Vail Valley Riders stay focused on the Hammer | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley Riders stay focused on the Hammer

SPT hammer in the hay 1 KA 06-29-09
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WOLCOTT, Colorado – The Vail-Beaver Creek Mountain Bike Race Series returned to 4 Eagle Ranch in Wolcott Monday for the first time since 2007.

The site is a nice change of pace from other race courses in the series which are near populated areas. The 4 Eagle Ranch had a beautiful view of the snow-capped New York Range, as well as post-card worthy buttes and assorted animals roaming the property.

Too bad the racers were too busy, well, racing.

“I didn’t notice until my fourth lap that there were cows up there,” pro rider Lisa Isom said. “I was thinking, ‘Did they let the cows out?'”

Yep, it’s a ranch. The horses also went for a trot after the usual crowd of 300 mountain bikers rolled through the hilly singletrack and the road course.

“I usually stick mostly to the uphills,” men’s expert rider Conor Wallace said while standing right in front of the old 19th Century trading post at the ranch with the New York Range in view. “To tell the truth, I didn’t look around. I’m just racing out there.”

It was pretty much all pedaling at the Hammer in the Hay – Monday’s race was a make-up from May due to a wet spring. The course held up despite an afternoon shower which left some riders mud-spackled at the finish.

“Anyone want a hug from me,” asked pro rider Dan Weiland, whose offer was not surprisingly rejected because he was rather mud-caked.

As the series hit its halfway point – the second half starts July 8 with the Vail Grind – Jay Henry won the men’s pro yet again while the Davises (Peter in men’s masters and Barry in men’s expert)made it 3-for-3 on the year , while there were several new division winners elsewhere.

One of the biggest surprises this season has been Eagle’s Cait Boyd. A neophyte to mountain-bike racing this summer, she won the women’s sport at the Eagle Classic and the Berry Creek Bash earlier this spring. She moved up to women’s expert Monday and finished second, fewer than three minutes behind the division’s winner, Healy Johanna.

“I always want to try something new,” Boyd said. “I’ve done the trail-running series, the snowshoe series. I try to try something new each summer. This year, it was mountain-bike racing. I’m crossing that off the lost. I should have started sooner.”

After some time off, Isom is riding in the series to prepare for winter triathlons (snow-running, snow-biking and freestyle Nordic) as well as other snow-oriented endurance events.

“I keep telling myself that I’m not going to race in these, but the social aspect keeps me coming back,” Isom said. “I get my hat handed to me in these races, get some humble pie, but after a glass of wine, it’s good. With me, I’m over it.”

Wallace, having won the men’s expert at the Berry Creek Bash, was disappointed with third Monday. But as his new gold shorts attested, he’s looking to bigger and better things ahead when he starts at the University of Denver in the fall and the school’s Nordic team in the winter.

“For the most part, I try to have fun,” Wallace said. “Of course, it’s summer training for Nordic, Mission accomplished on that aspect.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

Division winners

Men’s sport: Eric Rubottom

Women’s sport: Jenny Klingmueller

Men’s vet sport: Matt Johnson

Men’s Clydesdale: Chris Kehoe

Women’s vet expert: Roxanne Hall

Men’s beginner: David Burns

Women’s beginner: Stephanie Mueller

Junior: Chad Wilkinson

Men’s pro: Jay Henry

Women’s pro: Gretchen Reeves

Men’s expert: Barry Davis

Women’s expert: Healy Johanna

Men’s vet expert: Adam Plummer

Men’s masters: Peter Davis

Men’s singlespeed: Courtney Gregory