Tour of Walla Walla

Last Thursday afternoon 4 of us islanders loaded up a poor unsuspecting little car with 5 bikes and a weekend of race gear and headed south to Washington state for the Tour of Walla Walla.  Road racing is a sweet way to get in some solid preseason training and a 3 day, 4 race SR in the middle of April fit the bill perfectly.  Being a 9 hr journey from Victoria it was nice to team up with Emile (Russ Hays), Roland (Tripleshot) and Jamie (Pro City) for the first real road trip of the year.  

Stage 1 was a road race that took place on a 32 km circuit which we road around 3 times.  Lap one I almost fell asleep due the combination of a 2 am arrival the night before to go with it being the end of a  26 hr training week.  This half coma state was relieved when someone ahead of me fell asleep on there bike and took out 15-20 guys in the peloton.  Road crashes are nasty, but also pretty entertaining as you watch the domino effect and riders heading into the ditches to avoid more carnage.  Watching this unfold in front of me lit the adrenaline fuse and now I was officially into race mode for the weekend.  Being a mountain biker, without any a team, in a 120 pack road race can be rough on the mind as the pace constantly changes from 110% all out rage to 20% sunday group ride pace.  Its hard to sit in and be patient sometimes but I am slowly learning that tactics/thinking can sometimes overcome brute force.   The last 4 km of the race was a gentle 5% upgrade hill to a summit finish.  With 6 guys away in a breakaway a stage win was out of the question but I wanted to test the legs out and came away with a 8th place finish as I managed to drag the pack up the last few hundred meters before being outsprinted by a Seattle rider. 

Stage 2 was a 16 km Time trial.  It went like sour goat milk.  15 minutes before the start  my friend Katy Curtis (Bow Cycle) from Calgary offered me her arrow helmet and time trial bars.  Being in the top 10 in GC I figured I better try to take this race seriously and took Katy up on her offer.   Thank you Katy. 

For the first 3 minutes of the TT I was flying but that was soon over taken by the feeling my right nut was going to fall off.  Being bent over on tt bars, with a tilted upward seat doesn’t mix well.  I tried different posisitions but it was ball aching.  As I reached the only hill in the race I went to stand up, only to find out the tt bars came back to far and now my knees were bouncing off them.  The rest of the TT was a forgetable experience.  Combine this with my strong point being 24 hrs mtb races, not 20 minute suffer fest tt and I ended up skyrocketing my gc place from 8 up to the 50’s.  Yup, a 72nd placing.  Poop.    The good thing was that it was over and my balls came back to life soon after.  Leaving the race site I put this ride into the garbage can and no longer have any recollection of it . As far as I’m concerned TT’s are about as much fun as a College Calculus class.  And thats coming from a guy that received 7% on his last Calculus test.

Stage 3 was a 8 corner criterium in downtown Walla Walla.  Crits are always fun with lots of action, tons of fans and they provide unreal high intensity training.  Not much to report in this crit as there were no crashes or no breakaways.   Not sure where I came in but soon after the race I was mowing down overflowing plates of food as the race on Sunday was going to need a full fuel tank. 

Stage 4.  The best was saved for last.  A 150 km, rolling road race with a decent wind to make it even tougher.  This was a race of attrition and riders were blowing up like fireworks all over the place.  The pace of the race was solid for the first half hr and at one point the pack had dwindled down to 20 riders.  I was stoked to see all the carnage and had high hopes of an unreal training ride.  Soon after though the pace slowed down and resembled that of an easy sunday group pedal as the pack swelled back up to 90 riders.  I was dissapointed the pace wasn’t drilled for the whole race and after a while I got bored and tried a feeble 45 minute attack into a headwind with another rider.  Not smart but it provided good training.   With 30 km to go things started to pick up again and at the end of the day I came in a decent 7th in a group sprint to the finish line. 

I would like to send out a huge thank you to my billets for the weekend, Tamara and Doug Gordon.  Staying with a host family was one of the highlights of the weekend.  Without great people like this opening there homes to us racers it would be very difficult to make these sort of trips happen without spending a small fortune.   As for the race itself, the Tour of Walla Walla is a great event which we all agreed would make a great annual April road trip.

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