The week didn’t start off great. 

With both the Toa and C3 in the shop for some much needed love, I was forced to ride the ‘cross bike both Wednesday and Thursday.  Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem.  This week it was.

Wednesday, Shawn talked me into meeting him in Jacksonville for some John’s Peak action.  With little tread on my rear tire I set out for what I was sure would be an ill fated trip.  As I’ve made known in the past, I’m not the best at handling a mtb on trails.  Attempting trails on the cx would be a new (and most likely idiotic) experience.

After slipping and sliding up the steep roads it was time to descend.  At first, I was pretty timid, but soon I felt more comfortable.  Being used to riding on drop bars on the road bike so often, I almost felt at home.  I was soon ripping down the trails (ripping being a relative term in my case). 

By the end of the day I had 19 miles in and was pretty ecstatic.  I only went over the handlebars once and that was near the end of the last trail I rode down (‘Ol Miner’s).

Thursday I met up with Jacob for a short Roxy Ann ride.  Obviously, I still had no tread on the rear tire and it wasn’t long before I was dealing with flats.  After the second one, it was time to call it a day.  While Jacob rode down to get my car, I took a “shortcut” off the hill.  Never take “shortcuts”.  They usually have poison oak and ticks.

Thankful I had the C3 back in my possession, it was up at 3:45 am on Sunday.  A quick stop to pick Jacob up and we were on our way to Cottage Grove for the Oregon Gran Fondo.  A 117 mile road race on a bunch of lightly traveled roads between Interstate 5 and the Oregon coast.

With so many entries, race check-in ran a little long and the start of the race was delayed a bit.  By 8:20, we were off.

With a police escort slowly leading us out of town, it was almost stop and go with 400+ bikes all bunched up.  However, all the pent up energy had a place to go as the escort pulled off and a group of probably 100 of us picked up the pace considerably.  My first goal of the day was to stay with the front group as long as I could.  The first real climb did it’s job though and strung the group out. But, as we descended for the first time, I found myself in a decently fast group of about 20 other riders.  Letting the crazy fast lead group go (’cause we had no other choice) we settled in for a fast paced 20 miles to the next climb.

I rode with this group for a total of about 50 miles until they pulled over at aid station #2.  Still feeling good and not wanting to stop long, I fired down a banana and took off with a different group that started to leave just after my group arrived.  Another 20 miles or so with them and I was ready for a longer stop, so I took about 3 minutes at station #3.  With no group in sight, a local rider, Doug (who had joined our group about 30 miles earlier), and I headed out on our own.

It was somewhere in the next 5 miles that I was reminded that a 100 mile RACE is different than a 200 mile RIDE.  I had expended a lot of energy climbing hills faster than I do in endurance situations and had done some longer pulls at the front of the groups.  The toll had been taken.  It was time to let Doug drop me on the next big climb.  My legs just didn’t have another fast climb in them.

I put in the last 40 miles solo.  Something I’m pretty used to doing anyway so I enjoyed the rest of the ride on my own. 

Having raced the same course last year, I was looking forward to the last bit of the race.  After a final climb, the last 8 miles have a big descent that turns into a gradual one leading into town.  It’s kinda fun getting to finish off the the last bit of a race doing 20 mph + if you’re willing to dig deep and drop the hammer.  Luckily, my legs found a little bit of somethin’ and I cruised to the finish at a good clip. 
I didn’t get a chance to take any photos as I was treating the ride as a legitimate race so I stole all the photos from Jacob.  Thanks, man!
While I didn’t win anything, I did manage to knock about 16 minutes off my time from last year.  I’ll take it!


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