There’s no looping here: Lost Lake to test technique
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: This story ran last week, previewing the Lost Lake Loop mountain bike races, which was postponed until Wednesday due to inclement weather.
VAIL ” Endurance is no doubt a key in mountain bike races. But endurance alone won’t cut it in Wednesday’s Lost Lake Loop race.
The second-to-last contest in the Vail and Beaver Creek Mountain Bike Series, Lost Lake requires a little bit of everything from riders. Well, maybe a lot of everything.
“You have to have some good bike handling skills,” said Brian Doyon of the Vail Recreation District.
That, and some durability.
The expert riders will go 14.7 miles, climbing more than 3,600 feet across 9 miles. And yes, there’s some good downhill parts, too ” about 2,400 feet of descent.
For those of you doing the math so far, it doesn’t quite add up, which is what make the Lost Lake Loop unique in the series.
“It’s a point-to-point race,” Doyon said. “It’s not a multi-lap race, so you don’t get to see the course again.”
The start-to-finish style allows riders to ride their own race, not worrying about being lapped or passed as often, and a chance to enjoy the scenery.
“You are out there on the course … battling within racing categories,” Doyon said. “And it’s a real battle with the trail. It’s more just you and the trail.”
A trail that may not be as forgiving as it is awe-inspiring.
“I’m just hoping to get through,” said Charlie Brown of Mountain Pedaler. “I’m packing a tube, and I usually don’t. That and an Allen Wrench.”
Flats are not that uncommon, with difficult sections of rocks and steep pitches that require even the most experienced riders to walk their bike for a bit.
The challenges of the course, along with the natural beauty, make it a favorite among racers.
“I think this is the best all-around bike course,” Doyon said.
“It is a classic point-to-point,” Brown said. “It’s a long, epic ride, but you’re racing at the same time.”
With so many different aspects to the course, riders have the opportunity to play to their strengths, Doyon said.
“You may have one section where you survive on parts and thrive on others,” Doyon said.
Brown, who has raced the course before, knows not to go out too hard early.
“You still have to save it for the end because there’s a climb that bites you in the (butt),” he said. “You get through all that technical stuff and it’s still a climb.”
The medium course, which runs 13.3 miles, has about 600 fewer feet of climbing than the long course, while the short course goes 8.6 miles with 2,250 feet of climbing. Adult categories kick off at 5:45 p.m. near the base of Red Sandstone Road. The Little League races at 5 p.m. by the Lost Lake Parking lot (at the Buffer connector trail head).
Because of an error in an old map, the Vail Recreation District and the U.S. Forest Service had to move a part of the old course off private property.
“They helped us (reroute the course) on one of their old existing roads,” Doyon said. “We have to take our hats off to them for the help.”
Recent rain has helped mat down the course and clear up some dust.
Doyon said he’s expecting more participants than the previous race, as the Summit County series won’t be racing this week.
The defending champion for men’s expert is Jay Henry, who has been on a tear in both the Vail and Beaver Creek Series, as well as all other races he’s entered this season.
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.