In a race that was warp-speed right from the starting gun, Mitch Westall was the first rider over the summit at the Winter Park Hill Climb.
Racers were greeted with warm temps and clear blue skies this past weekend in Winter Park, Colorado, as they lined up for the first race of the Epic Singletrack Series. But while the relatively smooth fire road leaving the lodge at 9,080 feet looked pleasant enough, the racing was full-tilt, as racers wound their way 5.2 miles up to a finish line after more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain. A group of riders split from the pack right at the start, with Mitch following the group and waiting to make his move. About half way up the climb, riders in the lead group began launching attacks and counter-attacks. Mitch helped chase down one last attack before launching into the lead and crossing the line alone.
Further back, I had a rough time getting the legs to respond to the explosive starting pace, and I tried to settle in. At mile two the legs felt better and I clawed back some time on the top half of the course, finishing in 7th place. Despite the suffering we all endured, it was all worthwhile thanks to the great views at the top. Plus it was the opening weekend at the Winter Park resort, so all the trails were clear for the twisty descent back down to the lodge. No doubt, several more members of Team Gates Carbon Drive will be out in two weeks for round two of the Epic Singletrack Series!