Tour of the Tucson Mountains: Going out with a good kick

2011-04-17T00:00:00Z Tour of the Tucson Mountains: Going out with a good kickDaniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 17, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Jake Rubelt won the Holualoa Companies Tour of the Tucson Mountains in his first attempt, but he said it probably will be his last.

"I've been racing a long time. I've been riding a long time, so I'm kind of ready to maybe step on the sidelines and watch," Rubelt said after finishing first Saturday in 2 hours 47 minutes 4.88 seconds.

"This year will probably be my last year of racing," he added. "It's always good to win."

Rubelt, 36, never took a practice run on the 73-mile loop course. But he did get some advice for the 25th annual event, which began at Marana Town Hall, and ran south to Ajo Way and west to Sandario Road before heading north toward Marana to the start-finish line.

"I just asked a friend how it usually ends up, and he said I just had to make sure that I was first heading into the last left-hand bend," said Rubelt, who lives in Tucson but was born in Boise, Idaho.

"At the bend, if you can see the finish line you just needed to be in first there with a pretty good kick."

Rubelt pulled to a narrow lead over fellow Tucsonan Justin Orkney down the stretch.

"I was out on my own and Jake came around right before the turn, and that's how we crossed the finish," Orkney said.

Rubelt had just enough time to let his hands up from the handlebars of his red and white Time bike as he crossed the finish line.

"That's just part of racing, if you've got a big enough gap that's how you're supposed to celebrate," Rubelt said. "It's good to throw your arms up every now and then."

Meanwhile, Orkney, 28, had another reason to celebrate aside from finishing second overall in 2:47:05.47 among the 770 riders in the 73-mile race. His girlfriend, Chrissy Parks, finished 28th overall and was the top female finisher in 2:47:11.23.

"Coming up to the final turn Chrissy and I were bumping elbows a little bit and it was a little bit clogged up, so I decided to take off," Orkney said. "I was hoping that she was going to stay on my wheel but at that point it's hard to know what's going on behind you."

Parks, 33, came within a minute of breaking the women's record time. She placed second among women two years ago and used that knowledge to win Saturday.

"If you know the course and you can corner right, it's in the bag," she said. "I just took a different spot on the corners this year. It's all down to the last one, but I'm not going to give away my secret."

Ernesto Yberri of Hermosillo, Sonora, finished third overall in 2:47:07.77 and said he was happy to have a good time and finish safe.

"We had a lot of fun today," Yberri said. "We were hoping to get to the finish line safe and do the best we can. No pressure, just have fun and enjoy the ride."

Caren Jackson of Tucson was the second woman to finish followed by Gwen Inglis, 36, of Lakewood Village, Colo., who placed third among women even with a cast on her left hand because of a broken thumb. Sabrina Forbes, 26, from Ridgefield, Wash., rounded out the top four females finishers.

The lead pack stayed intact until the end, making for an intense final stretch. Richard DeBernardis, president of Perimeter Bicyclying Association of America, said the finish was beautiful.

"We had more people finish fast than ever before," he said. "I've never seen such a large front group coming across that finish line."

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