Last week I returned from racing the Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico. If you are not familiar with the race, it is a five day stage race in the Gila wilderness in and around Silver City. There are UCI races for both men and women, so the top riders in the country are in Silver City for the week. The cool thing about it is that the USAC amateur races run concurrently and on the same roads as the pros. The Gila is the only UCI event that I know of with this feature, and it make the racing super-cool. With five days of racing, altitude, climbing, technical descents, and wind, the Gila is hands down the hardest amateur event in the country. It is also the best organized race I've ever participated in, and the residents of Silver City do a great job of hosting the race.
I rode for Cicada Racing Inc. in USAC Category 3 races with two teammates, Joergen and Gary. I had debated riding the Masters A category, but I was hoping the Cat 3 field would be larger and give me more places to hide from the wind, and Cicada Racing had planned on having a few more racers in Category 3. Both anticipated advantages turned out not to be the case: the Cat 3 field was about the same size as the Masters, and Cicada had the same number of riders in each. I went into the race fitter and lighter than last year, with more racing miles in this season and better crit skills, and it was a good thing; my Strava files showed I burned more energy and spent more time at higher heartrate zones than last year, leading me to conclude that the racing was harder this year than last. Joergen and Gary both did well; Joergen was just off the podium at 4th overall, and Gary was first in the 35+ competition and 10th overall. They are great racers and teammates and it was a privilege to race with them. I survived at 35th (out of 43). What follows is my impressions of each day of racing.
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