Recyclers Matt and Josh report from the Ronde Ohop (Aug. 21, 2011).
Matt, Josh, and Erik went on down to Eatonville WA for the 1/2/3 race in the Ronde Ohop, whose parcours consists of an outer road loop followed by numerous laps of a short unpaved circuit. Only about 20 guys started with the 1/2/3 group, and the pack would thin out quickly from there…
Josh suffered a flat a mere 4 miles into the race, and was on his own for the remaining 22 miles of the road loop. Matt and Erik rolled along in the pack for an uneventful ten or so miles, until a little dog’s curiosity propelled him out of a driveway, with the result that a few riders (including Matt) wound up in the ditch.
All of a sudden, there’s Matt lying on the ground, looking up at the blue sky, and wondering Whiskey Tango Foxtrot just happened! Matt recalls: “Damn little dog… the beast never even made it into our lane but it was close enough to make a bunch of guys grab their brakes and swerve into ME… dammit.”
At this point in the race, things looked grim for the Blue-and-Gold. Josh was still chasing solo after his flat; Erik busted his rear derailleur in the wreck; but Matt’s only damage was to his elbow/shoulder, so he kept rolling.
Matt: “The chase was a tall order, duh, but no way I was driving that far for a 10mile race!!”
So Matt did like RCR always does, and kept on fighting. It didn’t help his chase that he was pulling thorns from his hands as he rode along… he picked off a few guys along the way but never made it back into ‘the pack’.
Once the road portion was over, it was time for the dirty dirt loop! The surface was really just a bunch of huge rocks surrounded by dirt.. and Matt concluded that it really is true that the faster you go over those rocks, the smoother it feels.. he found the little climb on the dirt loop wasn’t bad, but if you hit it too slowly, the rocks rapidly eroded your speed and handling ability, so it was best to power up the incline. In fact, the continuous application of power provided the best solution to the whole ‘dirt’ loop problem!
Matt sez: “I had a lot of fun bouncing off those rocks, and my awesome SRAM S30/S40 wheels were bomb-proof!!” He did flat on the dirt/rocks loop, but that was bound to happen, everyone was flatting…
In the meanwhile, Josh was still slogging on his own, making his way through the riders scattered along the dirt loop. It was a mixed blessing that with a two-lap gap by the time Josh made it to the unpaved section, he “only” had eight laps to complete.
But after it was all said ‘n’ done, Matt finished in 6th place: now that’s making attrition your friend!
Matt comments that he ran the same setup he uses for crits.. the only thing he might do differently for next year would be to wear gloves!! The bouncing of the handlebars on the rocks yielded him two new blisters between index and thumb on each hand..
Of the Ronde Ohop, Josh concludes: “If you choose to take the challenge next year, it is hands down one of the hardest races of the year yet the most rewarding once finished.”