Cascading Around Bend’s Downtown

The noise was frightening. A buzz or whine that seemed to throb. The wind flapped the yellow tape and blew your hair back. This was not natural but it was as thrilling as it gets. The Peleton for the elite men of the Cascade Cycling Classic was rounding turn two of the Criterium in downtown Bend creating its own wind. The course was just over a mile and lined two, three and in some places four or five deep. Cow bells rang, people clapped and cheered and sometimes you could even hear the announcer, but what caught everyone’s attention was the Peleton.

United Healthcare, true to its name, was a united team out front of that group and protecting its prize, the yellow jersey. A group of four or five teammates took the lead and rotated with clockwork precision out of turn one shifting one to five in front of their man. Just behind was Fly Australia sandwiching their man Darren in the red and white poke-a-dot jersey. The entire string looked so relaxed as if simply out for a Saturday evening roll around the park. At speeds around 30 miles an hour they were making short time revolutions of Bend’s downtown corridor. It was magnificent.

Ahead of the Peleton was a group of four that slowly grew to seven or eight. These were the true leaders of this race. Moving fast as the race built up they inched away from the Peleton and sparked murmurs of last year when the lead group reached a point of almost catching the Peleton from behind when suddenly 6 or so lapses remained and a small group of sprinters not only reeled them in but chewed them up and left them lying in the middle of the pack. Tonight however United and Air had different plans. They controlled the Peleton and let the front runners to sort out victory on their own. At six lapses to go the pattern began to show. There were two Air Australia riders in that front group. First they were out front together and then sitting comfortably in back together. The rest of the group was made up of loners and each looked quickly at the other urging someone else to break the wall of hot air that remained from a long hot summer day. Five lapses signaled the motorcycle guide, then four, then three. One rider was missing from the lead pack and they were down to seven. Air Aussie was working the spinning wheels and sat wheel to wheel. Two lapse to go and the lead group was falling apart. One lapse left as they flew by with screaming gears and tires. I could not see the finish line but as the small group headed down Bond Street the story was clear. Air Australian had a two man team working it to perfection. Bells rang and the crowd noise swelled as the entire downtown roared and crowned the winner for the day. What a great day of cycling in Central Oregon with the crowd and riders mingling in the after party. We headed off to dinner at the appropriately named Typhoon Restaurant for an excellent end to another amazing whirlwind day in Bend.

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  1. Posted February 6, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

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