PR: Flats, 39 again!

The 2009 Pacific Raceways season is off! I headed down there to secure my totally useless number, 39, and got it. This way I’ll have some spares! 🙂 Anyway, we did flats, and it was wet (but not raining). 30-ish people, and about lap 5 I was dying. I got dropped, stopped half-way through, and adjusted my rear brake. Seems I was rubbing; need to check the power to see, as flats at PR is the race you can sit in at 30 with sub-100 watts. I was pushing 300 just to keep up, and we were only going 23 MPH or so.

Anyway, I hopped back in, the pedaling was much easier, and finished with the pack. No crashes, OK sprint from the back. Good workout.

Time to true that wheel. 😉

PR Flats

Sequim #2, 12th in the sprint finish

MB Tour de DungAfter a poor showing at Mason, I arrived at a threatening, but dry Sequim for Tour de Dung #2 – a fast, flat course. There were a ton of people at the registration line… and the port-o-potty line. But that’s a different topic. Anyway, race time, they split the 4s and 5s…. yay! Turns out they had over 100 people register for the 4/5 field, so a big 4s only field.

The first lap was relatively calm for Sequim. About lap two, there was a nice break, but nobody from Wines. So, I and 1-2 other Wines racers moved towards the front to chase. I covered a few breaks throughout lap 2, beating myself up a bit more than I would have liked. But we slowly reeled in the break until only one guy from Bicycle Barn (need to figure out what team they are). About lap 3 on the westerly straight-away, we reeled in the last guy, and slowed for a bit of recovery. This lasted until just past the initial slight hill at the beginning of the fourth and final lap. Then things started to pick up as expected. The front started getting crowded, and slow, with people wanting to get themselves into position for the field sprint, especially once we hit the westerly straightaway.

We rounded the final turn, and then everyone started crowding. I was on the right side of the pack towards the front, and another of my guys, Andy, was on my left. I saw a slight opening ahead of him, so I yelled at him to grab the wheel, which he did. We hit the 1km mark, and things raced ahead – full pack sprint. Someone always goes early! We jockeyed for position and I stuck with the right side on the edge, hoping when the 200m mark hit and we had the full road, things would open up. Andy got a great line, and as we hit the 200m he had a fantastic lead out. Things started opening up, and I started sprinting ahead as well. I had a decent line, and found myself between three other guys. I sprinted, and thought I had beat ’em… turns out I beat 1, the other 2 got me. All of us moved across the line within a hundredth of a second… and in the end, 12th. Best finish ever, and I felt I rode well and strong. Andy picked up 4th, with a great line – good for him!
Andy and I had a quick cool-down, then cycled back to find everyone. Even though I had 12th, I felt great – I spent most of the race in the top third, covered attacks and reigned some people in, and helped chase the breaks down. More so than any other race, I felt I was one of the guys in the race, not just along for the ride in the back. That felt good… and now to do that on a hills race! Or at least a few PRs.

Mason Lake #2: Dumb dumb dumb

Mason Lake MBMy first race of the 2009 season was supposed to be Sequim #1, but I wasn’t going to wait for 2 hours for them to declare the course unsafe… or, barely safe to race. So, first race, Mason #2. I went into the race hoping my off-season training, especially my new improved weight lifting plan, would give me enough strength on the rolling hills to finish the race. Previous times, I kept getting burnt out after two or three laps.

I arrived at Mason Lake about an hour and a half prior to the start, and the rain was coming down. Not light drizzle, rain. Real rain. Well, I have that spiffy Hincapie rain jacket, new yellow Wines of Washington / kit… sure. It’ll suck, but how bad can it be?

Well, after a lap, I’m completely drenched. My torso is fine, but my fingers are frozen. My legs are soaked, my feet cold, and the Smartwool socks I’m wearing are drenched and squishing with each pedal stroke. Plus, the Starbucks guys and Fresca guys at the head of the pack were interested in keeping up a frisky pace – either to finish quickly or thin the pack early. Either way, after a lap, I was done. I was dangling heading up the hill on the beginning of the second lap, legs dying… I passed one of my guys up the hill who was also done, caught up to the pack just as it took off again. Ugh. OK, I’m done… I biked around the lake, saw a break-away of 5s pass me towards the finish, and packed it in. It took me half an hour to warm up my extremities… glad I only was out there for an hour!

One of these days I’ll finish Mason… ah well, next year.

Sequim #1: The better part of valor

MB Tour de Dung
Opening weekend 2009. Mason Lake #1 Saturday followed by Sequim #1 Sunday. Huge Masons are no fun, and the first Mason is always huge. So, I’ll do Sequim – nice and fast, and handles big packs well.

The weekend called for rain and snow. But, apparently Mason was nice and sunny… yeah, around here the weatherman may as well be throwing darts and just stick with “chance of rain.” Sequim’s forecast is also snow. Mail goes out from the promoters to the WSBA list that they’ll check the roads at 5 AM, and if there’s snow, they’ll cancel. 5:10, we get mail – Sequim is dry! Come race!

Well, I haul myself out of bed having had 4 hours of sleep (frickin’ early daylight savings time… ), pour the pot of coffee into the spare thermal carafe, and head out to Sequim. Seattle weather is sketchy, but not a big. We hit the peninsula, head up via Hood Canal. On Hood Canal there’s a wreck… looks like one of the racer’s wagons somehow slipped on the metal grating at the beginning of the bridge, and a car behind sideswiped it. The side airbags are deflated along it, the car looks wrecked, and there’s an SUV parked in front. Oof. Bad luck. I found out a bit later that someone behind me got rear-ended at the rise at the end of Hood Canal, so two wrecks at the same time. Not good!

We drive up 101, and there’s snow and flurries. Not a big deal; the same thing happened last year. It should clear up around Port Angeles. Not so much. When we all arrive at the registration booth for the race, the parking lot, which really is just a field, is covered with a light coating of snow. The port-o-potties there have a nice layer of snow along the western side and cast a shadow on the ground, clearly showing that in the night there was both snow and wind.

We find out quickly that the race is postponed for at least 2 hours, so a 12 noon start. And it’s still sketchy. We head to the 101 Diner in Sequim for breakfast. Greg, one of our crew, decides to drive the course to judge for himself. As expected, corners are sketchy. The big downhill at Sequim is sanded, for extra racing fun, and one of the two bridges has snow sticking above some ice.

At this point, the discussion begins… do we stick around to see if the race is on? We’re already out $23 for ferry tolls, we’re up, and we’re ready to go in the new kit. So if the officials judge it safe, why not?

Well, I look at the time… 2 hour start delay means the race finishes about 2 PM, means if I rush home I can make the 3:45 ferry, home at 5. If I’m lucky and hit the ferry; otherwise, close to 6. And really, it’s still 49-51 whether there’s a crash due to conditions. First race of the season, first race for a lot of people ever (it’s a combined Cat4/5 field)… yeah I’ll pass. So we finish our pancakes, some head back to the race, I and a few others head home. Sequim #2 is in two weeks, it’s not going anywhere. I’m a bit depressed in missing the race, but really, it’s a long season, and I’ll have plenty of opportunities to kill myself.

We found out on the ferry it had started hailing again while people were at the registration line, and a bunch of others bailed at that point. Don’t know if they ever had the 3 men, 4/5 men, or 4 women’s races. Ah well, next time!