Sunday, June 17, 2007

Ring around the volcano

Fathers Day

Happy Fathers Day, all you dads out there!

Just slightly lower on the scale of important events today was the Mt. Tabor Circuit Race in Portland. This is the only bike race I know of around the cone of an (extinct) volcano. I'm not exactly sure where that landmark is on the course, but they hype it up a lot. Other features of this almost-crit are 136 feet of climbing per 1.3-mile lap, a lot of fast descending with an almost-hairpin, decreasing radius turn toward the bottom, and a (short) flat spot in the middle of the climb where the start/finish is. There's a midweek series here ("Velo on the Volcano"), so all the local riders know what line to take, etc. It's a good course, safe (no cars--it's in the middle of a park), and good spectating. Oh, yeah, it's fun too--in the usual painful sort of way. If you want to see the course, some helmet-cam footage from the cat 3 men's race will eventually be posted on Kenji's blog.

We were looking for coffee and maybe some breakfast on our way to the race and came upon the Sweetness Bakery and Cafe. It's so new it doesn't seem to have its own website, but the coconut banana muffins are worth going out of your way to find. The cinnamon rolls looked decadent, but I managed to resist. I did get a second muffin, though, to snack on during the day.

Turns out coconut and bananas and coffee are a good combo for prerace food. My first race of the day was masters women. If you know me, you know that a few elements of the course description above sort of play to my weaknesses, so I didn't have any grand hopes. Second time up the hill the race split, with just three of us in the break. Also in the break were a woman I didn't know and Jenny from Medford who puts men to shame at the Mt. Hood hillclimb. I managed somehow to win not only the sprint for the prime, but also the sprint at the finish.

After sitting around for the better part of 2 hours, I got to race again with the senior women. My hopes here were even less grand. While the field was too small to be a "who's who" of Oregon racing, it was pretty stacked. And as a way to make up for the zero prize list (the race is a fundraiser for junior racing), we had a prime every lap. Still, it turned into a bizarre race: it was 1.25 miles of pedaling around the course followed by 200m of racing for the line. Not to my surprise, I got gapped off the second time up the climb...but I caught back on at the base of the climb a lap later. In total, I caught back on three times during the race, including on the last lap. However, when Melissa launched her final effort at 225m, I could only watch as first Tina and then Hilary tried to go too. Funny thing was that the gaps that were established by 200m didn't change all the way to the finish and nobody came around anybody else.

It was a fun crashes, no rain, and 2 hats made. No tandem race on this course this year, but since tandems would probably hit 45-50 on that descent, my nerves were probably better off without that thrill. I also got to check out a couple of knitted hats two riders bought yesterday at the Eugene Saturday Market. They looked, well, very Eugene.


andrew said...

There was racing in WA this weekend - Methow Valley. 37 in the Pro/1/2, 17 in the Womens 1/2/3.

It was a great race, good roads (well, not the crit), and great scenery. I hope they expand it in the future and it gets better attendence. That said - I hope they DON'T make it "epic" and route it up some mountain pass just for the sake of being hard. The great part is that it's a family destination and my wife actually likes to see me in the race rather than popped after stage2. If anything, a "gran fondo" sort of ride on Monday would be fun - an open ride back over to Burlington.

Argentius said...

My old PSU teammate, Eben, came up with "Velo on the Volcano," in the Name the Mt Tabor race series contest last year. Hah!

See ya in Baker city.

Woah. Elkhorn is a race I've DONE before. To think, next year a lot of 'em will be that way...

Which the heck box did I pack my legs in?

Ted said...

Speaking of Methow...Omniums are stupid and I'll let Terry know that. It would also be nice if there was more "selection" in the RR. If they keep the same RR then make it a timed stage race (since there is only one other one in WA right now). It was a great race no matter what.

A bigger issue right now is "race saturation". Too many races in the NW right now (often times on the same weekend). However, come July and August it's slim pickens...I worry that some promoters will get frustrated and stop.

Don't give me a "promote your own race" speech either. People on the West side have proven time and again they do not like to drive to races.

There I go again...gettin' on my soap box on Martha's blog. Sorry Martha...see ya at the BEST SR in the NW this weekend!

STOKED I AM said...

A SR on Fathers Day weekend is great if you're a dad but kinda tough if it leaves you no time for family for the entire weekend. The Methow is a great place for riding; I just chose to go to a race put on by a friend to support junior development--and it didn't take all weekend. And there was a masters women's race...don't see many of those around home.

andrew said...

June last year I think there were 3 open weekends in the state of WA. Agreed that Aug is thin, but by then promoters aren't getting the big numbers anymore anyway so the interest wanes.

Fathers day does make it awkward - how about Memorial Day weekend? We haven't had a race then in a while.

On Omniums - I don't know why they ran it that way. It would have been interesting as a regular stage race because the crit shelled so many guys. The RR was selective, but more because of guys drilling it in the crosswind than the hills. What's wrong with that?

andrew said...

Sorry stoked - not meaning to make it sound like "why did you race in OR"? Considering it took us 6 hours to get to Winthrop...there are plenty of reasons.

STOKED I AM said...

Remember the great SR in Lewiston on Memorial Day weekend? Remember parking for ages on I-90 between Ellensburg and Cle Elum because everybody wants to get away for the holiday weekend? Maybe Curly will expand the DM crit into the Des Moines Memorial Day Timed Stage Race--with, of course, a 30+ masters category.

Ted said...

Pete would love to do the SR in the LC Valley again...the only problem is that he does not want to be the guy to go find money and no one else will step up. Maybe something could happen there again if Hood moves (rumors flying around already about that).

Here is something funny...we were looking at his old results and Leah Goldstein did that race in the cat 4 women's field. My, how times have changed.

Andrew, I think the reason why it was an omnium is just beacause it's easier to promote. I'm going to push Terry on that as well. I know the 1/2 RR race was a slight bit more selective then my lowly 3s race was as well. My poor friend Ben (who was in the break until him and Ecker were psuedo-attacked in the feed) said it was tough to hang on after they were caught. The crit for all categories would have been the deciding stage in a timed stage race...which is funny to think, eh?

andrew said...

Here's my plan: Move the SR to Fri/Sat/Sun on memorial day. That way we do all the driving on Thursday night before the big weekend, and then Sunday night before it ends. As an option, I would love to put together a group ride for those who have legs left to ride from Winthrop back over the N. Cascades. It would take some driving coordination and patience for those who do drive it, but it would make for a great weekend.

BTW - that 3 man break staying away all that long was amazing. There were 8-20 guys rolling through trying to bring them back for the better part of an hour. "Attacking" on the feed zone was almost necessary since it was the only hill hard enough to cause a split. Ongers must have been in rare form that day to get that win.