Arguably the best one, definitely the most lucrative (even by World Cup standards) is the Blitz to the Barrel. Local mountain biker/entrepreneur/businessmen/good guy Eric Eastland suggested an undergound local race to me a couple years ago. This, its third iteration, is the most condensed fun I’ve had at a bike race in a long time. Basically, we started at Wanoga Sno-Park and raced down Funner and COD to Tetherow Golf Course, where a huge crowd watched us hit a sweet rock-to-wood stepdown then try to huck a sand trap before four (count ‘em) miles of pavement were pounded to get to the finish at Ten Barrel Brewing on the west side of town. Where we, um, pounded a pint to stop the clock.
My goal for this year, in the face of the strongest field and biggest purse ($20,000 split between the men and women’s top 5) was to arrive at Ten Barrel with enough time to slightly enjoy my beer. With guys like Carl Decker, Timmy, Gibson, Barry Wicks, Ryan Trebon, Josh Carlson, and Chris Sheppard in the mix, it wouldn’t be easy.
Things started off dangerously awesome with Carlson winning the $500 holeshot prime, just after Matthew Slaven did a RAD Crew Jones impersonation, bunny hopping the inside course tape to go from 6th to 2nd.
So high, so smooth, so close… I respected his radness for a while, and Nick’s amazing pink POC kit, then set about catching the Aussie. It happened fast and I was alone soon after. Tasting that deliciously bubbly malted beverage already. Tetherow was a blur of screaming fans and setting sun. Fortuately, Alex McClaren was on the PA, and, instead of telling dirty jokes, he actually gave split times when my unseen pursuer, Wicks, came onto the driving range.
45 seconds. Just enough time to finish up and drink a pint. Fast. With some burping/sneezing/gasping. For $3000!
Katie Compton brought the Colorado Springs’ locals’ battle to the Blitz, taking down Kelli Emmett in the ladies division. Rosara and I really miss you on the Rabobank team, Katie, but we understand your position… And now you’re rich too! Thanks, Eric, and all the Blitz Sponsors. This race is ridiculous.
The Blitz experience really begins at the finish line though. Imagine having a bunch of stoked buddies, bike nuts and curious strangers at the pub, which is your finish line, on a Tuesday night. Plug in a Sublime cover band on a proper stage provided by All Access to get everyone stoked for the final event, ARM WRESTLING! Who loves skinny, yet unhealthily competitive bike riders performing feats of strength? Turns out, everyone. Esepecially the elders of the race, Lev and Brooke. Evidently you need to be a parent to rip someone’s arm off. Well played. Things kept on after that, just another Tuesday night ending in that fateful decision – whether or not to go to the Westside Tavern for a nightcap…