Smooth riding at Tour of the Gila

Jelly Belly p/b Kenda rider Nic Hamilton sent this report after the Tour of the Gila.

More often than not our race programs involve stacked races in a variety of locations which all coincide in one single trip from home. This can make packing a challenge as the weather in North America can fluctuate dramatically from one region to another. Having packed an entire line of Ironclad gloves and Pactimo clothing, suitable for anything from the coldest wintery weather to full-blown summer desert heat, I was pleased that the Tour of the Gila arrived with a great forecast.

It turned out that we had little need for our cold weather gear and didn’t need to make any trips back to the car during the race to get the “rain bag.”

Photo by Brian Hodes

Photo by Brian Hodes

While the weather cooperated marvelously, there was no changing the altitude factor. The most challenging aspect of racing the Tour of the Gila is coping with the lower pressure up in the high desert. Nutrition, hydration, race strategy, sleeping and recovery are all dramatically affected and whoever can deal with it the best comes out on top. The five-day race featured a dynamic range of events including three road stages, a downtown crit, and a challenging time trial course. With such variety in the stages our mechanics were pumped to have 3T wheels onboard; the Mercurio 40 carbon race wheelset was light enough for the first day’s Cat 1 mountain finish and extremely aerodynamic and strong for the big power sprints in the crit and rolling breakaway. One wheel, any conditions — the fewer decisions athletes need to make the better.

Photo by Brian Hodes

Photo by Brian Hodes

We stayed safe throughout the race, always keeping close to each other and near the front, and it paid off well as the first few days saw some carnage on the road. The non-altitude guys were the helpers for the tour and kept those on the squad who were acclimated and ready to climb sheltered and fueled. The most notable ride of the tour was Serghei Tvetcov finishing in the top ten on the queen stage, the Gila Monster, among some of the best climbers in North America.

Our lives were made much easier throughout the tour as we were staying in a massive 1800s home only two blocks from the heart of Silver City. The house itself showed the character of the region with adobe style walls, several courtyards, and great gardens throughout the property. It was large enough to sleep 10 people and the kitchen was up to the test of pumping out some gourmet and extremely healthy meals. What a difference home-cooked food makes on the road! We were so thankful to have the option to choose our own menu and have a few “tastes of home” which are often lost when traveling.

Photo by Brian Hodes

Photo by Brian Hodes

The proximity to all the races allowed us to ride to and from most stages, which again, made an enormous difference. Thank you to the great hosts we had in Silver City and Mel at the Three Dogs Café who took great care of our caffeine and dessert needs. Silver City was a town full of smiles, warmth, and unique culture – something that was not lost on us. Many of us are already talking about coming back to train and all of us are certainly keen to return next year and have another crack at the top step in New Mexico.

Thanks for reading and look for the Jelly Belly p/b Kenda team in St. Louis, Missouri next weekend for the Tour de Grove.

-Nic

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