Monday, August 3, 2009

In Bend, Wrap-Up -- August 3, 2009

We left Bend yesterday, drove 3 hours to an airport hotel, woke early, did the shell game of major luggage drop-off (6 bikes, bags, etc. … two $20s to the porter), rental car return and taxi back. On plane – Southwest Air 3 stops PDX to BWI.

Looking back, in my view, we had an exceptional two weeks: three podium medals, a bunch of top tens, including results for Nate and both Stevens. Nate did his first NRC race, besting many elite U23 and professional riders, etching his great strength in mountain stages. Most importantly, we had a lot of fun, on and off the bike, small parties and klatches with friends, outdoor and coffee table experiences.

I loved Bend, central Oregon. It’s a beautiful area, capturing the wonder of the high desert and the alpine glory of real (10,000’+) mountains. Photographically, it was a smash hit. Working with the 24-70L I produced some of my favorite pictures yet. I want to develop a new genre in my collection, “ecology,” for landscapes and nature like this shot of the young Deschutes or this Crater landscape.

What worked? I think the accommodations, Lavabelles were a great hit. A big house would also have worked, at a lower price, but it wouldn’t have had the separation and connectedness we got in our row of three adjacent bungalows. The big ass Chevy Silverado truck was great: I’d never driven such a beast, but it was so easy to transport so many bikes, luggage, up to five guys, ice coolers and stuff. It was a nice beachhead in the feed zones. Having two coaches, with mechanic, soigneur, masseuse and other magic abilities provided the highest level of care for the racers. The gentle freedom we all had, aided by our location, where anyone could walk around the corner to the Taco Stand (with the Boswell Challenge!), or a few blocks into town to a great coffee shop or suds or wine bar or café or art gallery … or we could take off on a bike and get a perfect ten-mile uphill effort for training, or an epic 100-mile century through breathtaking landscapes, or something in between.

Technologically, I/we travel like bomb makers, with more than a dozen electronic devices, from chargers to multiple laptops, Garmins and a half-dozen USB devices and a bunch of different storage blocks – and several cameras and lenses, air guns and the like. Of course, amping the bomb-maker theme, we had a quarter chest of tools, bottles of lubricant, and greasy rags for maintaining bikes.

What didn’t work? Mostly, everything went well except for the one tragedy that a bike was stolen from the Kendall’s rental house. Things like that are always stingers, for me, making things gloomy. The feeder driving directions at Cascades were laughably and consistently bad – don’t those people actually use maps or drive the directions they provide? Oh well, I guess we may finally invest in a portable GPS unit for the car. Got to see a lot more countryside and only missed one feed for Nate. (Next year, we’ll know better.) The riders were naturally cracked at the end of the day, in the afternoon, so they weren’t up for much venturing, like a river float or walk about at Smith Rock, but that didn’t stop their soigneurs from getting out and about a bit.

No, all in all this was a great trip. Can’t wait for more.

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