High Cascade 100

Back in Idaho now after a whirlwind trip over to Oregon for the weekend to participate in the High Cascade 100 just outside Bend, OR.  This was a road trip with the boys and was a much needed break from work for me.  It was also a great opportunity to see what my legs could do after not riding much for the past 6 weeks and having minimal “racing” under my belt heading into the second half of the season.

We watched the TDF Friday morning, made some last minute bike adjustments, and got out for a 2 hour ride on Friday afternoon before heading into town for the pre-race meeting.  After the meeting, it was a quick trip to the grocery store for some final race supplies and then a quick dinner before trying to get to bed early.

The race started at 5:30 a.m. @ 20 minutes outside Bend.  The race organizer had warned us that it would be 35 degrees in the morning.  I dismissed that as hype considering the fact that I live at 6,000 ft. (2,000 ft. higher than the race start) and it hadn’t been that cold in the morning here in Idaho lately.  As soon as I stepped out of the van, I was quickly reminded that one should “always trust a local”.  It wasn’t 35 degrees, it was 34 according to the temp gauge on the van.  Thankfully, I had at least brought arm warmers, but that was it.  Being really cold is not much fun.  I don’t typically get cold.  I’m usually pretty good at keeping moving enough to stay warm, regardless of conditions.  This was a bit different though because we weren’t moving, so I couldn’t warm up.  Instead I tried a different tactic of relaxing as much as possible and trying to ignore the cold.  In some zen-like way, it I think it might’ve worked.  I stopped shivering and didn’t notice the cold as much after a minute or so.  It could have also been the fact that I was now packed into a tight group of 200 riders waiting for the gun to go off!

The race started with a neutral roll out for about a mile and then the racing began.  On the first gradual road climb, I must’ve looked down at my tires at least 6 times and was sure that I had a flat.  Either that, or someone had put glue on my tread and it was trying to do it’s job by keeping rubber and pavement in contact, hence thwarting my efforts at moving forward.  Seriously, my legs felt loaded, I felt sleepy, and now that we were moving, I was re-acquainted with that 34 degree reality that I had been previously trying to ignore.  I tucked in behind the largest person I could find for the remainder of the short climb and tried to ignore just how numb my fingertips were.

Thankfully, the sun stuck to it’s schedule and popped above the eastern horizon shortly after the start and the temps slowly began to climb.  After an hour or so, my fingers had thawed, my legs and body were warm and a huge grin had plastered itself to my grill as I rode along on some of Bend’s infamous twisty single track.  Right now, this was not a race.  This was riding twisty single track as fast as you could.  The faster you went, the more fun it was, period.

As the day moved on, I continued to feel surprisingly good.  I had no issues with cramping and seemed to manage my fueling and hydration well.  Having not even ridden 100 miles on a road bike this year, I fully expected for the ‘wheels to come off’ at some point and for me to implode physically.  Thankfully, that didn’t seem to happen.  After mile 60 or so, I had established confidence in my legs and didn’t hold anything back.  I’d push on the climbs as hard as I could because I knew that the quicker I got to the top, the sooner I would be enjoying another twisty fast single track descent.

This interview with Thom Parsons for Cycling Dirt probably sums it up best:

Cycling Dirt Interview

(I tried unsuccessfully to embed it, but couldn’t make it happen.)

I ended up crossing the finish line with a time of roughly 9:39, which put me around 12th overall and in 2nd place in the SS category.  Congrats to Gerry Pflug for taking the SS win and pretty much wrapping up his SS NUE title for the season.  Next up will be Pierre’s Hole in two weeks.  I’m hoping that the idea of ‘racing myself into shape’ works out so that I can try and give Gerry a run for his money!!!

After the race, we headed into Bend to catch the Criterium stage of the Cascade Classic.  The downtown was packed and the excitement of crit racing was contagious.  Even after having just ridden 100 miles (106 to be exact), I still felt somewhat compelled to shave my legs, kit up, and get out there to partake in the rough & tumble game of crit racing.  These guys race inches away from each other through corners on city streets at speeds of 30-40 mph.  While “short & intense” races are certainly not my strength, there’s something very attractive to me about the intensity and thrill of a crit race.  Maybe I’ll give up the SS for crit racing in my next life….

For now, time to cram in some work for the next 9 days and get ready to head over to Grand Targhee for the Pierre’s Hole race on August 6.  Cheers!

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~ by ketchumgreg on July 25, 2011.

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