Sunday, October 28, 2012

Vamos a ver . . .

El Ascenso al Cielo por el Camino de la Muerte is a bike race that goes from about 4,000' to about 15,500' over 63 kilometers.  "We'll see" was my standard reply to how I thought I would manage in the race up the Death Road.  It finishes here:

On the way to Coroico, we met another group of racers at the Cumbre.  We stared at the bikes for a while:

Trucha (trout) in Pongo with Kevin and Ariel.  What could be better?:

Kevin's cabanas:

Bananas at the cabanas:

Our accommodations:

Slack lining by the pool:

The veranda:

Bird watching was most extreme:

The pre-race banquet in progress:

Morning from the cabanas:

The 159 racers set off in groups of 20-30 from 6:00 to 8:00 when the elites began.  Staggered starts is a great way to run a race like this.  I started at 6:50.  Next year, I might start earlier to avoid totally the sun at the bottom.

Feeling the Jesus love:

The unpaved portion goes from about 4,000' to about 11,000'.  It's not too steep but it wears on you:

Trying to follow the plan:

Just about to the tarmac.  The last two kilometers of loose rocks are the worst but you know you get pavement next so that's sort of motivational:

The paved section ascends almost 5,000' more to La Cumbre and the Jesus statue:

Cold rain started but it didn't last too long:

Instead, it turned to sleet:

And then snow.  Having a big tent with gas warmers at the finish was a good idea:

A little windy too:

In your face to the end, a suitable finish for this race:

Plenty of medical help available:

Aaron warms his feet:

La Cumbre:

Looking back down the paved section:

Roberto and Jesus:

After a few hours, the snow stopped:

The Gold Medal winners:

Ariel and I display the hardware:

I was third in my age group (45-55) out of 42 and fifteenth overall out of 159.  The two guys ahead of me in the age group were 3rd and 6th overall.  The gold medal was for finishing within an age-graded time.  I was about hour ahead of the gold medal time limit in six hours and 21 minutes.

It was a pretty big day for me.  Not as bad as the SM100 or Wilderness 101 but quite a bit harder than anything else I can think of.  There were very few sections where you weren't riding uphill so you don't get the periodic breaks from descents like most mtb races.  Also, the elevation just gets worse and worse until the end.

Here the link to the race:

Also, if going downhill is more your thing.  There's that in La Paz as well:

Can't wait for next year.

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