Better late than never right? After recieving some feedback at the weekly time trial for not posting a hell ride report yet, I figured I’d cool my jets a little today and get on the laptop. This week’s group was small, but spirited. It included Jamal H., Mark B., Dave H., Randall G., Robert R., Byron D., and myself (please let me know if I’m missing someone). We rolled out of Spring Meadow Park right on time and encountered our usual north/northwesterly wind in our faces. The usual neutral zone to the railroad 2nd set of railroad tracks, then a brisk paceline begun. There were no big attacks off the front, but as the climb to the firehouse began…the pace did split up the group. If I recall correctly, the lead group was Jamal, Mark, Robert, and myself. After a few more surges to up the tempo, the group was down to three riders – Jamal, Mark, and myself. As anyone who has done this ride knows, the first sprint comes after a good steady (but not super steep) climb…you really need to conserve as much energy as you can for the final push to the firehouse. This is exactly what I was trying to do, however…I was on the wheel of Jamal contemplating how I was going to outsprint a rider as strong as him. I waited and waited, and consequently got dropped the last 100-150 meters as Jamal took the first sprint.
After regrouping, we were off for the second sprint (100 meters south of Lincoln road). The section of the course is more rolling, which allows riders some reprieve on a few downhills. Pace was steady again until around the midpoint, when I sensed a lull in the group. I decided to attack off the front. My solo break was short-lived, as Jamal decided enough was enough and bridged back up to me with some riders in tow (well…at least I got some camera time for our sponsor – Great Divide Cyclery ;-). The rest of this section was steady with some strong work done by Robert, which I think may have cost him in the end because the group was widdled down to four – Jamal, Mark, myself, and Dave (who doesn’t necessarily consider himself a climber, but was right there). I remember Jamal giving words of encouragement to Dave as the grade began to increase towards the second sprint line. And the savvy vet that Dave is, he was knowingly keeping on the wheel of Jamal and not pulling through in order to save some for the sprint finish (nice tactic, Dave). While the rest is a little foggy, all I remember is coming up to the line on Dave’s wheel biding my time again (thinking the sprint line was the sign on the right-hand side of the road). Wrong. I came around Dave as he went for it…but was just a little late as I misjudged the finish. Great uphill sprint win for Dave – well played.
On to the final sprint, which ended up being a small group of three who shot off right from the beginning. I remember chatting with Dave about different things, looking up, and seeing Jamal, Mark, and Byron doing a team time trial with a tail wind. Oh Sh*#! Dave and I began working together and eventually bridged up to Robert who was in no-man’s land. Dave dropped off as Robert and I began working together to try and bridge the gap. However, we were out numbered three to two as the gap remained up to the base of the last sprint. From what I hear, it came down to Jamal and Mark who basically powered out the last climb from their saddles and finished relatively close to one another – victory going to Mark at the line.
I can say that it has been enjoyable riding the Tuesday rides with some super savvy/knowledgeable road cyclists. We were missing a couple vets (and a young gun) this past Tuesday, but the tempo was still good and the finishes were exciting. I look forward to more Hell rides, and want to extend my appreciation to all of you riders who have helped me improve my cycling this season. There certainly are some tough hombres in Helena, Montana. Hope to see you there this coming week.