OURAY COUNTY – “I’ve got the race director blues,” said Kevin Chismire this week, just days before the Log Hill Lungbuster bicycle race. “It’s the inaugural year, and no matter how hard you troubleshoot the technicalities . . .”
The “semi-retired” ophthalmologist who moved permanently to Ridgway’s Vista Terrace in 2001 is not really blue. He’s got a lot of details to think about, from the start in Ridgway to the finish at the Divide Ranch clubhouse 15 miles away. He’s excited for his brainchild, a fat-tire/skinny-tire/any-kind-of-tire fun race – an individual time trial, no less – that is also a fundraiser for the Ouray County Historical Society, of which he is president.
“I’d like to switch to chip timing,” Chismire said, thinking of the emerging technology of timing bracelets worn now by racers in the Mount Sneffels Half Marathon and the just-completed Imogene Pass Run. “It’s a really slick technology, but it’s expensive.” Chismire looked into hiring a Denver company “to come over and set up their system. It was not cheap: between $2,000 and $3,000 for a ‘small’ event like ours.”
Instead, Chismire has devised a system using start and finish-line cell phones and a software program that will chart a bib number’s time. “I’ve ridden the course – it’s one of my training rides – and put in fictitious race data, and it works,” Chismire said. But there are some unknowns, like how many race-day registrations there will be.
“The race commences at noon,” he said, at the old Ridgway schoolhouse on the corner of Amelia and Sherman streets. Participants will be able to register at the start, but Chismire hopes most racers will register in advance, at the Museum in Ouray, or on the website: loghilllungbusterchallenge.com.
The race is a time trial, like the final day of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge this year in Denver. Each rider is racing against the clock. Racers will start at approximately one-minute intervals with “elite” riders starting first, between 12 and 12:15 p.m. Chismire said one of his biggest challenges was getting approval from CDOT for the portion of the race that traverses Highway 62. “Because we went with the time-trial format, where the racers will be spread out single-file on the shoulder, rather than a mass start, CDOT finally agreed. They still made us jump through hoops.”
The race then turns north on County Road 24A to CR 1 and up the steep, twisting climb to Log Hill Village. The route then winds around the three subdivisions on top: Log Hill Village, Waterview Estates and Fairway Pines, before finishing with beer and awards on the deck of the Divide Ranch Club.
“They’ve finished the paving project on CR 1, thank goodness,” Chismire said. “They’ve chip-sealed it. I’m going to ask the county to use their power broom to sweep the last little bit of loose gravel off the shoulders. It’s not going to be a problem for the race; we’ll be going up, but we’ll try to get rid of that.”
Chismire said the genesis of the Lungbuster idea came to him at an earlier OCHS fundraiser. “I looked out and saw pretty much the same faces, the same group of people who always come to our events and support the museum – an over-50 crowd. And I thought about the Mount Sneffels Half Marathon,” the fundraiser for the Mount Sneffels Education Foundation, “and the Ourayce, and how they’ve grown so much by appealing to active families, the outdoor crowd. I was a longtime runner, but because of knee problems I switched to bicycling. And, I thought, there is no bike race in Ouray County.”
Now there is. And as interest in biking of all kinds grows (and with the recent excitement surrounding the Tour de France-caliber Pro Challenge racing across Colorado), Chismire hopes his event will grow. “I’m hoping for a first year of 50 or so competitors. I hear that’s what the Mount Sneffels Half Marathon had their first year. Now they’ve got what, 600 entrants? From all over the U.S.”
If a precisely timed time trial on familiar roads isn’t enough by itself, Chismire added, the $40 entry fee will also get you two beers from either Colorado Boy or New Belgium, plus a race T-shirt, “and lots of good camaraderie. Plus the very warm feeling you get in your heart knowing that you’re supporting a most deserving local institution.”