Davos Dash: Short but painful
VAIL ” Nothing provides the extra little push to make it up the final pitch of the Davos hill climb like the sight of a 50-pound kid leaving you in the dust.
Just when I thought I had nothing left and was zigzagging dizzily up the steep pitch of Wednesday’s series bike race on Davos trail 30 yards from the finish line, I heard the voice of Mike Kloser behind me, egging on his bionic 11-year-old.
“That’s it, Christian! Take ’em! Take ’em all! Take ’em for Christmas!” said Kloser, who, in addition to being fresh off the boat from leading Team Nike to victory in a two-day Raid World Championship qualifier adventure race in Idaho, probably had gone up and down the Davos course a few times before joining his son for his final ascent.
As it turned out, the He-Man bloodline is proving stronger and stronger and Christian Kloser leveled his junior category with a time of 25 minutes, 22 seconds ” a finish that would have placed him second among the vast group of adult men in the beginner field and somewhere in the middle of men’s sport.
Leg power and lungs are essential for the Davos Dash, which starts behind the Holiday Inn in West Vail and takes riders up Chamonix Lane to the top of the neighborhood, then hits dirt and climbs to the radio tower overlooking Eagle-Vail. While the course measures just 3.7 miles in length, the general lay of the land is up, up and up. There is also some strategy to go along with the sheer strength and oxygen-gulping technique required of making it to the top quickly.
“The strategy is to not go out too fast,” said vet expert racer Johnny Love. “You go out too fast, you explode. You also have to shift efficiently. You see and hear a lot of people not shifting efficiently.”
While nobody could be found throwing up at the top of the course, several attested to having seen it in the past. And for riders like Love, the sound of other people’s suffering can often time ease one’s own.
“Just when you think you don’t have any more, someone power-heaves next to you and you feel much better,” Love said.
Mercifully, there is one section in the Davos course that flattens out and allows riders to shift into the big ring, and for those who still have it in them, accelerate.
“I really enjoyed that part,” said Meredith Mueller, who won the women’s sport category on Wednesday with a time of 26:23. “I just stood up and pedaled hard.”
Mueller said a certain amount of pacing is necessary for Davos, but she usually just paces herself rather than sizing her speed up with the rest of the field.
“I slow down if I feel like I’m going to puke and speed up if I feel I have more mojo,” she said. “I feel like I have a pretty good internal gauge.”
One group that didn’t fall subject to shifting strategy whatsoever was the singlespeed riders, led by Mike Skellion, who finished his one-geared climb in 19:41.
“You’re just on the gas the whole time,” said Greg Mueller, who finished second in singlespeed (22:45), and like many of the one-speed wonders, was riding a rigid fork bike with skinny dirt tires. “It’s a lot more tactical on a singlespeed. You have to pick your spots and carefully meter your every move. It’s kind of like road racing.”
While four of his friends and fellow pro riders on Team Beaver Creek-Vail were busy taking the lead in Race Across America somewhere in Arizona, Jay Henry put down the fastest time on Davos, finishing in 18:33.
Gretchen Reeves was the top female, finishing the pro women’s division in 22:31. Heather Sappenfield won the women’s expert division in 26:08, Damien Fraser (20:13) and Greg Oravetz (20:14) raced head-to-head to respectively win the men’s expert and vet expert divisions. Brennan Stege (20:54) beat the rest of the men’s sport field by more than a minute. Tim Taagen (22:34) usurped his vet sport field by almost 2 minutes. Chris Cook (22:57) won men’s masters, and Katie Brazelton (26:36) won women’s vet sport. Ben Lohre (24:06) won men’s beginner, Jen Klingmueller (28:28) women’s beginner, and Heidi Kloser ” the only junior female racing ” finished second (29:26), ahead of the boys in her group.
Complete results will be printed in Friday’s sports section.
Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 748-2936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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