Team Great Divide:
Today (Sunday) was the Cardwell training race with the start and finish at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. Only me from Team Great Divide showed up, and lots of top state racers were at the Tour of the Walla-Walla in Washington, but we had a race field of about 30. There was also a collegate race with a much larger field (maybe 50 – 75?) that started at 9:30 and did two loops of the state roads course. Not to kill the punch line – the race finished up at the Lewis and Clark caverns gift shop parking lot -a brutal climb of 3 miles up from the entrance to the state park.
The ‘A’ and ‘B’ fields for the training race got combined into one field (no takers for twice around the 34 mile loop for the training racers). We started off at 10 AM. Cold (45 degrees) and windy with winds out of the W/NW at 5 – 20 mph. Tail wind on 346 for the 6 miles or so until the right turn onto 287, the entire field hanging together. Riders held back until the first third or so of the big hill climb (4 1/2 miles?) and then started pushing. I played it smart and kept to the left (shielded from the wind from the west by other riders) and felt good all the way up over the hill without feeling much strain (as opposed to the Team ride a couple of weeks ago when I was trying to stay with Greg). Nine miles on 287 with the lead group by the top down to about 12-15 riders as we turned onto 359. Into the headwind, but the pack kept up a 20 mph + pace. We had a good pace line running, with about six or seven of us doing most of the pulling but sharing the work of busting into the wind.
Twelve miles on 359 to the intersection with 346 past Carwell. I almost got dropped on one jump but gutted it out with a couple others and got back in. Right turn and wind at the back for seven miles with a fast-ass pace (up to 38 mph), knowing full well that there was the 3 mile grunt coming. I almost got dropped again in another team tactic jump on the flats (I hate those) – (GAS team is strong this year, as usual). At the turn into the park I had 8 riders in front of me, but none all that far ahead… and having riden up the road to the gift shop before (previous years), I knew this was a long 3 mile steep (13% grades in a few places) climb! I was able to push hard and pass 2 riders at the bottom, and one more about half way up the climb. So, finished in 5th place, with all the other top riders much younger. Success!!! Average race speed 20.5 mph. Pretty good for all that climbing.
Next Sunday the Roubaix!