On his ATV, GJ’s McCann set for Pikes Peak Hill Climb
By PATRICK BAHR
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb isn’t for the weak-kneed or faint of heart.
The 87th annual “Race to the Clouds” is Sunday in Colorado Springs, with drivers racing up a 12-mile course to the 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak.
There are 11 automotive classes, ranging from motorcycles to rally cars to semi trucks.
Lance McCann of Grand Junction is challenging the course on his all-terrain vehicle.
“There is nowhere in the country where you can run roads like this,” McCann said.
McCann, 45, is attempting the nearly 5,000-foot elevation climb on his 1989 Yamaha Banshee 500cc Quad. He will compete with 14 other drivers, including Jim Goertz, who set the course record of 5 minutes, 16.70 seconds in 2006. McCann said there are about seven competitors, including himself, who have a shot to finish with the best time. But, he added, having the top time isn’t the goal for most riders.
“It’s not about if you can win it, but if you can conquer the road,” McCann said. “At the end, you are sitting up there with every competitor that made it up.”
McCann has been riding for more than 25 years, the past 10 years competitively. This is McCann’s fifth time entering the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, and he hopes to improve on his best time.
“This will be my fifth year up the peak and I’ve made it twice, but I had a DNF (did not finish) the other two,” McCann said. “I’m batting .500.”
Helping McCann’s cause this year is that his engine has been built by Allen Knowles of CT Racing in California. Knowles’ engine should help McCann manage the stress put on his engine by the 156 turns and high elevation of the race.
“The speeds don’t scare me, it’s keeping your motor together,” McCann said. “Since I have a motor that can keep up with the bigger bikes, I would like to finish in the top three.”
Whether McCann can navigate the route and finish in the top three is important, but he said the whole experience is exciting enough.
“It’s a pretty tight-knit group,” McCann said. “It’s great being around the atmosphere.
It’s people who like to have fun.”
McCann has been in Colorado Springs since Tuesday preparing for the race.
McCann’s sponsors, Snob Production and Monument Powder Coating, help him with the expense of racing.
“Most of the guys that race are around my age,” McCann said. “And that might be because of the money. It’s not a cheap sport.”
A plumber by trade, McCann said he hasn’t raced as much as he wanted this year so he could focus on Pikes Peak. His next big race is Aug. 8-9, in Grand Junction’s Lands End Hill Climb.