Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Just got back from 6days of racing in Bend, OR - an amazing place to have a stage race! Never been to that part of the country but it was well worth it. Other people apparently thought so, too, as they had a field limit of 150 but 240 Pro/Cat1's wanted to race and they finally cut it off at 187 starters!

I rode again with Mike Olheiser's team out of Alabama and the past 6 days of racing flew by quickly. After two weeks w/ out any racing and just training I had a little hard time to adjust to the speeds on Stage 1, but it went alright and we all finished in the pack. Unfortunately though, Mike missed the break of 20some riders who rode away before the KOM and the feed zone. 4min down on G :-( Stage 2 saw a very quick run-in to the last 10miles of uphill. We did like 30mph in the first hour on that stage and it seemed like nothing would stick until they finally let a group go. And again, the feed zone was used to try to break up the field. Weird. And I thought amateurs get called out for doing that in the big races...We raced to the base of the climb and - of course - there was a pile-up in the middle of the field 40riders down. I had to unclip, chase back on and later felt that my legs are not quite there yet...Ex-Euro badass Oscar Sevilla showed what he can do and solo'd to victory.

Mike and I "hiding" at the front during Stage 1 (photo J. Devich)

The TT the next day was a quick 16mile affair with 8miles going out (and 1000ft up) and 8miles going back down. I had the pleasure to be "sandwiched" somewhere in between CX champ Ryan Trebon and time trial king and NRC points leader Tom Zirbel. Well, i passed 3 guys including Trebon but - of course - Zirbel went by me 3mph faster before the turn-around and ended up winning - I was 3:50min off and came in 50something place. Okay. Too much uphill for me.

Stage 4's Road Race was another killer stage. 84miles with the first 16miles going pretty much uphill, climbing 2500+feet to the base of Mt. Bachelor - one of those snow-covered giant mountains around Bend. The road was wide open, maybe 4-6% steep and Mancebo + Hugo Pena % Co. set a blistering pace for Rock and their leader Sevilla. It was manageable until the 1K to the top..The field was already shattered and maybe 30guys were still in the front group. Mike and I were there, but I was in the red zone...2 guys from OUCH and a couple GARMIN kids were with us and we went 30seconds short on the front group through the first feed zone on top of the climb. Luckily, they really wanted to catch back on quickly and after descending for 5 miles we caught the front group and it was back to "business as usual" again. Another silly crash happened with 15miles to go - again, in the middle of the field, people touching wheels and 10+guys go down. I had another lucky day and only had to clip out and chase for 10sec and was back in the field. The finish was tough, it really kicked uphill with 3miles to go and I rolled in 60ish something place in a group of 10guys. Legs were feeling better than the days before.

The crit/Stage 5 was held in downtown Bend (Bond & Wall St) and pretty fast at 29.3mph but thanks to the constant Driveway races I was used to that speed :-) After 90min everything ended up in a field sprint and I just cruised through in the middle of the pack. I couldn't do anything other than sitting in and holding the wheel in front of me while we were going 35mph on the straights and I saw 600W on the deck computer.
thinking about what recovery drinks to chose...

The final and 6th stage was held on the same course like Elite Nats and was a tough little 16mile circuit. I was well out of contention in GC so I figured I might try to do something early while Mike was supposed to "chill" and wait for the final laps where it gets really hard in order to move up in GC a bit (he was sitting 23rd). Those first 15minutes of the race were some of the hardest I've done for a while. At 3500ft you feel your lungs pretty good, especially when you go from "zero" to all-out. Even Landis joined me in one for the early moves and although I was able to stick with "Mr. 53x11" they (the field) wouldn't let anything go that day early. So I just tried to stay where I was and help out Mike as much as possible. After - another - crash we had to chase back one because someone decided to go down in the middle of the field again, causing a few broken wheels and bones (?). Halfway through I had nothing left and barely made it over the last KOM in before the caravan and - adding to my "luck" - I flatted my front on the downhill. I called it a day right then, rode back to the feed zone to help the team and just rolled back to the host house to get at least some miles in my legs.
trying to get into the early move (photo J. Devich)

Overall, a pretty cool trip with lots hard racing miles which will hopefully be beneficial here in the near future for the upcoming regional races.

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