Race Report for USA Cycling National Masters Road Racing Championship 2011 – Bend Oregon

Race Report for USA Cycling National Masters Road Racing Championship 2011 – Bend Oregon

The Masters (>30 years old) National Road Racing Championship consists of time trial, criterium, road, and tandem race venues.
This was my first National competition, and although I wanted to do the time trial and road race, the TT venue for the 55-59 age class was scheduled for Wednesday, the criterium Friday, and the road race Sunday, which really spread out the race schedule, and I didn’t want to take all that time off for the race series. So Fran and I drove to Bend on Thursday (an 11-12 hour drive) and I skipped the idea of competing in the TT. On Friday we went to watch several of the crits, including my age group (10:45 AM). I was a bit “disturbed” to see Mike Longmire, who races in my age group and always kicks my butt, work really hard to keep in the main group and finish 38 out of 49. That definitely put some perspective on the group that I was going to be racing with on Sunday. Ouch.
I took some time to find a good street map of Bend (and a map of the Three Sister’s Wilderness for a hike), and Fran and I explored Bend which is a very tourist oriented community (i.e. lots of good restaurants and shopping opportunities, including a Pearl Izumi outlet). And they have 9 micro-breweries.

So Friday afternoon after drawing out the course on the street map, I rode the course which was a circuit of about 17 miles plus a lead-in and finish separate 1 1/2 mile section – 84 kilometers, or 52 -plus miles. Two very significant descents and climbs, for a total of about 700′ per lap, plus a 150′ quick drop and climb at about mile 2.5. Although the course was marked, I was checking the map a lot to make sure I was on-course. And on the second lap I actually missed a hard right turn and had to double back about 1/2 mile to find my missed turn. I was pretty googly-eyed at the descents which I was taking at 30+mph and thinking about being in a peleton of 40-plus riders. Also, even though most of the course had great shoulders and smooth surface, there were some sections of bumpy road, no shoulders and crumbling edges, duly noted.  Of the two climbs, the first was not to my liking as it was fairly short (less than a mile) and then tapered into a gradual long 3 mile incline – better for bigger boys. the second was better for me – steeper and longer – but then it ended in a downhill run-out. The final mile-plus finish looked to be flat/downhill, and not in my favor. Definitely an attention grabbing course with a need to pay full attention to turns, curves, road surface, and gradient changes – it had it all.

Saturday Fran and I went hiking in the Three Sisters Wilderness – we did a 9 mile hike up Falls Creek to Green Lakes and had a picnic lunch at the big Green Lake. The trail head was about five miles past Mt. Bachelor, and about 25 miles from town. Beautiful stream and lakes, with Falls Creek well named for the numerous (small but enchanting) falls that the trail runs along-side. Lots of runners on the trail and great tread – smooth hard sand.  Very popular: as we were coming down, we must have passed at least 100 people. Later in the day on the way back in we drove the course so that I could take another good look and pay more attention to the course layout than on the bike, and so that Fran could get a sense of the course.

Sunday morning early – did I mention that the 55-59 age class was scheduled for an 8 AM start? – we headed over to the start. I set up the wind trainer and was warming up at 7:15 AM with the temperature about 45oF (Fran reading in the car). Others were doing much the same.
At 7:40 I headed over to the start, but not much info – no sign-in needed (did that when I picked up my packet), just make sure timer chip and race number on bike, etc. Talked to another racer from Texas and rode around looking at what other were wearing. OK – pull off the leg warmers, keep the arm warmers, don’t bother with the vest, it’s going to warm up… back to the start/finish. Lots of folks lining up. Don’t need to be near the front – hey there’s Mike Longmire, but too many to get over to say hi…

Pre-race instructions from the refs – the big news (for me): rolling enclosure – we have the whole road, no “yellow line” rule – ! This is great news for me- thinking about those descents and the number of folks that will be blasting down those twisty-turn roads trying to go as fast as possible. note to self – stay with the group. Neutral to after the second round-about (about a mile) and then wait for the whistle, …the rest… yeah, right… the gun goes and we’re off…

Next 53 miles were somewhat a blur. Intense concentration, some levity (say hi to Mike, “hey big guy”, etc.) but lots of output. The rolling enclosure was awesome: full road width, with police in front and behind, along with motorcycles. This allowed for downhills at 40+ mph, although disconcerting with folks with carbon rims that make awful noises with brake pads right next to you – sounds like they’re about to crash (squealing/shrieking sound). The uphills were all-out efforts, and no recovery allowed on the crests: that  was where the top riders pushed to create gaps. I had to chase several times after both serious climbs (with others). I was with the main peleton the first two and 1/2 circuits and feeling OK. I tried to keep Mike L. in sight during the race – he was a good reference for me. One rider broke away from the pack at about 15 km to go, and before the big two climbs, and on the first climb the motorbike rider announced that the leader had 30 seconds on the field. And at the feed zone (past the first big climb) on the third lap I got gapped and was not able to get back on the main peleton. I kept them in sight along the last climb, but was loosing distance. One guy was on my wheel for about a 1/2 mile, then dashed away with about a km to the finish. About 500 m before the finish I looked over my should and saw someone behind, and so pushed it hard to keep in front and finished… in 2 hours 13 minutes and 25 seconds.

Overall, Dave Zimbelman, from the Dalles, OR, finished 1st in 2:10.47′. 2nd – 24th place all finished with the same time, 1 minute and 9 seconds back – including Mike Longmire. I finished in 31st place (of 57),  with a time of 2:13.25′, 2’37” behind Dave Z, and 1’28” behind the main peleton. As a ranked Cat 3 rider, I finished 13th of 26 that finished.

Others from Montana, Mike Longmire, Walt Chauner (raced 60 – 64 age group, 9th place in his road race), Brian Frykman (40-44, Bozeman – 5th in TT), Pat Dowd and AnnJo Dingman, both women from Bozeman. AnnaJo (30-34 age cat.) placed 5th in the road race and 8th in the crit.

So there you have it. I believe that the Nationals will be in Bend again next year and I sure hope to be there mixing it up with the best of the best. You should too!

Robert Ray

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