Chris Winn: Ramblings From The Road


21 July 2012


As the title of this post suggests this years Cascade Classic was a roller coaster from the get go.  After missing out in 2011 I couldn't wait to get back to one of the nicest stops on the NRC Calendar.  Racing bikes in Bend...aweomse!  Things kicked off with a fast and furious 5km prologue a around a rather pleasent golf club which was also the chance for me to roll out my new TT rig for it's first race.  I'm well excited to be a new proud owner of a Trek Speed Concept with a huge thanks to those involved in getting this slippery rig on the road.  Needless to say I'm far from a prologue TT specialist and was more using the stage to open up the legs and lungs after taking a slightly fresher approach to this race.  It hurt as it should but I was most looking forward to having a crack at the mountainous road stages in the days ahead.

The Cascade Classic I believe had the biggest rider start list I've raced all year, with a 192 lycra bandits on the start line.  Combine this with stage one that had the first 25 miles essentially all downhill at high speed and there were bound to be some mishaps.  In fact the last three or four years there have been nasty wrecks that have put riders out of the race before it all really begins.  This year unfortunatley it was no different with a pile up caused (I believe) by one of the many squeezes of the peloton avoiding parked cars.  Thankfully I was not invloved and soon enough was flying along the small valley before starting the long climb up to MacKenzie Pass and into the lava fields.  The climb was just awesome, and with Competitive setting pace I was able to settle in nicely and not go too deep into the reserves before the final ascent to the finish shortly after.  From a screaming fast and fun descent we sped through the town of Sisters and that's where in a blink of an eye things took a turn for the worse.  From what I gather it was a sudden movement from a rider infront to miss a parked car that swept my front wheel but all I remember was hitting the ground chin and chest first and landing inches from said parked car.  In fact I recall standing straight up and looking into the rear passenger window!  Sore, stunned and a little dazed fotunatley my bike was still in reasonable shape and with a new front wheel and a big push from SRAM neutral I was back on my way.  At this point there was just 15miles left in the race and there was no way I was returning to the peloton.  I was caught by a small group in which I rolled home with them just aiming to make time cut knowing at this point any hopes for a GC position were shot.  After being cleaned up my the medical staff my injuries weren't too terrible, losing skin off my chin, chest, arms and legs and tweaking my wrist.  Considering the speed we were going (my computer said 43km/h) and close vicinity to cars I was very lucky.

Pretty no...?  Looks even meaner with race wheels in.

After being banged up I had pretty low expectiation for the following days time trial.  Sure enough the body had tightened up and I felt blocked, unable to decent power to the pedals.  I was bummed especially with the new rig!  Things however picked up in the second road stage, finding my climbing legs to take a promising 20th place after a mountain top finish up Mt Bachelor.  A good sign that the body was starting to recover and also nice to get some confidence back in the legs.

So the Saturday night criterium went exactly as I'd planned. With no GC position to worry about the top of the priority list was not to crash and to expend as little energy as possible before the circuit race. Having a closer to the back of the pack starting position I pretty much floated around the top 100 for the whole 75min, amazed that even at being so far back from the front guys would still try and come underneath and chop wheels! Seriously! Unfortunatley there were a few wrecks but being in cruise control I was able to avoid them. Onto the circuit race.

With the tempuratures in the upper 80's and not much shade on the course the final stage was going to be a war of attrition, especially with the steep Archie Briggs climb every lap. Sure enough guys got shelled every lap and Compeitive did an awesome job in keeping the race under control for race leader Paco. It was hat's off to those guys who I would see come back through the peloton spent after drilling on the front, recover a little and then go straight back up there to keep pace once more. By the final lap I was really trying hard to stay in the front group and survive the selection up the last climb. Things were going to plan and coming into the last couple of km it was a real fight to hold position against the bigger teams who had team mates keeping them out of the wind and of course not giving me any room. Pretty much this left me spent as we got to the final roundabout with the line 300m after. 11th place was all I had left which was a little too far back in my hopes for the day but still happy the body was coming around after the crash earlier in the week. I just wished there were more stages!

All in all it was a great week in Bend. Our hosts Cheyrl and Joe were fantastic and kept us well fed and in great spirits.  Not to mention Joe through some connections was able to get a lunch time playlist for me on the local radio station.

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