While in Portland we were looking at two races: a prologue on a race
car track and a crit through a state park. We tried to pre-ride the
prologue course during the day but were only able to watch a couple
race cars cruising the track. This was my first experience with live
auto racing and it resonated within me, literally. I certainly felt
the sound of these cars as they rocketed past us, but the Doppler
effect was confusing my plugged sinus/ears as it took me quite a
while to figure out what direction these speed demons were coming
from. The Prologue itself was gnarly. It was very dark as I went off
around 9:10 pm and the rain was pooling on the course. Matt who is a
super crafty time trialist was on a very good time, probably a top
ten, before he was victim to the tough conditions. Knowing that he
went down I was a little timid, but those feelings dissipated well
before I hit the start ramp. I did an okay time, but was happy get
off the race track in search of dinner.
Mt. Tabor was a day for the good bike handlers and the well positioned. The crit was technical and had a few sections of well grown moss on the road. The team was very active pushing off the front a few times in hopes of primes or points but as the race developed it was looking to be a bunch finish. Tyler slotted himself into third over a slippery sprint. Those who were watching the sprint observed Trace come along the outside of the last corner with a dramatic speed difference than anyone else but needed a few more meters to make it count. Tyler easily has one of the best turns of speed around and has continually showed as he wins almost half the races he enters. A third place was a great result for the first stage of the tour and set the tone for the rest of the week. That evening we transferred to Hood River. We stayed with two very generous families, where half the team slept in a nicely furnished barn we were quick to dub “The Man Cave”, and another half of the squad were situated in a comfortable home with beautiful views of the Columbia Gorge and Mt Adams. Both of the families were very welcoming. The next day we were to drive across the Columbia River into Washington for the Mt Adams road race.
This day was sure to be tough as the profile was just four big mounds on a graph. In fact the route over the top of one of the mountains been recently snow ploughed. The guys were all itching to get into the days breakaway and we covered and initiated moves throughout the early stages of the day. It wasn’t until about 65km into the race over the second KOM when a move went clear. I slotted into it along with three other guys. We worked well to open the gap and looking around I was very happy with the combination of riders as we all had pretty good TT engines. The perks of getting into the break are that you are able to service whenever you want and you don’t have to worry about the accelerations in the group. My initial intention was to get in a position where I knew I would finish with the first group, and then assess the potential of a stage. It turned out we were rolling very smoothly and with a km to go we were still out front. I don’t think the win could have come any closer as in the same photograph of me saluting there is a chasing pack and the sprint for 2nd and 3rd. A very exciting day for the team which was best celebrated back at the man cave with fresh scones, a bit of beer, some more skateboarding on the homemade half pipe and tournament ping-pong with an in-house sound system.
The time trial was on tap for the following day and a lot of the guys had some tired legs by this point. Time trials are not overly exciting so the days recap is short. It was hard, hilly and the wind was howling. Adam double backed to get the car and Matt and I stuck it out in a ranger station learning about cougars and dealing with cougar attacks. I’m willing to go on a limb and say Matt is now the team expert.
On to the last road race. This is a tough day for anyone and everyone. The final climb is a bit of a doozy and the weeks riding has taken its toll on the legs. We rode well and stayed out of trouble into the final climb. Unfortunately, Matt and I fell off the pace of the leaders and were not able to go with the last acceleration. We finished the day where we started at the Base of Mt Hood Ski Resort.
The Mt Hood race was a great experience and will really accelerate our fitness coming into the bulk of the season. Some of us are now off to Banff and some of us are off to Beauce. The team will reunite in Edmonton, AB for the National Championships before heading back west for the Yaletown Grand Prix. We are expecting big things in the next few weeks so stay tuned.