Melissa Westergard continues to be drawn to hill climbs. Read about how she took on the Pikes Peak hill climb even after spending most of her summer as a flat lander.
There is something special about hill climbs that keeps calling me back. For the past two years I have trained for and raced to the summit of two of Colorado’s 14ers, Mount Evans and Pikes Peak.
This year I made the decision to opt out of Mount Evans because I spent the month prior to the event at sea level. I was not acclimated to the elevation and I knew that it would be a complete sufferfest. My family and I decided to go camping in the mountains that weekend instead of racing up Mount Evans. As we were on our way to go camping, we stopped in Idaho Springs to fill up with gas and saw the after party going on for the Mount Evans race. My heart sank. Even though I knew that I had made the right choice in not racing that day, I felt guilty for not participating in the epic climb.
Having previously planned to not take part in racing Pikes Peak as well, I felt the hope for the rest of my season was over. I spent a few days to think it over and decided that I would make the effort to race up Pikes Peak. I had about 2 weeks to get ready for it. I had a decent base set up from previous races I had completed this summer, but it didn’t consist of much climbing. So I created the most realistic training plan for the short amount of time that I had. I felt successful in my training rides and was ready to embark on another year of racing Pikes Peak.
Race day came quite early with a start time of 6:15am. As I lined up with other racers at the start I had an overwhelming sense of peace come over me, which is completely opposite of what I typically experience. My goal for this race was to obviously ride as fast as I could up the mountain, but to also ENJOY it! The first half of the race I can honestly say that I enjoyed. The second half, not so much. That’s when the pain set in. Despite the pain that I was experiencing, it was the perfect day, the perfect climb. We had temps in the 60s during the race with the sun shining and very little wind. I made it to the summit faster this year than my race time last year, which made it an even bigger success! Even though my season varied significantly this year compared to last, I am thankful that I continued to race and I look forward to training hard this winter and seeing what next season brings.