31st July 2017

TransAm kit reports will be coming soon, I promise! In the meantime…..

On Saturday I raced the Sasquatch Duro, which was the third event of the Oregon Triple Crown. Unfortunately I had missed the first race in April due to being in England at Bespoked, but it was great to return to the Bellfountain area for this new race – I have good memories of winning the Williamette Gran Fondo held on some of the same course last year. And I always have a good time at Mike’s events – he and his team put on a good show!

This year was very different though – 65% gravel and STEEP….. Nice to finally put a race number on the pink bike. I pre-rode the gravel section in one direction (the course was an out and back) the previous weekend, and so was at least prepared for just how hard it was going to be. The day was perfect, clear and not too hot (although it got pretty warm later….). We started out with a couple of miles of gravel on the flat, then headed onto the road for the first climb over Alpine. I picked up the pace here, leading to a small lead group of Billy, Dillon and myself over the top (Dillon would have been off by himself, but waited as he wasn’t sure on the route). Once we hit the gravel we were fairly evenly matched – with pitches at 25% it is just about trying to keep the bike moving rather than racing. 34×28 was too big, but I’m not sure a lower gear would have helped as traction was already pretty limited (35mm tires at 40psi). We ground our way up, then had the super fast descent the other side. Billy led and opened up a bit of a gap – riding in the dust behind wasn’t so great and I am rather cautious on downhills these days…. A short section of pavement at the bottom took us to the aid station which was also the turn. Billy was having a slow leak, so stopped to add some air (he would have to do this two or three more times on the way back). But the three of us were together again as we started the gravel climb back up. I ended up inching my way off the front, so by the top I had a small gap with which to start the descent. Now I have been running the Compass tires tubeless for the last year, and have never had a failure or issue, including the pre-ride on these roads. Alas the front tire decided that this was the moment to quit holding air – I haven’t yet examined it to find out why (I suspect sidewall damage). A shame to flat when leading, but that is bike racing. I stopped and installed my spare tube – with the race gone I now just wanted to get back without puncturing again, and I could now pinch flat since I was using a tube. So I went super slow and careful through the roughest part of the descent, and thought I was free and clear. Until on a smoother section I missed a rock in the shadows and – bang – one very flat tire….. Kicking myself for not bringing a second tube I started walking (glad to have mountain bike shoes on), knowing it wasn’t far to the last aid station. After a bit of a stroll, Mike came past with his truck, so I hopped on the running board for a quick lift. At the aid station I was able to get a tube, and then there was hardly any gravel left before the last up and over on the road to get back. I hammered this section as hard as I could, managing to catch and pass a couple of riders. I was cramping up as I did the last couple of miles of gravel, but rolled in for an eventual 7th place. Up front, Dillon took the win ahead of Billy.

My teammate Clara was also racing – I haven’t heard her story from the day yet, but she took the women’s win for the day and the series, nicely done!

I would have been disappointed had the series win been scuppered; as it was it was all part of the adventure, and I really enjoyed the event – I would love to do more racing like this, where the course is super hard and selective. No tactics, just riding hard in beautiful surroundings. Bring on the Triple Crown next year!

The 40 mile ride home was perhaps a bit much – my legs were shot from those crazy climbs and it got pretty hot out there…. But always nice now and again to have a day that really kicks you in the ass…..

 

One Comment

  1. You’ve even got a pink strip to go with the pink bike?
    Can I get a stealthy dark grey and black to go with mine? 🙂

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