I was initially disappointed when the road race at the Co-Motion tandem stage race was substantially revised for 2008 and the big hill (the Wolf Creek climb) was removed. Then I realized that also removed the nail-biting descent. :) The alternative route selected was two laps of a weekly "training ride" (unsanctioned race would be a more apt description). Each lap featured Sprinters Hill (500m?) and Welders Hill (1K?) and a couple of draggy roller things. But not long after Welders Hill at the end of lap 2, we turned off the circuit and back to the King Estate Winery, which meant a pretty hard climb on the Lorane Highway and then a 1K ascent to the finish line. It turned out to be a ton of fun.
Our "A" category started first (and rode farthest). We were neutral going down that hill on the Lorane Highway because of some bad pavement, and just a few miles after we started racing, one of the bikes broke a spoke. So while they got a wheel change, the rest of us (well, the men, anyway) had a pee stop and then we were off and racing. The pace was fast but not furious all the time, and it was great to be in a group of just tandems.
At the end of lap one, the big guys wound it up and showed us how they can put out 1200 watts and go ripping down the road. They did this again, but didn't get too far either time. Another male/male bike pushed the pace the second time up Sprinters Hill, but things came back together. People were getting tired by Welders, and then the race split for good on the Lorane climb. The gaps established there were pretty much held all the way to the finish. The Canadians proved not to climb as well as they sprint, and they only beat us by 2 seconds at the finish line, and only 29 seconds in the overall GC. We were second overall and first mixed tandem.
I had some moments of concern halfway through the second lap when my legs felt absolutely dead on one of the hills. It felt like we had a flat, which we did not, and it was really hard to climb. But then on the bigger climb, my captain rode straight through the field to the front and set tempo all the way up. And my legs were fine. All I can figure is that on the earlier hill, I was working harder than he was. I was probably back there with my head down, figuring it was a hill and I need to go all out, while he was watching the group and keeping us in a steady position that turned out not to require as much effort as I thought. It was a pleasant surprise to discover I had more left than I thought!
I have long maintained that racing tandem is so much fun that perceived effort is less than actual effort, and yesterday was a day to prove it. It was great to be absolutely spent at the finish line (those two hills do that to you), and then to sit around at such a great venue for postrace conversation and awards. Thanks to everyone at and connected to Co-Motion for putting on such a great race for us!
And I even got my slice of apple pie on the way out of town. :)