The Race: NRC Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, OR
The Course: An all-you-can-pedal buffet of climbs spread out over six stages
The Field: Pro women
The Finish: Dead tired but alive
Oh jesus, I’m still like three HUNDRED race reports behind schedule. UGH. The only reason I’m even bothering with this one is because I took the time to stick photos and course maps into a draft of the post weeks ago and it would be a shame to let that tiny trickle of motivation and effort go to waste.
Driving in the team van from the crit in Boise, ID over to Bend, OR.
Tetherow Prologue TT (2.5 miles)
I rode as hard as I could for a few minutes and then it was over. Teammate Laura ended up on the podium in 3rd! I ended up relieved to be done with the first stage and amused that so much preparation and warm-up went into, like, five minutes of actual racing.
McKenzie Pass Road Race (73.5 miles)
This was the longest climb I have ever done in my life. There is a possibility that some part of me is still on that endless ascent, pedaling sloooooooowly to the top of the universe. It was an interesting day; I got dropped on the long climb, started to feel better and better as I got to the top, crushed the descent (which is normally a weak point in my riding), got misdirected off course by a marshall that didn’t see me roll through an intersection with a bunch of cars, managed to chase back on to the field, got dropped again, chased back on again, and then officially dropped on the final climb to the finish. The day hurt like hell and I was relieved to put it behind me.
After every stage, we headed to the river to ice our legs. There were times during races where the only thing keeping me pedaling was the knowledge that at some point, I’d be finished and back in the river with my friends and a bottle of kombucha. Because, yeah, I now get excited about drinking liquid rot.
Prineville TT (16 miles)
This TT was great. Seriously! Because I wasn’t in contention for the GC but my legs were needed for the upcoming stages, my director’s instructions were to do the TT at 80%. So I rode at a comfortably hard pace, took in the scenery, waved and cheered when my teammates passed by going the other direction, and actually had a good time. If only all TTs could be so relaxing.
Everybody warming up before the start of the TT.
This is the face of fun.
Cascade Lakes Road Race (70 miles)
After Tuesday’s stage, this one looked mild by comparison. The initial 12 miles of descending with 100 other anxious, revved-up chicks on skinny tires was unnerving (rightly so, as there ended up being a bad crash in the stage) but once we got to the middle flat sections, the race was exciting. Other teams threw down lots of attacks and, since my legs were feeling good at the time and I wanted to do as much as I could for my teammates before fading on the big climb, I covered lots of moves. By the time the road pitched up for the final significant climb, I was ready to
drink beer in the river sit up and spin to the finish while saving my legs for the crit the next day.
Mary thought I looked classy enough for a photo after a trip to the river.
Twilight Downtown Criterium (50 minutes)
With the size of the field, I knew positioning was going to be critical and that getting too far back from the front would be a mistake. That meant I was on it from the gun; when the field was surging to go after attacks, I was sprinting with them, and when the field sat up, I kept on the pace and made up any lost wheels. Mary and I rode much of the crit together, going back and forth covering moves and staying at the front. It was tiring, especially after the previous stages, but I felt comfortable holding good position and maintaining speed through the corners, including turn 4 with its reputation for being a crashfest. When it came down to the final lap, I got into the fast-moving train to the finish and rounded the final corner in a solid position near the front. I started sprinting too early and in too big of a gear, though, and was fading 100 meters from the line, at which point I got passed by two other riders. Despite that, I finished 7th and was happy with the stage overall.
The sprint finish in the crit. [Photo by Jonathan Devich]
Awbrey Butte Circuit Race (51 miles, 3 laps)
I was optimistic about the final stage, as the course map showed nothing insurmountable and I knew I could muster the legs for one final effort. It didn’t go exactly as planned, though: on one of the later climbs of the first lap, Leah had a mechanical right next to me and I stopped to wait with her so I could help her get back into the field. The problem ended up requiring a bike swap that took longer than expected, and by the time we got going again, we were pretty far behind. I pulled as hard as I could for over 10 miles, picking up a few stray riders along the way and eventually joining a small group, but it was to no avail. The field was long gone. With no hope of salvaging any type of result, I switched to enjoying the final lap with friend and fellow rider Kim. We goofed off and chatted our way through the miles and crossed the line satisfied and happy to be done.
So that was Cascade. I’m sure with the great depth of detail I’ve slapped haphazardly into this report, you feel like you were practically there, right? To be honest, it was an ass-kicker of a race. More climbing than I’ve ever done before, for sure, but the bigger eye-opener for me was seeing how badly one must be willing to hurt to ride with the best in the peloton. I think I can get there – there were times when I’d written myself off completely in a race and still managed to claw my way back into the field – but it’s going to require more work and resolve going forward. Cascade was an excellent experience; gorgeous scenery, good times with my team, and a chance to get familiar with the stages so that I’m better prepared for next season. Because, hell yeah, if I’m given the opportunity, I’m going back. Those 20 unending miles aren’t going to climb themselves.