Lewis & Clark Ultra 2011
This year’s race began exactly the same as last year. Just two minutes before the first rider started, the rain began to fall. However, it lasted only an hour or so and before long we were bathed in sun showers. This gave us gorgeous cloud formations cast on high mountain peaks and later a crisp, clear night.
Ian Fillinger looked strong from the beginning and was the first to reach time station 1, followed closely by the two man team PACE Multisport and Fillinger’s competition, Ross Muecke and 12 hour racer Mick Walsh. Fillinger looked nearly the same after riding 24 hours as he did at the beginning – calm, coordinated and friendly. Incredible! His form was smooth and measured. There was no wasted energy. In fact, it was a little deceptive how fast he was going. When I was standing at KOM3 and I saw the speed at which he flew by me, I was very impressed. I thought me might begin to falter in the middle of the night, or at the very least, need to sleep and call it a night. But that was not in the cards for Fillinger, he’s a power house. He was after the big win – and he got it.
For the second year we offered a King and Queen of the Mountains competition and our winners were our married couple Mick and Martha Walsh. I guess the couple that rides together, stays together and wins together! You may be tired of this name, but Fillinger won the KOM in the 24 division along with Cristina Mehaescu.
It was a very chilly night but such a fun atmosphere around the pits. Surprisingly, the night is my favorite part of the race. I can settle in and hang out with the crew members. It is a little like camping, except I don’t come home smelling of wood smoke. Maybe next year, a firepit? The facilities provided at the Hockinson Middle School are ideal. We have the use of two gymnasiums, large boys and girls locker rooms with warm showers and plenty of areas to lay down your mat for a quick nap. I even found some time to run laps on the track out in the back of the school to help stay awake. But then asked out loud to no one in particular “why do people still do that?”
This year, I did not see as much of the course as I wanted to because I spent quite a while on KOM3, the bottom of Old Man Pass. This was to mark the time of all the riders as they begin their four mile climb to the top with the hopes of achieving King of the Mountains. Many failed, but four were successful! My partner ringing the cow bell was Anders, my super 3 year old son. In between learning how to throw sticks into the woods, he learned that ringing a cow bell at a cyclist helps them ride faster.
By the time all the 12 hour racers were finished racing and on their way home, I was able to relax a bit and prepare for the evening. There were now only 6 riders on the course. They rode all day long with threatening clouds and now were about to ride, literally, all night in the dark and cold. One rider didn’t find the cold bothersome; I was shocked every time Jeff Maurar came through wearing cycling shorts and jacket. Each rider came through at 30 to 60 minutes intervals and most refueled or added more warm clothing. This race is such a different atmosphere once the night falls. It’s serene and peaceful, a little bit lonely and a little bit spooky. But I love the night.
Every year before the race I am running around like a madman trying to get everything prepared and set up and try to minimize errors and learn from the year previous, I wonder if I want to do this all again the following year. It’s a lot of work to set up. But after the race when I have so many riders thanking me for the event , I realize that I love being a part of this great cycling community. I had amazing volunteers again this year and want to thank them all for being a part of this great event. We had fantastic sponsors too: VelEau hydration systems, Starbucks, HotFoot Photo, Fox Barrel cider, Leatherman, and Hammer Nutrition who donated amazing prizes. So do I want to do this all over again next year?
You betcha. I can’t wait.