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High Desert Duel: Deschutes Dash Race Report

 Two wins in the span of two consecutive weekends is never something I’m going to complain about. Racing Deschutes Dash was a last minute decision I made the day after last weekend’s Hagg Lake Triathlon where I felt rustier than I would wanted to have felt. The only way to get more into the swing of racing is to do more races. Besides, my brother’s girlfriend lives up in Bend where the race was and I used the pretext that racing up there was really an act of kind charity to the two. No self-interest here of course. I had unfortunately developed a chest cold over the day before the race. However, hotel had been paid for and race entered so no turning back now!  


The race was right in the Old Mill District in Bend which is quite charming and proved an excellent backdrop for my very melodramatic race that would ensue.

    
On race morning I felt ok physically but the cacophony started early. The race did not have nearly enough rack space for all of us to put our bikes in transition. I was really glad to see a good friend of mine, Andy, who recently moved to Bend and with him as my accomplice we did a rather cheeky thing by racking our bikes in the deserted kids triathlon area. A new low in my career. I heard George’s voice in my head:

 

Well, at least I could get to my bike easily next to the kid’s tricycles.

I headed to the swim start and couldn’t wait to get into the water simply because I was already getting hot and a downriver 600 meter swim was barely a swim. Checking out the competition at the start line I was a bit disappointed to see that it looked relatively strong. Lets be honest. If you’re feeling a bit under the weather, you always hope for a…shall we say… a bit shallow of a field. After a brief warmup, we were off. I set the pace very quickly and using the middle of the river’s fast current to my advantage, I pulled out ahead of the few guys around me. We swam under some bridges filled with people watching and since the river is very narrow and the city is on both sides, it felt a bit like Ben-Hur. Except with no horses. Or dust. Any maybe only 10% as cool.

My pathetic perils were soon to start. In the murky water I swam into a submerged tree branch which managed to break my goggles and confuse me thoroughly. Luckily the suction of the goggles held them to my face for the remaining 50 meters with them only becoming flooded right as I hopped out of the water. I had a quick swim and had come first out of the water again about 20 seconds up on the chase. Two weeks in a row fastest swim time??? 

Pleased with my swim, I hopped on the bike in a good mood. I usually try to use the bike as my means of escape from the field. I figure if I can ride away out of sight from people it will lessen their fighting spirit. However, this was not to be the case today.

Only 2 miles into the course I made a brief wrong turn and lost about half a minute. Also to my surprise, a rider, aboard a Trek with very 1980s style sunglasses was rapidly approaching. This was Curtiss coming up on me and he was certainly not lollygagging. Conversely, there was no one else anywhere near us so it was just the two of us. The duel begins. How appropriate for the high desert of Bend.

He passed me right before the halfway turnaround and I was heaving like a freight train due to congestion and the fact that Bend lies at about 4,000 feet, which is 4,000 higher than my house on the beach! I sat up, got out of his draft zone, and let him set the pace. The entire way out had been uphill into the wind but once we turned around, the speeds increased. I knew the only way I was going to win this race was to make the bike as much a sufferfest as I could. So I attacked Curtiss with about 4 miles to go by jumping past him on a long downhill straight and driving the tempo high. He responded but I managed to slip a bit further down the road, setting the desired higher speed. Alas my luck was to run out quickly. With only a mile left, a car somehow got onto the course on a roundabout right in front of me. I was forced to slam on my brakes and proceed painfully slowly behind the bewildered driver through the roundabout. The next roundabout was no better, I almost lost control of my bike due to a large puddle of water and a pothole. So much for my maybe 20 second lead I had on Curtiss. We entered transition side by side.

I focused on leaving transition with a strong steady stride and not too fast. Curtiss was right on my heels. After about a quarter mile we crossed a bridge and I sensed he was going in to pass me. I picked up the pace and surged some. This move managed to give me a small gap on him but he was still holding pace only a dozen meters back or so. We passed through the first mile in about 5:40 and I felt really good. However the next mile was essentially all up hill. We did pass by the Deschutes Brewery on our way. Taunting us with its delicious, hoppy, malty smells. I did make a grave error after this. I ate a gel pack at an aid station and instead of grabbing and drinking the water. I managed to spill it all over and not get a drop. This proceeded to make my stomach upset as the sugary gel sat festering in my gut. This meant the last mile of the run was agony in trying not to puke and pushing as fast as I could so Curtiss hopefully wouldn’t come flying past. In the end I managed to hold out and edge Curtiss to the line with less than 20 seconds between us. Just barely got away!

 

All in all it was a very exciting race and Curtiss is a great guy who I hope has a killer rest of the season and I wish him the best of luck as he attempts to qualify for IRONMAN World Championships! The speedy Seth came in 3rd and was closely followed by my partner in crime, Andy! My cold did not get any better and I’m using these next few days as total recovery since next weekend is another race, this time Tri at the Grove’s Olympic distance.

You can read more about Evan Pardi at www.evanparditriathlon.com or follow him on Strava at https://www.strava.com/athletes/189490

 

22 July 2015