Jans’ team member, Martin Holly, was right in the midst of the 2013 Ride the Rockies, a noncompetitive, seven stage road bike event held in Colorado. His neck and back were starting to ache and his butt would rather not ride another day in the saddle. Having covered 225 miles in just three days with only the power of his own two legs, Marty had every right to be tired. But he got back on his road bike to face Stage 4 and the mother of all climbs up Wolf Creek Pass.
Pace Lining with Younger Riders
Just as he was wishing for a slipstream to help pull him along, Marty happened upon three riders who would become his new best friends. Steve Luchini and Matthew Mach, both younger and stronger than Marty, were happy to let him mooch off their wheels. They soon picked up a fourth rider, Brandon Shull, who was just 10 years old but completely able to hang with the older guys. “Brandon is the coolest kid, I’ve ever met,” recalls Marty. The talented young rider shared the work as the foursome flew through the first 17 miles of Stage 4. “That just made my whole day,” says Marty. “We got in the groove and were really hauling.”
Climbing Wolf Creek Pass
Perhaps that is why so many of the participants in the Ride the Rockies come back year after year. Quite a few have been riding this bike race for well over ten years. And while yesterday’s stage up Wolf Creek Pass was a long and arduous 91 miles with a 4,678 elevation gain, the scenery was spectacular causing many riders to stop and take pictures.
Surrounded by evergreens, granite rock faces and even a few waterfalls, Marty took a slow and steady approach to the ascent. “You just have to put it in a lower gear and grind it out,” he said of the steady eight mile climb. While he’d stand up periodically, the Jans bike expert focused on establishing a nice, easy cadence and said that even on the false flats he really had to get after it.
The descent came as a welcome reprieve and while Marty was afraid to look at exactly how fast he was going, he guesses it was close to 50 miles per hour. However, since he was riding a Trek Madone, similar to those ridden by the pro cyclists, Marty had no concerns about safety. “That bike is so stable, I didn’t even have to worry about it,” he recalls.
Stage 5 and Beyond
Stage 5 begins today and will take the riders from Alamosa to Salida, Colorado with a mere 1600 feet change in elevation. However, the 84 mile distance is nothing to dismiss. Unfortunately this may be the last day of riding.
Wild fires are raging out of control in Colorado and Stage 6 was scheduled to begin in Canon City, which is currently being evacuated due to fire danger. While a premature end to the race would be disheartening for the cyclists, that pales in comparison to the people who are at risk of losing their homes.
Even if the race ends early, Marty will still be ready to come home to Park City. Despite five straight days on his road bike, he is already looking forward to hopping on his mountain bike and hitting some of Park City’s over 400 miles of bike trails.
And he is definitely planning on riding the Rockies again next year. “I love the camaraderie of the event and I just like getting on the bike,” smiles Marty. “There’s something about being on a bike, despite the sore muscles, that makes it all worth it.”
Liz Yokubison, Senior Editor