Baker City Stage Race by Paul Warner
My season leading up to this race has been rather challenging. Juggling a regular job while working at being a professional cyclist has not been an easy straight forward path. Fortunately I acquired a fantastic job as a director of marketing for a financial group in Boise, and it is really a fun job and I only work 20 hours a week!! Perfect job to still be an athlete!!
I headed over to Baker City with one of the largest stints of intense training I have ever put my legs through. The month of May was my biggest volume month of the season, while June had intervals and long rides before group rides to get as much structured hard efforts as possible. I came into the Baker Stage Race in form but not top form.
As I write this post in a coffee shop I have a 1 hour ride that I have been pushing off all day because I have been in pure relax mode. OK, enough about my thoughts and life. Lets chat about racing bicycles!!
Stage 1- Stage one was one of the weirdest stages on a bike I think that I have ever ridden. (As far as weather is concerned.) The stage started with sunny skies. The terrain consisted of mostly flat roads with a few punchy rollers. As the beginning attacks are progressing, there is a cloud developing in the North West that looks like the clouds of Moordor in the Lord of the Rings. (No, I am not a fan of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, I have a girlfriend and a life). This cloud was literally black and spanned across the whole sky, and the peloton was headed right towards the weather. Within 30 minutes of having this thought on the bike we started to feel slight rain. And then it rained! Honestly the only close experience I can compare it to is watching hurricanes on the weather channel. There was so much rain the water was literally covered with water. Every car that would drive by would drench the peloton with water. To top this off a RV with the horse trailer sprayed us as it drove by. There was so much water hitting my whole body all at once, it was like an ocean wave. The entire peloton had a word or two to shout at the RV as it went by. These words were let me say “comical” at best. I have never heard the F-word used so much in tandem by an entire peloton.
The stage continued on with a short 12 minute climb that usually breaks apart the peloton, however everyone was so wet and so cold that everything stayed together up the climb. After the climb, was a long decent and at the bottom of the decent Team Mercedes Benz out of Boise, Idaho kept the pace high all the way until the finish. Right before the finish there are a few 5 minute sustained climbs that always shatter the field. The short sustained climbs really blew apart the field. I managed to hang onto the peloton until the finish. I came in 23rd, and 1:30 back on the break that stuck from the beginning of the day. I was pleased with result in the arduous conditions because the cold weather is not my specialty. My new svelte build this year is not as warm as my previous build. Thus, I was really stoked with my pain tolerance.
Stage 2- Short flat TT
I really had a bad and sad stage. It was one of those stages where I was looking at my power meter and felt truly embarrassed for myself. However, TT’s are something that I will be working towards for 2015 season and I am very motivated to improve on.
I was 2 minutes back on the stage and realized how big of an effort I had completed in the past two months.
When the stage was over, and I was sitting in my hotel room, I knew that I had to call and tell john what was going on, and give a full update on where I was in my fitness and my awful TT. John said the right things to get me through the race. And that showed in the results forward!
Stage 3- Downtown Criterium
Crits are always my favorite at stage races. They take place at night, and other people think you are a celebrity as you ride by. The Baker City streets are not composed of very inspiring pavement. Consequently, there is always a crash on this one corner that really jolts around bikes.
This stage was really a fast fun stage with just about every moment comprised of someone trying to establish a break. However, a team would always pull the move back.
Smartly I sat in the whole race and with ten laps to go plopped myself in 7th-10th wheel back to make sure that if any move got up the road, I would have fresh legs to hop in the move and take a shot at victory.
Sadly, with three laps to go there was a wreck that was right in front of me. I was sitting about 5th wheel and there was a touch of wheels right at the front, taking us all to a halt while everyone else sprinted. I chased back on and gave it all I had to get back in to the mix. The last lap I really moved up, then sprinted for 22nd. Not a bad result, but I had a huge burst of confidence going in to the next day.
Stage 4- 84 mile RR
Stage four is a new route finishing on an epic climb up to Anthony Lakes Ski Area. The climb is about 8 Miles with an average grade of 9%.
I only slept two hours the night before so I decided to drink a full French Press (Yes, I travel with a French Press, and yes, I am a coffee snob, also, I ground my beans in the hotel room, and I am considering a magazine subscription to “Coffee Efficinaito”) sorry for that, I am passionate about Coffee.
So, now that we cleared that up, the stage started out in a nice easy pace. And then there was this right turn and all hell broke loose. As we took this right turn I noticed a quite powerful cross wind. For some weird reason, there was no echelon starting, so all that I really noticed that I was doing 500 watt surges past people who where being shelled, only a swift 9 minutes in to the race. This went on for a solid 45 minutes, until everything stopped. Then for the next 2 hours I averaged 70watts. Yes, it went from one of the hardest efforts of the year to a “No Drop ride” in a matter of seconds. I am talking the entire peloton stopped riding. It was hilarious!! Everyone that was shelled in the beginning caught back on. Then it picked up to a reasonable pace for the rest of the stage until things got weird at the bottom of the climb. As soon as we hit the bottom of the climb people started attacking and then falling off never to be seen again. So I knew that my threshold for an hour would be in the 320-340 range. So for that whole climb I stayed right there and found myself in 14th on the day and 14th for the whole stage race!!
I was super excited to bring it all together at the end of the stage and finish with a top 15.