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Tour of the Gila Report(5 posts)

Tour of the Gila ReportBipedZed
May 6, 2002 12:03 PM
Tour of the Gila is a USCF 5-day stage race set in the mountains of the Gila National Forest near Silver City, NM. Mostly known as a climber's race it has almost 20,000 ft of climbing in 260 race miles...and that's just for the 3s. It draws a large regional contingent from AZ, CA, NM, TX, and CO. This year there were 120 starters in the SM 3s.

Stage 1 - Tyrone TT 15.7 mile out and back 1260' climbing
The weather was incredibly windy for this one with 25mph sustained headwind on the climb, a strong crosswind in the middle and a tailwind on the screaming downhill back to the start/finish. I spun out a 55x12 for the last 4 miles down. Next year a 56x11 will be in order. I finished 51st and hit my goal of being in the top half, and this TT confirmed that the next 4 days were going to be very hard.

Stage 2 - Silver City to Mogollon Pass 72 miles with 4760' of climbing mostly at the end.
Essentially a gradual downhill out of Silver City to a medium climb in the middle and a descent to the base of Mogollon Pass with most of the climbing in the last 6 miles. Huge 120 pack rolled out of Silver City around 8am and turned into a pee from the bike stage. Don't know if it was the coffee or what but it seemed like everytime I looked over to the gutter there was someone going. A break of 3 got away almost immediately while descending out of Silver City. One guy stayed away for the entire stage, putting 3 minutes into everybody, and ended up the overall winner. At the 50 mile mark at the top of the middle climb I had an unplanned meeting with the pavement as the guy 2 bike lengths in front overlapped wheels and went down taking out 5 of us about mid-pack. And I thought I would avoid idiot things like this in the 3s... Luckily all I lost was some skin and some time as we managed to chase back on 1 mile before the final climb. By then we had been working too hard and had little left for the steep climb. I managed to recover half way up the climb and managed to pass enough guys to finish 79th on the stage from DFL starting the climb.

Stage 3 - Inner Loop RR 78 miles with 5500' climbing
Includes the infamous descent out of Pinos Altos with STEEP hairpin turns and lots of crashes. A lead group took off on the first climb of the day to Pinos Altos and I found myself after the descent in the valley with the 2nd chase group. Unrelenting climbs all day long and no one wanted to work. I ended up pulling a fair amount through the relatively flat valley and hung on while we climbed back to the finish. 67th on the stage and was now 65th GC. This was by far the most difficult stage on the race, with rolling climbs the entire 78 miles, plenty of places for a selection to happen.

Stage 4 - Silver City Crit 50 minutes
Most guys just wanted to get through this stage and use it as recovery before the last stage. Almost everyone finished same time. The only crash the entire day was during the Women's Pro race in turn 2 someone went in too hot and took out most of the leaders, including Jeanie Longo, who had to abandon. D'oh! It was amazing watching Mercury shut down a 3-person break that had 45-sec on the Mercury-led main field with 2 laps to go (2:15 laps). With a few laps to go right after turn 3, Chris Horner (in front of John Wordin who was spectating on the sidewalk) cut right into the Mercury paceline breaking it up causing lots of obsenities to be hurled. Chris just smiled. Definitely no love lost there.

Stage 5 - Gila Monster RR 72 miles with 5400' climbing
This stage was basically Stage 3 in reverse. From 120 starters we were now down to 90. I was determined to stay with the main group as we climbed out of Silver City and be with the leaders at the base of the final 15 mile climbing section. Goal accomplished and as we hit the first steep climb I couldn't hold on to the leaders and rode tempo up the climb picking up other remnants of the lead group. When I saw the 2 m
Stage 5 and ConclusionBipedZed
May 6, 2002 12:05 PM
Stage 5 - Gila Monster RR 72 miles with 5400' climbing
This stage was basically Stage 3 in reverse. From 120 starters we were now down to 90. I was determined to stay with the main group as we climbed out of Silver City and be with the leaders at the base of the final 15 mile climbing section. Goal accomplished and as we hit the first steep climb I couldn't hold on to the leaders and rode tempo up the climb picking up other remnants of the lead group. When I saw the 2 mile to go sign I decided to just go and dropped my group and bridged to the a group containing my biggest GC threat to finish 62nd and 59th overall GC. I managed to make my goal of finishing in the top half of the 120 starters and am determined for a top 30 finish next year.

The race is an incredible experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who can make it out next year. I believe it is the only 5 day stage race available to Cat 3s left in the US. After this race I am totally hooked on long RRs, particularly stage racing.

General notes - Genevieve Jeanson was amazing and basically soloed to every finish. On Stage 3 I kept expecting her to catch and pass our group even though the Pro Women started 20 minutes behind the SM 3s. Mercury and Prime Alliance both stayed at the Super 8 which shared a parking lot with my motel. Interesting to see the mechanics out working on the bikes all day long. The pro teams ride ALL THE TIME. Before the race, to the race start, back to the hotel after the race. Before the final stage I felt a bit guilty enjoying a green chile mexican dinner until we were sat next to the Mercury table who were all chowing down.
awesome!lonefrontranger
May 6, 2002 12:36 PM
And all this after a recent upgrade. I was watching the results with avid interest. My own teammate says she got squished in the Women's 3/4, but then she's only 16.

Did you see "dreadlock Jeff" from Louisville Velo? Seems he was flying at Gila.
DefinitelyBipedZed
May 6, 2002 12:54 PM
Jeff Wardell is hard to miss. I had seen him around at cross races and I got to know him this year because I've been beating him by about a second every time in the Cherry Creek TT series. Coincidentally I beat him by a second at the Gila Stage 1 TT. Apparently TTs aren't his forte but that guy can climb with the best of them. He's absolutely amazing. At one point when we were ascending the climb up to Pinos Altos, Jeff was leading and I looked down and we were doing 27mph uphill! Shortly after that I was doing 17mph. He ended up 5th overall which is phenomenal, especially since the 35+ guys were mixed in with us and most of those guys are 2s or above.

See you at Sara Kay?
Sara Kay =lonefrontranger
May 6, 2002 1:00 PM
Too much climb, not enough corners. Sigh. Seems to be my fate at almost all the CO races. I'll be there, but I won't be enjoying life.

Seriously, great job at Gila. I myself am looking forward to Platte Bridge, but I don't think anyone could pay me enough to do the Gila monster.