Another week, another batch of excuses for being late with the recap. I’ll save you all the whining. Most of the last couple days have simply been spent recovering from Sunday’s race. I’ll get to that soon enough. But, first I need to try and remember if I did anything exciting last week.
I already told y’all about last Monday and the canal ride. Geez. To this point, no other ride I’ve written about over the last year plus has generated more requests for directions to, or questions about, a specific ride. See last weeks entry if you missed it.
That brings us to last Wednesday. As usual, it was another great evening with my Cycle A homies. Aside from having to search for a missing member of the party that decided to take his own route, it was a fun time. Getting a photo of Jacob when he isn’t making a funny face is always a challenge, but sometimes I catch him off guard.
As Thursday rolled around, I made a last minute decision to race at the track in White City. It was the first race of the new June series, so I figured I may as well go suffer while getting my butt kicked by people faster than I ever plan on being. Despite the heat, my fear of crashing on a drag strip and return road riddled with cracks that could easily swallow a small child (much less a 23 mm road tire), and my overall lack of racing skill, I managed to take 3rd place in the B race. I thought I got 4th, but I was told 3rd. I’m not much into arguing, so I guess I’ll take it.
Waking up and hitting the road by 4:45 Sunday morning, I headed up to Cottage Grove for the first race in the Oregon Triple Crown series. This was my 3rd Oregon Gran Fondo and I felt ready. Well, I mean as ready as I could be after 5 hours of sleep and eating a bunch of Bobbio’s pizza the night before. But, kinda ready. Crap. I forgot about the 4 beers. I never learn my lesson. Alright, maybe I was only minimally ready.
A good 3 or 400 of us started off promptly at 8 am and by mile 30, I was still with the front group. That would change quickly with the timed climb up Smith River Road. While I put the hammer down and managed a personal best on the climb, I also watched the fast people that had been pulling me along leave me like I was that kid that picked his nose in grade school. You know. The one you would hang out with until you were in public….Okay, maybe that was just me.
Anyway, it was a relief when we hit the first aid station at the top of the climb and waited for some of our buddies.
At the bottom of the subsequent descent, Bryan Simpson and I caught a team working together and latched on to them. Over the next 40 miles, with Bryan, myself, and the 7 or 8 guys on the team doing all the pulling, we picked up about 15 other riders that took advantage of the drafting opportunities. I wish I could have got a photo of that. We were smoking along an old pot-holed back road at 24-25 mph most of the time.
Unfortunately, to stay with the group we were forced to skip the second aid station. As I said earlier, I didn’t exactly have the best rest day (night) coming in to the race and simply skipping that station was all it took to make me regret the previous night.
By the time we hit the 3rd aid station at mile 70, I was hungry, thirsty, and starting to overheat so I took in a bunch of water and tried to eat something healthy. I got back on the bike and was ready to roll only to see the group I had been riding with pulling away from me. I tried to catch them, but it was too late. Time to suffer alone.
And, suffer alone I did until I caught up to Bryan changing a tube. With him in need of a pump, me in need of keeping my legs turning, and knowing he would catch me, I handed him my pump and started up a fun little exposed climb.
Bryan eventually caught me about 15 miles later and we started working together. In this case, working together meant me drafting him or riding beside him and talking about life. Mostly me drafting him though.
At mile 105, the heat finally hit me good and I had to find shade. Telling Bryan good luck, I pulled over for 30 seconds before deciding to push on. He was long gone already and I wouldn’t see him again. That guy’s too fast.
After one more big climb with NO shade, it was a fast 8 miles back into town and the finish line. After 117 miles, the first race of the Triple Crown was done.
So that’s it. If you have any interest in riding one or all of the triple crown races, I strongly advise it. They are well organized and cover some gorgeous country. Plus, there’s free food and beer at the end.