Thunder Poster

Thunder Poster

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Eden Road Race - Not for the faint of heart

The Eden Road Race was a new edition to the Montana calendar. John Juras had always advertised it as one of Great Falls epic rides. If you've never done a race before, it makes it easier to just jump into it with confidence. When you get prepared for Cow Country you know your going to be out there for 3 hours on a hilly loop in the middle of nowhere. Great Falls was hot and windy. Velonews has been putting out these little "how the race was won diagrams," I wish I could do something like that for this race. It was complicated. We hit the major climb 3 times. Stick with me as I run down the scenarios:

There were 16 or so starters with GAS having the biggest squad of five guys. 6 miles in Noonan attacked taking myself, Tomas, and Wehyrich with him. We hung out for 2 miles until Montana Velo brought us back. Noonan countered his own previous move and this time took Josh with him. Brad, Frank, Kiefer, Greenburg, Curry, Alex, and Marshall all followed. Noonan dropped to the second group which contained myself, Warren, Wehyrich, and Sebastian, chasing at 30 seconds. Behind us was two groups. Willy and Howard chased at 30 seconds, and behind them Tomas and Digby chased at 30 seconds. So picture 4 different echelons 30 seconds apart on the windy plains of Great Falls.

The lead group stays together up the first climb. The second group splinters with Noonan pushing the tempo. The five of us sprawl on the climb. At the top Noonan, Sebastian, and Warren form the second group on the road, Wehyrich and myself form the third group. Howard drops Willy and is now riding solo. While Willy, Tomas, and Digby hook up for the 5th group on the road.

Back in to the head wind stretch. Frank gets tailed a bit from the lead group but catches back on. The leaders are still together, but have increased their gap by more then 2 minutes now. Noonan gets a flat in the second group, while Sebastian and Warren power on. Wehyrich and myself get within 20 seconds of the second group but we can't close the gap. Behind Noonan hooks up with Howard, and the Willy/Digby/Tomas group keep rolling smooth. Still no crazy gaps. All within 1-4 minutes.

The second time up the climb sh** hits the fan. The leaders drop Greenburg, and Alex. So they're now each riding solo. Warren drops Sebastian and they're now each riding solo. Wehyrich drops me and we are riding solo. Howard and Noonan stick together, and Tomas drops Willy and Digby.

Heading into the last climb (the short lap) you had folks everywhere! The heat was unbearable, as riders started to run out of water. At the turnaround it was Josh, Marshall, Kiefer in group 1. Group 2 was Frank and Brad chasing at 30-45 sec. Then there were solo riders seperated by no more then 30 seconds. Greenburg, then Alex, Warren, Sebastian & Wehyrich, myself, Noonan & Howard, Tomas, Willy, and Digby. All with a chance of catching eachother.

Up the climb we went for the last time. The leaders stuck together, and sprinted it out at the finish. Josh survived a strong sprint from Marshall. Kiefer threw in some attacks with 1k to go, but finally settled for third in the sprint. Brad rode in front of Frank as he was suffering from the heat. All the solo riders stayed pretty much together. Howard and Noonan caught me but stopped for water at a spicket.

Into the finishing 8 miles. Greenburg showed his TT prowess and caught and passed Frank and Brad for 3rd in the 1/2's. Morgan held off a hard charging Wehyrich, but Frank couldn't and finished 6th in the 1/2's. Warren survived Sebastian's charge and the two of them came in 2nd and 3rd in the 3's. Alex who was in no man's land (just like everyone else), got passed by Warren and Sebastian but held off myself/Noonan/Howard to take 4th in the 3's. Our little group came in together, followed by Tomas solo, then Willy solo, then Digby solo. What a crazy race. The gaps never got pushed to absurd numbers, you could always see someone just in front.

Marshall has come into his own this season. It's exciting to see another young talent in Montana. I always thought Marshall was good, but after the last month I've seen is full potential. For my money were looking at the next Owen Gue, Andy Fisher, TJ, Schultzs', type talent. He's still only 17 and was banging with Josh and Kiefer in the sprint. Althought I am a relatively new racer (3 years) it's great to have seen how far Marshall has come in just those 3 years. Same too for Willy Zelmer. Willy is only 15 and just upgraded to a cat 3. The sky is the limit for these two young guns. It's great to see the young talent. I've enjoyed watching these guys improve, and I can't wait to see what the future holds. Now all we need is some young cyclocross talent :)

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