Published: June 30, 2013
As the cars began their rapid ascents in the 91st running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on Sunday afternoon, the motorcyclists sat in the summit's gift shop or milled around the rocky peak.
This was the usual routine - the motorcyclists, who completed their runs earlier in the day, were waiting until the end of the event to head back down the mountain with the cars.
But that wasn't the way it was supposed to be this year.
For the first time, race officials told bikers there would be an intermission to allow them to go back down the mountain after all of them finished.
Red flags throughout the morning and impending bad weather, however, caused officials to rescind their earlier promise, relegating the bikers to the summit until the final car crossed the finish line.
"The race directors and the people in charge have no faith in us to get down in a timely manner," said Jeff Delio, sixth-place finisher in the Pikes Peak 450 division. "We're a little upset because we could have gotten down before Sebastien came up, but we're stuck up here now."
The bikers were told that if they completed the run by 10 a.m., then they would be allowed down the mountain before the cars, 17-time Hill Climb racer Jimi Heyder said.
"I need to get it out of my boot and get it on ice, but if I do it up here, I'm screwed," Heyder said of his injured foot. "It just seems like they had the opportunity to do it and they just decided not to."
Race officials told bikers that they would be unable to take the bikes down because a bike went off the course by the picnic grounds and started a forest fire.
For rookie driver Ron Arms of Vermont, this meant an afternoon of sitting around the summit's gift shop and restaurant.
"Had I known," Arms said. "I would have brought some cash because the majority of us don't have any money to buy any food or anything in here now."
But some drivers took a different approach to the change in plans.
First-time driver Michelle Disalvo, competing in the Heavyweight Supermoto category, got off her bike and lounged on the rocks after hearing she couldn't go back down.
"I'm just up here enjoying the view," Disalvo said. "We need to respect everybody and let everybody get their chance to get on the mountain. Getting upset about it, that you can't go down, that just causes more negativity."
The change didn't affect Disalvo's view of the race, but Delio said he might not come back next year, and he's not alone.
"I'm not the only one that thinks this may be the last year for a while that I come up here," Delio said. "We're all just pretty pissed off. A lot of the people that have been doing it for a while are pretty upset and taking offense to this.
"We were all on our bikes running, ready to go down, and they told us to turn around."