Friday, April 04, 2008

Willamette 2

Friday, 4/4

Classic Willamette conditions today. Biggest question: how many clothes can I wear? The forecast was for "showers" in the afternoon, but by 8:30 it was pouring. True, there were occasional sunbreaks, but mostly it just poured. It was 42 degrees when we passed through the last town on our way to the start. Like I said, classic Willamette.

We did a 43-mile road race today. Somewhere around 3500 feet of climbing, most of it in 2 climbs in the second half of the stage. It was windy, which is never fun for me. I hung on without too much agony on the first climb--up the "twisties" to the turn off to Marys Peak. Think of the curves on the east side of Mercer Island at about 8%. Pretty nice climbing. The descent off that climb was where we were supposed to hit 50 mph, but there was a stiff headwind and pouring rain and potholes, so nobody was flying too fast. And soon we were all freezing cold. We finally got to Alsea, where we turned off the "highway," and everyone was trying to figure out how much farther we had to go and when the finishing 10-mile climb was going to start. I must have blinked or had a senior moment, because one second I was riding along in the middle of the pack, watching the riders at the front, and the next second the race was totally blown apart and there were gaps everywhere. Oh yeah, and the road surface was really really rough and it was like trying to accelerate on those 28 mm tires on my rain bike (no, training on them didn't do me much good in the race). I finally got into a group with 2 other women. The "climb" had a lot of descending, and after one long false flat section where I motored along in my big ring, we were within 15 seconds of the front group. But the last 5K was steeper, and someone attacked, and poof, there we were on our own again. This climb reminded me of Dooley Mountain at Elkhorn, but with more trees and rain. From the finish at the top, it was an 8-mile ride back to the start; they promised it was all downhill, but it definitely was not. The injustice of the day was that the sun was shining and the roads were dry when I got back to my car. Microclimates of the coast range, I suppose.

I think this would be a beautiful ride on a nice day. That highway through the coast range is scenic, Alsea is supposed to be a gorgeous setting, and the last climb featured a stretch along a river (a la Smith River at ye olde Tour of Willamette) under overhanging trees. But I didn't see much today except wet pavement. I did notice the patch of snow along the road at the turn off for Marys Peak. I had hoped to convince myself to drive over there after the race and ride up the road to the gate or the snowline, but with snow on the highway at the very bottom of that climb, it seemed unlikely that I'd get more than a mile or two up the hill. So I bailed on the extracurricular riding today. Wimp. I did get to a yarn store though. :)

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