Sunday, 29 April
Ouch. Our tandem did not fly today. It got up to 41 mph, but that's not flying by tandem standards. And before we got to go fast, we had to go uphill. For a very long, painful way. There was supposed to be a steady tailwind so we would "rip." There was wind alright, and sometimes it was behind us, but sometimes it was sideways and sometimes in our faces. And it kept us from flying back down any of the hill on the return.
The first three miles of this out-and-back TT are a climb of probably at least 8% and very twisty and exposed. That's great on the way up (more about the way down in a sec). Then it flattens out to just a steady, relentless drag with some steeper rollers, some flatter bits. The promoter had put up numbered orange cones to mark off each mile; I swear we had passed 30 of them when Mick read out "17" (I saw the cones in my peripheral vision but never the numbers). The fast guys who started behind us (reverse order of yesterday's stage 2 finish) eventually all caught us, but we started to pass riders who started ahead of us, including both other tandems (who started 20 minutes in front of us today). We were both pretty darned uncomfortable, though. I discovered that you shouldn't climb in the drops (keeps the stoker's head down, out of the wind, more aero) for 24 miles because you're not meant to put that kind of pressure on the saddle. Once we started standing up every few miles, we felt better, although things are still sore and tight 8 hours after the race that have not been sore and tight before.
My stellar captain did a superb job of turning around our behemoth bike on the narrow road, with an audience--and then we were supposed to fly. With the wind, though, we just went fast. The mountain views were amazing again today, but I kept my eyes focused on the saddle right in front of me. You know, that's okay for a 10-mile TT, but it got pretty boring out there this morning. The fine scratches and lines in a saddle just aren't great entertainment. (In case you don't know, Mick only uses about the front 2 inches of his saddle, so I have lots of real estate on the back of our bike that the designer did not intend to be mine.) Every once in a while, I'd lift my head and check the view of Mt. Hood. Beautiful.
When I confessed before the start to being worried about the tight turns at high speed (well, more than 10 mph, which is how fast I'd take them on my single bike) in the last 3 miles, Kenny told me to just bury my head in Mick's back and close my eyes. I couldn't close my eyes, but I just kept staring at the saddle and NOT at the road. There were a couple of times when sudden braking caught me off guard, and I worried when the yellow line was under my right foot a few times, but we got down just fine, I didn't yell or scream once, and the bike went pretty smoothly through the turns. Good experience. "Look at the saddle" has become my new mantra.
The drama on the road today was the contest for the top spot in GC. Kenny, Dave, and Rob duked it out, taking turns pulling away and getting reeled in. Kenny dug deepest and pulled out the overall win (he was second on stage 1).
This was a fun weekend of tough racing, and it was great training for us on the tandem. Maupin is a pretty funky town, but the shopkeepers care that you have come to their tiny hamlet that's 40 miles from anywhere. The promoters of DRVTT are simply awesome; George was out early this morning making sure there was NO gravel anywhere on our course (and putting up all those mile markers), and Terri cranks out results before you get your bike put away. Both of them are positive all the time and make you think you are the hottest thing in bike racing. The roads are chipseal but as smooth as chipseal can be--no potholes, no cracks, AND NO CARS. The weather was warm and sunny. The views--of the mountains, of the river, of spring coming to the desert--are amazing. And we are tuckered.
Final results will be posted here.