Ah, 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.