‘It’s going to end shortly’ | VailDaily.com

‘It’s going to end shortly’

SPT Davos Dash 01 TS 06-25-08

VAIL, Colorado ” Jay Henry’s Davos Dash record will stand for another year.

Henry powered his way up ” 1,321 feet during just 3.5 miles ” the 25th annual Davos Dash, a staple of the Vail-Beaver Creek Mountain-Biking Series, Wednesday in 17 minutes, 8 seconds for his second men’s pro elite win of the year.

Henry’s 16:46, recorded last year, endures, although his 17:08 wasn’t shabby by any means, given that the record he broke in 2007 was Paul Wilerton’s 17:17 in 1994.

“No, that’s ridiculous. Is that what he had? 17:08? That’s silly,” singlespeeder Eric Hill said appreciatively.

“I wanted to break the record, but I had such a great day last year,” Henry said. “That’s what it comes down to. You have to be aggressive. You have to attack the climbs. If you’re not right on, that’s tough to do. I didn’t feel that aggressive today. It hurt. It was a little more painful today.”

Short and not-so sweet

There’s a reason the Davos Dash has remained virtually unchanged since its inception. It’s a lung-busting sprint where even the slowest of the beginners are done with the race in about 45 minutes.

It’s physically painful with three steep inclines ” and which incline is the worst is a source of debate.

“Probably the last one because it’s at the very end,” women’s beginner Meghan McCarthy said. “You’re just so tired once you get there. Trying to climb that last wall is daunting.

“This is the first season I’ve ever raced. This is my third race ever. It’s a short race. It’s kind of like a sprint. You know it’s not going to go on forever. I listen to my iPod.”

For the record, Jay-Z, Mos Def, Beastie Boys and Pearl Jam were on McCarthy’s playlist.

And lest McCarthy thinks this happens just to novices, we go back to Henry.

“That last climb, I think it got steeper,” he said. “That last climb got steeper than in years past. I’ve done it a bunch and I know it really well. Every year, it catches me by surprise by how difficult it is, how much it makes you hurt.”

The Dash is just as much mental challenge as a physical one.

“It’s 3.5 miles,” Hill said. “You’ve just got to keep telling yourself, ‘It’s only 3.5 miles. It’s going to end shortly.’ It’s a grind. I don’t know how else to describe it.”

“I have the end in mind,” women’s expert winner Katie Brazelton said. “I try to adjust gears or stand up, do something to change my position a little bit to make it a little bit easier.”

The kicker with such a short race is that there’s really no time to ease into the race. At last week’s Berry Creek Bash/Mike Janelle Memorial, the higher-tier racers had three laps or 11 miles to cycle, time to get into a groove.

Brazelton actually rode from her home Wednesday in Eagle-Vail to the Davos Dash start in West Vail, a longer distance than the race itself, to get warmed up. Hill joked about “riding around the block for 20 minutes” to get ready.

When the race starts, there is simply no time to think.

“You just watch the leaders and keep them in sight for the most part,” Hill said. “If someone’s going out fast, you just try to grab their wheel and hold on.”

The top

As the quick grind “a true oxymoron ” nears the radio towers, and the end of the race, relief is near.

More importantly, gravity soon becomes the racer’s friend as the prospect of the appealing ride down the course becomes more real.

“The top kind of looks like a MASH hospital,” Henry said. “Everybody comes across anaerobic and coughing and it looks like a battle scene. It’s nice to come down. You can cheer the people on who are coming up.”

“It’s beautiful,” Hill said. “It’s like 30 or 40 pedal strokes, nice coasting down. It makes it worth it.”

There’s also the view at the top, which is a little different from when most of the competitors are on the slopes in the winter.

“I pre-rode the course on Monday, and it’s actually pretty cool,” McCarthy said. “It’s a really different view of downvalley. You can see Eagle-Vail. Usually, you see it skiing from the top of the mountain. It’s a cool view from the other side of the highway.”

The winners of every division received a green biking jersey, commemorating the race’s 25th anniversary.

“I like it. It’s cool,” Henry said. “I’ve never gotten a jersey for winning the local race before. That’s awesome. That’s going on the wall.” …

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

Division winners

Men’s pro elite: Jay Henry (17:08)

Women’s pro elite: Gretchen Reeves (21:24)

Men’s expert: Billybarry Davis (19:53)

Women’s expert: Katie Brazelton (23:50)

Women’s vet expert: Adam Plummer (20:38)

Women’s vet expert: Robyn Ritsch (24:42)

Men’s vet sport: Ron Braden (22:31)

Men’s masters: Charlie Brown (21:51)

Men’s sport: Jerry Oliver (21:11)

Women’s sport: Ana Jeronimus (26:16)

Men’s beginner: Kyle Rhodes (21:49)

Women’s beginner: Megan Boord (25:54)

Men’s singlespeed: Mike Skellion (20:04)

Juniors: J. Brinton Barry (26:38)

For complete Davos Dash results, check out vaildaily.com or Friday’s print edition.

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