Monday, April 25, 2005

Tour of Walla Walla

This weekend I headed down to Walla Walla for the appropriately named Tour of Walla Walla. The Tour is a 3 stage race consisting of an individual time trial, road race and criterium.

The fun started Saturday morning with an individual time trial of 5 miles. Each rider went every 30 seconds. My start time was 08:14:30. How's that for accuracy? Anyway, I did a good warmup and got in line a few minutes before my start time. Once the fun was underway I tried to make sure I didn't push too hard and explode. I focussed on finding that point of suffering that you can maintain for more than a minute. Fun sport. In 12 minutes and 24 seconds the suffering was over. I rode back to the start area and starting resting for the afternoon's 57 mile road race.

Around 1pm that day I headed back to the start area and began another warm up ritual in preparation for the road race. I checked the result sheet and found I finished 21/100 in the time trial. I was about 30 seconds behind the leader and going into a long road race had a shot at a good overall result.

For the opening 20 miles or so my teammates did a great job of keeping me up front and protected from the wind. When we hit the first climb the field started to splinter a bit, but I stayed with the lead group through the climb. As we descended at speeds approaching 50mph we were hit with fierce cross winds that tossed our bikes around and a light rain that made you wonder just how fast you should be entering the corners. Fortunately there were no incidents.

After calming down and regrouping from the descent we found ourselves in the midst of a lightning storm and the kind of rain that made you wonder when the hail was going to start. The race director pulled up next to us and said the race was being neutralized (no competition) and we were going to head to the next town to find shelter. So, for the next hour or so the tiny town of Waitsburg, WA found itself host to hundreds of racers waiting out the storm. Unfortunately, and for reasons I don't know, the road race was ultimately cancelled and we had to ride back to the starting area (about 16 miles). No official results for the road race, but quite an afternoon!

The next morning we had a 40 minute criterium on the streets of downtown Walla Walla. I think everyone had too much energy remaining from Saturday's events because the crits (all of them) were just out of control. Ours was fast and furious until a bad crash at the midpoint stopped the race while an ambulance was brought in to clean up the bodies. On the restart and remaining 20 minutes I lost the good position I had at the beginning of the race, but finished with the lead group.

Waiting for the crit start
Doug - Walla Walla Crit

In the final standings I finished 15th overall. My best result to date. Even with strange events I had a blast this weekend and remembered why I enjoy this sport so much.

Pictures are posted here.


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