The last stage at Willamette was the (in)famous Wolf Creek course. No embellishments, just the short, simple loop. A short hard climb that shed a few folks out the back, a hairpin at the bottom of a quick descent that sent more than one rider off the road yesterday, then a 4-mile climb, 2-mile descent (more guys offroading), 5 miles of false flat (with a tailwind yesterday), 2 miles of descent, 10 miles of flat headwind, 1-mile climb, 1 mile flat, and a 1K climb to the finish at the King Estate Winery. It played out about like I expected; I came off the front group in the steeper section at the bottom of the long climb, reeled in a couple, solo to the second descent, hopped on the Miranda train for the headwind section but got popped after 4-5 miles, and then soloed to the finish. I was second on GC going into the stage and it was not too likely that I was going to take time out of the woman in first or that the women behind me would make up time on me. So I'm not sure if I was highly motivated to ride super hard in the last 10 miles.
We had a few really heavy showers in the race, but we also had sunshine. I think the masters field got hailed on. King Estate Winery has this great sort of glass gazebo space that they let us use for bike races; I've never appreciated it in the summer, but yesterday it was great to have somewhere indoors to wait before and after the race. In the summer, there's been wine tasting, ice cream, and other things to sample post-race. Yesterday there was coffee, and I think they did a booming business. They also sold out of all the cookies they had.
It was a good race. The promoters (hats off to Mike and Sal) didn't try to be too fancy or do too much in their first year, but their planning has already included ways to improve and expand for 2009. When the race guide first came out, I was disappointed by the short distances of the road races. But in each case, the distances were appropriate for the courses and the time of year. Friday's road stage was truly epic because of the weather. Sunday's road stage wasn't epic, but there was plenty of climbing for the climbers and plenty of flat for the nonclimbers who like to try to chase back on. Both road stages had indoor spaces for riders to use before and after the race. You should plan to go next year!!
Note to self: There's a reason for TWO mechanisms to secure the bike on the roof rack: one to hold down each end of the bike. Leave one undone, and the bike will try to fly at 65 mph. :( At first we thought the bike had flown off the car but an eternity (60 seconds?) later realized it was still attached but not where it ought to be. The fork had stayed tight in the skewer while the rear wheel had twisted the bike sideways. One shifter is totaled, there's some lovely chainring damage to the car, and the chainring itself doesn't look so good: