It's funny how a multi-day event will lead you through a range of emotions. The good - winning a prologue, the bad - losing quite a bit of time on Alpine, and the ugly - blowing my legs for two loaves of bread. (Don't worry that explanation will come later...)
But first, more of the good. Willamette is a 4 day early season stage race put on by the folks of OBRA. I also have quite a bit of family in the area so I was tickled to hit two birds with one stone. I made the venture South on Thursday morning to make it in time for the first stage - a flat 6.6k prologue in historic Coburg.
For some reason I was super nervous for the first stage. Partly due to my last TT fiasco and having limited time to warm up and then being nearly 2 minutes from my normal time, I was shaky and spastic. Luckily that nervous energy transfered to the pedals and I was able to express my ability. Again, it was only 6.6k but I ran it like a pursuit despite the constant protest from my legs and brain.
I headed back to Brownsville to put in some quality time with my neice and nephew - only to receive a call later from Martha letting me know I had won the prologue. Talk about shocking! No wonder it hurt so bad.
Day two brought an epic road race. Despite only being 43 miles, it was one of the hardest races I've done in a long time. It was raining so hard at one point it felt as though it was coming from the ground up. Not to mention it was chilly out - a balmy 38 degrees and lots of cold descents. Climbing was the only way to stay warm! My bike started squealing in protest - apparently the heavy rains dissolved the mineral grease in my rear hub and bottom bracket. Needless to say, this stage demonstrated that I'm working on the confidence chapter of bike racing - especially when it comes to hills and the ability to dig deep when things get challenging. (All in all excellent training!) It took about 3 hours to warm back up once we were finished.
Day three - downtown crit. Again, I was super nervous for the race. But as soon as the first lap rolled - I knew it was all about smiling and having a good time from that point forward. It was super fun cornering and hauling ass on the tight 1k course. At one point I was in good position for a prime - and won some loaves of bread. Yep, I sprinted for hippie bread. That's a first. Miranda got off the front for a bold solo move for the win - and the rest of us fought for scraps at the line. A little better positioning and bigger huevos would have resulted in a higher placement - but it is nice to get the first crit of the year out of the way.
Day four - AMAZING road race course with some of the funnest down hill sections I have ever done. I managed to stick on Miranda's wheel for the technical descent and we quickly got a gap on the rest of the chasers. Had I been able to dig a little deeper on the false flat leading to the final descent, I would have gotten on the Miranda train and finished a little better. But all in all - I did what I needed to do and get some additional racing miles in the legs. I definitely recommend this race to anyone who wants to experience some of the excellent roads the Willamette Valley has to offer. Thanks to OBRA for putting this on.
And a big shout out to my teammate Greg Arden for placing 2nd in the crit for the Masters field and holding his 10th place GC! Nice job Greg!