Friday, June 5, 2009

Mt. Hood amusement park open for business

(Oregon rider Karsten Hagen (ZteaM) is racing the Matsers 35-45 race at the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. He sent Cycling Action this report from the Cooper Spur Circuit Race).

By Karsten Hagen

HOOD RIVER -- Today's Masters race was a 3rd rate amusement park haunted house ride through every kind of weather June can throw at humanity. At first, we flew on rails through shimmering 90 degree heat and slick humidity. Attacks were active and quite noble; my teammates got involved often and we put a good face on the race. There was the usual bitching and complaining about heat and lack of feedzones. But when it came time to race, we got after it.

Then, everything changed.

The sky became bruised and sullen and the wind reminded us that the Gorge is no place for complacency. The temperature dropped 30 degrees and hail pelted us as if it were being shot by malicious kids in the bushes. Our amusement park ride became slow, choppy and full of irritated, middle aged men.

For every attack, there was a response, but no counterattack. It was as if nobody felt motivated to hang by themselves in what was becoming a hail and wind driven maelstrom worthy of a Wagenerian opera.

But why am I talking about Opera at midnight on a Thursday?

I, myself, got sick of being batted around by a field that was moving slower than a funeral procession in New Orlens. I made a move, got joined by someone from River City Bicycles and forged one of those fleeting and wordless partnershps that breakaway compatriots have enacted in countless races since the turn of the 20th century. We slogged it out and were joined by John Browning (Cyclepath Racing), a superhuman being from another planet.

The three of us tried our best to put time on the field in what I thought was a sure bid for victory. We worked through the switchbacks up to Cooper Spur with some semblence of efficiency and finished the lap with no field in sight.

Unfortunatley for me, as we crossed the line at the top of the climb, I realized we still had a lap to go. My legs seized up in thermonuclear powered cramps almost immediately and it took every ounce of willpower my mama gave me to put any effort into the descent.

But that descent is sure fun!

We were summarily caught and executed by the chasing field at the bottom of the hill and rode our way into another tempestuous headwind. My seeapost managed to work its way down about 5mm during the race and my legs felt like death had come to them at least 40 years early.

The finish was uneventful, but very, very hard. I managed to hang onto the main field; pretty good for a 200 pound dude!