Cascade prologue and stage 1

I don’t have anything too exciting to write about compared to my last race report.  The last two days have yielded zero outstanding performances.  Last night we had a 2 mile prologue with an exciting parking lot turn around with a lot of cones, barricades and curbs.  I went slow here and took the corners like an old grandpa with a walker where the tennis balls have fallen off and the metal legs scrape and drag on the ground and get caught on cracks and trip the old man up.  For some reason no one told me that in order to get a good time you had to go fast around the corners.  There were 14 corners in 2 miles!  I got 14 problems and a bitch aint one, hit me!  My legs were good though and I pumped out just under 500 watts for a little under four minutes.  That was good enough to earn me 103rd place!  How is that possible?  Am I that un-aero?  Did the fast guys do 600 watts?  Did they take the corners fast and just do 500 watts?  I’d like to know but no one ever wants to talk about power numbers.  It’s too bad we can’t take a practice run for technical courses such as this one, kind of  like they get to in luge and ski runs.  102 people didn’t need a practice run to beat me though.  No excuses.

This morning we tackled the short but painful 73 mile McKenzie Pass road race, which starts in a parking lot way up in the mountains somewhere, descends for 25 miles, then climbs a 17 mile climb (McKenzie Pass) descends into Sisters, then climbs up another mountain to finish at a snow park, though I failed to see any of the much anticipated snow (liars).  So we started out with a nice long descent and got good and chilly (not the food kind of chili).  I was wearing a wind vest and Spencer’s arm warmers, so I was only slightly cold.  Some of my other teammates were less prepared and went sans arm warmers.  Ian had on a pair of natural hair arm warmers, so he was fine.

Maybe 10 miles into the race, a HUGE crash sent bikes flipping through the air ten feet high, bodies went soaring and tumbling like bowling pins, and a giant cloud of dust and smoke formed a haze like that from a recently fired canon.  30 or 40 guys went down in a pile that resembled a rugby scrum.  I was at the very back of the 200-man pack at the time, just takin ‘er easy, and the wind in my ears combined with the distance I was from the crash made it so I couldn’t hear any of the carnage.  It was as if it was an explosion in space, soundless and therefore even more eerie and sickening.

Spencer got caught up in the crash and Winger slammed his brakes and power slid, blowing up his tire.  Both were able to catch back on since the remaining pack politely waited and took some pee breaks.

After the crash people took it a bit easier, at least it felt a lot easier than last year, but that’s also because Phil wasn’t there to tell me to attack on the descent.  I sat in near the back.  Drank a bottle, peed, took my wind vest and arm warmers off, then slowly made my way to the front.  Everyone else was attempting to do this and the road was packed all the way across.  I was still 80 guys back as we started the climb, but continued moving up during the lower slopes.  I was pretty worried about getting gapped off once things began heating up.  Fortunately I got all the way to the very front just as the pace went up a notch.  I maintained 15th or 20th wheel for quite a while as attacks went and came back.  Guys began blowing up and I began to hurt as well.  Someone went cross eyed or something and caused a big crash (uphill) to the front and left of me.  I slowed and avoided it, irritated to have to sprint to get back onto the wheels in front.  A few minutes later someone else crashed and took out the guy right in front of me.  I slammed my brakes on and unclipped, came to a stop, went around, took forever to successfully clip back in, and then sprinted to get back up to the lead group.  This right here was the beginning of the end for me.  I had just been holding in there, not blowing up, just surviving in the dark orange.  Now I was in the red and there was no recovering.  I dropped out of that group.  Other groups came and passed me by.  I’d jump onto the tail end of them, hold on, blow up again, “soft” pedal, get passed, jump on, blow up….It went on for a while until I finally recovered.  I hammered away from the few riders I was with, trying to regain contact with the last group that had passed me.  I didn’t quite make it before the climb evened out and became flat and rolling for the next five or eight miles.  I rode with Dan Harm from here on out.  We crushed it the rest of the way up the climb, both having recovered significantly since our implosions.  Then we drilled the descent and flat section through Sisters, amazingly gaining time on the group in front of us (it was still barely in sight though and several minutes up the road).  Dan was taking some big pulls, longer pulls than me.  But I was going up the climbs quicker, so we made a good two-man breakaway.  Nothing like a break off the back trying to get to the front.

Eventually we parted ways on the final climb and I came in a disappointing 129th, 14 minutes down on the leader.  This was especially upsetting because I had felt really strong for the first 20 minutes of the climb, even when it started getting steep, and thought I was going to make it all the way.  I just crapped out all of a sudden and it was game over.  I think my v02 is really good right now and I’m able to get by with that for shorter efforts up to 10 minutes or so, but my threshold is lacking.  If I’m right about this I should have a great day on the Aubrey Butte circuit race on Sunday, which is all power climbs and hard false flat tail wind sections no longer than 5 minutes.  I feel a lot better than last year, though my result today didn’t quite show that.  I guess I’ll know for sure after the Bachelor stage this Friday.  I’ve yet to make it up the first climb in the main group.

How my teammates did: Lang crushed it and placed 35th, besting many pros that are supposedly faster than him.  Logan came in second for our team around 60th or 70th.  Four of the guys (Ian, Steve, Winger, and Cody) came in a few minutes after me in a large group, and Spencer had a bad day after crashing hard and limped in solo to fight another day.