By: Mark Wallace
After a rough start in the first Leadville Winter Bike race at Copper Mountain on an ill-suited single-speed, I was looking to use last nights second race, the Tennessee Pass Night Jam, as a final tune-up in preparation for the USCF Nationals on 27 February in Utah. I had a fresh tune-up from the guys at Pedal Pushers Cyclery, toasty Swiftwicks, and was sporting the newer Rudy Photochromic day/night glasses. These races have become immensely popular with the rise in fat bike sales and close to 100 racers were in attendance. Gone are the days when the old timers would glue tires to 50 mm rims on regular Mtn bikes and run them down to 6 PSI, there was a lot of hike-a-biking then on those “skinny tires”. Now riders fly along on 4.8″ tires on 100mm rims, last night the leader averaged almost 12 MPH!
It was a fast downhill start and the lead group of 5, including myself, began to gap off the front on the first climb about 3 minutes into the race. For 10 minutes at the 10,500 foot elevation the leaders hammered up to the top of the x-country ski area and past the Tennessee Pass Cook house (highly recommended for a nice hike and dinner!). It wasn’t until about 4 miles into the 11 mile race on “Fish Flats” that the eventual winner tucked down and pulled slowly away leaving the race on for 2nd and 3rd. Brett Billings and I traded places several times with multiple surges but the last single-track section found Brett leading down the final descent. We sprinted the last 100 yards once off the single track but I wasn’t able to pull ahead missing 2nd by a bike length. That hurt!
The Tennessee Pass Cookhouse hosts served an awesome pasts spread after the race! Thanks especially to Cloud City Wheelers for producing another amazing event!