Saturday, April 28, 2007


Saturday, 28 April

Day One of the Deschutes River Valley TT Festival was a double-stage day. We started with the 26.2-mile loop that I did last September in the Ring of Fire 12-hour time trial. This stage is uphill from the line, with a 4-mile climb through the town of Maupin. We started after the women on single bikes and after the other two tandems. We had caught the other tandems by mile 1 and all of the women by mile 7. After the climb, there's about 5 miles of windy, flattish stuff on top of the plateau (great views of Mt. Hood), a fast descent, some rollers, a shorter descent through a tight canyon, and then 8 miles of flat road along the Deschutes River. My captain estimated going in that our time would be 1:07; we finished in 1:04:50.

We then had about 4 hours of leisure time (lunch, nap) before stage two. This is an 8-mile hillclimb of varying gradients. You get about 200 meters of flat at the start to get up to speed, then it goes up. Then there's hairpin and you've got about a mile of wicked headwind. Then you turn away from the river and it's mostly tailwind, and it's not so steep. Our 30-second guy missed his start and started about 15-20 seconds in front of us, which made a good rabbit to chase (not that I saw anything). We were pretty sure the guy 30 seconds behind us would catch us, but he went out too hard--trying to catch us early--and couldn't recover.

While an uphill tandem time trial is awesome, the views at the top of this one were spectacular. And you're not even on the top of a hill, just the top of the river canyon. Mt. Hood, of course, was in your face. To the south was Mt. Jefferson, but strung out to the north were Adams, St. Helens, and Rainier. It was kind of strange to have Rainier be the most diminutive peak in view!

The ride back "to town" may have been downhill, but the wind was pretty fierce. Going this direction, though, I got to enjoy the view. And at the bottom, we rolled into the Hobsons' camp. While the captain took a new stoker recruit out for a test drive, I sat and chatted with part of the rest of the family. And had a beer. I've never had a beer immediately after a race before, and it was quite the experience (dehydrated, empty stomach). I had to stop at half a bottle or I probably would not have been able to get on the bike to ride the last 500 meters to get back to our hotel--even though I didn't have to drive it!

Tomorrow is a funny stage: a 24-mile climb, out and back (48 miles total). It's steepest and twistiest at the bottom, and they keep telling us that the grade after that is gentle and the tailwind is fierce. The promoters (who've done RAAM on a tandem) tell us our tandem is going to fly. The road leads to places I've never heard of, but about third or fourth on the list is Fossil, which is familiar as the last stop in the Columbia Plateau Stage Race.

Now, okay, maybe this isn't super tactical, make-the-right-moves-for-your-teammates kind of "good racing." But a hotel on the banks of the Deschutes River, 80-degree sunshine, a beer in your hand before you even get off the bike, a very healthy time gap (25 minutes?) on the competition, and the prospect of another TT tomorrow: it's pretty nice.

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