Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Crusher experience

I've had a few cycling obsessions in my past that keep drawing me back to certain rides/races like Tour de Tucson, Butte 50 and now Crusher in the Tushar.  I would return to Tour of Battenkill but getting to upstate NY in April has it's challenges. 

The Crusher takes place in Beaver, Utah and circles through the Tushar Mountains and Fisherlake National Forest.  It's 69 miles with 10.000ft of climbing  over 60% dirt/gravel and 40% pavement topping out over 10,000 ft elevation.  Burke Swindlehurst, ex pro cyclist, is the race promoter who wanted to showcase his home turf and Utah's finest backcountry roads.  You get to chose your ride - mountain bike or cross bike and like they say, at some point during the race you will wish you had chosen the other bike.  I've done 2 Crusher tours one on my 29er and this year on my Felt FX1 cross bike and there are pluses and minuses to both bikes.  It comes down to choose your bike and ride it.

I've included the race profile and you can read about the specifics on the website (http://tusharcrusher.com/).  Here's a few reasons that I put this on my race calendar again this year.
  • Burke Swindlehurst puts on a top notch race event covering every detail from a well marked beautiful, scenic and challenging course to post race festivities at Eagle Point Resort.  Numerous pro racers return each year because it's such a unique experience.
  • Volunteers are abundant and wonderful.  Residents of Beaver really step up for this event and make it a great event.  There are 5 well stocked aid stations for pre-filled bottle hand ups, EFS hot shots or fetch whatever you need.  Young, old and every age in between are full of enthusiasm.  A volunteer approaches you at the finish, racks your bike, gets your drop bag while another leads you to a comfy chair in the shade and takes your drink order.
  • My wave started 1 minutes after eventual winner Levi Leipheimer.  I saw him one other time during the race but we were going in opposite directions.  Numerous top ranked men and women pro riders show up for this one.
  • Spectators line the roads with cow bells, pots and pans or whatever else they  have at their campsites and cheer for the pros as well as us amateurs pulling up the rear.  I've never heard so many "you go honey" and "atta girl" comments.
  • Holla for a dollar hand off - guy in a Gilly suit standing alone without another sole in site handing out dollar bills.  Last year he was laying on the ground saying "just take it; i'm tired."
  • Col d' Crush - 5 miles of "leg bursting, lung searing, soul searching climb" up sun exposed, gravel switchbacks and this is after you've already ascending 5,000 ft on the 1st climb.  Once again volunteers are the heroes by serving ice cold coke at the top and running along side of you with portable misters to cool you down.
  • Final mile - "save something for the end" was what I kept hearing the 1st year and now I know: 1 mile, 12% grade straight up.  You can hear the finish line celebrations but can't see it until the final bend in the road and it is a wonderful site.
  • Strongest man/woman wins - true test of endurance, power and determination but it requires a strong rider just to finish the Crusher.
Podium finishers were given a special frame badge inspired by the Madonna del Ghisallo, the patroness of cyclists.

Last tidbit:  On race morning I woke up to Loverboys "Lovin' Every Minute of It" playing on the hotel AM/FM radio.  I decided that would be my theme for the day.  Except for the last mile up Col d' Crush were I had to walk because of leg cramps I stayed true to my mantra. 

So everyone doing HC100 this weekend, select your morning tunes wisely because it will be in your head all day.

Ride on,