Here is a short video of the solo racers starting from the Hood River Best Western at 0500 on Saturday.
The racers had a neutral parade rollout from Hood River to Mosier and then started the race unsupported (no vans behind them) over the first climb. Here's all the support vehicles waiting for the racers to get to The Dalles. One annoying van had all its lights flashing the entire time we sat there--we made sure to stop well up the road to avoid the Christmas tree! More than one local drove past with a confused expression.
The "Grass Valley climb" is technically only something like 4 miles, but there is no summit and the road just keeps sloping upward. As we gained elevation, we could pick out more and more peaks in the Cascade range. At the highest unobstructed point, we could identify Baker, Rainier, Adams, St. Helens, Hood, Washington, Jefferson, and the peaks around Sisters and Bend (that's a span of 440 miles, north to south). It was a perfect clear morning for peak-bagging. Too bad the riders were headed east and couldn't see any of this!
This is Ian Fillinger, who hails from Kamloops. He and Mick were within about a half-mile of each other all the way to time station 4 in Dale (266 miles). They look so much alike on the bike, both of them started the race in reddish and white kits, and both of them suffer in the heat. Congratulations to Ian on a strong race--he finished third in the men's solo division!
The sunset on Saturday was beautiful. Such a clear, clear sky out there on the Pendleton to John Day Highway! This is the approach to Battle Mountain. The course profile says this stretch is a significant descent, but it doesn't seem like it--in the van OR on the bike!