Many years ago, Dug introduced me to road biking. One of the first things Dug showed me was the sprint finish. If you've ridden w/ Dug or any of his friends up AF Canyon, you know what I'm talking about. For those of you who haven't, let me explain....
There is a guard station at the bottom of the AF Canyon entrance. That is the sprint finish line. Any time we climb AF, it is understood that there will be a sprint on the downhill. No need to talk about it. It's just the way it is. It's the way that canyon was meant to be ridden. And the guard station is the perfect finish line. Usually there are several cars and one or two park rangers in the shack so there is always an audience. Someone who could, if needed, resolve any dispute as to who won the sprint.
The sprint is an art. Go too early and you will burn up. Go too late and you lose the line. Everyone usually takes turns pulling on the downhill and there is usually conversation among the group. But at right about the Timp Cave parking lot, the ride turns serious. That's when people start looking around. Watching the shadows on the road. Listening for any gear changes.
This morning, before work, Dug, Elden, and I climbed up AF to Pine Hollow. Elden was on his SS road bike. As we climbed, I mentioned to Elden that just because he was on his SS, the sprint was still on. When you have too many bikes, you run the risk of bringing the wrong bike on the ride. Elden was not to be a contender in today's sprint (but it still counts on his record). This morning would be the first sprint of the year for me. And Dug, the defending champ ,was on the ride. I couldn't wait.
After reaching Pine Hollow, we took in the view and chated for a few minutes and then it was business time (no, not that kind of business....the other kind).
We stayed together all the way past the cave parking lot. I couldn't believe Elden was still with us. No gears and he was right there. I started to think he might have a shot at the sprint. Dug and I took a few pulls at the front and we got within mile marker 9. The guard station was close. I looked back and noticed a car coming down the canyon. I decided to put the hammer down before the car interfered with the sprint. Dug was right on my wheel, I let up a little and he came around. After a few seconds, I tried to slingshot past him and went for it.
I managed to put a little gap between us but not enought to lose him. He was on my wheel and the guard station was in sight. Head down and mashing my pedals, I almost went off the road. It would come down to the final 10 feet and dug half wheeled me for the win.
I think the sprint takes more effort than the entire climb up AF. We would pay for it as we climbed back up Suncrest.
Good morning despite starting off the 2008 season one down to Dug.