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Here's the end of the Hillsboro Road Race. I didn't do so well. I was unable to pickup water in the feed zone and this resulted in race stopping leg cramps. I just missed the final sprint. I plan on trying to produce a "best of" Hillsboro race video later.
Let me just say that if you ask the guy who won, "What did you think of the race?" or "What did you think of the course?" He's going to say something like "It was great", or "It was a challenging, but a good course." Then, if you ask almost anyone else (especially an unhappy finisher like myself or better..... someone who crashed or flatted) They would say something like this...... That was the biggest pile of shit race course that I have ever done. I don't think they could have designed a more f'd up kind of course. Much of the roads are so narrow that only one car can operate on them. All of the turns are full of gravel, the field size is so big that staying to the right of center is ignorant or reality. Placing cones and barricades up on an already ridiculously crowded feedzone is like begging racers to crash. And if the cones don't get you, then maybe one of the two motorcycle operators can screw with you until you do. Oh and to put a cherry on top, how about a local kid placing a log across the road on a turning descent! That was NICE! You know, crashing and destroying a several thousand dollar racing bicycle and going to the hospital with a broken collar bone and concussion really isn't a big deal (or worse)
I would suggest that this race should have a rolling enclosure. There are almost no cars out on it in the first place, the roads are narrow, the field size is large, and they already have two guys on motorcycles who could be riding ahead flagging cars over, pulling logs out of the road, or just simply alerting the field to traffic instead of badgering the field. If the pack can dodge those two, then they can dodge a car. It's the same concept as: "If you can dodge a wrench, then you can dodge a ball."
Oh yeah, maybe the motorcycles could carry spare wheels so that the wheel vehicle doesn't abandon the riders behind the lead. Just a thought.
I understand it is tons of work for the promotors and volunteers to put on this race and most people do it for free. And I do appreciate them for that. I also understand that they believe placing cones and baracades in the feed zone is to protect the riders (it doesn't, it endangers us), as well as the motorcycles honking and corralling the racers to the right side of the road. I know the best intentions are meant, but in my opinion this race should either have a rolling enclosure or not be held at all.
April 16, 2010 Update or addendum: I had some time to reflect and I've talked to several people about the race since I (we) did it last weekend. I think my analysis was a bit too harsh. I think I was suffering from sour grapes syndrome. The course was overall fairly good and the race was certainly well organized.
I was contacted by Rich Pierce (former Hillsboro Race Organizer) to discuss how the race could be improved. The race has grown dramatically over the years and the organizers have put a lot of thought and care into making the race successful, safe, and basically fantastic. There are no guarantees for rolling enclosure, but it was discussed. Or possibly a partial enclosure on the large finishing road where the wind typically is a cross-wind that tends to put riders in the wrong lane. Otherwise it is generally understood that most of the small roads are driven down the center (by locals) until a car is viewed and adjustments made. Clearly a cross-wind from the left does not need any special attention for the race/racers. I also suggested neutral wheels on the motorcycles and a tall flag for the first cone of the feedzone and no saw-horse style barriers on the feedzone. The wheel vehicle should remain behind the main pack. I think the field size is ok with a partial rolling enclosure.
In conclusion, I give the Hillsboro Road Race a thumbs up. I wouldn't expect a rolling enclosure next year, but it would be beyond fantastic if they could pull it off. Until next year!
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