June 24, Philipsburg,
MT Blazing Saddles (TT & Hill Climb Omnium)
Blazing Saddles, indeed. If not the high temperatures then the courses and competition heated up everything including chamois pads at Philipsburg on Sunday. The 40K TT out-and-back event snaked down Highway 1 toward Drummond and back uphill to the finish, with times ranging from the low 50s to slightly over an hour. That stretch of winding, rolling, highway that follows Flint Creek and the verdant hills with the Anaconda Range as a backdrop is one of the prettiest courses in the state. But most of us were focused on a different viewpoint, that small perspective that only included the pavement just ahead of our front wheel and that endless whiteline. Aubrey Curtis cruized to a Cat 5 win with a time just over an hour. Jennifer Griggs eclipsed the big women’s field (just kidding) to win her category. “Jumping” John Tietz, riding with clip-on aero bars on his road bike smoked many on those on more specialized TT hardware with a time below the hour-mark, beating all the Masters A group, placing 3rd in Masters B. Go figure. John said he could hear “Rabbit” Robert Ray breathing down his neck, which was insentive to keep pushing harder.
We chilled at the Tietz’s nice house in P-burg during the break between events. Thanks, John and Leah!! Then by the 3 p.m. start time of the hill-climb race, the temps were in the high 80s. A mass start event, we rolled out together neutral through town to the Rock Creek road and the attack of that divide summit, about 7 miles of racing. Cross and head winds buffeted the groups until the last pitch when we turned to go with the wind, thank goodness for a little push at the end…Pitch gradients exceeded 12%, supposedly, but felt like 20%. In the overall Omnium, Aubrey took top honors in the Cat 5, Jennifer won her category, with John 3rd, Robert 5 th and Randall 6 th in Masters B.