Kaua‘i road racers make best of Colorado weather

Leo McCarthy, Rick Beach and Joe Funk were met with snow, hail, thunder and lightning when they landed in Durango, Colorado, last weekend.

The trio who had been practicing and conditioning since the Maui Cycle to the Sun last August, had a goal to ride the Ironhorse Classic in Colorado which was held during the Memorial Day weekend.

But weather conditions forced the cancellation of the road race to Silverton for the first time in 37 years.

Heather Barth of Kaua‘i Cycle said the serious cyclists on Kaua‘i were not expected to be able to compete with those dedicated to the sport and live and train at high altitude in mountainous regions.

In a press release from Barth, she said the trio loaded themselves, their specially encased, high-tech, feather-weight road bicycles and enough personal gear to survive a six-day stint at 8,500 feet elevation in Colorado.

As a point of reference, the elevation at the Kalalau Lookout in Koke‘e is about 8,000 feet.

The Ironhorse Classic, which the trio had been working out for, included a field of 2,497 road racers on a two-lane blacktop road that winds 50 miles to the former mining town of Silverton.

During the course of the race, the road climbs two passes that reach just under 11,000 feet and include treacherous descents.

Despite the disappointment of the weather-forced cancellation, the Kaua‘i contingent was able to compete in two races held over two days.

A Criterium race pits cyclists in their age and experience divisions against each other and is a race of laps around a road course winding through Durango.

McCarthy, riding in the 50-54 age group, finished the event fourth in his division, being bested by pro riders from Paris, France, and a Colorado resident. Beach, known for his victories in the Powerline mountain bike races here, also finished fourth in the 30-34 age group.

Beach went on to finish first in the second race, a Time Trials event. In that race, Beach stopped the clock 1 minute and 4 seconds better than his closest rival.

McCarthy improved from his day before fourth place and finished in third place in his division, 1 minute and 19 seconds out of first place.

Funk, who was prevented from riding in the race the day before, finished sixth in a field of 25 riders in the 35-39 age group. The difference between first and sixth in his race was 1 minute and 38 seconds.

Following the two races, Beach finished in a tie for first place in his division with 49 points. McCarthy, with his fourth and third place finishes, finished in a tie for second place overall with 47 points.

Barth said the racers would like to express appreciation to not just the crew at Kaua‘i Cycle in Kapa‘a, but to the motorists on Kaua‘i for their courteous behavior toward cycling enthusiasts.

“Remember that cyclist you see on the side of the road might represent our island home on the victory podim in Paris someday,” Barth said.

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