Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, April 13, 2015

What it is like to finish first in the Goldendale Fondo ?

I have no idea.  However, my teammate McWoodie does and here is his report..

Methow training.. McWoodie and Einmotron

For the first 20 miles are so, it was one massive group ride. Probably ~50 people together at the front with things fairly mellow. Most of it was pavement, with the occasional short stretch of gravel that would spread things out a bit, but then come back together quickly on the asphalt.

That formula changed about 25 miles in when the gravel section we hit suddenly had tons of loose sand. Guys were going all over the place as they hit the sand. I was a few bikes ahead of Einmotron in the paceline -I made it through ok but heard an expletive from Einmotron (the guy in front of him bobbled in the sand and put a foot down. Einmotron had to come to a complete stop and put his chain back on before continuing). After I was clear of the sand I looked behind me and there was a big gap, so I sat up a bit to wait for Einmotron. Here comes a group of 6 riders he must be in that…nope. Here come another 4 riders and looks like one is in a black jersey, I’m sure he’s…nope. Another group is coming - oh here he is!

We looked up the road and we could see the lead group off in the distance with tons of stragglers in between. Einmotron and I stepped on the gas to bridge up to the strong lead group. A handful of guys jumped on our wheel, but didn’t really pull through so we wound up doing about 70% of the pulling to bridge back up to the lead group.
A little early in the day for a zone 4 effort, but we thought it would be worth it. We were jussssstt about to connect back with the lead group, maybe 20 meters back, when the road turned onto gravel and I jettisoned a water bottle. Ugh. Way too early in the day for a one-bottle ride. I yelled to Einmotron, I turned around, grabbed it, and we were back on the gas again to bridge…again. We made it back on relatively quickly, but had burned a few more matches than we expected.

The course then climbed up through wind turbines with great views down to the Columbia Gorge. Really pretty. A rough gravel section split the group on 25 or so lead riders into two groups, with Einmotron and I in the second group. So, guess what we decided to do: bridge back up to the lead group.

We had a bit more help this time and had managed to catch the lead group – just in time for a huge herd of cattle coming down the road which brought everyone to a stop at the side of the road to let the cows pass. So much for that effort.

Once the cows moseyed past us, the group got back on the road. I was about 5th wheel for this gravel stretch with the group riding in two lines and there wasn’t a whole lot of rotating through. I quickly glanced back to see where Einmotron was in the group, but with the rough road couldn’t spend too much time looking behind me. He must be there. On a fast downhill descent I drifted back – hmmm, where’s my teammate? He must be up ahead. Back on the gas to find him in the group. Nope. Hmmm. Look behind. No Einmotron in sight. Hmmmm.

This lead group of 15 is slogging through a headwind. Save energy and work with them, or drop back to look for Einmotron? I took door #1. Turns out Einmotron had run over some barbed wire about 5 pedal strokes after the cows. He got the tire to seal back up, but was stuck in no mans land.

55 miles in was the food stop. Everyone grabbed some food (in a surprisingly leisurely manner), waited until the whole crew was ready (very civilized), then all 15 or so of us hit the road together again. We started a gentle climb following the Klickitat River, rotating consistently in the paceline. Occasionally there would be a little riser and a Cucina rider I was behind would put in a little dig if he was in the lead – which clearly caused some pain in the group. But everyone knew the real pain was coming at about the 73 mile mark…

We crossed the river, the road took a quick left turn and switched to gravel, and the climb was on. I was towards the front, hanging on to Cucina Mike’s wheel as he hit the base of the climb hard. A few minutes in I came around him simply to pick a better line and found myself in the lead on the climb. Someone came past me and I jumped on his wheel for a few minutes, only to come around him for a better line once again.

With my heart rate pegged (didn’t realize it could say 177 for that long) I kept climbing and soon realized I had a gap. With a KOM contest for this climb, I figured “well, might as well go for it” and kept digging, keeping the HR as high as I dared.

It wasn’t totally clear where the end of the climb was and when I looked back I could see one rider about 50m behind me so I kept pressing on. Finally we hit a part that was clearly a descent and I eased off a bit. Rider #2, a guy named Tim in Starbucks kit, finished the bridge up to me and I said “got enough gas to work together to the end?” He said sure, and we took a right turn onto gravel with about 12 miles left.

Team Training Camp 2014
Once again, washboard gravel jettisoned my water bottle (gotta do something about that), but this time there was no way I was stopping. We couldn’t see anyone behind us so we kept the pace up to stay out of sight. Starbucks Tim and I worked together, though it seemed like he had much more gas than me.

I kept watching the countdown on my Garmin. 9.9 miles to the finish – hey, that’s a lap around Mercer, I can hold on. 7 miles to go – wow, this guy seems to be taking much longer and stronger pulls than me. 4.7 miles to the finish – hey that’s about half a Mercer lap. Don’t lose this guy’s wheel no matter what. 3 miles to the finish – the end is near. 1.2 miles to the finish – OK, that’s only 2km – the last 2km of a bike race on TV goes pretty quickly. 

This is a nice pull Starbucks Tim is taking. Hey, wait a minute, he’s really starting to dig. Glace up quickly - there are some flags on the road next to a car 100m ahead. Damn, that’s the finish! Guess it’s time to sprint! Come around him, dig dig dig – hit the finish line about a wheel length ahead of Starbucks Tim! Congratulatory words exchanged.

I rode the remaining 1.1 miles back to the school parking lot where we started (guess that’s what the Garmin course was counting down to) and found Barry’s wife Mo. Told her I finished first, but then started to think “did that really happen?”. So, decided to spin back to the finish line and ask “before I make any grand claims, did #132 really finish first?”. Yes he did.

Special thanks to McWoodie for sharing !

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