Riding Fixed, Up Mountains, with Pros – Episode 7: Ward, CO


 "Imagine the best vegetable out there. There's no contest. It's potatoes – fries, chips, mash, boiled, new potatoes, old potatoes, sweet potatoes, vodka. You can't have a favorite potato."

This sort of logical conviction is exactly what I like to get behind as fan, and we're all Toms Skujins fans even before traveling to Boulder, CO to meet up with the polka dot jersey adorned King of the Mountains during his offseason. Though the red dot pattern is only correlated to the dance by name, along the climb through the small town of Ward we find out that the Potato Man of the Peloton can shake his hips as well as he dances on the pedals. We're fans for life. Welcome to Episode 7.

Our day starts with coffee only because Boulder restaurant business doesn't sell burgers and fries this early. State Bicycle team rider/manager and Hillclimb World Champion, Scott Piercefield's fanboy nerves are swiftly eased and bromance is in full bloom.

Gear ratios are deliberated, many times. So many times in fact that we rack up quite a generous service bill. And that Trek Segafredo fixie tho – Reddit rumor has it that it's been so long since Trek has manufactured a track frame, the team had to scour eBay and then repaint them for a European event a few years back. How exactly one of them ended up in Toms' hands has only one explanation: they love him as much as we do!

The world's two best cyclist climbers set off on a Boulder staple ride, Lefthand Canyon Drive, to Ward.

The small town of Ward, CO boasts a population of only 150 according to the 2010 Unites States Census. This exotic cycling destination is also the world's most treasured junkyard. There's only one form of community entertainment offered here at the general store: the hula hoop. When in Rome...

We're impressed to find out that Toms has a seriously elaborate, acrobatic warmup. Prior to both recreational and competitive hooping, he must complete exactly five clean passes through a moving hoop, no touching. Five is the number of Tour de France stages he held the polka dot jersey. Low key, Toms.

Scott's warmup is a conventional single-hoop twirl with Jersey Shore pump.

Maybe too much hooping too soon. Maybe two new best buds wanted to out-impress each other. Maybe Ward's hooping culture brought out too much competitive pressure. It's tough love, but we force the dancers to return the hoops. Their smoking hot hips are steaming in the brisk mountain air, and the boys need some fresh climbing breeze to cool off. They're both winners.

We continue past Ward to Brainard Lake for a final challenge that will reward only one winner.

With the easiest part of the day far behind on the road, we save the most challenging feat for last: The Potato Portrait Invitational.

These two savants of the Sharpie spend hours on the bike every day brainstorming a sketch and often skip meals and recovery time to capitalize on rare, precious time off the bike for their art. One winner only is selected, and don't feel foolish if we take you on an emotional rollercoaster. The prize is mighty and anything can happen.

Scott and Toms measure each other up one last time and study their opponent's facial intricacies meticulously.