August has been a busy month here at donkelope. Getting the team dialed in and kits figured out for the Rapha Gentlemen's Race. Amanda at Undercurrent Clothing constructed the jerseys. Randi Jo Fabrications constructed the caps and did the embroidery. They turned out great! Thanks to those ladies. To get ready, I felt we needed to do a ride that would mentally prepare everyone for the worst. Two weeks before the event, the team, minus Craig(too busy winning CMWC, again!) went on a death march of a ride. It was pretty much the hottest day of the year. I didn't plan it that way, but I wanted to emulate what we might run into on race day. Brian, Mike, Sally, Patrick and I left HQ and headed south down Chuckanut to get started. There were gravel sections starting with Wood Rd. Up and over Barrel Springs to get to Nulle Rd. Then up Manley Rd(serious gravel). Up Samish then a right turn on Galbraith Ln to ride up to the Mullet/Keystone section of road. It was funny to see the mtbers look at us on our road bikes. Down to Sudden Valley, and up Lake Louise. Rode around Lake Whatcom to Northshore, and on to Y Rd. Turn right at gate/shack to tackle Stewart Mt. That is one of the best climbs around. And with stunning views of the Nooksack and Baker et al. Bomb down some steep, loose gravel to take a little rest at Everybody's Store. The place was rockin' because it was so hot out, all of the river floaters getting ice cream. We all bought some sausage and water. Head out toward Deming, then to Nugent's Corner. Cedarville to Noon Rd. Up Britton and back to the lake. Some ride ending gravel in Whatcom Falls park, and back to beers at HQ. 85mi with over 6500' of climbing. Most of the climbing was 12%+ gravel. Everyone did well. I felt we were ready for the RGR. As the race day approached, I was scrambling to make sure we were comfortable. I was also in the middle of organizing the 10year celebration party. Mike and I drove down to Seattle to pick up Craig and Patrick. Sally would catch a ride with Brian. We then had to deal with some of the worst traffic I've seen on I-5. We left B'ham at 11am, and arrived at the condo about 7pm! I guess no ride tonight. Oh well, let's get dinner and "a" beer. Food and many beers later, we went to the bar that the rest of the racers/organisers were at. Stayed late enough to be the last team out, and Gerben(man behind the race) to buy us a round. Thanks! It didn't end there. Because there was a little bike work to do, and a foosball table! The night went on with more beers. I was hoping this would work out in our favor somehow. Woke up cloudy, and started making b fast. One by one the team awakened. I think we all felt the same. Not great, but eager to ride and get this thing underway! The day before the weather was pretty hot and sunny. Race day we were met with overcast and mid 60's. Perfect. We were the 8th team to leave. 7:51am. The route definitely wasn't as tough as 2011. Not that it was easy, but the weather and lack of gravel made the average speeds higher. Start out with a 10 mile decent down 26. That will get the average speed up! Lolo Pass was the first climb. Beautiful secondary roads. There was one section of gravel on the decent that was about 30 feet. No big deal. But at 35-40mph the washboards were brutal. Lost bottles, broken spokes, crashes, hard crashes. That thing should've been marked somehow. We escaped with some hoods moving and one body down, nothing serious. The roads from Lolo to Sandy were awesome! We even saw llamas, or were they alpacas, getting it on. It was right by the road, just as we were riding by. It was ridiculous, much laughter and hollering. Just as I predicted, when we arrived in Sandy, there were teams everywhere. We got all snacked up and headed out. Our plan was to ride together the whole time. We hit the 3rd big climb feeling fine. Just as we caught up to a team on the climb, one of their riders dropped his chain. And their team didn't really wait up and it started to splinter. We were just keeping our steady pace. Two of that teams riders attacked!? Then looked over their shoulders to notice the rest of them wasn't there. They looked peeved, it was funny to watch that unfold. The imploding of a team. At the time I was confused to why they were riding like that. It makes sense later. The decent was sweep and fast. It was a lollipop loop. When we hit the "stick" part, we started seeing a ton of teams climbing. This whole time we thought that there were at least one if not two teams in front of us. We kept cruising, eventually needing one more stop before the last climb back up to Gov't Camp. Boom! The Strava folks had a little aid stop/checkpoint. We were refueling and dewatering when we were told we were the first team through. What!? This was at mile 90. It was time to get going. There was a mountain of beer that went to the first team to cross the finish line. Motivated and stoked to be leading. Up the final climb we went. Highway to back road to secondary road to gravel(finally). I would have felt let down if there wasn't any gravel. A little nervousness set in when trying to figure out the gps. On the map screen it looked like we were going to ride another lollipop loop. That would've been another 30 miles. But the profile and the mileage followed what the que sheet said. After a beer hand up, the climb not being as steep, and getting to the lake, we figured "this is it, we're almost done. And in first place!" Trucked up to Gov't Camp. When turning off of 26 we had our first flat of the ride. Fuck it, ride it in. We crossed the finish line first! Ate snacks and tapped the kegs. I don't think ANYONE thought donkelope bikes would do that. But we did. We ended up with the 5th fastest time, and were the only team Rivercity didn't pass. We celebrated and made a big production out of everything. I guess steel bikes, plain black shorts and wool jerseys can still get it done.