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Colossal Cave Stage Race – Day 2

2 April 2009 No Comment

 

Joe Patronite (SouthWest Hand) looks like he already has the prize money spent...

Joe Patronite (SouthWest Hand) looks like he already has the prize money spent...

The Road Race course is very familiar to almost any cyclist in Tucson. It’s the eastern most “escape” from the creep of the little pink rooflines of progress. When you head east on a ride, weather it’s the fast guys from the University or weekend warriors, it almost always includes Old Spanish Trail out towards the cave. How far you get on the journey, maybe just the general store or Loma Alta, depends on your reason for riding. The serious riders loop over the top of Pistol Hill and through Vail for a 100 mile training ride. Those among us who fear lactate just enjoy the gradual climb up to the cave and the fast decent back to the store.

The peloton rides through the Rincon Valley on Old Spanish Trail with Tanque Verde Peak in the distance.

The peloton rides through the Rincon Valley on Old Spanish Trail with Tanque Verde Peak in the distance.

The Rincon Valley still has a rural feel to it, but the traffic gives away the actual number of people living in the area. Vail itself has grown to be a nice little town on the southern flanks of the Rincons.

I recall a riders description (I think it was Andy Bishop) of his first trip out to the cave. How he marveled that he had brought himself out this far under the power of his own two legs. I think most of us had that moment out here. Even with the traffic, it’s a big part of Tucson cycling history.

It's an International affair...

It's an International affair...

Even though this is the 11th running of the Colossal Cave race, the course once held the Tucson Bicycle Classic, and Time Trials up to the cave from what was then the steak house on OST. It once wrapped around the back side of Pistol Hill and featured a series of “stair step” climbs and roller coaster dips. The County closed the old road when they put Pistol Hill Rd. through and started charging to enter the park. It was a unique part of the ride on narrow winding roadway. Dangerous to car traffic and bikes together, so the closure made sense. I’m sure it didn’t have anything to do with the money the County is making :-)

Sarah Swanson (Summit Velo) has a "What the ...." moment on the course. Tucson is within sight, but this is still open range in the wild west.

Sarah Swanson (Summit Velo) has a "What the ...." moment on the course. Tucson is within sight, but this is still open range in the wild west.

The 9 mile circuit tops out at 3,550 feet and the lowest point sits at 3,160 feet. That climb is 3.5 miles up OST and Pistol Hill to the start. Once over the top of the start line, it’s downhill with a short upward tilt along the first half of Camino Loma Alta. Right turn on OST and start the climb again. One note on the road surface…..poor!!

Side note: How bad are the roads on your route? Did you know the city grades the roadways with scanners? Check out the TDOT map and the countless layers of information….HERE

The rollers on the steadily uphill portion of Old Spanish Trail.

The riders took to the course in two waves. The morning wave featured the Cat IV and V’s, all Juniors and Women, and all Masters. The nature of the course is that things tend to split up rather quickly. This year even more so with the fatigue of the previous days events in the riders legs.

Open range means cattle guards. They look much nastier from this viewpoint.

Open range means cattle guards. They look much nastier from this viewpoint.

While Team GST was putting away the men’s 35+ and 45+ masters events, Team Kenda was doing the same in the masters women’s events. Scoring a 1-2 in the 35+ with Monica Soriano and Sue Adkins, and Liz Merritt taking the win over Janet Itsell (Calovita) in the 45+.

The proper way to win at Colossal Cave.

The proper way to win at Colossal Cave.

In the mens Pro-I it was Curtis Gunn (Fly-V Australia/Successful Living)  who easily rode away from Nick Schreiber (Landis/Trek) for the stage win and the overall win for the weekend.

You can check out all of the pictures from the day by following this link, and the results link for the….uh, results.

Mason
Link to results

Link to photo galleries

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