Cherry Blossom Stage Race

Thursday: Chris and Karey picked me up in Sherwood and we drove out to Hood RIver to pick up our race packets and do the Hood River crit. But the crit was around a parking lot, it was raining, and there were only 8 people signed up for the 1/2/3 race so we decided to save our money. From there, we drove to Tony’s parent’s house a few miles away, where we stayed for the weekend with Karey’s teammate Jill Howe and her husband Doug.

Friday: The first stage was windy. Real windy. We had 4 laps of 18 miles with one hill about a mile long. A four man break got away in the first couple miles and quickly had over a minute on us. I was up near the front about 20 minutes later when a big group of people went off. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, because on this super tail wind section the peloton was constantly breaking up with gaps to cover as we furiously pedaled at 30+ miles an hour. I decided to conserve my energy and let someone else cover. But then no one jumped across to it, and I wasn’t going to help pull it back because my teammate Chris was up there in it. I continued to wait and still no one jumped to it. Pretty soon they had a large enough gap to call it a break, and they were gone.

The remaining 65 of us in the peloton went hard up the climb, but not hard enough to drop many people. I was in some pain here but held my spot up near the front in case someone tried to bridge, in which case I would attempt to jump on and get up there to Chris, who had made the breakaway. At this point, about half way up the climb, the chase group of 10 had caught the breakaway of 4 and joined forces. They had 30 seconds on the peloton at the top of the hill, but it quickly grew from there.

All the major teams had people in the breakaway, so no one wanted to pull on the downhill headwind section, where our pace grew to a crawl. In no time, they had 4 minutes.

Lap number two had a hard chase during the tailwind section and we began picking up dropped riders from the break. We went up the hill slower this time. I attacked at the top, and on the next smaller hill but the wind was too strong to hold it and not enough people wanted to follow.

Lap three I don’t really remember much of.

Lap four I bridged up to a group of four or five riders who had gotten away and were maintaining 15 seconds on the peloton. We passed more dropped riders from the break, including Chris, who had been worked over by some Haggen Berman guys while he took his wind vest off.

My little breakaway lasted for 5 or ten more minutes and then got swallowed back down by the pack. I sat in for a while, or as much as you can when the entire peloton is strung out with everyone in their 53×12’s. The wind had seemed to have picked up by now.

At the base of the hill, I tried attacking with a few other guys, but was blasted with a huge wrecking ball of head wind once I started the climb. The pack quickly caught up and others tried getting away on the climb. I followed a couple of them, but stopped when I realized it was pointless. An attacker would go hard for about 15 seconds, then die in the wind, unable to hold more than 6 miles an hour for more than a minute. The wind was super strong and jammed up the whole pack to a staggeringly slow speed. No one could get away.

Going down the hill was just about as slow as going up it, with the wind cracking anyone who stayed out in the front too long. Except for two guys who at some point got away from the field, or maybe one guy (Bannick) just bridged to one of the dropped breakaway guys. I didn’t know they were up there though.

With a few K to go, I got in contact with Kenji and Chris and told them I’d do a lead out if they wanted. I made my way up to the front with K-man on my wheel, but at some point he lost contact. At 300 meters, there was a sharp right hand turn up a little bump, which lead to a false flat uphill finishing straight. I had Chris on my wheel here, and went hard. But not hard enough to get him the field sprint victory. He took 4th in the sprint, and I came in 6th. Taking 14th overall with 7 guys already up the road. The winning Bissell guy (Mach) had something like 8 or 9 minutes on the field. It was a hard race at times, but on the other hand I didn’t feel very tired from it.

Saturday: The TT course was a gradual 2% climb up four miles, then a turn around back to where we started from. I used the Poop Leader TT bike, which Quinn tried fixing up last week with some success, Adam’s TT helmet, and my regular wheels since I don’t have aero wheels. So I wasn’t too bad in terms of having the right equipment. But I was unequipped with leg power. I only managed to pump out 370 watts for a time of 18:57. 30 watts shy of what I could do in December. I did pass my 30 second guy and 1 minute guy, but my performance was below what I had hoped to see. Gosh dern it.

After we all finished our time trials I lazed around in the sun taking a nap in the grass at the staging area as Chris and Karey fixed Karey’s bike before the crit. It had takin a little spill on I-84 the night before while driving back to Hood River. At 65 miles an hour. No one ran over it, but their was some fairly bad damage done to the handlebars, front wheel, and rear deraileur hanger.

While waiting for the crit to start, Chris and I rode around looking for a park to fly his kite in. Not just any old kite. A beginner’s kite boarding kite, large enough to lift you off the ground. We finally found a good grassy spot, but Chris wimped out because there was a no tresspassing sign.

The crit was shortened to 30 minutes due to a bad crash on the last lap of the women’s 1/2/3 race. Four girls were taken to the hospital, one of them had gotten wrapped around a lamp post.

We finally started. The weather had gotten colder and windier than earlier than afternoon, but the cold was soon forgotten as we burned rubber like madmen to get to the front. But we soon realized that starting rubber fires in the middle of the street wasn’t going to get us to the front of the race. It was just causing everyone to cough and gag, while the rest of the racers were continuing to lap us. So we stopped burning rubber and got back on our bikes.

I sat in for the first 15 or 20 minutes of the race, then moved up to the front to win some prime money. A fifty dollar prime was called out, and I weaved my way to the front as I heard Chris yell at me that he had my wheel. Go kennett Go, he yelled as gaps began opening up. At 400 meters I passed the last guy on the front, and drilled it around the final bend. 300 meters to go on the final straight away. I picked up the pace and began sprinting. Chris was still on my wheel, guarding it from any trespassers trying to get a free ride to the finish line. I expected Chris to come around me at 100 or 200 meters, but he didn’t need to and I took the prime. He had won a prime a little earlier, and between us we made $85 during the 30 minute crit. That’s $90 an hour each!! For a very short time, we were making as much as lawyers.

I went straight to the back of the crit after my effort, and pretty much stayed there for the remaining 10 minutes . I tried moving up a bit, but didn’t give it a super hard effort. At one lap to go, I thought we had 4 more. But I was happy just to win the prime and not crash. And it was a very fun crit too so it was an all around good race.

We ate dinner cooked by Jim over at the Team O house (Justin’s place) and went back home to sleep.

Sunday was the deciding day. The day of suffering. It wasn’t too windy, and the sun was shining. But the bike god’s were fondling their menacing beards with evil laughter as they looked down upon us at the staging area, knowing that their plans of destruction would surely kill all but the strongest.

The course was 3 laps totaling 82 miles. Each lap had a hill somewhere between 7 and 5 miles long. I heard different lengths from different people. I’m sure that by July people will be saying it was either 15 or 17 miles long.

The first time up the climb was brutal, I was hanging on for dear life at the top, gritting the teeth in my mind (my real teeth were too weak to do any gritting), as we rounded each bend. The last bend finally came, and we started down at a blistering speed. Over a third of the pack was dropped on the first climb, but some managed to get back on on the decent and flatter section as we headed back towards the finish line, and the bottom of the hill.

Bissell sat on the front all day. Those guys are strong.

The next time up the hill was easier for me, but not really any slower. We dropped even more people, reducing the pack down to about 35. Bissell still pulled at the front, bringing back a Hagens and Land Rover pair.

Near the end of the second lap, I was feeling tired. I was eating plenty, but I could feel it in my bones that unless this last time up the hill was easy, I was in for some hurtin’.

The pace was not slow. Attacks went off early on the hill and the entire peloton was split up. A mile later, I had managed to grind my way back to what was left of the main group. But another attack blew everyone apart for good. There was a couple groups of 3 or 4, a group of about 8, some stragglers behind them desperately trying to get back on, then me. I rode by myself the rest of the way to the top. A couple guys had been behind me, but were no longer in view. I finally got to the top, breathing back under control, and started the decent.

I passed a guy in the ditch on the side of the road, fearing for a second that it was Chris, who had made the third group, but luckily it wasn’t. I got to the bottom of the hill, and then I saw him. The bloody pulp mobile. Chris had crashed with the guy I had seen on the side of the road, but had tucked and rolled out of it from many years of martial arts practice. Knowing how to fall is very important in bike racing. That, and not hitting those metal reflector poles like the other guy did.

Chris was OK, other than a big dose of road rash, and we rode in the last 15 miles to the finish easy, as Chris grew stiffer and stiffer.

All in all, a good weekend of racing. I finished 25th overall. Not good. Not bad. My form is getting there.

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Yowza.  And those were brand new bibs.

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“Ohh you poor baby!!!”  Chris had plenty of attention.  Or I guess I should say Chris’ ass had plenty of attention.  Note the bystanders’ gaze.  

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Karey couldn’t keep her eyes off him either.

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Nor could Scott.

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Celebration burgers for another good weekend of racing.

3 thoughts on “Cherry Blossom Stage Race

  1. Lawyers make way more than $90 per hour! $200-$500 is not unusual. In cycleese that is the same as $200-$500 in preems in a 60 min crit times 25 hours per day.

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