Ken rippin the downhill in Angel Fire, NM. Photo: vastaction.com
Angel Fire has always been an important race to me, it was the first 'mountainous' course I ever raced a single speed on, it is one of the most physically and mentally demanding courses, it is super techy going up and coming down, and is just a lot of fun. The 2006 installment of this event did not dissappoint.
After an easy pre-ride the day before, I was a bit nervous in the thought my legs did not feel fresh, and was unsure about being to push it. My training leading inot the season has been completely different than that of prior seasons, leaving the door open for self-doubt. But at the same time, I have never felt as fresh mentally nor physically, I know I am missing some top end speed, which the plan was to gain through racing the month of May and into June.
We had a solid field of riders at the starting line, soem of whom I have already raced once, most I have not, so lots of questions to be answered, and they were on the first climb. Dan Durland, as he has done for several races going back into last season, grabbed an early lead which was short-lived, as I took over at the top of the start shoot. Rolling around the side of the ski hill, I rode very conservative, and had a look at the rest as we hit the fist switchback. Just a few minutes in, and it was David LaBarr (he won the IF frame at SSWC05) and myself off the front. The climb from there was gradual, until we hit a loose fast descent that dropped us out onto a ski run, and then it was a hard right for one of the steepest climbs. I punched it to see how David was doing, he dropped back, and struggled his way back up, and I thought I was in for a long hard fight.
I kept the lead as we plowed through the Expert classes that had started before us. The climb varied greatly in grade, and was mostly doubletrack for the first part, then we hit the twisting and techy singletrack climb. It was there I made another attack, putting about 6 experts and a lot of daylight between David and myself. On the gas, I kept climbing, making quick work of the Expert riders on front of me. The climb weaved in and out the woods, and was speckled with gnarly rock gardens. My new Hutchinson Piranhas were finding great purchase in the loose conditions, as I kept rolling to the summit. peaking out the first of two laps, I gave a quick glance back - no one.
The descent is so sweet, tight, snappy, rock strewn singletrack the whole way down. Makes for interesting passing, which I made a few, but it felt great to get into the flow on the way down. This is the kind of descent you do not relax on, it is punishing, but I was ear-to-ear smiles.
Through the base area, I charged out on my second lap, but still looking for any sign of my pursuiants. Like the first lap, I was charging through categories that had started earlier, and was getting a lot of encouragement from the riders I was passing. Near the top, that pain of several thousand feet of climbing over the course of the race was starting to be felt in my legs, but was dimmed by the thought if I can just keep my bike on the trail, this was my race. At the bottom as I circumvented the base area loop one last time, I saw the line, as was so stocked to have won the Chile Challenge for a 5th time.
Once David came in, we conversed, and then 3rd place Kenneth Kisiel joined in. We all had a great time out there, and enjoyed the competition. In the end I was able to ope a good gap over the field, and beat every time of the categories that did two full laps. A lot of spectators cheered me on as the IF Single guy, a nickname I wear proudly. It is a great start to the season, and it looks like my training is already paying off. Thanks to my sponsors and everyone who supports me!
Men - Single Speed
Place Name Time License Bib Team
1 Ken Bloomer 1:52:46.94 161389 35 Independent Fabrication
2 David Labarr 2:00:12.89 20065 692 Tamarack Resort
3 Kenneth Kisiel 2:01:36.05 19279 39
4 Michael Cubison 2:05:13.87 229210 36 University Of Colorado
5 Clinton Knapp 2:06:54.23 19424 40 Blacksheep Bicycles
6 Devin Curran 2:08:47.01 211576 37 Wily Cycles
7 Robin G 2:08:50.39 467
8 Dan Durland 2:17:12.10 199907 38 Pro Cycling
9 Chris Sulfrian 2:24:29.30 185757 42 Team Pink Taco
10 Andrew MESESAN 2:37:17.05 727
11 Thomas Ray 2:43:59.33 213174 724 KHS