Riders give extra push at Vail Grind
VAIL ” Paul Gorbold and Jay Henry know there is only so much preparation you can do for a bike race.
Gorbold had a plan for Wednesday’s Vail Grind mountain-bike race, but the mud gave him some chain trouble out of the gate.
“I lost my middle ring,” said Gorbold, who took first in the Men’s Sport Division. “I got really bad chain suck right after the start. All the mud got stuck in the drive train and the chain gets stuck to the gears, and it catches on the frame. I had to ride the whole race on my big ring, which is good because I couldn’t go easy, but it was bad because I was hurting the whole race. I guess it paid off.”
Henry, who won the Lost Lake race last month, didn’t think he would pick up another win in the Men’s Pro Elite Division at the Vail Grind.
“I wasn’t sure if they were going to (have) the race,” Henry said. “I didn’t know I was going to (race) until 20 minutes before. That’s a good strategy, though ” just line up without warming up.”
While Henry may not have been totally prepared to ride, his past experiences on the terrain helped him a bit.
“I ride here a lot,” Henry said. “The Teva (Mountain) Games is a similar course. I know it really well, almost too well.”
After moving out to an early lead, Henry retained first for the remainder of the race and finished in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 34 seconds. Mike Skellion (1:06:53) took second and Mike Kloser (1:09:16) took third.
“Mike Skellion (who was riding a single-speed bike) was gaining on the first climb,” Henry said. “I got a bit more of a gap on (Skellion and Kloser) each lap, but you’ve gotta keep trucking because if you let up, they’ll be right behind you.”
The mud on the course made the already tough climbs a little more demanding.
“It felt like you were in quicksand,” said Vanessa Clendenin. “I tried to use my bigger gears, but I was peeling out.”
“I usually climb in my middle chain ring, but for a lot, I was in my small ring,” said Amber Moran.
And the mud made for some slower descents.
“There are a lot of roots, and in this condition, they are a little slick,” Henry said. “It was more technical than usual.”
The racers may have had slower-than-expected times, but nobody seemed to mind the slick conditions.
“It was gnarly. It was slippery, but it was fun,” said Melissa Marriner.
Gorbold, who is a ski patroller at Vail, gained a better appreciation for the mountain during his climbs.
“There are a lot of hills you take for granted when you are skiing down them,” Gorbold said. “Even the cat tracks like Windisch Way, you’re skiing down and say, ‘Eh, it’s nothing,’ but you’re trying to climb back up it, and it’s a whole different story.”
And even though Gorbold has been on the mountain plenty in the winter, the terrain looks a bit different from a mountain bike.
“I didn’t really know where I was,” Gorbold said. “I just kept following the arrows. A couple of times I thought, ‘Am I still on the course?'”
There were not nearly as many racers on course Wednesday as there were when the race was postponed last Wednesday.
“There were probably 10 girls in my division,” said Moran, who beat out Clendenin to win the Women’s Sport Division.
Those who did race enjoyed the friendly atmosphere.
“It’s more of a bonding experience when (fewer) people show up and you have to rough it,” Clendenin said.
The final race in the Vail Recreation District’s mountain-bike series, the Beaver Creek Blast, is next Wednesday. The little league series starts at 5 p.m. and the adult series starts at 5:45 p.m.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.