Lost Lake feeds riders hungry for rocks | VailDaily.com

Lost Lake feeds riders hungry for rocks

Shauna Farnell
Lost Lake1 SM 6-27-06

VAIL – Following the Lost Lake mountain-bike race, many riders wondered how it was possible to stay on their bikes for the entire course. For riders like Jay Henry, there was nothing to wonder at.”How much of the course was I able to ride?” asked Henry, perplexed by the question. “Pretty much all of it.”

Henry whipped through the 14.7-mile course in 1 hour, 20 minutes and 59 seconds for the victory Wednesday night.”This is probably my favorite course,” Henry said. “It’s a real mountain-bike race, that’s for sure. It’s probably the most technical trail we have, so it’s fun to race on.”Upon first glance of a trail like Lost Lake, even a pro like Henry doesn’t immediately fathom taking to it with bike tires.Taste of Eastern soil”It’s more East Coast-style with all the rocks and roots,” he said. “It can be really tough. The first time you see that trail, you’re amazed you can ride a bike on it.”

Riders had different techniques for approaching the jagged rocks and roots that make up the singletrack portion of the race, which they had to reach after riding uphill for about 5 miles on Red Sandstone and Lost Lake roads, or for the pros, up Son of Middle Creek singletrack.”The key is to be really smooth,” said Gretchen Reeves, who won the women’s pro category in 1:44.02. “Don’t waste energy trying to pedal too hard. Just put it in a harder gear and be smooth and relaxed.”There’s nothing entirely smooth about playing pinball with a front bike wheel, but riders said staying light on the pedals allowed them to land more softly on top of the obstacles.”A lot of it was just as fast or faster to run because you’re just banging and crashing through,” said Ross Schnell, who finished just 32 seconds behind Henry. “You just want to be looking as far ahead as you can and start bouncing from rock to rock. If you’re bunny hopping some of the obstacles, you sort of float over that stuff.”Getting past flats

The course took its toll on some bikes. Reeves rode down the last section of singletrack with a puddle for a back tire.”I flatted on the best part,” she said. “That’s OK. I rode it down. You can still go pretty fast without air in your tire.”Expert rider Andrew Wachter was closing in on Ben Stein with just one more fast curve left to go when he blew his front tire and had to sprint to the finish line.”He was in my sight,” Wachter said. “I thought I had him.”Longer than other courses in the Vail Recreation District race series, Lost Lake forced some race categories to climb more than 3,000 feet, and dusk was settling heavily as several racers continued pedaling through the woods. Challenging and technical as it is, riders agreed the course is the best venue in the series. “It really does have some of everything,” said women’s expert rider Jen Razee. “Yeah, some of the technical stuff is a little intimidating, but it gives you an adrenaline rush when you go through it. It’s like, ‘Yeah. I cleared that section.'”

Riders who have done the course many times know that some days navigating the trail are better than others. “I was hiking a lot this year,” said expert racer Amanda Evans. “Once you get in the rhythm, you can ride it. The secret is having a good gear and keeping your momentum. It’s a classic. And once you’re up here, you get a bonus ride down.”Full race results will be printed in Friday’s sports section.Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 748-2936 or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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