Bill Lantz cruises to victory at first Pedal-Up race |

Bill Lantz cruises to victory at first Pedal-Up race

Survival of the fittest takes on a whole new meaning when a trio of bears is between yourself and the finish line.

It didn’t affect New Castle’s Bill Lantz, who beat the rest of the field, and a family of black bears, to claim the inaugural Pedal Up for LIFT-UP cycling race title.

While some of the middle finishers had to rub the sweat out of their eyes to make sure they weren’t seeing things, Lantz and the other top finishers didn’t see the bear and its two cubs crossing Highway 133 about halfway up McClure Pass. Lantz passed the bear crosswalk just minutes before the bruin family, not that it would have slowed him down.

Lantz finished the 38.4-mile course from Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs to the top of McClure Pass with a time of 2 hours, 4 minutes, 21 seconds.

After hitting the base of McClure with seven other riders still essentially grouped up, Lantz put a 1-minute, 10-second gap between himself and the next finisher during the three-mile climb.

“The climb up McClure is always tough,” Lantz said. “It was harder this time because there were guys trying to catch me.”

This is the first year Pedal-Up has offered a competitive division of its annual ride. Like previous years, Pedal-Up also offered un-timed rides of 30, 60, 80 and 100 miles which looped back to Glenwood at various points.

A lead group struck out early in the race with a quick pace on the initial part of the course, which features a steady elevation gain, but no major extended climbs.

The course followed Highway 82 out of Glenwood until Westbank, where riders followed County Road 109 along the Roaring Fork River to Carbondale. From Carbondale riders went up Highway 133 toward McClure.

At the base of McClure Pass, a steep climb from the finish line, the pack had been pared down to seven riders and the real race began.

“It was a nice gentleman’s race until the last 3 1/2 miles up McClure,” said Glenwood’s Brian Passenti, who placed third in the race. “That’s the brutal part.”

“Everybody worked great together,” said second-place finisher Scott Marr, of the lead group. “Everybody was trying to conserve for that last climb.

“I thought I’d try to stay with the group and just see what happened,” he added. “About halfway to the top I realized I was hurting.”

Marr, of Glenwood Springs, crossed the finish line 1:10 behind Lantz, edging Passenti by 2 seconds.

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