Monday, June 8, 2009

Racing in the 'hood: Mount Hood Cycling Classic, June 3-7, 2009

It has been a trend to do one road stage race each summer. Mt. Hood is almost mandatory because it is in our backyard. Almost literally, with one of the stages passing by the driveway to the cabin. It is a great race and even though this year it was not an "NRC" or "UCI" race, it was not easy. 5 days of racing in a row never is. Here is how it went down:

Day 1: Prologue. This is a quick 3.1 mile time trial to just get things sorted out and started. It was held on Wednesday evening, so we headed out Wednesday a.m. with a car full of groceries for the week and plenty of supplies for a cabin full of racers. Kari Studley, from Seattle, joined me. Tim followed later, b/c he didn't have to do the prologue. With my clip-on TT bars, I raced my way to a 9th place finish, 16 seconds behind the leader. I did beat my time from 2 years ago. That was the real victory for me.

Day 2: Stage 1, Cooper Spur Circuit Race. We rolled out of the cabin on our bikes to our 9:10 a.m. start. It was hardly even chilly going downhill to the start, and I knew things would be heating up fast. This is never an easy race, but it was a bit more relaxed than 2 years ago, thank goodness. I hung with the leaders until about 2-3K to go when I missed an attack and got dropped with a small group of gals. Another 9th place, losing 34 more seconds. This was Tim's first stage and he had a strong race, finishing in 6th.
Tim zooming by Mountain Shadows Drive where we were cheering!

Day 3: Stage 2, Scenic Gorge Time Trial. A time trial is sometimes called the race of truth. There is nowhere to hide. Well, this race of truth was quite scary, with winds blasting like they usually do in the Gorge. Headwinds and sidewinds made for an interesting race. I am a bit of a sissy in the wind, but I clipped on my TT bars and held on for dear life. It was not my best effort, but I suvived. I lost a lot of time on this stage. Almost 5 minutes (4:47), but I kept telling myself this was for training. Tim also had a rough windy TT. He lost less time than me (4:17), but got 18th. Not what he was hoping for, but with most of our competition riding expensive TT bikes and having more experiences with time trialing, we are o.k. with our finishes. I can't see spending thousands of dollars on a bike I would ride once a year. Too practical for that. But sometimes too competitive to not want to.

Day 4: Stage 3, Wy'East Road Race. Today I did the unthinkable. The weather was pretty nice for a 92 mile ride. A bit chilly in the a.m., warmer later on with a bit of weather threatening to make the end of the race a bit nippy. The race was pretty chill most of the day. Not to many attacks. Pace was reasonable and sometimes a bit 'slow'. We got into the section of nasty side winds and then the climb out of the valley that was pretty much a full on head wind. At the pace we were going, I thought we would never get done with the race. At about mile 80, I was feeling a bit chilly after one of the slight descents in the long climb, so I just kept the gas on when we started ascending. Not really a full on attack, but apparently enough that allowed me to just ride away. I turned around a bit shocked that no one was behind me. I had 2 choices. Floor it, or put the brakes on. I figured I needed to get some race pace work in, so I floored it. I put my head down in the headwind and just pedaled. Somehow I stayed away for 12 miles and claimed a victory in the stage. Heck, I knew I couldn't win the race, so it was kind of fun to win a stage. I didn't think I was going to hold it off, but when I kept getting time gaps that would only waiver about 15 seconds, I knew they were not working to chase me down. I had decided during the last kilometers of climbing that I had come that far and I really wanted to win. I did, but barely. My lead was reduced to a mere 29 seconds. It was pretty fun to cross the line first and get some podium time. Tim had a good race. In the stacked masters field, the peloton was shattered in the last climb and he finished in 13th.

Still smiling on the breakaway.

Self portrait post race on Saturday. Missed the mountain. Oops.
But the mountain is in the podium pic.

Brad Ross insisted we do a deck podium with champagne. Just an excuse to open the bottle. Podium girls and all!

Day 5: Stage 4, Hood River Criterium. I love racing crits. For someone that does not like road racing and does not like close proximity with other riders at high speeds, I somehow like crits. Being that the Hood River crit was my first ever 2 years ago, I was excited. I felt pretty good, managed to stay towards the front of the entire race, accidentally pulling a few laps, didn't position myself correctly for any of the primes or the final sprint, but was in the race and finished 7th. There is a lot I need to learn for that style of racing. Position is key. But somehow I can find myself in the wrong place most of the time. Ahhh, road racing...

Crit racing...

Post crit racing... beer tent with the girls.

Tim's crit didn't end well when he got taken out by Kenji. Bike didn't fare so well, but he is fine. Good thing for Tae Kwon-Do training.

Day 6: Cabin clean up, a bit of R&R, and back to reality. Post Crit, I headed back to the cabin with coach K, made some dinner, watched movies and drank red wine. A pretty successful block of training. Good fun and good friends at the cabin. Bike racing is fun. Thanks for all that were there cheering and for the fun messages and texts I got all weekend! It kept me going. Sure, overall, I only got 8th in the race, but like all of us mountain bikers/cross racers tell ourselves, "it was only for training. "

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

alot of talk about you at the Outdoor Store today. A solo move on home turf, love it!
-JL

StevenCX said...

Great report, and a sweet victory!