Chris Winn: Ramblings From The Road


24 July 2010

Carnage At Cascade Lakes Road Race.

I'm sure most of you who follow the North American cycling scene has read the reports of what happened at the end of stage three here at Cascade.  If not, you can read about it here and get some other perspectives other than my own about how it was.  To be honest, overall it was an awesome stage in some stunning scenery.......but tarnished by some poor planning in the final 200 meters. 

The stage began outta Bend and we climbed pretty much straight from the gun. Much like the first road race nothing was going up the road with just the old attack and chase routine happening for what seemed like forever.  All the Rio boys made it over that first climb in one piece and we descended over the back into a nice long valley and a good time to put some fuel back in the tank.  Even there nothing was being let go which was frustrating for the smaller squads like us who had no GC threat.  I was feeling quite good through the flat sections and was looking forward to the final 10km climb to the summit of Mt Bachelor.  Brad did an awesome job of bringing us to the front at the base of the climb and from then on it was full gas.  I suffered hard at many points but was able to claw my way into the lead group of 20 odd as we crested the climb into the last km.  This is where things turned sour.  Instead of coming up the road and straight into a finish line, we were funneled into this make-shift cone marked circuit around a very large and crappy parking lot.  It was really bizarre, unnecessary and dangerous.  With 1.5ft orange cones to follow it made it very difficult to know exactly where to go, and with a small bunch going balls out for the win it was sketch-city.  Combine this with a crappy road surface littered with gravel and pot holes and it was a recipe for disaster.  Sure enough guys went down, and I was very lucky not to also taste the road.  Turning the sweeping 180deg corner a rider behind slipped and fell onto my back wheel forcing me off the road into the deep gravel.  Luckily I held it up right and was able to get back on the road fairly quickly, amongst hearing the screams and cries of others who were strewn all over the road.  It was horrible, with Tito from Garmin going down hard having to be air lifted out.  I limped to the finish with a rubbing brake on the rim being out sprinted by hero's for 30th odd place.

So my thoughts....yeah it was majorly stupid.  At that part of the race there was no point whatsoever to loop around the back of a dodgy car park. I was very, very lucky not to be picking gravel out of my skin or worse. This being an NRC race I also though that the use of orange cones was completely B-Grade.  I definitely feel for Tito, Talansky and the others that went down and lost a lot of skin, and hope we don't see a return of such an unsafe finish in 2011.

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