A journey to Top 10 GC at Cascade Classic
The week before Cascade Cycling Classic, I was talking to a teammate about the race and how hard it is- the climbs, the courses, the heat. I’ve done the race a few times through the years and it’s always ended with me climbing alone. However, I have been riding really great this year and felt a bit more open-minded about what could happen. I surprised myself with a Top 10 GC, even after getting run over by the men’s field and losing a minute.
The race started off with McKenzie Pass Road Race. Our goal was to have my teammate Emma Grant, Abby Mickey and I fresh for the finishing climb. Abby was able to get in a great early break going up the climb and Emma and I were able to wait and jump when the field caught her. There were so many attacks flying the last couple of kilometers and things were just shattering. Emma and I were doing our best choosing our battles. She ended up just about bridging to a small move that stayed away and dangling off the back of it, holding it to the line for 9th and me following just behind in 14th. Considering last year I led out into the climb and died slowly up it finishing who knows what, it was amazing to feel relatively fresh and powerful.
This year I’ve really been enjoying talking with my husband Zack Allison about TT strategy. While I have a good idea in my head what to do, it’s good just to talk about it out loud and take the time to visualize. I could have used a few more gears for the ride back in but otherwise I executed exactly as I planned, which landed me 7th.
Stage 3, Cascade Lakes Road Race was a team dream. Teammate Abby was in the early break, taking the pressure off the rest of us while Twenty20 had their work cut out for them to keep hold of the yellow. There were a lot of small moves before a larger move with Emma and GIllian slid up the road. Gillian took one for the team and launched an epic attack setting Emma up for the final move of the day in a break of three, securing a podium spot. I was able to follow moves as the field shattered up the finishing climb finishing 11th. This day was the moment of the year of the team all working together for a team goal, even without the W. It’s the behind the scenes things like getting bottles, sitting in the wind for your teammate and the like that make these things possible.
The Downtown Criterium is a deceptive race- a long rectangle with one narrow alleyway makes for a yo-yo of a course. It was a fast race with a lot of attacks before Claire Rose, UK TT champ soloed away. The name of the game was staying safe, racing forward, and racing for breaks. Minus Claire Rose up the road, it ended in a field sprint.
I love the final stage, Awbrey Butte Circuit Race. It’s a hardwoman’s course. Our race was three laps and again we executed the team strategy well with everyone contributing their part. Abby again got in a move on lap two to go for the QOM points but it was brought back within a couple hundred meters of the QOM. Fireworks were going with attack after attack and after a well-timed attack, I found myself in a late race move of five and with hesitation from the group, I would drive it. It felt like an eternity.
We got caught by a small group with a few K to go. A few attacks were going. I attacked with about a K to go to try to set up my teammate Emma for the uphill sprint. As I got caught she went and a few were able to follow. I focused on still finishing the best I could knowing I would probably bump up a bit on the GC. With 200m(?) to go, I found myself on the ground, hit from behind by a men’s Silber rider sprinting with his head down. We had no idea, but the men had closed in and we were going through the finish at the same time. After a few frantic seconds, Erica Allar from Rally ran over and helped me get back on my crashed bike (luckily just a broken derailleur hanger and bent shifters) and I slowly pedaled across the finish, a minute later. Because it was an uphill finish, my time would not be adjusted. I finished 13th, putting me 7th GC. Luckily for me, Emma finished like a champ in second! So close.
While that wasn’t the finishing story I was hoping for after a long week, I’m really proud of how far I’ve come this year. I didn’t know that I could ride like that so consistently throughout the week and I’m so grateful for such supportive teammates and such a great program. I’ve been working with Adam for 5 years now and being able to trust his training makes my life so much easier. Trusting the process, being kind to yourself, and always be learning has allowed me to have the season of my life this year.