Comparing Old Man Winter Rally to other bike races is sort of pointless. It's a race, yes. It's full of professionals, amateurs, hobbyists and tourists of the sport, yes, also. It's just that Old Man Winter has a different feel to it. Whether it is the fear of more snow falling on the course, or getting socked in by clouds everywhere except the start and finish line, Old Man Winter Rally is easily as much of a test as it is a race.
The day begins around 8am with vendors piling in through the gates onto the grounds with tents and tupperwares in tow. It's cold already -- a cool 25 degrees -- but the chill in the air is easily forgotten as OMW volunteers begin lighting up wood fires all over the grounds. The event is held in Bohn Park in Lyons, Colorado, which sits just on the east side of town. Bridges leading into and out of the park are closed off for athletes, making the ground for Old Man Winter Rally feel nice contained. All that is it say you're still surrounded by mountains and it's an incredible view once the clouds clear away.
The first athletes to hear the gun go off were the riders in the 100k gravel race. For 2024, race organizers decided to shave 26 kilometers off the race, or "the climb," as so many referred to it with grateful sighs, due to the snow storm from the day before. With so many accidents in the mountains during inclement weather, and the risk to riders, it seemed smart to do so. Whereas some riders were pretty bummed -- the climb is what separates the pack often -- many others were just as happy to lose a few kilometers.
Video below of the 100k racers starting things off for the day
Once the 100K riders took off it was pretty chill around the event grounds. Runners started to stretch, jog and get warmed up; 50k riders started filing into the area and checking out the vendors. Send It was conveniently located at the starting line (and we provided tailgate pads for trucks running support for the race) right next to Widefoot, a Fort Collins, Colorado-based outdoor gear designer and manufacturer. Hunter (founder?) stopped by the Send It booth and chatted us up for a bit. Send It was pushing the Ritual Mountain Bike Film Tour with a QR code to register to win a tailgate pad, which piqued the interest of more than a few vendors interested in diversifying offerings at their brick-and-mortar storefronts.
One of the standouts for Send It was the attendance of so many riders from the CU Boulder Cycling team. Send It partnered with CU Cycling this year, and provided entry for a few of the riders on the team. Bryce Pfuetze (pictured below,) one of the captains of the CU Cycling team, kicked it at the Send It booth for a bit prior to the race, as did Luc Roux and Ethan Kemp, two more badasses who rep CU Cycling in their respective fields. You can see the aftermath of 74 kilometers through mud and slush in early February.
Outdoor events can be pretty hit or miss, right? Weather is always an issue, as is the space available. However, the crew at Adventure Fit did a great job organizing the vendors for the space. Oskar Blues Brewery (who also happens to be connected to one of our favorite bike brands, Reeb) was on hand with mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese for racers and attendees, and Bootstrap Brewing was slangin' coldies all day long.
Oh, and don't forget the bangin' burritos from Mariposa Boulder. We also got a bit of the chicken soup, which was much needed once the clouds rolled in in the afternoon and the sun was no longer shining down providing the blanket of heat from the mid-winter cold. There was also Honey Smoked Salmon giving out the equivalent of a brown bear's 1-hour intake during spawning season.
(Here's a video of the aforemention bears eating salmon, which, as you can imagine, is exactly what we all looked like eating Honey Smoked Salmon samplers at Old Man Winter Rally. Honey Smoked Salmon. I just wanted to shamelessly plug Honey Smoked Salmon since the guys at the event were so cool and gave us so much of it. Seriously, I'm still eating it. Go buy some so their work was not in vain.)
The runners all returned while the sun was still shining, but this meant that it was nearly time for the 50K racers to begin rolling out. At first it seemed like the attendance might be a little low, but in the final moments before the gun it looked close to 650 people lined up. Seriously.
Send It athlete Tom Fisher was mingling around the booth getting amped for the race. Despite some early thoughts that perhaps the 50K wouldn't be quite so jampacked, we were incredibly wrong. Racers began filling the gates approximately 20 minutes prior to the start, and that line steadily filled upwards of 75 to 100 yards back. Hundreds of riders shoulder to shoulder getting ready to go play in cold, wet mud. Old Man Winter Rally really does it right.
Groove Subaru had a strong presence, as they typically do at any bike race or event in Colorado. It seems like they just multiply every year with more and more riders. Either way it seems like those riders are always tearing it up, and they're pretty easy to spot, to boot.
All in all, Old Man Winter Rally was a wildly successful event. You can view the results to the races here. We are definitely signing up next year as vendors, and will certainly be racing alongside our friends.