The John Lieswyn Diary 2001

Tour of Willamette

Eugene, Oregon, April 10-15, 2001

The Stages

Prologue - April 10: Skinner's Butte Time Trial, 1km

An event that I went as hard as possible last year, finishing eighth, and having absolutely no effect whatsoever on the overall. This year it was raining all morning. I rode a bit on the trainer but was far from "opened up" for the event, so I rolled a poor time, 22 seconds back. Completely unconcerned about it as far as the overall. Doug Z finished fifth for Team 7UP/Colorado Cyclist. Wohlberg (Saturn) won.


Stage 1 - April 11: Green Hill Road Race 95mi

Last year Scott Moninger started his overall domination of this race by dancing on his pedals the last 2km and dropping everyone. An all-day break of three riders : our Clark Sheehan, an uncooperative Harm Jansen (Saturn), and a British rider. Prime Alliance and Mercury eventually mounted a chase. In defence of Wohlberg's yellow jersey, Harm didn't help Clark at all. Then Harm put in an unsuccessful attack on the last hill! The break was caught with 2km to go, and Moninger duplicated his patented move to win for a second year in a row. Damon Kluck (Jelly Belly) took second and due to his faster time in the prologue took over the GC lead.


Stage 2 - April 12: Bureau of Land Management Road Race 106mi

Cold rain all day long, except the last 10 minutes. Flatted, chased, caught back just in time for a 15 per cent dirt road climb blocked by the follow cars. Bonked and lost 10 minutes. Saturn killed everyone today, but Kluck finished second again to retain the jersey. Pate (Prime Alliance) rode an awesome race as well. He bridged from the field to the break, dropped the break, and soloed towards the line. He was only caught by Saturn with 300m to go! I crawled in with two other riders, admiring the serene beauty of this wilderness, the moss covered trees and the clear burbling roadside stream.


Stage 3 Cottage Grove-Kill Hill Road Race 75mi

We started in a heavy hailstorm that accumulated into slush on the roads for the first few km. Thankfully the storm ended as quickly as it began. Early 15 man break included Clark and me, Matt Decanio and Wohlberg (Saturn), and 11 others. Such a large group couldn't get organized, and with the Saturn boys refusing to help we never got more than 1:15 over the Jelly Belly-led peloton. Things got interesting when the peloton missed a turn and went off course. The officials stopped us and we waited 20 minutes while the peloton was brought together 200 meters behind us, and then the race was restarted with a 1:07 gap between us and the bunch. With 30km remaining the break was failing and Wohlberg was attacking. I bridged up to him and a young rider for Team Broadmark joined as well. The three of us charged along the valley floor with a slim lead over the remnants of the break. As soon as we hit the final climb with 18km remaining, Eric and I dropped the other guy. I knew if we could crest the summit with 30 seconds or more we'd have a good shot at staying away. We had about 35 seconds at the summit, and Eric and I set to work building on that for the last 10km. My knee wasn't bothering me and I felt great. We mowed down the masters peloton and hammered all the way into Cottage Grove. I won the stage and Eric took over the yellow jersey. And the prize for winning was a cool jar of microbrew Oregon beer! Yeah!


Stage 4 - April 14: Dorena Lake Time Trial, 19 km

It was a chilly 39 degrees this morning, and when I showed up at the Lake Dorena Time Trial start line shaking violently from the cold, Frank McCormack and John Peters had a good laugh at me. Frank was my minute man but he was taking it easy, riding a road bike and fully insulated from the cold. He encouraged me as I hammered by. The course was hilly and perfect for my abilities, but for some reason I couldn't seem to close the gap to my 30 second man. Normally your heart rate will be depressed by about 10 bpm when you are halfway into a stage race, but I was a good 20 bpm off my normal pace. I ended up 20th, far off the top five placing I was expecting.

For lunch I hung out at the Oasis, a granola store in North Eugene. After lunch and a triple from Starbucks, I headed back to the room to prepare for the 6pm criterium. An itch in my throat warned me to stay bundled up and take extra C, echinacea, and zinc.


Stage 5 - April 14: Cottage Grove Downtown Criterium, 60 min

Team 7UP/Colorado Cyclist doesn't have a GC overall rider to protect, nothing to lose, so we elected to try and hammer the field from the gun today. Clark and I had it pegged from the first turn in the first lap. Soon Doug and Andrew joined us. But the winds and the peloton wouldn't have any of it and we were unable to split the field. We then went into attack mode, and soon I found myself in a good looking five-man break. Unfortunately I felt really weak and decided not to pull too hard. We were caught and while Clark was super-active he couldn't get a move going. Soren Peterson attacked solo the last two laps and won. On the cool-down lap I realized what had slowed me in the time trial: my muscles were weak all the way down to the bone. I'm not recovering stage to stage.


Stage 6 - April 15: Globalstar Sharps Creek-Rock Creek Road Race, 170 km

Ah well, I made it from January to March without illness so a head cold now isn't too bad. I've decided to bail out and not start today, even though I got into the sprint jersey by virtue of my aggro riding in the crit yesterday. In 15 seasons of racing I have never quit a stage race due to a cold, so it was a hard decision. Today's race is 170km over 2 major climbs, the second one 30km long and climbing over a snow covered mountain pass. It would have completely depleted me just to hang on the main group today, so I hope that DNSing will help me recover quicker and get back to training for Shelby and Athens (2 weeks from now).

Now for a political comment. In the local news the major downtown employer is the hospital. They want to pull out of downtown and build a new facility on an empty field in the suburbs, because downtown expansion would cost 25 per cent more. This would pull all the ancillary services and doctors offices out of downtown, leaving a ghost town. So the developers have the power even in liberal, environmentalist small cities like Eugene. It's a crime.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Jack Thornton, hit by a cement truck and a Chevy Suburban while riding with Jonas in Austin prior to the Ride for the Roses. He has spinal injuries and I hope he will walk again soon. Last address: Brackenridge Hospital Rm 811A, 601 E 15th St Austin TX 78701