If I had to sum up this entire weekend in a single acronym, it would be “WSM” (Western Slacker Mentality). Let’s start with the Ride for the Pass, an alleged hillclimb race from Aspen to the top of Independence Pass. I declined to actually race this, electing instead to ride with my friend Sam who is a month out of ACL reconstruction. Anyway, I arrived about an hour early. The start line was so dead that I missed it on the drive in. I registered, used the facilities (which were fantastic), filmed a casting call for a Suzuki commercial and picked up my transponder chip. Then I sat around for a while. About 20 minutes before the gun, people started arriving in droves. A massive crowd overwhelmed the chip-dispersal table, with recreational riders cluttering up the racers. People began lining up, and the announcer began counting down to start, even though scores of people had not yet picked up their timing chips. I and an experienced race official approached the announcer.
Cosmo: You can’t start the race yet; many riders don’t have their chips.
Announcer: No, we have to start now. It’s out of my hands. The timing system is already running.
Official: Well, we could just let them know we started 5 minutes late.
Announcer: No, that’s too complicated. WE’ll just start now.
Cosmo: Uh, actually, sir, it’s not that hard, I’ll even do the subtraction for you…
Many, many pissed racers left late. Upon seeing one irate young woman tear out of the chip distribution table, shouting “get out of the way,” one round-bellied, hairy-legged Serotta-rider commented “Hey, I thought this was Aspen.”
The course was acceptably scenic, and was pretty much a constant 6 or so percent, with a few flats. Sam spun his MTB cassette pretty easy, and I mashed away at a conversational pace in various rear cogs between 12 and 23 teeth. An hour, four food stops and countless snowballs later, we arrived at the finish, but I noticed right away that it was, quite literaly, anti-climactic. So I kept spinning up the road, and lo and behold, it continued up another thousand feet or so, through the most scenic views of the day. The top, 4.1 miles past the finish on my computer was like another planet; eerie blue skies, white mountains, 10-foot snowbanks and patches of rock blown clear by the wind. Too bad 90% of the competitors never saw it. What the hell kind of hill climb starts 2 miles out of town and end 4 miles down from the top? Lazy, lazy westerners.