I was so excited for Mt. Hood this year because I've always heard how much fun it is! The womens field had been on again off again for the past month, so when they finally finalized it after having over 50 women register I was stoked! However, the trip started out with a bit of a nightmare! My Dad and I left the SLC around 1:00 PM, hoping to arrive in Hood River around midnight or 1:00 AM. The drive wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected (Once again rocking out to Tenacious D) and we made it to Hood River right around 1:00 PM. I had booked us a hotel that was listed as one of the race hotels, (which usually means they are fairly descent hotels and near most of the race venues). This hotel was called the Cooper Spur Mountain Resort and happened to be about 35+ miles up Highway 30 in the deep deep forest! I had printed out mapquest direction and it was all plugged into the GPS on my phone to make sure we were on the right track! We followed the directions up the canyon and when the GPS finally said your destination is on the right, we looked to our right and saw nothing but pitch black forest creepy darkness! 1:30 AM, the night before a race, lost in the spooky woods...not exactly ideal! We remained calm and drove around trying to figure out what to do. We drove 15 miles in both directions on Cooper Spur Road (the road our hotel was supposed to be on) and saw absolutely nothing but pine trees and darkness! By 2:30 AM we had driven up and down highway 30 a billion times and back and forth on Cooper Spur Road so many times I was going insane. At 2:30AM in the middle of a strange forest, in a very small town there is nothing open and not a single person around. We were totally clueless with what to do and were pretty sure we'd be sleeping in the car! I got so desperate I almost called 911! I finally decided to look up the number for the Hood River Police station and call asking for help. We called the non emergency request for service number, told them our situation, and they acted like we were insane!! They told us where to go, went where they told us, and YEP more black forest and NO hotel! I began to think this was a sick joke and I was starring in a sequel of the Chainsaw Massacre. We called the cops back and they said they would send someone to escort us to our hotel. We waited a good 30 minutes before the cop car pulled up and I was just grateful to see another form of life. He got out of his car, looked my Dad up and down with the flashlight...it was obvious he thought my Dad was either drunk or on some form of drug. And then grumpily said "Follow me." He cruised up the canyon going 90+ mph (seriously we were struggling to keep up with the guy!) We followed him about 20 miles up highway 30 until we saw the sign for Cooper Spur road. It turns out they have TWO Cooper Spur Roads....don't ask me why, and we had been driving up and down the wrong one!! Such a joke! We got to the Hotel a little before 4:00 AM and I fell straight into bed. We woke up, only to realize we were about the only ones dumb enough to book a room at the farthest hotel away from any form of civilization...we also found out it was the place where the movie "The Shinning" was filmed. As if it wasn't a creepy enough place before, that sure did the trick! We drove down to Hood River Inn to pick up my race packet and found out pretty quick where every smart cyclist was staying! This hotel was awesome and it was right on top of the river! While I was picking up my packet my Dad talked to the people at the front desk, found out they had had a cancelation and there was a room open for the next three nights! He booked it and cruised back up to the Cooper Spur nightmare, grabbed all our stuff and brought it back to this lovely hotel, as I ate breakfast in the Hotel restaurant which overlooked the river. Now that things were looking up I can tell you how much I LOVE Hood River! It is by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my entire life! The River is beautiful and the town surrounding it is amazing! Every little restaurant overlooks the River...it is incredible!
The view from my breakfast table the first day...not bad eh!! :)
Stage 1 was a 54 mile road race with some pretty good climbing but a downhill finish (not may favorite). The race started out pretty fast, with some attacking up the first few climbs, it was really fun! There were some crazy extreme obstacles on the course. Usually when they talk about gravel on the road in the race bible, they mean asphalt that just has some loose gravel here and there, so I wasn't expecting much. We hit the first section of gravel and it was crazy thick! I tried to gear up so that I could spin through it cuz my tires were sooo squirly, I thought for sure I was going down! I've never been so happy to get back onto pavement, until I realized that we had two more gravel sections a few more miles down the road! One of the sections was on a pretty steep uphill and I felt like I was mountain biking (you know how much I love that!) My Mom had warned me about the gravel sections (she always studies the race bible very well, she is fabulous race support!;) but I didn't think it'd be nearly as bad as it actually was. However I managed to keep the rubber down!:) The finish was screamin fast, I tried to get into the Metromint or Total Restoration lead out train but just wasn't quite in the right spot and ended up just pack finishing with everyone. I wasn't too bummed about it until later that night when I looked at results. I knew I'd finished in the top 20 or so. The stage results put me in 15th but on the GC I was way down towards the bottom. I double checked the stage results and realized I'd been given a 30 second penalty for crossing the yellow line! I hadn't remembered crossing it! I had swerved to avoid a few sketchy riders and a pot hole once and that must have been why. I was pretty upset but tried not to let it get to me.
We had to drive over a draw bridge to get to Stage 1, which was actually in Washington. The bridge made my Dad super nervous!;)
We got to ride through lots of snow! (This is the men, they didn't take any pictures of the women...what a shocker!)
Stage 2 was a 18.5 mile time trial, with climbing and 40 mph headwinds! My Dad and I drove the course the day before and it was absolutely beautiful!! This was by far the longest TT I had ever done and also the best route! I debated about using my new discwheel because if a cross wind hit me on one of the ridges I'd be in big trouble, but everyone said I should so I risked it, and it ended up being a good choice (the first corner was scary but once I got pointed straight into the headwind the wheel helped quite a bit!) Since they did reverse GC start times I went off 19th. My legs were feeling pretty good on the course but once I finished I knew I could have pushed a little bit harder. I had been a little conservative on the course because I didn't want to burn too many matches on a course that long and bonk towards the end. I can't wait to race the course again because I loved it, but feel like I could have put a lot more into it. I ended up 11th in the TT, and 11th overall GC after stage 2.
The top of the first climb on the TT course. Pictures do not do it justice, it was so beautiful!!
The part of the TT where you are almost out of the pain cave...except for the fact that you still have at least 12 more miles to go!;)
Besides the crazy wind, the weather was beautiful the day of the TT!
Since the TT ended in the early afternoon, my Dad got to get in 9 holes of his favorite sport! He is damn good at it too, I was impressed!
This was pretty much his only bad shot of the game and he made up for it! I got to drive the cart and scare him between holes...I about tipped it a few times ;)
Stage 3 was the one I was most excited for because I love uphill finishes! It was a 71 mile road race that climbed fairly consistently for the last 35-40 miles. We started off pretty slow, not too much action, but towards the middle one girl attacked and got off the front. She ended up staying off for a good 30-40 minutes! I started to get a little worried because she was a climber and could possibly stay away. We finally reeled her back in with 25 or so miles to go and then another girl got off. She got 2 and 1/2 minutes up the road from us at one point and I thought for sure she'd stay off! We caught her right as we turned off the highway to race the last 2 miles up to the finish! I went to the front of the pack and started to pick up the pace. I turned around after a minute or so at this pace and noticed we'd gapped most of the field. I told the two other girls that we had a gap and that we should go harder and try to gain as much GC time as possible. I turned around with about a mile to go and it was just me and one other girl. I stood, trying to see if I could gap her but she wasn't going anywhere. The finish line was about 500 meters from the top of the climb in the ski resort parking lot. I crested the climb and got in my big ring ready to sprint it out for the finish (though the thought of sprinting at that time sounded nearly impossible) she started to come around me, I thought for sure I was done and that my legs couldn't possible sprint but I heard my Dad say "Go Tay, give it everything you've got right now!!" I took off, and came across the line first!:) I was sooo excited and exhausted at the same time! The rest of the field came across the line strung out in 30 second or so increments. One girl road across the line and was so tired she fell off her bike and onto the ground right next to me. I thought I was gonna have to call the medic because she sounded like she was dying but she assured me she was okay! My legs were burning and it was a good day!:) I ended up moving from 11th to 4th in GC. I was super excited about that but a little bummed at the same time. If I hadn't gotten a 30 second time penalty the first day I'd be in 2nd overall GC. Ohhh welll, tried not to let it bug me (but I can't lie it kinda did hah!)
I woke up the day of stage 4, looked out the window, and knew it was going to be a rough day! It was pouring rain and stage 4 was the crit! Racing crits on dry pavement is hard enough as it is, put an inch of standing water on the road and it becomes even more terrifying! The officials had decided to make it optional since the conditions were so dangerous, so it wouldn't count for the overall GC. I asked coach Corey if I should risk it and he told me to at least try. Only about 25 of the 50 women showed up to race the crit. I got my very first ever call up and loved starting in the front!:) However I only made it two laps before I slid out on a corner! I decided that it wasn't worth the risk so I just pulled out and watched the madness! The crit started out with about 25 of us, and I think 9 or so finished! Hah yeah it was that crazy!
Here are a few more pics of Hood River, I was so sad to leave!
The back of our hotel...beats the parking lot view of most hotels!
View from breakfast on another day!
My favorite post race treat!:)
I discovered these on the way to Hood River (my Mom had told me they were delicious!) and I just couldn't resist!
The last night in Hood river, I didn't want to leave!
On the way to Hood River we'd driven a lot of it in the dark and seen a TON of flashing red lights along the mountains. My Dad and I made bets on what they were, the loser had to buy car treats for the drive home! I had guessed that they were those giant creepy windmills, he thought they were power lines....I won!!:) Those huge creepy windmills were everywhere!!
I had so much fun on this trip. Hood River is an incredible town, I'd do anything to live in a place that beautiful...I think I could even deal with all of the rain (maybe!) My Dad and I got to go to so many cool restaurants and little shops in the town and everyone there was so nice! I'm excited to come back again next year!:)