It’s 5:45 am in Wenatchee, Washington. I’m sure that somewhere people are waking to the sight of dew glistening on grass in the warm early morning sun of late spring accompanied by the sounds of peaceful birdsong. We, however, are awoken quite abruptly by a chorus of flipping tires, grunts and death metal.
We’re staying at a gym, and that in and of itself is an adventure. As some productive race prep on Thursday night, for example, I climbed into a large tire - the same tire I watched a large man hit with a sledge hammer on Friday morning - and proceeded to be rolled around the gym by Riley, our junior.
Friday’s stage was 74 miles (~119 km in Canadian). We would do three laps of a rolling course and finish on a steep 1.5 km climb. We had faith that Alex Fraser Mauran (AFM) could improve upon his second place result from last year, and win the stage. The boys decided to keep the race together while protecting AFM and planned to lead him into the climb where he’d unleash a race winning attack.
The pace was high from the gun with plenty of attacks, and Oli and Brendan worked hard to cover moves and keep the peloton together. At one point a large split of ~25 riders took off and we only had Chris up the road, so Kyle, Al, Oli and Riley hit the front and chased hard for several k. This would have been race over if we didn’t get organized. It was a good wake up call and from then on the boys stayed near the front. Chris flatted and had to chase back on shortly thereafter.
The last lap saw Oli and Riley work to control the pace. This wasn’t much of a challenge as most had realized by now that a break would not happen. With 15 km remaining, we lined up on the front to keep the pace high and controlled, and set AFM up for the finish. Oli took a couple pulls, and yelled an encouraging “Sea of red boys!!’, before he dropped off, tired from his early duties. A km before the base of the climb, Al flatted.
AFM did what he could, but as a marked rider, he couldn’t quite ride away anymore. He finished 5th.
Saturday morning was oddly quiet at the gym. It was closed for us, but the experience perhaps lacked authenticity in contrast to the previous morning. However, crossfit or not, we had a time trial to do.
WIthout any real GC ambitions following Friday’s race, apart from AFM’s potential to hold onto fifth, we were pretty relaxed for the time trial. We would focus on the crit that evening. However, Brendan and Oli have been wagering rounds of coffee on time trial results, with the loser of the two footing the bill. Oli pretty much always wins. This weekend, Brendan cheated by wearing a long sleeve skinsuit, so Oli bought him a coffee that afternoon. Brendan, unlike Oli, chose an expensive drink, which was rude to say the least.
Going into the crit, we knew that Florenz Knauer would be a proper force. Last year he won every prime and the finish. No one could challenge him. We decided that it would still be in our best interest to keep the race together and lead Al and Riley out for the sprint.
The racing was aggressive from the start, with the first one to complete the first lap earning $500 US. Riley was second to Florenz, and Oli broke away for a couple laps after that with a Tag rider. The boys took turns chasing moves and riding off the front for the next 40 minutes. AFM spent a few laps solo.
We managed to keep the race together, and as Brendan completed a monster pull on the front to shut down a lone rider, Oli crashed in the first corner with about 12 minutes of racing remaining. The race was neutralized as Oli was peeled off the pavement, and the boys lined up to restart with 15 laps on the board.
An exciting break of four including Kyle and AFM took off for a few laps. When they were caught with five laps remaining, most of the squad was spent. Al and Riley were left to work by themselves without a leadout. The two sprinted for second and fourth on the stage, respectively!
The final stage was the infamous Waterville road race. We were looking at 110 km of strong wind and rolling hills. Oli would not be starting, but we still had six on the line. We would work to have Alex in the front group for the finish.
The race split early in the crosswinds, and all but Chris managed to get into the lead group. Al flatted early on but fought his way back in after a wheel change. A weekend of tough racing took its toll, and soon Brendan and Al were dropped. Riley wasn’t far behind. Chris struggled having been caught out in the crosswinds early on, and was forced to retire early as well.
Kyle and AFM suffered in the wind, but Kyle was without a rear shifter after a malfunction and there was little he could do other than ride across the finish line. AFM finished sixth on the stage.
Overall, AFM successfully held onto his fifth place in GC, and Kyle finished 10th overall. We’re looking forward to carrying forward the cohesion we had in the first couple stages and hopefully delivering one of our boys to a win sometime soon!
A big shout out to Ace, the organiser of Bloom is in order for such a solid weekend, and thanks to all the crossfitters for sharing their gym!