With the Tour of the Gila going on right now I can't help but to think back 10 years ago and crushing it on the road bike. It seemed 10 years ago the Gila was a road race where pro mountain bikers got their legs tuned up for the first Norba of the year in Big Bear. By the time the Gila is finished this sunday Norba season will be more than half way over and half the guys racing Norba don't even know where Big Bear is.....and I don't even think its called Norba anymore!
10 years ago; The 2001 Tour of the Gila....I was racing Cat 2 in probably one of the most stacked fields ever in a cat 2 race. I finished up the race with a sweet 6th place just ahead of T. Wells in the hardest road race 'THE GILA MONSTER' I have ever done. The result moved me to 11th after a horrible TT(no TT equipment whatsoever!) and a rough stage 2 finishing climb. JHK won the overall...he was a climbing machine.
In 2000 I also finished 11th 11:00 minutes behind Jason Toullous. Toullous was flying that season. My amigo Parki from Great Brittain was 5th and multi-world champ Walker Ferguson was 2nd.
In 2002 I was determined to WIN. I had the full support of Team Eclipse Racing. Scott Blanchard, Jason Karew, Jason Bache and a few others. The route for the final day of racing
changed and had us climbing up Emory Pass early on in the race. I think I was 2nd in the GC heading into the final day 1:00 minute back. I attacked on Emory Pass with 65 miles of racing to go. I had a good gap, but on the descent back down Emory Pass my team was coming up. The GC leader had flatted while I was off the front of the race. It was Carlos Vargas. He had caught back on before the long valley and the final climb up to Pinos Altos. I attacked multiple times on the final climb in an attempt to crack Carlos and it finally worked. I wasn't strong enough to win the stage (3rd) but I did gain my 1:00 min and took home the
overall! After each stage I drank a full bottle of Pedialyte and ate 2 meals a day at Wendy's! The host hotel was
right next door and I couldn't resist the $1.00 menu...I think it was the most fit I have ever been on the bike.
Here is a snapshot from the 01 Training Diary...
After the race I finished off the Ultimate Bucket at Cold Stone Creamery back in Tucson. Banana Ice Cream w/ Brownie, Oreos, Chocolate Chip, Walnuts, and Cookie Dough! The Ultimate Buckey is pretty big and I don't think I've had Banana Ice Cream since!