Round Mountain is without a doubt my favorite hill to time trial. Towers is all good and well, but it's a dirt road and that's not really my thing. Round has everything. It's got its grunts, some flats, some views along the way, mile markers, rocks, roots, tons of switchbacks, and speedy technical sections. Honestly, you couldn't ask for more from a mountain, and at 4.5-4.75 miles (unsure of exact distance) with 2,700 feet of vertical it has just about the right stats to make it a challenge, but not be too intimidating that the thought of it makes you want to roll over and go back to bed (Pikes).
This was to be the second installment of the Front Range time trial series, the first having taken place on much different terrain up the front side of Green. We had almost the same cast of characters in attendance minus Brandon, Cat, Victoria, Slush and Brownie, but plus Nick P (finally Boulder shows up), Cherilyn, Rick and Travis. The last time (July `09) I TT'd Round I ran 52:55, so that was floating out there as a fastest known time (FKT) and the morning's mark.
Rick had taken off up the mountain before I got there, while Cherilyn and Travis set off a few minutes before the rest of us, apparently tired of our mindless chatter. As usual, GZ got the ball rolling by taking a flier from the gate, while Lucho was busy waiting for a satellite signal from space. Undeterred, Lucho was on us within meters and much like on Green was soon out of sight with Eric not far behind and Bob making up the last of the podium positions. I was in a state of absolute oxygen debt after a cold (no warm-up) start, and my legs felt like bricks after a heavy weekend of miles and vertical. A couple of minutes in and I was still feeling terrible, so I just slotted in behind George and figured I'd tempo the hill.
Just before the first mile marker, I finally felt like I was hitting a bit of a rhythm and that I would be able to push out a solid effort. Half way into the second mile, I caught sight of Bob a couple of switchbacks up and was overtaking him by 2.5, just before the beginning of the technical flat section, which I hammered harder than I think I ever have. By the time I popped out past the three-mile marker, Eric was beginning to come into view, so I set about hunting him down although he was still a good couple of switchbacks up on me. I finally caught him shortly after the four-mile marker, and then concentrated on getting my head down for the remainder of the climb, confident that Lucho was still way up on me and uncatchable.
The split at four miles was just under 42 minutes, so I knew a PR was going to happen, but that the sub-50 was going to be touch and go. Apparently I didn't have enough left in the tank to dip under 50, but I got close, hitting the summit cairn in 50:24, which was good for a PR haircut of two and a half minutes. Considering I had 52 miles and over 12,000' in my legs from the prior two days, I'll take it.
Eric was next up (51 low), followed by Bob (53:30), George (55:47), Nick P (60 low), Cherilyn (60-61 - no watch, but best guess based on her start time and proximity to GZ at the finish), Rick (62 high, coming from sea level) and Travis (no watch). Pete was a DNF after puking two miles in. Lucho also puked at the top (Rick reportedly has video evidence) after registering a blistering 47:58. I think anyone who has run Round can attest to how fast that time is - damn, Lucho!
So, yeah, another fun morning with a great bunch of guys, some good BS'in, and perfect weather. George and I headed back up to the two-mile marker for 13 miles and 4,200' on the day, while Nick pushed out another summit as he builds back up for Hardrock in six weeks after five weeks on the DL.
Splits (versus previous PR):
Some action from the morning: