The creative mind of Zac Dab over at Cascade Bicycle Studio thought up a great concept this year, the Tour of the Unattended.
The Tour of the Unattended is a cumulative, 5-day SOLO cycling challenge taking place on familiar routes in greater-Seattle where riders will complete five unique stages, exclusively solo, report their data, and receive a ranking.
Each stage must be ridden on the prescribed day, on the prescribed course. Daily and overall rider rankings will be posted each day. -taken from the Tour website
It cost nothing, that’s right nothing! That’s unless you don’t count the pain and suffering one has to go through to compete. I truly enjoyed the race. I loved the open format where I could race at whatever time suited me and also where I started and finished on the loop stages. You could really play the course to your strengths. Being that you were racing on open roads, cars and stop lights were a concern. The race was based on moving time so stop lights didn’t hurt you but the deceleration and starting again did. By day 5 I was happy to hit some of the lights I did. I needed to catch my breath.
Stage 1 was a 9 mile time trail on Lake Washington Blvd. It started at the crosswalk in front of the cleaners in Leschi and you rode to Seward Park where you rode around the entrance circle and back to the crosswalk. Stage 2 was one 13.4 mile lap of Mercer Island, counter-clockwise. Stage 3 was a 2.1 mile time trail up Zoo Hill. Stage 4 was one 26 mile lap of the south end of Lake Washington, counter-clockwise. Stage 5 was a 25.4 mile lap around May Valley/NewPort Way, counter-clockwise.
I went into stage one thinking there were 119 people doing it but later found out that was the total number of riders racing over the 5 day tour. I didn’t think my chances were that good since my first and only other TT didn’t go that well. Lucky for me there wasn’t much wind on this day so I was able to really fly in both directions along the lake. I ended up doing the 9 miles in 21:39, which turned out to be the fastest time! I went from thinking I’d be in the top half of a 100 people to first out of 11.
Even with so few people do the race I went into Stage 2 feeling pressure to defend my lead. I actually had butterflies from the time I saw I won the first stage until I finished on Friday. My friend told me it was probably because I knew I had a chance to win the whole race. I’m used to racing where I have ruled out the possibility of winning so there’s no pressure on me. Stage 2 started well for me but when I got to the base of the hill before the Mercer Island Community Center I threw my chain as I started up the hill. If it weren’t for my thigh smashing the bars I would have flown right over the bars. Know moving time was what counted I came to a stop as quickly as possible and put my chain back on. Once going I dropped the hammer and rode as hard as I could.
My effort would be 32 second off the pace of Bill Booth, who was second on Stage 1. I was now 7 seconds behind on GC. I had given it my all so I didn’t bother thinking if I could have done more. Bill was the stronger rider on this day. I’ll admit I thought this might be the beginning of the end already.
I wasn’t looking forward to Stage 3 at all. Just riding up Zoo Hill is painful, never mind racing up it. To save my legs I drove over to Issaquah. Of course I parked at Chipotle so I could fuel up after the race. I warmed up on Newport Way scouting it out for Stage 5 on friday and rode the first section of Zoo Hill to see how fast I should or shouldn’t start. Like I thought one can’t start slow enough before going into the red. I stalled at the bottom by texting a few people. I wasn’t ready to embrace the pain cave.
Finally I manned up and rolled to the start line. I went off at a decent clip and the heart rate sky rocketed as the hill went up. Though a futile effort I tried to keep my breathing in control but it was pointless as I was gasping for air the whole time. By mile 1 I was sweating so hard I was having trouble holding the bars. My legs and lungs burned so hard but I kept digging. On the second to last roller I was so ready to give up. My tongue was hanging out and I was completely spent. I hit the line and could barely hold a straight line. I stopped dropped my bike and fell to the ground. I didn’t puke but I had to lie on my back for over a minute as I hyperventilated trying to catch my breath. I was so happy for that to be over.
Unfortunately I lost another 54 second to Mr. Booth on Stage 3, now I was 1:01 back on GC, in second place. Losing a minute in a 2.1 mile TT seemed huge to me and was a mental blow. I tried my best to put Stage 3 behind me knowing that I have ridden the south end of the lake many times and knew how to ride it fast. Since you can start where ever you like on the loop stages I started near the Genesse Boat House. I hoped it would give me a good warm up before the Seward Park hill and Rainier Ave.
It rained on me before Rainier Ave, the once on Rainier the head winded was bad. It didn’t let up the whole way. This made me worry but even worse when I got to Boeing Rainier Ave was closed and all traffic was being directed into the airport. I knew there would be a log jam of cars at the stop sign at the south end of the airport. As expected the log jam was there but I squeezed by all of them without crossing the center line. I can’t tell you how many mirrors I almost clipped while blasting past. Not the safest move but it had to be done to not lose a ton of time.
The rest of the loop was uneventful for the most part. I kept pretending there was a rider just 20′ in front of me and I kept saying to myself, “Don’t you want his wheel? He’s right there! GET HIS WHEEL!!!” I did this over and over motivating myself to go faster. By the time I got back to the boat house I was on the verge of cramping and my diaphragm was killing me from breathing so hard. For all my hard work I had taken my second stage win and the lead back. I was now 5:21 in front of Bill Booth and 8:10 on Alan Schmitz.
The week was over now and I was tired. Thursday’s stage took a lot out of me and I was spent afterwards. Even my arms hurt. I avoided stairs at work by taking the elevator which I never do. I was ready to be done. Plus I wanted these butterflies to be gone!
I drove once again to Issaquah trying to save any and all energy I had in me. From the Chipotle parking lot I rode so the the loop backwards so I would know what the last few miles looked like. I picked a cross walk to start at and upon my return back from my recon I started my watch and I was off. It took 5 minutes just to get to the area of Newport Way without lights. Now that I was in the clear for a while I tried to ramp it up. The wind had other ideas. My climb up Newport Way heading west was brutal. I was barely able to turn my 53×24. A 5 minute lead didn’t seem like much now. I told myself everyone else had a head wind to, though I knew that might not be true since one could ride the loop any time during the day.
Luckily for me it was over before I knew it. The lights after Coal Creek Parkway and Factoria Blvd. gave me a chance to catch my breath which was a much needed bonus. From here to the finish I got stronger and went all out. It rained on me twice and I missed the left turn May Valley makes before crossing 900 forcing me to u-turn and ramp my speed back up.
Issaquah Hobart Road was upon me faster than expected and I went a bloc from here on out. This time I was dreaming of winning some new Mavic shoes. I figured if Zac gives them out for the MFG series I might win some for winning the overall of this tour. My calves were on the verge of cramping at the end but as I crossed over the line I felt relieved. I tried my best and now I just had to wait and see if it was good enough.
My best was good enough for my third 2nd place. This time Alan had won but only by seconds. This meant I was the overall win of the 2011 Tour of the Unattended. I did win myself some new Mavic shoes too.
Stage 1, 7-11-11
Stage 2, 7-12-11
Stage 3, 7-13-11
Stage 4, 7-14-11
Stage 5, 7-15-11
Men GC Final
1 Craig Fowler 03:29:25
2 Alan Schmitz 03:37:08
3 Bill Booth 03:38:42
4 Richard Daifuku 03:42:31
5 Michael Prater 03:43:16
6 Greg Snyder 03:52:04
7 Tyler Tabor 03:57:49
8 Rick Birdsey 04:01:04
9 Jon Lafollette 04:09:28
10 Nathaniel Eng 1.05:57:49
11 Randy Reichenbach DNF
Women GC Final
1 Kristen Walker 03:50:56
2 Alice Lippitt 03:55:54
3 Tricia Sandstrom 03:56:34
4 Avery Shinneman 03:57:38
I want to again thank Zac for putting this on as well as all those who completed. Hopefully you had as much fun as me and will spread the word so the next Tour of the Unattended will be even bigger. I also want to thank Mavic, Shimano, Lazer Helmets and Cyclocross Magazine for their support.
Get out there!