By: Kathryn Donovan (NOW
My teammates and I spent the week leading into Cascade at BC Superweek . I initially thought Kurt, our team director, was sending me to Superweek to race a bunch of crits as some form of punishment. I figured it was for crashing myself out of a two-person break several weeks earlier at the Winston-Salem Classic. But 8 days, 17 podiums, and 6 wins later, I realized that being out of my comfort zone and needing my teammates’ support both on and off the bike was not punishment, but rather the best thing Kurt could have done to make me a better bike racer. We arrived to Cascade a closer knit group.
Cascade started out well for NOW. Alison Powers won the prolouge and started the first stage in yellow. Everything was going fine until we hit the first climb. That’s when the attacks started and the peloton started to shatter. Mara Abbott attacked and I jumped on her wheel. Claudia Hausler countered her move, and Kristin McGrath went with her.
At this point there were only about 10 of us. Mara attacked to bridge up to Kristin and Claudia. This ended up to be the definitive move of the race. The three worked together to stay away and they remained the top three in GC for the remainder of the race. We decided from that point forward, we would focus on stage wins and podiums instead of overall GC.
Once three of the strongest riders in women’s cycling started working together, it was impossible to chase them down. Alison kept making me try.
Alison won the second stage by crushing the time trial. I got to witness Kristabel getting stuck in the barriers, and, I must say, her account does not do the story justice. I tell the story way better.
Stage three started with a descent and ended with a climb. I countered an attack by Alison at 20k to go. Two riders bridged up to me, but by the base of the climb, both were gone. Janel Holcomb and Lauren Stephens were chasing for awhile and eventually Lauren bridged. I tried to attack at 1k to go before the road flattened out. It was my only hope at beating Lauren and it clearly didn’t work, because I got second.
Alison out-sprinted the chase group for third.
As a treat for getting on the podium, Olivia Dillon took me out to Kebaba, our favorite restaurant in town, where I ordered the best burger in Bend, the Kebaba burger. Second and third to the burgers at Kebaba are the hamburgers from 10-Barrel and Deschutes Brewery. People always talk about the coffee shops in Bend , but really, for me, it’s the burgers. I could spend an extra week there just eating hamburgers every night.
Stage 4 was the crit. We didn’t have a true sprinter with us, so we were pretty happy with Alison getting third in the field sprint behind Lauren Hall and Shelly Olds. Devon, Robin, and Olivia all picked up some primes.
The last stage hurt, because Tibco was still racing for the win. When Claudia attacks, I always want to cry because she never attacks just once, and it hurts. She wasn’t able to get away, but her teammate Amanda Miller won the stage. She was in a late break with Jade Wilcoxson and my teammate Lauren Komanski, who ended up third on the stage. This was Lauren’s first NRC podium and I was proud to see her up there. She is crazy strong with tons of natural talent. I met her almost exactly a year ago when she had just started racing. I’m pretty sure she was still a cat 4 and riding the trainer every morning for an hour before going on rotation as a vet student. I felt bad for her but also envied how clean her kits looked from not riding outside.
Through some grave error, Robin, Olivia, Lauren and I were all booked to fly out the evening of the last stage. We were all on the same flight to Seattle, so we decided to have our own post race party. Since we had no time for dinner, my smarter teammates ordered Bloody Mary’s at the Redmond airport. It’s like a meal and a drink in one.
We parted at the Seattle airport after several more drinks. The girls head to crit nationals this weekend. I’m not going and I feel like its a form of punishment. Amazing how things change in the course of a few weeks.