Sequim delivers again!

MB Tour de DungFriday, 9 PM, 3/28. I’m packing up the race gear. It’s snowing. There are two races the next day, a rarity. Sequim #2 or North Shore circuit up in Bellingham. I haven’t done Bellingham, but it’s hilly, and about the same distance as Sequim. And it’s snowing. In theory, Sequim is in the rain shadow, and dry. Bellingham, not so much. I check the radar… there’s rain and snow everywhere.

Saturday, 6:30 AM, 3/29. It’s partly cloudy… could Sequim be nice? Or would it be a waste of a 2 hour drive and $23 in ferry tolls to see Dungeness snowed under?

8:45 AM, 3/29. We arrive, in weather that could only be described as, “Doesn’t suck.”

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It was chilly, but warming and gorgeous. And dry. A great day for a race!

There were 35-45 in the Cat4 field… the race marshall at the beginning said 35, but folks at the end said 45. Felt more like 35, but who knows. Anyway, there were 8 Wines and 2-3 members from the usual suspects. Two strong Carter guys did a ton of work, but we were covering their moves. And of course anytime any of us tried to get away, the pack would chase things down. So, while a few people would get popped off the back, the pack mostly rolled around the course uneventfully. One of our guys caught a pedal in his Zipps… totaled the front wheel, but he stayed upright and nobody else crashed. Otherwise, bunch sprint at the end. The two Byrne guys, including Jeff whom I rode with last week, took first and second, and then our guys rolled through 3rd and 4th and then scattered throughout the pack. I didn’t take the last corner well, and the pack started sprinting almost immediately, which was about 1000km out. I was further back, so had to catch some wheels, but didn’t have enough gas to get into good position. Ended up #22 – better than last time. Still gotta work at having gas as the end though.

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And for fun, some shots of the folks after the race. Here’s Alec and Jon checking on their placements at the finish line:

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And here’s Mark Wistrom, who hung at the back nearly the entire race and still finished well! He was #21, as we were both out of gas.

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Here’s Dessa relaxing after the race. He also had a good race, finishing 11th.

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Good stuff. Oh, and as for what happened in Bellingham?
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Race canceled. We’ll see ya next year!

Independence Valley, the Foggy Hills

Independence ValleyWell, that was fast.

Independence Valley is a ~20 mile loop down in Rochester, WA, which is just off I-5 halfway between Seattle and Portland. It’s a narrow, chip-sealed route with two ~250 foot hills. That’s where the race is won and lost… those that can stick on the hills, make it to a sprint finish with maybe 20-30 other people out of some 70 that start. I figured I could hold my own at least on the first hill, and hopefully the second.

Nope.

I kept up a bit about 80% of the first hill, but couldn’t keep speed. I tried to catch back on the descent, but the pack was just out of reach. Jeff, a Byrne guy who also got dropped on the hill, caught up with me and we rode to the next hill. As we were huffing up, the 5s overtook and those who could climb passed us. We let them go (not that I had much choice) and hopped on down a nice windy descent. We picked up a few of the 5s who had also been dropped and cruised the final few miles to the lap marker. The 5s we were with decided to do another lap; Jeff and I packed it in. We met up with a few other 4s who had also been dropped along the way towards the end.

Welp… time to get on the trainer and work on those hills. But hey, next week – Sequim #2!

RAMROD Training Ride #1

RAMROD No1Today was the first of the RAMROD training ride series and given the gorgeous weather the turnout was large. There were around 80+ people doing the ride to day. Which started from Ron Regis Park, cut through Renton to the Green River Trail, headed south to Auburn, looped back through Maple Valley, and went straight back to Renton. The ride had 1000 feet of elevation gain and was just a great warm up ride.

The bike felt great and the tailwinds on some sections of the road made the trip really fast. Despite training through the winter some of the hills were steeper then I had trained for, as with every climb uphill you get a nice downhill too. The group was nice and social and its interesting to hear why various people are riding this particular series. I was explaining to my son that the reason this crowd is interesting to bike with is that they were mostly interested in competing with themselves as opposed to each other. All in all it was a great start to the hills part of the training series.

Obligatory Stats:
http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/invitation/email/accept.mb?senderPk.pkValue=13403&unitSystemPkValue=2&episodePk.pkValue=5218847

Pacific Raceways: 39 rides again!

An annual tradition started early this year. On Tuesday, Budu Racing started its twilight racing series at Pacific Raceways! Every Tuesday night at 7 (6:45 for the first two weeks) is a quick ~hour long race along the 2-mile track at PR. About a third of the time it’s “the flats” which means a 2-mile loop on a flat course. The other 2/3 are along the back, which have a descent and ascent of some slope, depending on which direction we’re going that week. They’re quick practice races, good to get the legs pumping.

This week, there was a huge crowd — well over 50 in the 4/5s. We just did 6 laps for 30 minutes, but were cruising between 23 and 25 MPH each lap. I finished upper-middle of the pack; I don’t think there were many drops. Did some time pulling, spent some time at the back, busted up a few times… generally worked on cornering and moving within the pack. Good times.

Oh, and best of all – I got #39 again this year. Bit of luck, bit of timing… w00t!

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A fast finale for Mason

Mason Lake MBThe final race of the Mason Lake series, #3, happened today. Since the Ravensdale race is tomorrow, a race much closer to Seattle and on a faster, wider course, not many people were at Mason. For the 4s, there were only 25 of us, which made for a much more interesting race. Moving up was amazingly easy, as the pack was typically in either a single or double line. At one point I found myself at the end, and so I just hopped out near the center yellow line and moved up to the front, about 4th, just like that. And I don’t think anyone actually followed my wheel, which says something about how fluid things were. People were attacking and covering often, and because of the small field the surges were felt by everyone… or at least me. :)

Near the end of the second lap I almost bumped into Dessa… he was swooping out a bit on a corner, but all was good. He apparently recognized my profile, and asked if I was with the Touring Machines. I said yup! And he introduced himself. I guess he’s on the CycleU team now; good for him! Anyway, we didn’t have much of a chance to talk as the there started to be attack after attack on the back rollers. This managed to sap my strength a lot faster than I would have thought, and I got popped off towards the beginning of the 3rd lap with a FSA guy. We chased for a while, but after a few miles it was pretty clear we weren’t going to catch the pack. We did a reasonable pace to finish and called it at 3 laps, just in time to see the Masters C/D and 5s packs come in a few minutes later.

I’m still not sure why Mason is so hard for me… not sure if I can blame it on the rollers. Last week my legs blew up… this week, I just got popped. The third lap solo I clearly had gas still in the tanks, so perhaps I need to be closer to the front when attacks start coming. Easier said than done of course! :)

Next week: Sequim #2… back to the flats!

Update: one of the most flattering shots of me I’ve seen in a while, from the fine folks at WheelsInFocus.com:Erik at Mason Lake #3

Tour de Dung #1

Tour de DungAh, Sequim… the top of the peninsula. A fast 12-mile loop along wide, dry pavement. The race winds along the top portion at usually a fast clip, then hits a 5-mile straightaway that’s usually into a 5- to 10-MPH wind. Staying with the pack will yield a good finish typically, but that also means it is easy to get dropped! Last year, I had a good race and finished 16th and 19th. This year?

As it turns out, there was very little wind. This means the field of ~65 racers was packed together, and actually sped up on that 5-mile straightaway. A bit boring of a race for the first two laps. About the third, a break got away with Duane, our fearless captain, and four others, including a rider from Hagens-Berman, the other strong team in the field. Well, once a break with teammates has gotten away, the team in the pack knows what to do: mail it in! So, nobody chased. Starbucks tried to chase, but couldn’t quite get one together and just ended up blocking and getting yelled at. Then, around the end of the third lap, a few people went down near me inexplicably… one bumped my wheel, but I was able to get around it and get back with the pack. A few minutes later at the beginning of the fourth lap, another crash, again far too close to me for my liking. At this point the pack settled having lost about half its number due to the crashes, and we had a nice ride to the finish.

Near the end, I tested joining a minor break, but discovered my left leg was cramping… I went from 3rd to 20th in a second as I worked it out. At that point, I decided that a simple finish would do fine… no sense in killing the leg on the second race of the year. So the pack rounded the final turn and sprinted for 6th place. I finished with the pack, somewhere below 20, but hey, it was a fun race. Duane ended up taking 3rd after hearing he and the two remaining in the break were 2 minutes ahead with 3 miles to go and letting the other two get away (the 4th and 5th in the break having been dropped earlier). Ben Collins, a rookie pro triathlete and the ox leading the break, towed HB’s Cat 2 track sprinter to the finish in time to watch what sprinters do best – pop around and win from behind. Oops. :)

Mason Lake #1

Mason Lake MB 9:30 AM. Dave Douglas, former president of the WSBA, gives his annual inaugural speech to 70-odd Category 4 racers.

This is a training race. There are no prizes, no cash, no merchandise, no points for winning. This is just to remember how to ride in a fast pack again. The centerline rule is in effect, so don’t go over the yellow line. If your team put in some wheels and you have a flat, move over to the right and get a swap. If not, sucks to be you. Make sure your numbers are on the right side. Last lap, the full road is available for sprinting to the finish for the final 200 meters. Neutral until the first corner, and then you’re racing!

And we’re off! I’m towards the back, foolishly, and spend the first lap getting my heart rate under control and trying to move up a bit. I get to the 2/3 mark of the pack… a bit better, but still yo-yoing too much on the turns. There are some new kits to old teams… the brown Zoka is now red Cucina Fresca, and red Native Planet has turned into green and white Starbucks. My team, Wines of Washington, is still black, white, silver, and yellow… a bit too noisy for my tastes, but that’s OK.

Laps 2 and 3 are OK… my heart rate is under control and I think I’ve got gas. Last year at this time, I was dying 4 miles from the end of Lap 3. This year, no problems. We sail through, bounce about and make a left onto good road and an incline. I handle the turn nicely (a shock, as I’m still horribly at following wheels on turns), keep behind a guy as we latch back onto the pack… and I’m done.

It was a weird sensation… the legs just lost energy, and I saw the pack starting to slip away. The follow car was quite generous in giving me time to catch back on, and I knew in my head that my race was done, but didn’t want to admit it. I tried pushing to get to the downhill and catch back up, but nothing doing. OK, fine… I’ll have a slow 11-mile cooldown. Bad idea… left side starting cramping and freezing, and really, by the time I was at the 6 mile mark on the course (halfway around), I was hurting. Spun my way out of it at maybe 15 miles per hour, going very slowly up the rollers. Oof…. not an auspicious start, but hey, it’s a rolling course, and clearly, I still suck at hills. And really, gotta be in the front from the beginning!

BTW, our team plan generally works… we hid until the end, and then we bunch sprinted on the right side to the finish. Got 2nd and 3rd, although one of our guys went down hard in a 4-man crash… that sucked. 2nd doesn’t get you anything in this race, but Greg got some stitches in his knee for his effort. Ah well, that’s racing.

Next week: points matter, as we head up to Sequim for Tour de Dung!