Wow, an 8 AM start time. Its 4:30 AM. Up and at ‘em. Today is the big day for the long awaited National Masters Road Race in Bend, Oregon. It’s the most prestigious title to earn in the United States. Today I am racing the 50-54 Men’s road race. All the big dogs come out to Nationals to earn that coveted Stars and Stripes National Championship Jersey for another year. Roger Worthington, my teammate, my fiancé and I make the drive out to Mt. Bachelor for the cold early 8 AM start. It’s 38 degrees at the start but the sun is out. Approximately 80 guys line up at the start.
Last years champion is here on the start line, Kevin Metcalfe (Team Specialized Racing Masters). Kevin and I used to be teammates on the United States Postal Service Masters Cycling Team, and good friends as well. Our race is 84 km long with 4,000 vertical feet of climbing. We start the race and the race goes downhill for at least eight miles, and man it was freezing cold. The race was somewhat flat with lots of ups and downs, and attacks and counterattacks happening. We were really rolling along fast. I look at my watch and think, this race is going to finish in 2 hours 10 minutes or so.
The ups and downs continue and we are finally into the final last 20 km and it’s starting to ungulate up and down even more, so we are getting to the final climbs. We hit the final climb and my Breakaway from Cancer (BfC) teammate, Roger Worthington, hits it full out in the big ring. He is rolling it out just like he said he was going to do. Finally we get a few miles into the final climbs and the field is being ripped apart. Lots of people are going out the back of the field and the field is now becoming very small select groups. We are one third into the final climb or more and the pressure is on big time.
Kevin takes the front finally and I am on his wheel. We are tapping out a heavy tempo and starting to open a nice gap on the rest of the riders. It’s Kevin and I and as I look back we have a nice 12-15 second gap on everyone else and we are rolling it out. I have to admit that I am hurting. We are opening up a bigger gap, approximately 20 seconds. I see the sign that says 5 km and I am thinking how the heck am I going to keep up this tempo for 5 km. The wrong thing for me to do is to think like that; I know better. I am thinking way too hard and not focusing on just tapping out the tempo, I am starting to come off of Kevin’s wheel and now I’m 10-ish seconds off of him and approx 15 seconds in front of the group in back of me now. I really have to play my cards right and I drop back to the group in back of me with 10 riders in it. We crest the top of the hill and I am disappointed in myself because the sign said 5 km to the finish not 5 km to the top of the climb, now I’m kicking my self for not just staying with Kevin for two more kilos.
Now its just 3 km to the finish and we are closing in a bit on Kevin. We hang the right turn into the Mt. Bachelor Ski Area and it’s about a kilometer to the finish line. Gary Mulder (Boulder Orthopedics), a former National team member friend of mine makes another attack and Dirk Himley (Echelon) jumps on his wheel and I’m on Dirk’s wheel. I glance over my shoulder and I see Roger jump on my wheel and that excites me to no end. We round a short right turn and we sprint 150 meters to the finish line. Yes, we are finished finally. Kevin Metcalfe takes the well deserved win for the National Road Championship. I win the small group sprint for second and my teammate, Roger, places third. A great race, a great day and a well deserved success for the Breakaway from Cancer Cycling Team.