Thursday, December 28, 2006

6 Hours of Power - 2004

Temperatures in the low 80s and humid conditions greeted over 50 two-person teams and 60 solo racers on Sunday July 11, 2004 for the 2004 edition of the 6 Hours of Power, held at Holiday Valley Ski Center in Ellicottville, New York.This 6-hour race would start at 10:00am and finish at 4:00pm. The race atmosphere was festive with plenty of heart thumping music in the transition area as well as out on the course. Shannon and I arrived on Friday evening (sans children) and after checking into the house we were borrowing from a friend, we walked into the charming little ski town of Ellicottville to check out the sites and sounds. This is a great little ski town with lots of cool shops, restaurants and bars. On Friday and Saturday, we managed to hit quite a few of the local establishments including the local brew pub, a very cool wine bar/upscale delicatessen, and few other of the popular local hangouts. The course consisted of a 10-mile loop that started with a 2-mile fire road climb and lots of cool single track. There were a couple small single-track climbs and plenty of roots and bumps. There were also a couple of fast descents with speeds exceeding 35 mph on the final fire road descent. This course was definitely best suited for a full suspension bike. I was able to pre ride the course on Saturday and did a “nice easy” lap in around 55 minutes. I knew that we would likely do 7 or perhaps even 8 laps depending on our lap times. My partner Fritz (a college friend from Rochester, NY) and I agreed that I would do the ½ mile prologue run. I can’t remember the last time I ran, but we agreed (over a few beers Saturday night) that he had not in longer than me. Lucky me! The Le-Mans inspired start was promptly at 10:00 am. After the hilly run, my legs and heart were near their maximum and as I got on the bike and headed up the long starting climb I was in some difficulty. Eventually, I settled into a rhythm and ended up with a 54-minute lap time. Fritz did the next lap and this gave me 50 minutes or so to recover and prepare for the next lap. My second lap was my fastest of the day at 49 minutes. With four laps completed we were in 5th place, several minutes out of third. On the 5th lap, I passed the 4th place team (Joe Palatto and Tom Franek from my Snowshoe 4 person team) and notched a lap time of 52 minutes. On the 6th lap, Fritz came into the transition area still in 4th place a few seconds ahead of the 5th place team (Joe and Tom). As Joe and I were waiting to go out for the 7th lap, we talked of a leisurely ride together (as 6th place was way behind). However, once I got on the bike and the competitive juices were flowing that was all forgotten as I was determined to drop Joe like a bad habit. I was like a frenzied shark with blood in the water…Joe wasn’t having his best day and I was feeling pretty good…so I attacked on the first hill. I went out for our 7th lap (my 4th) at 3:13pm, a few seconds ahead of 5th place, 6 minutes behind 2nd and 3rd and 11 minutes behind 1st. If I did a 47-minute (or less) lap then Fritz would go out for our 8th lap. I did not think I could gain 6 minutes to catch 2nd and 3rd, but I was determined to remain in 4th place. So I pushed it on the first climb and as I turned into the single track at the top, I had put some time into my buddy Joe (this was cool as he is usually waaaay faster than me). After that I did not see him again and ended up with a 51 minutes lap time, amazingly only 35 seconds out of 3rd. This is a very well organized race (relatively speaking compared to other local MTB races) and an excellent very “rideable” course. I would definitely recommend this event for next year. Congratulations to all the riders and team that participated including Ross Clark (7 laps solo) and Leo and the rest of the OBB guys

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