Tuesday night saw the first PIR of the year be set in motion… And what a race it was, starting from just inside Corvallis! Stew loaded up his 8 wheeled F1 truck (you wouldn't have known the difference the way he was driving, six flags is now obsolete) with Heather, Christy, Cole, myself, and just enough bike stuff to have been able to sell and live comfortably for a year in Barbados (airfare included). It was a race against the clock to get all the way through Portland before the REAL race started and despite some miscues from an untrusty Garmin (but we sure love Garmin very very much, oh yes we do) we managed to steam roll in and get organized enough for most of the team to ride. In a cruel twist of fate the most prepared member of the team, Heather, who had kitted up in the car mid transit, had missed her start time by seconds . Good thing it's a weekly series.
Novice Men started first and the group was not particularly big. It was easy to distinguish the Joes from the Pros. So during the lineup I set up camp just behind the only S-Works bike with Zipps in the field. Off we went and Mr. S-Works and I sat on the front for three quarters of the first lap until he decided to make his leap. Of course, I wasn't going to let a Specialized get out ahead of my Trek, so I promptly sprinted to follow. We opened up a 20+/- second gap quickly, exchanged names and went for the kill early on. We were both riding strongly and were surprised to be joined a few minutes later by a bridging rider, although this could only help us. The three of us stayed well in front of the pack for another lap and by the look of things we had this one in the bag. Well actually, THEY had this one in the bag because upon entering the sharpest corner on the course my rear wheel slipped out from under me (wet wet wet). Luckily, the other two had just pulled through so I didn't ruin it for the rest of the break… but I did ruin it for Bandit, my Madone. After sliding 20 feet into grass on the side of the course, he refused to shift onto any other cog but tenth, clearly wanting to chase… but it wasn't meant to be. I did, however, come across a first time rider named Tim who had fell off the back early. Tim was rediculously nice, and rediculously slow. So we (or I) soft-pedaled to the finish.
15 minutes after the 5's went off the 3/4 group started. Having regrouped with Heather and Christy, I had a great vantage point of the finsih line from the flagger's platform. The race seemed to be lackluster for many of the laps. Stew asserted his presence in the pack by sitting between 10th and 15th wheel. Cole, however, was so determined to stay dry that he sat OFF the back of the group without draft for the first half of the race. In fact, I think everyone forgot he was there. Until the break. I don't know who sparked it but somehow in one lap (through wet twists and turns) both Stew and Cole managed to land themselves in the breakaway. Impressive numerically but not tactically. After the non-Vertebrata riders saw no incentive to work, the break dissolved and fell back to the pack, but not without having distinguished Vertebrata as the night's Alpha-Male team. Jesse Coombs wept for not being there. The race organizers belled early for the last lap (apparently riding in dim light isn't cool, whatever). The pack came romping around the final corner. Just as Cole noted they would, many came around the corner full gas and burned out long before the finish. About ten riders timed their sprints well and contended for first through fifth. Stew, well positioned from the start, held great pace through the chaos and hit the finish in 10th place of 29. Cole lied in wait further back in the pack; there was no way for them to see him coming. His trademark sprint started with a slow and steady buildup before maxing out at 40 MPH (seriously), passing 15 or so riders and edging the front 5 comfortably at the line to win by road race rules and get second by circuit rules. Like me, Cole made a new friend during the race… but I'll let him give you that story…
Pizza, beer, home, sleep. Until next week!