Camp Hale Hub is dirty business
CAMP HALE – “You’ve got dirt in your teeth,” Erin Stege coolly said to her friend Jennie Appelt Wednesday night in the finish area of the Camp Hale Hub, the fifth race in the Vail Recreation District’s summer mountain-biking series.Appelt, almost on cue, then spread her lips and matter-of-factly stroked her front teeth with her finger.The exchange was a telling one to say the least. Wednesday’s Hub wasn’t the most unique, or technical, of the six races in this summer’s series, but it certainly was the dirtiest. The longest, too, topping out at 24 miles for the pros, experts, masters and single-speed racers in the field.Stege and Appelt, being in the beginners class, only did 12 miles. That was still plenty enough fire road and singletrack to coat the duo’s faces and arms in a thick layer of grime.Racers like men’s pro winner Mike Kloser, who came across the line in 1 hour, 20 minutes and 31.56 seconds, got to double dip.Kloser, in the absence of pros Josiah Middaugh and Jay Henry, won by a considerable margin, with friend and fellow adventure racer Dan Weiland coming across the line second in 1:20:31.56.Both Kloser and Weiland said they liked the race because of it’s tactical nature. In the men’s pro pack, there were a number of moves and counter moves as riders jostled for position throughout the course of the two 12-mile loops. Kloser eventually emerged as the late leader, and Weiland was happy to hold on for runner-up. Local pro Jimi Mortenson had a flat tire late in the race that negated his chances of making a push for the win.”I love the course, because it’s tactical,” Kloser said. “You can position yourself, get on wheels. If you’re feeling good, you can pull away. The gravel road climb on the tail end of the big loop is also wicked fun. It’s just an ego climb.”Added Weiland, “I felt like I rode pretty well. … Keeping Mike in sight is always a good thing. If he beats me by two minutes, I’m happy with that.”
In the women’s pro race, Sari Chwalk was the first to cross the finish line, clocking in at 1:27:41. Chwalk’s face, like nearly all of her fellow competitors, was covered in dirt swirls that looked like strange tribal markings. Her arms were black all the way up to her wrists where her gloves had formed a distinct barrier similar to a tan line.The question was asked then, to shower or not to shower before the postrace party in Minturn at the Saloon?”Typically, I bring a towel and a water bottle and it’s like a little bath,” Chwalk said, flashing a clean, dirt-free smile.She also mentioned that she likes the Hub for the same reasons as Kloser and Weiland.”It’s a little different from the rest, so it’s super fun,” she said. “This is definitely a little longer. Not so much longer in time than the other races, but longer in distance. You’re pedaling the whole time, so you don’t want to go out and hammer the whole time. You’ve got to pace yourself. You also have to know where the singletrack is, and get your place in that so you don’t get dropped off the back.”One-for-one Jen Campbell of West Vail won the women’s beginner division at the Hub – which coincidentally was her first mountain bike race ever. Campbell works at the Vail hospital on Wednesdays, but she had this Wednesday free, so, being an avid mountain biker, she decided to make the trek up to Tennessee Pass.”The singletrack was fun. The fire road was really great because you could pass and get past people and draft. It was an interesting mix between a mountain-bike race and a road race,” she said. “In a race, obviously you’re going to push yourself a lot harder when there are other people around. You are going to get your heart rate higher than you usually would. It’s good times and it’s a good way to meet people.”
Griffin Turnipseed, 14, followed up his win at last week’s Copper Mountain Melee with another victory in the beginner’s division, finishing his 12-mile loop in 54:52.93.J.T. Schmitt, 13, won the juniors race for his first win in the series, after finishing runner-up in previous weeks. His only close call to losing his lead spot was when he had to unclip from his pedal coming around a switchback on the fire road.”It’s feels good to win,” he said.Playing in the dirtThe kids races were also dirty fun. Thomas Walsh, in only his second series race this summer, won the 10-mile U14 race in 48:33. He said his road-bike racing skills helped maintain speed on the long flat stretches of dirt road. “It was pretty long,” he said. “I went pretty fast because I know how to shift on the road and have a good gear on the road.” The singletrack was a different story. Walsh took two falls – one onto the hard gravel, another into a bush.
“I fell a couple times, but the kid behind me was nice enough to help me up so I could keep going,” he said.In the four-mile U11 race for the boys, John Bailey edged out Brinton Barry with a winning time of 20:57. Barry was just four seconds behind.”I wanted to do the 10-mile, but I was worried I would get fifth or sixth,” Bailey said. “So, I decided to do the four mile.”Bailey, like Walsh, had to overcome two crashes, both of which knocked off his chain. Both times, he said, Barry passed him, but once he got back up and riding, he was able to overtake his rival.”The big U-turns were what caused me to wreck,” he said. “I skidded out twice.” Sky Stege also was the first girl across the finish line in the U11 race in 30:19, running her streak of wins to five consecutive. Stege’s win wasn’t a sure thing because, like Bailey, her chain fell off twice. She said Allison Gruber, who finished second in 35:29, passed her both times. “It was pretty annoying, but I always came back,” Stege said.Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado