Cascade Cycling Classic
July 15, 2000
After almost two weeks at home in Albuquerque and a short camping trip to Datil and Pie Town (where in fact, they do make the best pie in the world), NM, I am back with Intersports teammates in Bend, Oregon. Bend is on the East side of the Cascade Mountains and right near the Three Sisters mountains.
We are David, Cathy Marsal, Pia Sundstedt, Sandy Espeseth, Jessica Phillips, me, and Magali, the soigneur. The team is in host housing this trip. Half are close to downtown Bend with a cook, skier, his avalanche dog, and some other guys. Cathy, Pia, Magali, and I are staying outside Bend with Todd, who used to make wood furniture and now works in computers. As always, it's been a real treat to stay with a host rather than in a hotel. We've taken over the kitchen and TV room. Todd has a large TV, movies and dvds. We've seen Contact, Unforgiven, The Green Mile, One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest, Cool Hand Luke, Eddie Izzard, and Shawshank Redemption.
The first stage on Thursday was a 50-something-mile road race starting and finishing at Mount Bachelor, a ski slope at 6,000 feet. We wanted to have Sandy and Pia go for the QOM points and to take the stage. Cathy, Jess, and I set tempo and covered attacks. The first QOM was advertised at 40 miles. Many miles after that, there was still no sign of the mountain. I eventually fell off the pace close to the beginning of the long, rolling finishing climb and rode slowly enough to see and collect a Polar heart rate along the way. Cathy fell off nearer the finish.
AutoTrader's Kim Smith attacked on the climb. The small group, including Jess, Pia, and Sandy were forced to chase. Once she was caught Amber Neben countered, got a gap and won by more than a minute. Nicole Demars (880.com) finished second by herself. Kim Smith took third. Pia was 6th with Sandy and Jess right behind her.
The following day, was a strange double day. In the morning we time trialed 1 mile straight up hill. Still lacking motivation for time trailing, particularly up hill time trailing, I went at a moderate pace and finished in the middle of the group. Sandy went well and moved into 4th overall. Amber won to remain in first overall. Nicole Demars finished third to stay in second overall. Kim remained in third place.
Our second race was scheduled for 8pm. We arrived in downtown Bend for the crit. There was much chaos because few or no signs had been posted and parked cars littered the streets. A fleet of tow trucks was called.
An hour later, the first race started. By the time it was our turn, it was late and dark. It was very dark. I couldn't see much. I spent the first laps of the race in the back staying out of trouble as much as possible. 15 minutes into the race a dog ran into the street ahead of the pack, causing a big, big pile up. I landed on Lisa Hunt, a former NYC teammate, who kindly cushioned the impact. Pia was, less fortunately, on the bottom of the stack. She is fine but has scrapes on her hip, knee and elbow. The most hurt remained on the ground for a while. The race was neutralized. Then there was discussion about canceling altogether, which is what happened in the end. Before the crash, Cathy won a few primes, one of which was a big bag of treats from Great Harvest bakery.
Saturday was another road race. We raced 8 laps of a 7-mile circuit. The start finish was on a flat spot half way up a stair-step, 2-mile climb. The rest of the course rolled along. The first lap went at a moderate pace. On the climb, I thought, "I've had enough, this is too hard." And I knew we were not climbing fast. On the second time up the climb, Cathy and I got dropped - dropped, dropped, really dropped - and chased back on to the pack. Again, I wanted to quit altogether and began calculating the time cut. The third time up the climb, Sandy attacked trying to get away and make up time on Amber Neben. AutoTrader covered her quickly and I barely hung onto the one of the last groups in the strung out field. "This can't go on.
There are five more laps to go." Once the group I was in caught the front riders, I decided to go off the front. I figured, 1. Sandy, Pia or Jess can counter my move. 2. I'm better off climbing at my own tempo all the way up the climb rather than trying to react to any increases in speed. 3. Since, I'm not going to make it to the end with the group it's better to do something and then fry than just simply fry. I'd have an excuse at the end.
Being so far back on GC, no one responded to my attack. After thinking, oh brother, this worked, I got into time trial mode and rode quite well. The first time check I got was :56. On the next lap it was 2 minutes something. I went hard on the rollers that I ride well, at a controlled pace on the climb where I figured I had the least opportunity to gain time, and cut every corner possible. I knew I needed to save something for the last one or two laps when the time gap would start to come down.
With two laps to go, I had more than a three-minute gap. Still somewhat concerned, I picked up the pace and focused on my pedal stroke. Given how the gap kept growing, Pia, Sandy, Jessica, and Cathy had to be doing some great work back in the field. The course was good for a break-away, because of the twisting road and corners. I was sure they were slowing down in all the corners and covering anyone who tried to bridge up. With one lap to go, the gap was still at three minutes. I figured I had it but picked up the pace a bit anyway.
On the first half of the climb, leading to the finish, David was behind me in the car. "Make sure you zip up your jersey, raise up your hands." I did. Apparently, I also did some Arsenio Hall type moves as well - out of excitement. It's always nice to win.
Nicole Demars riding strong these days (2nd on a stage in HP) took second. Julie Young was third. Amber retained the overall lead. She also retained the QOM lead. Although, I won two QOMs, the points were half what they were on the first day and in the hill climb. I ended up third in the QOMs.
The final day was another criterium, which, because of the D-ring shaped course, had a circuit race feel. Our plan was to use Pia, Jessica and me to soften up the field early in the race. Cathy would start up a bit later. She would also set up Sandy for an attack with one lap to go. Our aim was for Sandy to win and therefore move into third overall. We did just that. However, because of a protest over the results of the day before, Sandy started out the race a few seconds further back in the overall classification than we thought. She could, no longer, simply win the race to move ahead. She ended up fourth by one second.