Today we were back on the mountain, positioned at an area called “Cove Creek”. It is a beautiful bowl just above 10,000ft altitude on the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb track.
We parked the Sprinter vans on a pretty steep angle along the side of the road, and unload the bikes in the dark. Because the race course is also a city park with set hours of operation, we have to be done by the time the first park visitors arrive at our location. So we drive thru the gates at 4:00am and start riding by 5:00am at the latest. We have to be done by 8:30-9:00am.
We warm the tires and try to keep ourselves warm too, in the 22 degree wind. We know the drill by now and head over to the riders meeting in plenty of time. Today Alexander Smith and Greg Tracy will be riding from Cove
Creek to the summit at 14,100ft.
The course is a mixture of pavement and dirt – when the race started 95 years ago not surprisingly it was all dirt, but since the year 2000 due to a lawsuit settlement, the road has been paved in alternating sections. It is just about completely paved now. This will very likely be the last year with any dirt on the course.
We’ve spent a lot of time getting ready for this day – since the race last year Greg and Alexander have been spending a lot of time on local tracks in Southern California just getting to know their bikes even better. They both wore out their leathers!
We also made a few tweaks to the motorcycles. We ran the Ducati MTS-1200 in virtually showroom stock condition last year, but we have made just a couple changes this year. We visited Galfer in Oxnard CA, where they fitted us with custom lines to our upgraded Ducati Performance Brake Calipers. We also visited DynoJet Research to install their AutoTune system which will help the motors at the extreme conditions and altitudes that we run. A DynoJet quick shifter may have found its way onto the race bikes while we were there too.
But today it was all about the mountain. After the our practice session, Greg and Alexander report that the new pavement is going to be FAST! It is close to the top in an area of tricky turns and long drop offs. There is some
ice on the road near the summit but other than that, everything looks good.
Once the bikes are loaded back into the vans, we sight the first tourists on their way up the mountain. We head back down though on our way to the Mecca Motel – our favorite place to stay in Colorado Springs!
Tomorrow the alarm will sound again at 3:15am and we will be back on the mountain – but tomorrow will be in the dirt!