Bikers, (golfers) tackle the Grind in Vail
VAIL, Colorado ” Winning one’s race and striking it rich in the post-race raffle is quickly becoming old news at the Vail-Beaver Creek Mountain-Biking Series.
Ron Gruber pulled the trick two weeks ago at the Camp Hale Hup, and Wednesday night Robyn Ritsch won the women’s vet expert of the Vail Grind and went on to win the skateboard at the post-party at The Tap Room.
But how about winning your division and having notched your first hole-in-one three days earlier?
Enter Sean McCormick. The 15-year-old won the men’s beginner race of the Grind Wednesday night just 72 hours after dropping an ace on hole No. 3 at Eagle-Vail.
“It’s cool,” McCormick said. “You always sort of know you’re winning. You’ve always got that second thought in your head. I was tired, but you’ve just got to keep going.”
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There were no second thoughts about his shot from 135 yards with a pitching wedge on Eagle-Vail’s third.
“It was a nice shot,” McCormick said. “It got airborne and just went.”
Not bad for a kid who’s primary sport is actually skiing and not mountain-biking or golf.
The Tap Room was full of fun stories like McCormick’s after the Vail Grind. As is typical with the summer series of races, the racers tend to savor the events more as the season progresses.
“My favorite part about doing these races is after the race,” said Adam Plummer, who was third in men’s vet expert. “This is the best part. The party, the community is the best part. It’s a group of friends. You’re racing with a group of friends.
“It’s not the same if you came here and didn’t wear spandex for two hours,” he added with a chuckle.
Whatever garb the racers were wearing, the Grind came with its traditional elevation change of 1,000 feet and multiple laps, depending on the division.
“It was a lot of climbing but it was OK,” said Meredith Mueller who was fifth in women’s sport. “It wasn’t my best race. I couldn’t quite get my rhythm once I started going downhill.”
“By the third lap, the descents get a lot easier,” Plummer said. “Other than that, this was a really technical course, probably the most technical race of the summer. But also, it was great because it had a little bit of everything ” singletrack, climbing, a lot of really good descents and a lot of fire-road climbing.”
The general consensus was that multiple loops through the course made it easier.
“I think I was tired, but I think it was easier the second time through,” men’s sport racer Trent Parks said. “You know where you can pace yourself, know where you push yourself and also know that the finish is in sight.”
Teams and teamwork
While cycling is primarily an individual sport, the team aspect was apparent Wednesday.
“Everyone’s supporting each other,” said Plummer, who rides for the Vail Mountain Cycling Team. “Even if they’re not on your team, they’re supporting you. I lived here for four years and it’s turned into a community.”
That loyalty also translates to fashion.
“Team High Maintenance always has the best-looking clothes,” Mueller said, sporting her jersey.
And then there is Team Ritsch. OK, that’s not a team, but Robyn was happy to turn her newly-won skateboard over to her husband, Daniel, after the race.
“It’s for him out there, my husband,” Ritsch said, pointing to Daniel, who was standing on the deck of The Tap Room. He got a flat, so this is dedicated to him.”
When asked for further explanation, she said, “He can skateboard. That’s why.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Men’s pro elite: Jay Henry
Women’s pro elite: Gretchen Reeves
Men’s expert: Drew Watcher
Women’s expert: Jen Pinkus
Men’s vet expert: Steven Myers
Women’s vet expert: Robyn Ritsch
Men’s vet sport: Ron Braden
Men’s masters: Chris Cook
Men’s sport: Tyler Eaton
Women’s sport: Kari Bangston
Men’s beginner: Sean McCormick
Women’s beginner: Trinity Wall
Men’s singlespeed: Mike Skellion
Juniors: Christian Kloser