April: Springing Forward

I won’t lie.  March has been a mixed month of results.  High expectations are tough to meet this year with a mix of strong competitors and the confluence of warm weather that has a lot of guys fit quite early on.  I temper my disappointment of not having a big win with the knowledge that March is always a learning month.  Moreover, we’ve been making the moves and just missing out by small margins.   So I’m buoyed by the fact that we’ve put hundreds of miles of races into our legs this month and that the season is barely a month old.

This past weekend we raced in Rochester, Washington, which isn’t much of a town.  The countryside is quite lovely.  The Independence Valley Road Race starts near the town and goes four times around a 20 mile loop that has two good size hills and  lovely farm land.  We lined up with Jamie, Galen, Geoff, JOD, and Ian along with 60 others.  A few Oregonian and local pros were in attendance and we set off on a brisk pace.  The race mostly stayed together the first lap.  The fireworks started in the second lap and we had both Jamie and Galen make it into a select group of 12.  The worked hard to build a gap, but with 12 people in a group it was more of a split in the race than a breakaway.  Sure enough with about 40 miles to go Galen slipped away with Adrian H (pro), Todd H (PRO), and Ryan I (pro?) and they built a solid lead.  Jamie was hanging out in the reduced front group and made his way up and over the successive hill repeats.  Galen was conquered by a lack of water and energy.  The trio dropped lil’ G with about half a lap left.  Jamie’s group cruised by G as they headed in to the finishing 6 miles.  In the sprint, Jamie landed 10th overall.  Galen lugged his tired carcass across the line in 13th and Ian was 19th.  Not quite the 1, 3, 5 that we had last year, but we got ourselves in the moves and just lack some fitness and planning.

On Sunday we headed out to race in Ravensdale, Washington, for a 90 mile race where the prizes for winning were NO PRIZES.  I guess I can’t fault the guys putting on this race for not offering prizes, since the consistent message from the u.s. cycling is that charging a lot for little is paramount. Be that as it may, Geoff, Dux, Jamie and Ian showed up for the race along with about 33 others.  The race was a little mellower given the 80 miles we raced the day before.  But we were slinging attacks early and shaking things up.  Jamie made the first big break and it was looking good.  But commensurate with the lack of prizes was the lack of proper course marshaling:  a corner marshal failed to direct Jamie’s breakaway group down the wrong road!  Jamie never got back in, thanks in part to Ian’s ill-conceived effort to launch some attacks shortly after the group was misdirected.  Back in the field we got Geoff up the road in a nice little move.  He got close to a group of 3 that were chasing down the lone leader who soloed to a 90 mile victory (N.B., this guy was racing pro in europe last year).  After Geoff came back to the group, Ian and Dux took their fair share of shots to get up the road.  Nothing panned out, and it two successive groups snuck away without KR in them.  With about 30 miles to go the heavens opened up and really rained like crazy.  Dux and Geoff took an early road back to warm cars, while Ian slugged it out for 12th.  A good learning experience and not a bad cap to 170 miles of racing for the weekend.

While we didn’t score a big victory (except Ron’s Gran Fondo vittoria), we did put in a ton of big work, come close to victory, and started to put all the pieces together for the season which is finally starting in earnest.  I mean, Seward Park world championships start this Thursday!!

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