Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Race Report: Bend Don't Break

So this is the view as I was going over Santiam Pass. It is May 28th right!?

The Bend Don't Brake road race was on Saturday. It's the first race I've done in over a month. Bend is a ways for me to go for a race but I decided to go for two reasons. First, my race was in the afternoon. Which means I didn't have to get up at o'dark thirty to get there in time. Secondly, the course is a reasonably flat. Although not pancake flat like a few people would have me believe. But still a nice circuit for a guy like me.

When I was getting all my crap ready for the trip over there I checked the weather. Even though the weather people were saying that it was a good chance of rain.  The temps and wind didn't look terrible. That was until I looked at the day of forecast. 40 degrees, 15 mph winds with varying precipitous conditions. Oh goody!

When I rolled into the check in parking lot it looked like I might get away with some pretty decent weather. When the sun peaked out from behind the clouds it was actually pretty warm. But as soon as the clouds rolled over it got cold quickly.

I signed in and jabbered with a couple friend's. I saw Craig there and asked how his race went (He was part of a masters race that finished up in the morning.). He said that because of the wind and all the 90 degree corners to look out for a break to go and stay away. I thanked him and headed for the line. Which was about a mile and half away from the check-in area.

We were given the usual spiel about yellow line violations, wheels in wheels out, blah, blah, blah. And we headed out.

Within about 200 yards it started to lightly hail. After about 2 miles it started to really hail. Luckily the ground was warm enough that it was melting as soon as it hit the ground. But I could tell things weren't going to improve much during the race.

The mood of the group was interesting. The peloton was acting like an accordion almost out of the gate. We were either going 18 mph or 28 mph. There was no in between.

Then the hail turned to snow. Perfect...  Luckily that didn't last to long (Maybe a half lap.) and then is started to rain.

I was beginning to wonder why I was doing this. But I had come a long way to race and my legs felt good.  I told myself anything with four or more guys in it I'd try to go.  Well towards the end of the second lap (Of five) it happened.

Now before I get into all this I want to say that, I'm about to get on my soap box. You've been warned....

As this break of about 6-7 riders started to form I was watching to see how quickly they got organized before I bridged. Well they had about 50 yards and were looking good so I was about to jump. In the mean time a group of 4 guys from Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing came to the front and started blocking.

 Now when I say blocking I don't mean disrupting the rotation of the chase. Or sticking everyone in the gutter because of the wind. Or even chasing down anyone who tried to bridge the gap. No, I mean literally blocking the road. Fucking shoulder to shoulder from the yellow line to the white line. And of course there is no solid shoulder to speak of so I wasn't going to risk that. I wasn't near the yellow line either or to be honest I might have risked the wrath of the official and just jumped across there.

I was pissed! What blew my mind was that no one else said anything. I was the only one who was yelling.

Then they started to slow down! Like to 17-18 mph. I couldn't believe that I was seeing this kind of bush league maneuver even in a Cat. 4/5 race. In any other category they would have gotten a bottle thrown at their head (Which I seriously considered doing.). Or worse. It was unbelievable.Their blocking technique only worked until we turned to a wider road with a shoulder.

But by that time the break had a good quarter of a mile on us. I tried to bridge the gap with a couple other guys. Who either were just going along for the ride or couldn't maintain the pace I was doing because the minute I rotated through they slowed down substantially. I kept working at it for a mile or two and it was obvious they were gone. And if I kept that pace up without help I would have popped completely and been done for the day. So I soft pedaled back to the group and sat in the back being pissed and grumpy.

Something I did learn from this experience is to not let a situation like that keep me from trying to race. Because I didn't really contest the sprint at the end. I only put in about a 70% effort in the final push to the line. I passed a few guys. But I certainly didn't put in the effort that I should have. I ended up 13th. Which is better than I thought. Looking back at it. If I had really tried I'm sure a top ten would have been very doable. Meh, live and learn I guess.

Oh, just to pour salt on the wound Total Care's guy in the break won. What a bunch of crap. I don't begrudge him the win. I'm assuming he didn't know what his teammate's were up to in the main group. But that's a bullshit way to win races. They are going to get schooled in the upper categories if they try that. In my mind what they did is no different than grabbing someone's jersey pocket to keep them from racing. It is totally and completely unsportsman like conduct. Period.

Okay, enough of my bitch fest. Tomorrow (Or hopefully later today.) I'm going to write about what proud guy I am. And what a fantastic job Brison did on his first downhill mountain bike race.  You see what I did there? That's called a hook....

Rubber side down,

Big E

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