finished 1-2-3.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

Division winners

Men’s pro: Jake Wells

Women’s pro: Karen Jarchow

Men’s expert: Conor Wallace

Women’s expert: Tamara Donelson

Men’s vet expert: Mike Pastore

Women’s vet expert: Michele Keene

Women’s vet sport: Andi Malboeuf

Men’s singlespeed: Courtney Gregory

Men’s masters expert: Peter Davis

Men’s masters sports: Paul Sands

Men’s sport: Christian Kloser

Women’s sport: Lindsey Hinmon

Men’s vet sport: Steve Blair

Men’s beginner; Parker McDonald

Women’s beginner: Jenn Sewell

Women’s singlespeed: Amy Hermes

Clydesdale: Robert Crawford

Juniors: Quintin Cook

Men’s never-ever: Luke Cobb

Women’s never-ever: Elizabeth Reed