Henry repeats in Ultra 100
BEAVER CREEK – It’s two down and four to go for Jay Henry in the Ultra 100 to match Lance Armstrong’s six consecutive Tour de France wins.”I don’t think I’m going to be close to that,” Henry said with a laugh about the Ultra. “It’s a great event. I enjoyed it more this year. Last year was my first time. I didn’t know what to expect. It’s still hard. It doesn’t get any easier, but it’s more enjoyable.”Lance or not, Henry is enjoying life after successfully defending his Ultra 100 mountain-biking race title Saturday afternoon at Beaver Creek. Battling mud and rain on the 100-mile course winding through Edwards, Vail, Eagle and back to the Beav, Henry powered his way to victory with time of 8 hours, 3 minutes and 26 seconds. That bested Mike Kloser (8:16:08) and Jimi Mortenson (8:29:41), who finished second and third, respectively.
“Jay deserved to win. Jay was riding really well,” Kloser said. “I was really impressed. He was great. He paced with me a bunch through almost half the race, and he kind of took off a little on the climb up Muddy Pass on Moniger (Road). I said, ‘Settle in, Mike, and ride your race and see what happens on the big climb out of Muddy.’ Unfortunately, it was the descent to 4 Eagle that got me.”Muddy Pass
They say that The Masters doesn’t start until the back nine on Sunday. As far as Henry was concerned, the Ultra 100 doesn’t start until after the first five hours.”The first five hours, you’ve just got to be patient almost to the point of boredom,” Henry said. “Think of something else because if you start to go hard in the first five hours, you’re going to blow up. The race really doesn’t begin until four-and-a-half, five hours.”And, that would be Muddy Pass, 59.3 miles into the race, where Henry surged on the ascent and Kloser faltered on the descent. At the Piney River Ranch Turnaround, 18 miles before Muddy Pass, Henry could see the field and knew that he had a tenuous five-minute lead over Kloser.
“From there, the only way to go up Muddy Pass is just to ride it any way you can,” Henry said. “You can’t ride it fast. You do anything you can do to keep moving forward. It’s really hard. I think cresting over Muddy Pass I started feeling better again. I figure that this last climb up Arrowhead is substantial, but probably isn’t enough to close 10 minutes.”Give that man a cigar.While Henry was having success, Kloser was experiencing the other end of the spectrum on the descent from Muddy Pass to 4 Eagle. Kloser first hit a rock and had a flat. At that point, though, he felt he was still able to reel in Henry,But then, Kloser came down hard on his front wheel, flatting again. This time, he had to stop a couple of times to pump the tire up and Henry was off to the races.
Mortenson was with the leaders for the first 30 miles and then dropped back, harboring no illusions of making a run at either Henry or Kloser.”It’s cool. Good company,” said Mortenson of Henry and Kloser. “I was glad I was able to be there. Once I dropped back, I wasn’t racing for first and second. I was just trying to hold my spot. A race like this, you’re going to feel pretty terrible no matter what. Whether you start easy or start hard, you’re going to be hurting at some point. Hopefully, you can just keep the wheels turning and get to the finish line.”
Different celebrationsWhile Henry and Kloser are good friends, as evidenced by a warm postrace hug, followed by Kloser saying, “You earned it, buddy,” they had vastly different plans for the rest of the weekend.”Collapse in a heap,” Henry said. “I have a big national race in Durango next weekend. Pretty much collapse in a heap for five days.”
Kloser, on the other hand?”Well, I’m going to hit the showers. I’m going to eat a nice sandwich or something. Maybe a burger and have a beer and go to Marc Cohn tonight at the Vilar. So, hopefully, we’ll go to that and tomorrow we’ll try and climb a 14er with the kids.”
Extra spokesDan Weiland won the Ultra 100 100-kilometer race. “I’m pretty sure I get a laurel made out of an olive tree and then a medal, a big medal,” he said. “I’m sure it’s solid gold.” … Support crews were huge. Henry gave major thanks to his girlfriend, Cynthia Reynolds. Kloser did the same for his wife, Emily, and son, Christian. … Despite all the rain during the week and on race day, riders were generally impressed with the conditions of the route, even on Muddy Pass. “The temperature was the toughest condition. Just really cold,” Henry said. “It really wasn’t all that sticky. Muddy Pass is notorious for sticky mud. It was raining enough that it was kind of sloppy and not sticking to the bikes. So, that was a huge relief because it could have 12-hour race easy.”Chris Freud is the sports editor of the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614, or via firstname.lastname@example.org.