“I was sweating bullets because he was right behind me and because it was hot as hell.”
by Than Acuff
Bike racing season is in full swing and local riders are all over Colorado and the west making a name for themselves on the circuit. Team Griggs Orthopedics (Team gO) rider Neil Beltchenko is currently in the area and battling it out up front at the annual Tour Divide race from Banff, Alberta to Antelope Wells, N.M. Team gO athlete Brian Smith just won a bike race at FIBArk and Team gO young gun Zach Guy just won the Bailey Hundo over the weekend.
Guy opened the bike riding season checking off ski descents in Alaska for most of May. Once back in the lower 48, he hung up the skis, pulled out the bike and jumped immediately into the fray, placing eighth at the Full Growler on May 24.
“I did one or two rides, maybe an hour total, on my bike,” says Guy.
Since then, Guy logged in some miles in preparation for a busy bike racing season, including a road tour to Aspen and back, and then lined up at 6 a.m. Saturday, June 20 for the Bailey Hundo. The Bailey Hundo opens up 100 miles of racing on some pristine single track in the hills outside of Bailey, Colo.
“It’s really fun, sort of like Hartmans, but really flowy through the trees and burn areas,” says Guy. “No rocks or roots really, just super fun and smooth, fast riding.”
The race typically takes riders on a mix of single track and dirt roads for one long continuous tour but due to recent flooding, race organizers altered the course to make the race two laps of the single track section, finishing just shy of 100 miles total.
Four hundred riders started all at once and Guy was forced to pull himself through the flesh mass and near the front for the opening eight miles. Eventually he settled in with another rider for most of the first lap. As his closest competitor started to fade, Guy pulled ahead and was sitting in second place as the first lap progressed.
“The first lap went by really quick and I didn’t expect it to be as easy,” says Guy. “I kind of rode the first lap conservatively and realized I still had plenty of energy left.”
As he was finishing up the first lap, he noticed a tent and another rider a bit off the course but didn’t think much of it and just kept riding through and feeling good. Soon into the second lap, his girlfriend was out on course and gave him some surprising news.
“I was still thinking I was in second place and just cruising along and Kaitlyn says, ‘What’s going on? I think you’re in first,’” explains Guy.
It turned out the rider and tent he passed was heavily decorated endurance rider Josh Tostado refueling at an aid station, and on lap two Guy went from the hunter to the hunted, with Tostado in pursuit.
Guy kept pushing and when the two riders were climbing up a switchback area in a burn section of the course, he got a glimpse of Tostado.
“He was closing in so fast,” says Guy.
Tostado caught Guy and Guy did everything he could to stick on his rear wheel, stopping at an aid station for one last refuel and restock. That stop made all of the difference as Tostado made his last stop just before one final brutal climb. Guy played through to build a lead, pinning himself in the hot sun on the last climb to build a gap.
“I knew every second counted at that point,” says Guy. “That last climb was the tortuous part. I was sweating bullets because he was right behind me and because it was hot as hell.”
The final climb then turned to one last section of flowy downhill and Guy managed to maintain his gap through the final stretch to win in a time of six hours, 14 minutes and 59 seconds, one minute ahead of Tostado.
Guy, as well as several other local riders, will line up Saturday morning, June 27 for the Fat Tire 40 at Crested Butte Bike Week and then will return to the road to race the Firecracker 50 and the Breck 100 in July, and then the Leadville 100 in August.