The team's resident climber extraordinaire, Richard Scudney, packed his bags and headed west, hoping to strike gold at Oregon’s 37th annual Cascade Cycling Classic. What he found instead was stunning scenery and a near bout of altitude sickness:
OREGON THE BEAUTIFUL
Let me start off by saying how incredible Oregon is. The people are all smiles and friendly waves from Portland to Bend. And the food is delicious as well. I almost didn’t want to race. I just wanted to enjoy my time there riding around and exploring all the climbs.
The Cascade Cycling Classic Gets Underway
The first stage of the Cascade Cycling Classic was an out and back TT for 16 miles. While breathtaking, the stage was at 2800 feet of elevation, which I didn’t feel until the first 10 minutes of the TT. I was planning to keep just above threshold and see what I had left for the last 4 miles. That didn’t work. Instead I went way too hard for the elevation and the dry air sapped all my energy. I just smiled at the cows and turned it down to a more manageable pace. Shortly thereafter I saw my teammate Patrick Torpey on his way back. I tried to think of something funny or clever to say, but with the unexpected turn of events all I could manage was a half smile.
The second stage was a 92-mile road race around Mt. Bachelor. Much more to my liking, this stage featured a long downhill with some rollers, then a nice climb to the finish. Of course, the downhill started at 5,000 feet of elevation. I was already feeling lethargic and heavy warming up. I almost got dropped on the neutral start on the slight uphill to the descent. Teammate Patrick Torpey attacked when things got flatter. Torpey got into a very promising break that after a while got brought back. With 30 miles to go my legs and lungs started to open up.
I was moving up before the climb to the finish when I got boxed out on the right side and ran into the gravel. My front wheel came out from underneath me and I slammed into the gravel on my right. Then a sharp pain came at my back as the rider behind me ran over me. I laid there thinking the worst. Winded and relieved, I looked around and it was just me.
That’s when the voice came through my head. I heard my wife scream: ”GET YOUR @$#% #^%$ ON THAT BIKE!!!” I put my chain back on and worked to get back to the group. Just as I caught back on the field picked up the pace for the final climb. The field splintered and I was too far back to reach the front group so I gritted my teeth and gave maximum effort so that I didn’t lose time. Despite the crash this was one of my most favorite races.
The third stage was a criterium. The course was one giant rectangle. I just hung on and filled gaps when I could. Survival was the name of the game. It was fast on the straights, but in the turns the pack almost stopped. This made for a very frenetic race.
The fourth and final stage was a 67-mile circuit race with lots of downhill and some serious climbing. After the crash on the second stage I’d lost a bit of my nerve. I stayed toward the back for most of the race. I had come to terms with the elevation and just paced myself up the efforts and really watched the field, trying to discern when and where I could save energy. This was another race in the books where you could just be content in looking at the amazing scenery.
Lessons from the Cascade Cycling Classic
- Racing at elevation is humbling. It requires you to look deep within your heart and fight!
- My wife, Becca, grounds my heart and soul and supports me beyond words.
- My teammate, Patrick Torpey, is super strong and so talented. It was an absolute pleasure racing with him out there in Oregon.
- And Oregon is wonderful.