The team headed up to Olympia to start the gravel season with the Race Cascadia Super G event. This event is in its 3rd year and has been on the team radar as a great one to get into the season before the epic Gorge Grinder the following weekend. The only issue was the race coincided with Zone5Promotions Piece of Cake Road race. Unfortunately, we couldn’t have our cake and eat it to.
5:15am Opting for gravel, the team loaded the van and headed up to Olympia, WA early Saturday morning to what looked like a tough, tough, race with lots of climbing. It was a crispy 34F on our way up and we passed thoughts on kit around before all deciding base layer, arm warmers, and Pactimo Storm+ kit would be enough. To keep our minds occupied we threw a podcast on and listened to race recap of E3 and made our own plans for classics glory to unfold in a few hours time.
Our team of 5 consisted of one 70mi’er and four 50mi’ers. When we arrived the fog was lifting and the frost melting. It felt surprisingly warm.
8:30am The team assembled at the start area with the other 295 people who paid money to go up steep climbs and fast descents as fast as they can on gravel. We overheard discussion about snow falling two years ago, fairly epic race conditions. Someone remarked that there might be some hike-a-bike sections but we didn’t believe it. With the course topping out at only around 2800ft and the recent warm weather, it seemed unlikely.
At 845am the 70mi group went off and Brad was in it.
Towards the top I could feel myself going too deep so I let off just slightly and dropped off the wheels of Rob, a guy named Stephen Mull and a Canadian named Parker Bloom.
Tight pace lines, hopping pot holes, trying our best to float over chunky sections. I felt in control… but just barely and had to remind myself you can’t finish a bike race with broken bones.
Nobody needs water or food already surely. Mechanicals!
Stephen, Parker, Erik, plus 3, plus me… 7. Where’s Rob?
Then we started the B-1000 climb. My goodness. We all rode together the first mile or two but I had no choice to back off and stay within myself. Still 25 miles from finish, can’t bonk…yet.
I keep pace high but take the final turn onto the grass too wide! He comes by and we drag race to the finish.-Brad Petersen 70mi Pro Division
At 8:50am the 50mi group rolled out. Michael recounts his race…
Nervous start-line chatter leads to sizing up the competition. Teammates snapping last minute photos reminds me that this is FUN, why so SERIOUS.
My plan going into the race was to stick with the leaders as long as possible, focus on hydration/nutrition, try not to flat or crash, and enjoy some incredible scenery along the way. It was mission mostly accomplished across the board (minus the crashing part).
…put my head down and go as hard as I can for the next 2.5 hrs.
Something changes when no one is there to help you trade pulls, encourage you or offer you a gel or swig of water. BELIEF. I remind myself that I am strong, have trained for this, and can do it.
The next climb hits me hard. 7.5 mile Cat 2. 2,044 vertical feet at an average of 5% and pitches of 15%. This one hurts. Bad. I go deep..
My lead is short-lived as I hit an off-camber left-hander with a snow drift that sends me into a tumbling, cramping heap.-Michael Aylward 50mi Master 30-39 Division