I’ve done well on the Mt Bachelor stage before, and given how good I felt climbing McKenzie Pass just a couple days prior, I wanted to test my mettle and my legs by getting myself into a break. Even with ominous clouds looming over as the start and the temperatures causing us to pull on the layers, I was motivated to ride hard and finish strong. My mind was ready, but I soon discovered my body was not.
For the first 20km of the race we screamed down the opening descent with barely any effort at all. My legs felt good, of course. When we hit the first bit of climbing, though, I knew it wasn’t going to be my day. My legs felt like a ton of bricks and I struggled immediately somewhere mid-pack while my teammates did the bulk of the work at the front. Occasionally I made it to the front to cover attacks but the last thing I wanted to do was find myself in a break, especially without a TIBCO teammate accompanying me, in fear of being dropped from it.
One after another the attacks kept firing until about 25km from Mt Bachelor when the break of the day stuck. The group included my teammate, Vero, and eight other riders. Quickly the gap ballooned to 2:15 and there was concern amongst a couple teams that the gap would get too big. When the gap reached 3:15 four of us joined NOW/Novartis at the front to minimize the gap and any threat of our GC riders being leapfrogged. I was suffering in the echelon but I had to do as much as I could for my teammates. It might not have been my day to ride the break but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t give everything, anything I had left in the tank.
Leading in to the final climb the gap had been cut down to 2:15. We were content with that so we slid off the front. Soon the road tilted up, the climbers began to pick up the pace and I slid off the back. There was no fighting it.
I watched the whittled down peloton ride up the climb as I sat back and rode my pace to the finish. At the finish Vero was fifth, the last of the original escapees to not get caught. Just behind her the main GC contenders sprinted to the finish together. Several minutes later I rolled through the finish and quietly set about getting the proper recovery underway because the race isn’t over yet!