Mt. Hood Cycling Classic Concise Summary with Flare

What does wind surfing, downtown breweries, mountain passes, Breakaway promotions, and Taco del Mar have in common?

The Hood.

Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, presented by OBRA.

Although I tend to steer away from race reports, I have come up with a concise summary of the race, because who wouldn’t want to know the drama and dynamic of an incredible bike race taking place in one of the most beautiful backdrops in the world?

Setting: Hood River and its surrounding areas.

Players: Team Short and Tall (also known as myself and the Canadian firepower future Olympian, Rhae)

Team Short and Tall

Support: My mom.

Best Support Team Ever, my mom! Mom knows best.

Stage 1: One, Two, Punch.

After a challenging circuit with undulating terrain, brisk rain and wind, Rhae and I ended up in a break, and then were able to cross the line together in the ol’ “one, two, punch” teammate manner.  200m from the line, Rhae looks at me, and suggests I wipe my face for the pictures.  Good call.  A true teammate will warn you when you have snot on your face and are about to be photographed by the paparazzi, or Oregon Cycling Action.   Our plan was executed flawlessly, and Rhae was in yellow, and I was in the QOM. Tactic Perfect is what we called it.

Wipe the snot off, Alison, and don’t fall off your bike. Photo by Dave Mackintosh

Stage 2 Time Trial: Race Meets Survival

It was windy.  Really really windy.  The kind of wind that the local shops were closing their businesses to partake in the “30 year wind” that made a dreamy day of windsurfing on the Columbia Gorge, but turned the disc wheels on a TT bike into sails as well.  My bike elevated off the ground, it wanted to fly, but not in the direction I wanted to take it.  I started racing, and then just started trying to survive.  As I turned the pedals, desperate to finish the Scenic Gorge 30k TT in a 30mph headwind with gusts up to 55mph, I found myself saying, “there is no place like home, there is no place like home”.  I think this mantra was better than Rhae’s, which was “the wind beneath my wings”.  Although perhaps her performance was more motivated by her positive outlook as she rocked an incredible TT into 1st place, and I finished in 2nd. I think I get a gold star, or at least a pair of ruby red slippers for not flying away on a witches broom that afternoon.

QOM.

Stage 3 Criterium: Bombs, 180s, Sprint Finishes

The crit was fast, aggressive, and we raced.  Go figure, we really raced.  It was like bombs being thrown in downtown Hood River, right in front of the Full Sail brewery and packed streets.  It was a bike race in full force, and I was able to sprint for 3rd, and enjoy some tacos in the beer garden after the race.  Even with the bombs, the 180s and the sprints, we were still in yellow and red.

Sprinting for the fun of it.

Stage 4 3 Summit Road Race: Mountains, Snow, Group Photos.

After going for the QOMs, I realized it may not be a coincidence that Taco del Mar, sponsors the “climbers” jersey.  I wonder how many tacos you can have and still be a climber.  I might have hit my limit.  It was a day 70mile day with 9000ft of climbing.  It was an incredible day on the bike. Rhae won the stage, I finished 3rd.

Mission accomplished. High fives and low fives all around.

We finished the race 1st and 3rd overall.  We rode through forests, snow, gravel, and finished on top of Mt. Hood.

Nothing like a group photo to call it a wrap.

You will never believe what the women talk about while racing, nor will the men ever look as good on top of a mountain post stage race.

I love riding my bike, and I love Hood River.  You better believe I will be back.  Something about this race likes me.  Thank you to all for the support from near and afar, and thanks to my mom for draping herself over my TT bike to keep it from blowing away, for ignoring my bag explosion in host housing, and for being patient with my stage racing moodiness (hard to believe, but it happens).   Thanks to a great teammate Rhae for making it a fun bike race, to race, to win, and to well, race…