There is nothing like finishing a stage race up the “Queen Stage” which usually means you climb some historical amount.
After climbing 11,000 feet, the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic finished with an 9,000ft day. I was wearing the yellow jersey. I was wearing a yellow helmet. I looked yellow. Yellow is one of my favorite colors. Seriously. I was working for my team, but still, I had to climb. And climb and climb. Even though our team’s strategy may not have been to keep me in yellow, it was still a brutal day full of, well, climbing. I had gels. I had some more gels. My stomach lurched at the thought of another gooey substance full of sugar, caffeine, and gelatin. I had 10k to go up the final climb, which ended on a dirt pitch of 20% up Mt. Hood. This was our 3rd mountain pass of the day. It was brutal.
The moto official even drove up to me, and said, “Welp, you are 6th right now in the stage and the peloton, well, the first chase rider is 12:45 back.”
I responded with, “So you are saying I better keep riding, and not wait.”
“Yes” He said, “and you look rough, do you want a gel?”
Blek. Yet, humbly, I took it.
Then, it was like a mirage. It was as balmy as you can imagine. It was an oasis of music, of fun, and of laughter in middle of a tortuous day on the bike. Who could think this was a good day? It was a feed zone. What!? I quickly looked down. There was no feed zone listed on my cheat sheet written on athletic tape on my stem labeling the important parts of the race. There were QOMs, and Sprints, and descents….and no other Feed Zones. What was this slice of heaven?
It was i fact, the Illegal Feed Zone. 1 finger held up for water, 2 for Coke, 3 for beer (or something like that, I can’t remember). Oreos. Cookies. You name it. A burger? Sure, why not. Unfortunately, I had to still race. I had a job to do, but I will never forget that Illegal Feed Zone.
I thought. I will be back, IFZ. I will be back.
I met the guys of the IFZ at Cascade as well. I dropped back from the break, and brought the break back for my team. And then was able to wind my way (the paper boy is considered winding, right!?) up Mt. Bachelor. You better believe I took a feed from them. They still owe me though.
Long story short, I did an interview for the Illegal Feed Zone, and it can be read HERE.
It is pretty entertaining.
Maybe we can’t talk about the Illegal Feed Zone, since it is, in fact, illegal. But they are a great group of guys that bring the excitement to the sport. Even after 9000ft of climing in 85 miles, they made me crack a smile.
Now, back to this altitude on Colorado. More later.