Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cascade Cycling Classic: the Group Ride

The CCC is the longest continuously running stage race in America, and it just happens to be right here.

Mt Bachelor Sports Education Foundation organizes the race, a huge undertaking. They do a great job in controlling the chaos at an acceptable level. The night before the race started, MBSEF organized a group ride with the Garmin Chipotle Development Team; sponsors and volunteers were welcome.

The guy in the blue/green shirt figures prominently. Read on...

I asked, "will it be a hammerfest?"

"No, no," says Molly, "a comfortable ride." She is MBSEF's events/finance guru and "All Knowing" one. Seriously, that's her title in the race manual.

I'm still recovering from my triathlon two days prior, legs are shot, and the weather looks questionable. But I'll take it easy, and riding in light rain is no big deal. About 25 of us meet at the MBSEF office for Molly's world famous chocolate chip cookies washed down with Gatorade. Then we're off.

Notice the foul-weather gear
I hadn't ridden in a peloton in, what, 18 years? Old habits die hard; you have to pay attention, but it's fun.

Did I mention the rain?

After two or three miles, it's absolutely dumping on us. Oh well. I hope that camera in my pocket is staying dry.

Climbing out of Shevlin Park, it starts to get hard. Who's up there pushing the pace? None other than The All-Knowing One. I comment that I'm not liking her very much right now (but I am).

I'm feeling ok, so I decide to tuck behind the front guys and see what happens. Soon, the Garmin guys are laughing, talking, having a grand old time. I'm dry-heaving, scratching and clawing to keep up.

Still pouring. I can imagine the camera short-circuiting.

The rise from Tumalo State Park was tough but manageable, and much faster than I've done it before. At the crest, I'm still there. We pick it up on OB Riley, riding fast and on the ragged edge (that's me; everyone else is bored).

There was a young blond kid with the front group, maybe 16 or so, and shaped like a defensive lineman (see first photo, back right). His dad works at Bend Memorial Clinic, the main sponsor, so the son decided to come along. His rig had mountain bike pedals and all-terrain shoes, not as aero as the Garmin outfits. Hey, it all works. What's really cool is that this kid had been riding maybe 2-3 months, and here he was, hanging with the pros for the better part of the ride. Nice job, guy.

I don't know who Archie Briggs was, but he could have picked a flatter road to name after himself. This one hurts. First climb, I'm still there, 2nd one, hanging by my fingernails. They finally drop me within 100 yards of the summit. Fortunately, they stay together on the downhill, so I recover and pound away until I'm back.

Then there's one last short steep climb near the college. I'm done, toast. The enamel on my teeth is gone from an hour's worth of grinding, but heck, these guys are half my age. One of the racers cannot drink beer legally; I have socks older than him.

Good showing to keep up this long. And no one would fault me for simply cruising in.

However, there's this thing called pride...

They're pedaling at a steady clip down to the roundabout. I put my guts on my sleeve (figurative, not literal) and it's back into the big ring. I rip around the curve and catch them one last time.

Sure, they are all sitting up and beginning to cool down, so bridging the gap might not be considered an heroic effort.

I don't care. It was a win for me.

CCC: Mackenzie Pass Stage

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