No nudity but plenty of dynamite as Montezuma’s Revenge begins
MONTEZUMA – Anyone lining the course of the 17th annual Montezuma’s Revenge 24-hour mountain bike event solely to see naked racers were sourly disappointed Friday.
Although certain competitors didn’t make a tradition of last year’s disrobing, 36 adrenaline-crazed bikers pedalled faster than they probably needed to during the first three “showboat” loops of the course in Montezuma, before climbing up Saints John Road and disappearing into the night. Up the road is where the real struggle begins, as racers take on 10 crossings of the Continental Divide, thousands of feet of climbing – topping out at the summit of Grays Peak at 14,270 feet – before hallucinating their way back, aiming to get as close as they can to the finish, which ends at 4 p.m. today.
After it’s all said and done, Montezuma’s Revenge consists of 201 miles of riding and 35,711 vertical feet of elevation gain. Nobody’s ever conquered it.
Although racers kept their clothes on when the dynamite blast kicked off the race Friday, there was plenty talking about who was going to get spanked, and Vail’s Dawes Wilson, who took second to Rishi Grewal in last year’s race, seemed to be the 2003 favorite.
“That guy over there who’s turning 50 is just going to bury my ass,” said Mark Thompson, who took third last year, of Wilson, who celebrates his 50th birthday Thursday.
“He routinely spanks a lot of guys in these races,” added Kevin Gillest, who had some technical problems in last year’s Revenge and, like many Revenge racers, got lost to the point of no return. “I’m just going to hang with Mark.”
Knowing that 24 hours loomed ahead, the 29 men and seven women racing to their bikes in the Le Mans start Friday didn’t launch off at top speed.
“I stopped drinking coffee at, like, 7 this morning because I was afraid I’d be too wound up,” Thompson said. “This isn’t like a normal race where your heart rate’s pounding away going into it.”
After the spectator loops, 1994 Revenge winner Thane Wright led the entourage up toward Saints John, followed by Jon Brown.
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