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Columbia Plateau Madness(6 posts)

Columbia Plateau MadnessTwoCircles Tim
May 6, 2003 4:11 PM
This last weekend I did my first stage race - Columbia Plateau in eastern Oregon. Can you say rural? The race started in Heppner - population 1500 - which was the biggest town we would see for the weekend. I was racing in the 3/4 class with just over 100 other riders.

The first day started pretty normal. About 20 or so miles into the stage we turned onto a road with amazingly poor surface. We were all getting pounded, heads down looking for the potholes, ridges in the pavement and whatever other damage there may be. About four miles into this road I heard some commotion ahead and looked up to see two horses running along the side of the road just in front of the pack. They were not on the other side of a fence - but two feet off the shoulder. I'm not sure if they were spooked or just looking for some good excercise, but after a couple hundred yards or so they moved into our lane kicking up enough dirt and dust that it was hard to see. At this point the centerline rule went out the window. The first 15 or so riders blew into the other lane and rode their hardest to pass the horses. Now we had a split in the group - 15 up front, the two horses, and the other 90 or so of us behind them. The leaders picked up the pace, so did the horses. It was utter madness. None of us in the pack knew quite what to do so we just hauled a55 too. I have no idea how long we rode like this since it is pretty much a blur, it was fairly long - seemed like a mile or so. It was quite scary - one bad move by the horses could have taken us all down. Riding behind them at that speed accentuated their muscles and really gave a sence of their largeness. People in the back of the pack were yelling at the people in the front of the chase group to pass the horses - and the people at the front were a bit to scared to do it. The front folks pulled into the passing lane, but didn't accellerate, all the time getting yelled at by the back of the pack. I made it up to the front of the pack and accellerated my hardest past the horses, and I'm not sure how events followed after that. Most of the people had come by the horses when one ran off the road and tried to jump a fence. I guess it hit pretty hard, but got right back up. I hear that the follow car stopped to check and it was ok.

I had a similar experience in my first mountain bike race of the year except I was on a fire road with cows and they didn't run nearly as fast as the horses. They were passed in a matter of a few hundred feet.

Only in Oregon....
There's a race report you don't hear every day!TWD
May 6, 2003 6:11 PM
Great story.

Maybe you project some funky vibe that attracts large mammals. I would stay away from any races that pass a zoo!

I've only ridden out in that area once, during Race Across Oregon last year. Beautiful country, and some nice riding.

Didn't get attacked by any horses though.
LMAO nmIFTreedog
May 6, 2003 8:43 PM
re: Columbia Plateau Madnessgray8110
May 6, 2003 10:05 PM
Ah, now that's something I wish I was there to see.
What team are you on?brider
May 7, 2003 9:45 AM
I've always passed on the Columbia Plateau, just not my cup o' tea for a 100+ mile stage for cat 4s (when I was racing -- the first couple years of the CP). I'm affiliated with the Seattle Velo guys, not currently racing. Don't know if any of them went.
Compass Commercial out of Bend, ORTwoCircles Tim
May 7, 2003 10:17 AM
This was my first stage race. First day was fine, as was the time trial, but I got caught up in a 7 person pileup 19 miles into the second road stage - my first road crash. I came out relatively unscathed with a bloody thumb, a two inch by two inch piece of road rash on the hip, and a cramp in the calf where I took a hit. By the time I got up, straightened my bars and seat the pack was gone and I spent the rest of the day chasing. Conditions were brutal. The headwind turned some downhills that would have been 40mph coasters into 23mph pedaling as hard as you could taking 30 second pulls.

Day three I didn't do as I was smoked from the previous stages, and I found I had a cracked steerer tube - whoops...

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