Sunday, July 20, 2008
Still racing across Oregon.
Still racing across Oregon. We may be looking at a mid afternoon finish!
(posted from just west of Prineville via cell phone)
It was dark, but it was a new day none the less. Children greeted us with sparklers and thumbs up at the time station in the little town of Long Creek. Why weren't they in bed? Why weren't we? Our hill climbing animals were on duty, J Michael powered up from Long Creek over the 5000ft+ unnamed summit. It was formidable when we saw it in daylight, can only imagine what the experience was in the dark. I often felt the need to jump in for a short pull just to give them a rest, but was reminded that even when they were tired they could outclimb me! We had not seen the Master Blasters since Kimberly just as it was getting dark. We didn't know if they had passed us without us noticing or if they had troubles and were falling behind. All we knew was that at the Long Creek time station we checked in and they hadn't yet.
My next leg started at the US26/Hwy 19 junction, RAO mile 330.6 and continued until RAO mile 338.6
This was another climb for me. While my teammates commented that it seemed like a lot of descents I was climbing these low percentage grades. We'd all like tailwinds and 4% downslopes on all our rides but it just doesn't work that way! I could do these, just not as fast as I'd like!
distance: 8.38 avg 12.6 max:(not recorded) time 0:39:54 (predicted 0:40:00)
My next leg of the "day" would be a 9 mile pull up to Ochoco Summit (race mile 369-378)
I still had my higher geared rear wheel on the bike, a 12-25 9spd cogset. (53-43-30 chainrings on the crank) My other wheel had a 12-27 and the original plan was to swap that in but as it ended up the bike was never with me unless I was riding it and there wasn't enough time to switch it at the changeover points...this was a RACE!
It probably didn't make a whole lot of difference as I was able to keep my cadence up with the gearing I had for the most part.
The pull up Ochoco seemed to go on forever. I didn't have my speedometer illuminated (note for next RAO!) and didn't know how many miles I was into my leg. The full moon gave enough light that I could see the hills and ridges ahead of me. I'd pick out a ridge line and think "I just have to get there....fast" only to make the next sweeping turn and find another ridge a little higher! I was really beginning to think I was almost to the changeover point when a sign comes into view that says "passing lane one mile ahead". Rats, they don't put passing lanes on the downhill sections! I continued to grind up the hill in my lower gears, running about 10 mph. I felt sorry for our pace rig crew, they had been awake over 20 hours at this point and here they were creeping along behind a uphill bike rider.
I had settled into a sustainable cadence and gearing and was just moving up the hill. Was I still "racing"? Was I just out for a middle of the night ride? From time to time I'd shift up a few gears and stand on the pedals for 50 yds or so. I guess that means I must have still been in race mode. ;-)
I finally rounded a corner and saw the flashing lights of our other two support vehicles with my replacement rider at the ready. My last leg in darkness was coming to an end!
(Our crew chief, D Jason Penney, blogged about his experience on our team, including a bit about this leg)
miles:9.0 avg: 9.0 max: (not recorded) time: 1:00:00 (predicted 1:12:00)
As our team pulled into Prineville we reported to the time station and also had cell service for the first time since Mt Hood. Our support crew made a call and found that the Master Blasters were 8 minutes behind us at Long Creek. (the team let out a joint BAAAAAAAAAA!)
Our hill climbing animal Cary pulled our team colors up out of Prineville. Before we left cell range we found that at the Prineville time station we had a 48 minute lead on the Master Blasters. (another BAAAAAAAAAAAA echoes off the Eastern Oregon hills!)
We didn't know if the Blasters had trouble, perhaps a sick rider? Mechanical issues?
We hoped all was okay with them but we just kept pedaling.
Leg 9 was a fun run, after the last few legs of gentle climbing for me I was rewarded with a mostly flat to gentle downsloping 15 miles.
The sun was out, spirits were high, I was on the aerobars and flying!
Leg 9 RAO mile 419.0-434.2
distance: 15.18 avg: 24.7 max: 40.3 time: 0:36:52 (predicted 0:45:00)
I watched J Michael and Cary climb yet more unbelievable hills. At one point I was in the motorhome on the top of the Warm Springs climb looking down at our support pickup following the small speck that was Cary...... at the bottom of what had to be a tortuous 1800 ft winding climb. He had planned our team legs and one has to wonder what he's made of to assign himself this leg. We can always second guess whether the team would have been faster to break these long climbs up a bit between riders, but you can't argue with the end result. Cary is an unbelievably strong climber and he knew his capabilities. In our planning sessions we expressed doubts as to how long we'd be able to keep to the planned schedule. Cary said he hoped we could stay on it as long as possible and that he really had his heart set on some of those climbs. Better his heart than mine!
We called this leg "second summit to third summit". It involved a bit of climbing. With 40,000 ft of climbing over this course we'd come to expect it!
The day was warming up, with the temps in the low 90's. I had doused my jersey in water before this leg to keep my temp under control. Again this worked well for me.
I took a couple of swigs of water as I rode up some of the inclines but mostly just to help with a dry mouth from breathing in all the warm dry air. Body hydration and energy levels were well within normal levels thanks to the generous amounts of time off bike. This was one of my toughest legs, very rough chipseal that just pounded me. I didn't have the luxury of slowing down to lessen the jarring.
Leg 10, Second summit to third summit, pre-Pine Grove
distance: 13.73 avg: 15.6 maximum: 39.1 time 0:52:48 (predicted 0:53:00)
We hadn't assigned the last 20 miles, thinking we'd play it by ear depending on who had what left at this point. J Murray and I had been spared the most grueling climbs and still felt remarkably fresh. With Mt Hood in sight John and I decided to split that last 20 miles between us. I hopped on the bike at the intersection of Road 43 and Road 48 and planned on riding the 10 miles getting our team to Hwy 35 with J Murray taking it from there to Timberline Rd. Our plan was for short legs up Timberline Rd with all team members participating in our dash to the finish.
As I pedaled my way up this surprisingly steep section the other riders decided to break this up into smaller pulls. As I rounded a turn I saw our support crew placing the next rider. No complaint from me!
Leg 11 Jct Rd43/48 on out
distance: 4.76 avg: 12.6 max: 27.6 time 0:22:40 (no leg or time preplanned)
As we approached our finishing pull up Timberline Rd we had developed a plan to have our riders split between our two pace rigs, and alternate rider drops every .7 mile up the hill and just stand on the pedals and sprint. On paper it looked good. In practice it didn't work so well. The one pickup with our crew chief in it understood the plan. The other not so much! The crew had been steller for the race, this was one of the few instances where we could have done better. It was really our fault, we should have practiced this. We had talked about the possibility of doing this for several weeks.
It seemed that the other pickup was having trouble reading the odometer and driving at the same time. There was a LOT of traffic on Timberline Rd and that may have played into the issues. As for us, when it was .7 miles, we stopped right in the traffic lane if necessary (that's what all those flashing lights and signs were for!)and rapidly unloaded the bike and rider then moved the pickup up to a place it could pull off. The other pickup didn't quite have this down, and often didn't even have a replacement rider on the road even where there were good pulloffs.
What this meant is that both J Murray and I would be going all out, knowing we only had to maintain the pace for .7, only to find that at 1.2 we were still riding and running out of energy! J Murray and I ended up alternating from the one support pickup, having not seen the other pickup and riders for several miles.
We finally came to a wide spot in the road (a rarity on Timberline Rd!) and saw the motorhome and other support pickup. We got everyone back on track and left one rider on the course while we sent the motorhome to the top and dropped the other 3 riders at the bottom of the Timberline Lodge loop for our planned joint last leg and run through the finish line.
I didn't have time to record my last 3 legs individually since they were short and we were really scampering to keep the team moving.
My combined legs 12, 13, and 14 (Timberline Rd to the finish line)
distance: 2.1 avg 7.8 max 12.1 time: 15.24 (no planned leg or time)
We rode the last half mile or so as a group:
(photo courtesy of our crew chief, D Jason Penney)
and we rolled across the finish line together, two wide.
We learned that we had set a new course record for our division by 2 hrs and 8 mins! We were very surprised and very pleased. We later learned that the Master Blasters didn't have any trouble and that they also broke their previous year's record by 15 minutes.
Congratulations to them for a good race!
We took a few photos, gathered our gear, and headed down to a brewpub in Government Camp for the first "real food" in days! It had been a great race for our rookie crew!
...............Road Bike.....LifeCycle.....Total Miles