Doing it all the hard way...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guest Post RACE REPORT Cascade Classic 2010

John racing Cyclocross Nationals in Bend in December 2009. Note the hint of intensity...
If I get some photos of John from the race, I will amend the post accordingly.

Big John is one of the cornerstones of team 20/20 Fuel and this was what his second year of the Cascade Classic looked like from his Italian saddle.

I finished the Cascade Classic Stage Race in central Oregon yesterday afternoon and am now here for a week with the family. I ultimately finished 27th in the GC. 38 riders started in my 45 + category. At the end of the grueling 4 races over 3 days, we were down to 28. As mentioned to some of you previously, the Masters category includes 35+ and 45 + riders. We race together, but are placed separately. There was no Cat 1 to Cat 5 distinction. Accordingly, there were 100 riders starting the race in our Masters group. All the riders that I recognized from Seattle were Cat 2's, including Kyle Farrell of Garage, who actually won the Cat 2 race here last year. Participating in this race was a humbling experience.

7/23/10 Stage 1 Cascade Lakes Road Race (71 miles) 28th place

88 degrees at the 11:50 AM start and it climbed to 92 during the ride. (The new 2020 white jersey was a Godsend. Whose idea was that?) With less than a minute to go at the start line, we were informed that there would only be one feed zone for water bottle distribution even though the Tech Guide had two shown on the map. Luckily, I had an extra 1/2 bottle in my jersey pocket with two full bottles in the cages. This race immediately started with a 3 mile climb toward the Mount Bachelor ski area and then turned to the left and headed downhill for about 11 miles toward Sunriver before it headed gradually back upward on Forest Service roads to the ski area parking lot from the back side of the mountain. The Forest Service roads undulated a bit. There was a strict yellow line rule in effect for the entire race. The race was fast from the beginning with surges and slowing in the pack that kept me on my toes at all times. I hung on well until the sanctioned feed zone at 49.1 miles. It was great to see my wife there in the 2020/Fuel jersey and she made a perfect bottle hand off with words of encouragement.

Leaving the feed zone, the pace quickened and I had to ride like hell to hang on up a rise for about a kilometer. Finally, things settled and I found myself safely back in a mid pack position near Greg Kauper and Todd Gallagher of IJM. I was starting to feel like I was up to the task at this point of hanging on with the big boys for the next 20 miles. There I stayed for another 10 miles. Unfortunately, at mile 61, the real climbing began with sharp acceleration. I tried to stay on, but realized quickly that I couldn't and kept in mind that I had 3 more races to complete over the next two days. I backed off and trudged up at my own pace.

After the surge, I passed several other 35 + and 45 + straggling riders and then was totally on my own. I began to feel horrible in the heat and wind as my water bottles drained. Luckily, I got an extra bottle from the wheel car as it passed me. Otherwise, I would not have made it. Eight of the last ten kilometers were a steep ascent in direct sun and I was happy to have 27 teeth to use on the inside of the cassette. Finally, with the road flattening a bit with 2 K to go, I was able to pick up speed for the big ride around the ski area parking lot to the finish. Exhausted, I finished 28th at 3:04:51. This was nearly 4 minutes slower than my finish in this race last year. Interestingly, to give you some idea of the strength of the masters field, my time in 28th position was still five, count them, FIVE minutes ahead of the Cat 4 winning time.

Overall, a disappointing result, but I survived to race the next day.

7/24/10 Stage 2 Skyliner Drive Time Trial (15.2 miles) 24th place

Finishing the road race in 28th place left me with an early 9:21 AM start time.

The course was literally 7.6 miles up and 7.6 miles down from the turnaround. I started out spry at a constant 25 to 27 mph out of the parking lot and onto the first relatively flat 1/2 mile, but then felt heaviness in the legs from the day before as the climb went on and on and on. Luckily, I saw the turnaround ahead just as I was contemplating giving up. I flew down at a constant speed of about 30 mph on average and finished at 38:46. All in all, I was not unhappy with the result and still felt that I had life in the legs for the crit later in the afternoon.

7/24/10 Stage 3 Downtown Criterium (40 minutes) 32nd place

This was an amazing course. Downtown Bend's main streets were totally blocked off. A huge crowd lined the course.

Why did I take that last pre-race ride around the course? As a result, I started one row from the back in a crowd of 100. From the beginning it was a rocket fast race on a superfast, clockwise, 4 corners course. One end of the course was a sharp turn protected by hay bales. I hung on for dear life looking at the radar speed sign near the finish line at each lap. Honestly, I never saw the reading go below 31 mph while with the pack. With about 15 minutes to go, I lost my grip and got dropped. I gave it all I had to get back on, but to no avail and was pulled with just about 10 minutes left. I worked really hard in this attempt riding solo and had good call outs on the PA system for 2020/Fuel from Seattle. Only later did I learn that I was one of the last riders pulled and that the chief judge gave me an additional lap because I appeared to be gaining ground in my second to last lap. Fortunately, I had enough time in when I was pulled to make the time cut to continue into the next stage.

Again, I was not happy with my placing, but gave all I had.

7/25/10 Stage 4 Aubrey Butte Circuit Race (67 miles)

This race was a 4 lap race run on a 17-mile circuit. In the last third of the circuit there was a significant 1 K climb at about mile 11 and 2 k's of climbing with a steep stretch at about mile 13. This was yet another course that Brothers Laesch and Wood would have eaten up. The second climb section was a bear, at least for me. However, I figured with my size I could make up time and hang on with the descents. Unfortunately, things did not work out as planned.

In the first lap, I hung front to mid pack, really moving forward on descents and keeping momentum up rolling hills. I stayed in place in the first 1 k climb and for most of the second big climb at miles 13 to 15. I dropped off a bit at 15, but with the pack in striking distance and a long descent, I figured I would catch on just after the sharp right turn at a traffic circle to start the second lap on the circuit. Unfortunately, I carried too much speed into the sharp right and had to abort the turn just ahead of the following official car and headed around the traffic circle for a ways to the left. By the time I turned around, the pack was well down the road and out of reach. This left me with a 50 mile solo ride to finish the race.

I rode at a steady pace alone for the remaining 3 laps, but it was tough in 90 degree heat and with a slight wind from the west. I came upon several other dropped riders early on, but no one showed interest in working together. I toyed with the idea of calling it a day after the third lap, but knew deep inside that I had to finish. The final lap was literally painful, but I ultimately finished 27th out of the 28 remaining riders in my category with a solid out of the saddle solo sprint at the end. I sprinted because I was so ready to get off my bike.

My time in this one, was over 20 minutes off my time in this race last year, but last year I stayed with the group into the third lap final climb. It was impossible to keep much speed riding alone for 50 miles. I was totally exhausted after the race and my feet were on fire at the pedal points. I was pleased that I simply finished the race. Looking at the results today, I noted that there were 3 DNF's among the 45 + riders and 5 DNF's among the 35 + riders in the race and that I also finished ahead of 3 other 35 + riders. This made me feel a little bit better about the result, as I sure felt like I was the very last rider on the course when I finished.


As mentioned, I finished 27th in the GC with 38 starting 45 + riders and 28 finishing. I had hoped to have a better result this year than last year, but things did not work out as planned. I believe altitude and heat, in particular, impacted me significantly. This is a tough race with a strong masters field. Today, I feel good about sticking with it and finishing each of the stages. Although last night, I was of a different mindset, today I am beginning to think I might try this again next year.

Being in central Oregon, I am well aware that CX season is just around the corner. Nationals will here again in December. Today, it was 100 degrees warmer than it was here on the first day of Nationals last December.

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