Tuesday, 4 September
The Eugene Celebration stage race is a funny thing. The fields are always small, but they typically include some of the strongest riders in the region. And not necessarily the same folks you've been racing against all season. So the racing is hard, the outcome is not predictable, and there's nowhere to hide.
This year's celebration was a flattish road race on Saturday, TT and crit on Sunday, and a hilly road race on Monday. There were about 20 in the combined women's field at the start--same size as the pro-1-2 men's field! The first road race was a pack finish, I won the TT, one rider got away in the crit to take the GC lead away from me by 3 seconds, and then I had a brief moment of extracurricular activity in Monday's RR that didn't do me any favors and I ended up slipping to 6th overall.
About 15 miles into Monday's race, the road starts to get a little bit like a roller coaster. There's one sharp downill left hander that's tricky on the tandem but not bad on the single bike if you take it at less than the 25 mph the chief referee recommended. I was at the back of the front group going around that bend. The road immediately goes uphill, I shifted, the chain shifted and then jumped some more, the bike lurched into some loose gravel on the road, and suddenly the bike was completely out of control and I was absolutely sure I was going to be sliding across fresh chip seal. I managed to keep the bike more or less upright as it went across the road and was able to get a foot down when it slowed when it hit the grass/weeds/brambles in the ditch. I stopped without hitting the ground, thankful too for that little gap behind me to the next groups of riders--who all passed me while I was trying to get out of the ditch and back on the road. This was at the bottom of about a 1-mile climb, and I managed to chase back on to (and pass) one group. My knee was really sore from where it had whacked the top tube when I lurched to a stop. I tried to rub it out on the next descent, but that didn't work so well. We finally all regrouped with the front riders literally 50 feet before the bottom of the long, 4-mile climb that's the heart of this loop. I managed to stay with the front group about halfway up but got popped. The rest of the race was a 20-mile TT for me. I needed to keep the time gap below 1'30" to stay "in the money" but with five of them up there and me by myself, that didn't happen. Still, I rode hard, I made up time on the second descent (local knowledge helps), and I didn't get caught. It was an absolutely beautiful summer's day--93 when we drove through Creswell on our way back to I-5.
One more race to go....