For some of you, it's been a long time, and you may or may not be wondering what I have been up to the past few months.
Since moving back out to Victoria in mid January I have actually been doing very little aside from training and working (which is mainly why I have not sent out any 'updates' of my boring life). This season I managed to get on a team from Vancouver, which is sponsored by Red Truck Beer. We have had a very successful early season, and I'm sure it is a sign of things to come for the bigger races coming up. I have gotten bored of writing 'race reports'. Although I'm positive I will be sending some race reports at some point this season, personally I find they all sound so similar, and most people don't really care anyways. 'So and so attacked, and then I chased, and buddy bridged across and it came to a sprint and we won!' I figure I'll mix it up a bit, and write about something that is generally even more boring... training rides!
This past weekend my teammate Tyler, our coach Trevor, and myself took a ferry from Victoria down to Port Angeles, a super small town in Washington to do a climb up Hurricane Ridge, in the Olympic National Park. The climb begins immediately leaving town, and climbs steady for 10km up to a ranger station, and then another 20km to the top. I believe it is a total elevation gain of around 5000ft. By the time we had reached the top, we had been climbing at a pretty good pace for an hour and forty minutes. There was tons of snow at the top, and fog so thick you couldn't see 20ft in front of you. We layered up and began our descent to the ranger station. Instantly we began to freeze, the combination of sweaty bodies, cold temperature, misting rain, and cool breeze from the fast descent made this the coldest I've ever been on a bike (yes much colder than any ride in Saskatchewan in the winter!) About 4km into the descent, I was leading and trying to follow taillights from a vehicle in front. I was so cold that I was hating my life and thinking to myself how this ride could not possibly get any worse. It was about that time that I hit a sharp rock in the middle of the road and instantly double flatted. The three of us pulled over and quickly started to tag-team the repair. As the other two were changing the tubes in my tires, I pulled off one of my knee warmers (I had put both full leg, AND knee warmers on for warmth) and I tried pulling it over my head to cover my face for the rest of the descent, as I couldn't feel my face at this point. Unfortunately it would not fit over my head (duh, it was made to fit tight around your knee...). So we got the flats fixed and finished the descent to the ranger station. Now we were 20km from the top, 10km from the bottom, and completely frozen to the bone. Trevor and I decided that we would climb up one more time, but Tyler said that there was absolutely no F$#&ing way he was going to do that descent again. When we got to the top, after over an hour of climbing, my body had not yet fully regained warmth in all areas. During the second descent I lost feeling of my arms, my face, and my legs. This time we descended all the way to the bottom and I rode straight back to the hostel, luckily it was all down hill so I did not have to pedal once to get there. I got out of my wet cycling clothes, and put on all of the dry clothes I had, jumped into bed and fell asleep, hoping that I would be completely thawed out when I woke up!
Despite the harshness of the ride, it was really good training for the race we are heading to in a week's time down in Oregon. It's called the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, and is a Pro NRC race that is 6 days long. It has been labelled one of the toughest races in North America. I have attached some photos and a report written (follows) by the Red Truck director from a race we attended in Walla Walla, Washington a few weeks ago.
Take care, Dave Brooks
Trek-Red Truck Racing Team - Presented by Mosaic Homes
Tour of Walla Walla Race Report
Mark Ernsting - Team Director
What a weekend The Trek-Red Truck Racing Team presented by Mosaic Homes had. The men's team dominated the Tour of Walla Walla with wins in General Classification (GC), Team Classification, and King of the Mountain points as well as 3 more top 10 in GC.
The trip started out Thursday afternoon with a long drive from Vancouver to Walla Walla WA, arriving at our host housing around 2am Friday morning. After a good night's sleep the team went on an easy spin to get ready for the 65mile road race that was to start later that afternoon. The teams plan was to protect each other all day as the winds were ferocious and have the majority of our riders in the lead group after the stage so that we could let the Time Trial (TT) and following Road Race (RR) finalize the GC. This worked out perfectly as Rob Britton followed a wheel early on over the first 4km climb. This move allowed our other guys on the team to follow wheels all day and make sure that nothing else got away. Robs lead grew up to 3min. at one time and with 50km to go the rider he was with started to show signs of fatigue. Rob knew it was too windy to leave him at that time, so he was able to use him for another 30km before he had to go on his own. The last 20km of the race were an epic effort as Rob had to hold off a chasing pack over 2 more climbs into harsh winds. But, he did it with an incredible win. The rest of the team road hard all day to support this move and had Tyler Trace, Jamie Sparling, and Dave Vukets make the split in the lead chase group.
The next day started out with an early morning TT with more wind and even colder temperatures (0-1*C) than the day before. The plan was to have Dave Brooks, Kevin Noiles, and Nathan MacDonald use the TT as their warm up for the RR that was to come later that day as we knew that the pressure was now on our team to watch everything and set tempo all day. This allowed the other guys to focus on the TT in order to set them self up on GC and not lose too much time so that the final fight could be made during the 95 mile race still to come.
After a short rest the team's strategy was to have Brooks, Noiles, and MacDonald cover every move for the first 50 miles of the race. They did that brilliantly with attacks hitting them hard from the start. Vukets, Sparling, and Trace helped out at times, but they knew that they had to be on reserve for the later part of the race. When guys came back for a feed they did so with the intention of the entire team taking on up to 8 bottles filling their pockets, and even the back of their jersey so that the others would not have to make that same effort. Going into the last 36 mile lap there were 4 significant climbs left and the goal was to keep it together until the final lap to allow the last 2 climbs to determine GC. The guys' gave everything they had to set our GC riders up for what was to complete this stage as one of the most text book perfectly executed races. Going into the last lap Sparling made a move that saw him in a group with 3 other riders. Shortly after, Britton followed a wheel over a climb that saw him bridge up to the lead riders making the break 5 strong. At this time we knew that we had protected our leader and were setting up our other riders for the individual and team GC. After the 2nd to last climb Vukets crossed over with 2 more riders and about 10km out from the final climb Trace crossed over to the break as well. This now put all four of our GC riders in the lead group that had 2 min. on the field going into the final climb as we had planed it to be. This is not easy to pull off and required the dedication of all the riders to believe in each other and commit 100% of their effort for the good of the team. This was apparent with everyone willing to sacrifice their own GC placing for the others that even saw Britton in the leader's jersey go back for a feed from one of the breaks to support the guys that made it over to him and were protecting him all day. The final 3km saw Britton come in 3rd, Sparling in 4th, Vukets in 8th and Trace in 9th place. It's needless to say that by the end of that day all the riders were tired, but on a high from one of the best executed team efforts that could have been expected by them.
The last stage was a fast Criterium that was in down town Walla Walla. The teams goal was to maintain the overall leaders jersey, and team GC. The team GC was based on the best 3 times of the teams GC riders and this was put to the test half way through the Crit. About 30min. into the Crit. a big crash took out Trace and Vukets. Both could have ended their weekend, but new that they were the one of the 3rd riders that the Team Overall was based on. With this they continued on bloody and all to finish off a very memorable weekend for all.
In the women's race Fiona MacLeod was sole representative and in the Cat. 3 race Jason Manning was there. Both of them road hard in all their events and Fiona pulled off a top 10 over all GC finish in the Pro. 1/2 race. Being in the men's caravan I unfortunately did not see all the action, but they both had to overcome the same harsh winds, cold weather, and hilly terrain in the events. Therefore, well done!
The Tour of Walla Walla was well organized and we were very well looked after by our host families. A big "thank you" goes to all that have supported the team in achieving this result as it is an accumulation of everything that has been done over the winter months that has brought the team together and allowed them to achieve this.