Bike series riders balance work and play |

Bike series riders balance work and play

Ryan Slabaugh

Edwards resident Lonny Moore worked all day as foreman for the construction project at the Vail Valley Medical Center. He got off early to hydrate his body, put on a uniform and prepare for the grueling 3.7-mile gauntlet of steep roads followed by steeper trails.

“I’m the only one from the company riding today,” said Moore, who trains on Golden Peak. “I don’t know why.”

Those who raced the Davos Dash before know exactly why. The tough course is a sprint for the expert and professionals, and is a bad dream to everyone else.

“It’s the shortest race of the season but it’s the most dreaded,” Eagle-Vail resident Jeff Weddle said. “I think it has the highest puke factor of the season.”

Sounds like work, doesn’t it? Weddle, in fact, teaches yoga in the morning and runs his bike shop in Beaver Creek in the afternoons. His schedule allows him to shed registers and the bottom line for a pair of wheels and a bike uniform.

As the starting of the race loomed, Weddle insisted it was all play. Painful, but pleasant too.

“I have $20,000 in bikes and I don’t have a car,” Weddle said. “But it’s worth it.”

Scott Banjac and John Novak are friends and roommates who work for Christy Sports in Avon. They train, sure, but their employers graciously let them tackle the town mountain bike series every other Wednesday.

“We get hooked up,” said Banjac, a Minturn resident. “We have a repair shop at work to fix our bikes up. We get some fringe benefits the average citizen can’t get. My bike is still worth twice as much as my car.”

Work or play? You decide.

As the racers stretched and drank water before the starting gun, conversations ranged from weekend activities to stories of losing lunches on top of the Davos trail. The training was in the past. As Weddle said, you can’t change the fitness level. You have to worry about the mental side.

Some paced the course. Others pedalled up the entire course for practice, while the more conservative stayed on the 1.5-mile road leading up to the steepest and dustiest section of the course. They nod and wave to each other.

Moore, who sat out the last race in Eagle because of a lung infection, knows the difference between work and play.

“I do this to say I did it,” he said. “That’s what it’s about. Being with other people with similar interests.”

Valerie Rich, who monitors the riders for the Steadman Hawkins Clinic, is one of many on the clock during the race. She’s worked the sideline for four years, and said she’s seen only one serious injury. Rich was also at the top for last year’s Davos Dash. She said she saw “people throwing up everywhere.”

“Most of it is scrapes and bruises. We also get quite a few clavicle fractures,” Rich said. “It’s a good day when I’m bored.”

While Rich stands on the working line, riders like Moore, Banjac, Meddle and Novak are comfortable considering it play.

Before the race even started, Novak described the sensation of being finished, tired and cruising down the mountain to his car.

“It’s the sweet sublime to come back down,” he said.

After the race, all competitors, workers and volunteers were invited to party at the Half Moon Saloon. The line between those working and those playing immediately dissolves.

Whether you’re working or playing, the next race in the six-event mountain bike series, organized by the Vail Recreation District, is Wednesday, July 10, at Camp Hale. The race is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.

NOTES: For more information, call the Vail Recreation District Sports Department at (970) 479-2280 or log onto… Volunteers are needed for timing, registration and course marshal positions… Registration is $15 through June 18 at the Vail Tennis Center and local bike shops or on-line at… Day-of-race registration will be available behind for $20.

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