25 July 2011

25 July 2011

Has it really been almost a month? I know I have certainly been busy – last week I finished up two projects (photos coming!), just in time to head to Bend for the Cascade Cycling Classic stage race. Not having the time (or the legs!) to compete against the Pros in the six day race, I had entered the three day category 2 event, and despite working far too much (and thus not training as I might have liked) this last month, I was feeling fairly optimistic about getting a good result.

Stage 1 was 71 miles with a mountain top finish at Mt. Bachelor. The break of the day was caught on the final climb, but no-one was able to get away from the front group, with about 25 finishing together – had I known the finish better I could have perhaps made the podium (and the all important time bonuses!), but got a little boxed in and finished 12th.

The field was over 100 riders, and it was interesting to play ‘spot the bike not made in Asia’ whilst moving around the bunch. I spotted a handfull of Treks (carbon – Wisconsin), a Guru (titanium/carbon – Montreal), an Independent Fabrications (titanium – Massachusetts), two Landsharks (carbon – Oregon) and one English Cycles (steel – Oregon). Quite possibly I missed one or two others, but it is a little sad to see so little diversity in bicycles now – mostly stock geometry carbon bikes from China and Taiwan. And only one steel bike – mine! – in the entire field! Kind of amusing that my bike was almost certainly the lightest there too…..

Stage 2 was a 12 mile time trial, uphill out then turn around and downhill back. I had installed a 56 tooth chainring for this, and had a reasonable ride; my computer was vibrating around the mount on the bumpy downhill – I should have ignored it and focused on riding, instead of taking the time to pull it back around. Whether this cost me time or not it is hard to say, but I was fourth, 4 seconds from second…. First place was 41 seconds up on me, so that was going to be hard to make up.

Stage 3 was just about survival and not losing time for me – I really don’t like criteriums very much! But I kept myself in the top 10-20 riders and out of trouble, finishing safely with the pack.

Stage 4 was a great course – 17 mile laps with lots of hills and a rolling road closure so we had full use of both lanes. With no teammates to help I had to choose my tactics wisely – I didn’t feel I had the form to attack from far out and try for the overall win, but trying to get four seconds to move up to second on GC seemed acheivable. As did winning the stage…. The leader also had no teammates, but the rider in second had four, and so was able to use them to shut down the main break of the day. Meanwhile I was riding conservatively, waiting for the last time up the final hill. When we eventually got there, I played my cards as planned, and attacked hard halfway up. At the top I had dragged five riders away and we set about holding the bunch off for the remaining 5km. And it all went perfectly until the final corner, when I was in just the wrong position to follow the attack – I chased all the way down the finishing straight to take second on the stage. Unfortunately the rider in front of me used the larger time bonus to jump over me to take second on GC, leaving me in third with the previous second placed rider back to fourth. But still, pleased with how I was able to recover over three days of racing, and I was the highest placed Oregon rider – the winner came from Salt Lake City and the second place rider from Washington.

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