The Mt. Taylor Winter Quadrathlon consists of 13 miles of uphill road biking, 5 miles of running up a dirt road, 2 miles of uphill cross country/back-country skiing and a 1 mile snowshoe to the top of 11,301 foot Mt. Taylor and then . . . you do it all again in reverse. The pairs and teams took off an hour after the solo competitors and we were a smaller group. It had been a while since I'd competed in a bike race and I hadn't even been on my road bike in months, so I decided to be conservative at the start. The first couple mile took us through the town of Grants and out on to the road leading up Mt. Taylor. The top 15-20 riders rode as a pack which I guess was okay. I was unsure of the etiquette in this race recalling my triathlon days where drafting on the bike was strictly forbidden. A few of us in the pack talked about this and it seemed no one was really sure so we just rode on taking turns pulling up front. Once we hit the hill about 4 miles in, the pack started to split up and I was surprised for a while to find myself out front. As the climb steepened and my unconditioned legs tired, I got reeled in and passed (but not dropped) by a few riders. The climb was tough, but the scenery was nice, the sun was warm and it felt good to be out on the bike and hanging in with the lead group. The last 3 miles were pretty steep and I started to look forward to arriving at the transition and getting off the bike to run. I was the 5th rider in from the team/pairs start, quickly found my running shoes, shed my helmet and gloves, grabbed a cup of water and chuck of banana and headed up the road.
My legs were heavy for the first couple miles, but I loosened up and caught three of the four teams/pairs that had started ahead of me. The run continued up a wide dirt road that turned in to mud, snow and ice in the last two miles. I ran in to the run/ski transition where Nora was waiting and quickly snapped into her skis and headed out on to an icier, steeper and more extreme ski course than anyone was expecting.
Nora of course took it on like the champion skiier that she is, smiling the whole way. . . with maybe a couple of falls and some cursing here and there. After successfully navigating the ski course up, Nora strapped on her snow shoes and raced the last mile to the 11,301 foot summit of Mt. Taylor where she took a moment to enjoy the view before turning around and flying back down the slope to clip back in to her skis. Downhill skiing is where Nora truely excels and after the race, she modestly shared that she passed 23 other skiers on the downhill. When she got back to the ski/run transition, I was ready and waiting and took off to run the 5 miles back to my bike. I was looking forwad to the long down hill bike ride where I could push a big gear, tuck in and fly back to the finish, but I was instead hit with some fierce afternoon headwinds that I fought for most of the 13 miles back down to Grants.
I rolled in to the finish for a combined time of 5 hours 28 minutes which seemed pretty respectable. I found Mike and Jessica in the beer tent and enjoyed a Santa Fe brewing State Pen Porter while I waited for Nora to get shuttled back to the finish. When Nora arrived, we watched the finish line for Chris and Steph (the instigator of this whole thing) who showed up all smiles after a long day on the race course.
Nora and I checked the results and found that we placed 3rd overall in the pairs division. We stuck around for the awards and proudly collected our yellow race caps and glass trophies.
We left Grants victorious and drove two hours to Santa Fe where we showered and enjoyed a delicious Valentine's + 1 dinner at the Blue Corn Cafe. It was a super fun weekend exploring a new place, competing in a unique event and hanging out with some good friends.