2011 Sequim #2

A forecast of partly sunny skies, no Mason #3 on Sunday… and it’s time for Sequim #2! This time, we had 11 Bikesale.com folks in the field of 89. Plenty of fresh legs, plenty of water (some with electolytes), and we’re good to go! For whatever reason though, this race was sketchier than last week. Lots of “slowing!” and the occasional bumping, although no crashes the four laps (although a decent number in the day, esp on the womens fields; more on that later). The first lap, Andrew (on Bikesale.com) and an Apex guy took off to the end, but couldn’t hold things. We caught them at the beginning of the first lap. Second lap wasn’t too exciting, although we saw an ambulance at the bottom of the second hill. I heard that 4 women were sent to the hospital in the AM – not good. Third lap, a bunch of us realized we best get to the front, and I managed to get myself in prime position among the top 6 or so people to start the fourth lap. Then, up the hill, I let people on the left and right swallow me, and before I know it, I’m back in the middle, fighting to get ahead. By this time, we were on the straightaway on Woodcock, with a light headwind. The pack was cruising about 20, as Eric Spring (another Bikesale.com) guy was being blocked on the front. He was keeping a slow pace, but nobody was getting impatient. Eventually an IJM guy did and stretched things out so some of us could move ahead, but too little too late. We rounded the final corner, most of us had crap position, and we semi-sprinted in among the traffic.

Top 20? 30? Well, once we got the results, I found out top 52! Ugh. Ah well, another pack finish.

My neighbor Brian was racing in the Masters AB, so while he did that, his wife Re, daughter, and Laura came up. We watched the first couple of laps, then we went to the Olympic Game Farm that’s in the center of the course. Wow – totally cool. A driving tour gets llamas, yaks, and elk coming up to the car for some bread. But even cooler are the animals behind the fences. There’s a lion, bengal tiger, siberian tiger, some timber wolves, a coyote, and about 20 bears – kodiak and black! Pretty impressive.

We came back to see the end of the Masters AB, but just saw the aftermath of the Women’s 1-2. Three women went down about the 200m mark, and there were 2 ambulances and 2 paramedics. Report was some road rash on one, but someone else was pretty beat up on her face, unfortunately. Oof…. the rough nature of bike racing.

Next week, blowing off IVRR and getting a rest week in time for OVRR the week after – another flat race for people like me!

2011 Sequim #1

MB Tour de DungMy 2011 season started with Sequim #1. In Seattle, it was raining… a lot. Forecast called for 80% chance of rain. Driving up at 6:30 (yay day before daylight savings time), drove through… rain. then, we get within 15 miles of Sequim… and the rain stops, the roads are dry, the grass on the side of the roads is brown… we’re in the rain shadow. I arrive at the start line, and it’s cold, overcast, and dry. Awesome. I love Sequim.

The line for the 4s and 5s race (separate races) was huge, so I got to work on the bike. Still racing this year on my Trek Madone. New this year is a Quarq CinQo Saturn power meter on VCRC Ceramic Bearings. I’m running some Zipp 303 tubies I picked up at the end of last year, with a new 11-23 SRAM RED cassette. I also picked up a Ritchey Carbon Streem bars for fun. Got it all set up, got checked in, and started warming up. The wheels felt heavy… for some reason they do – perhaps it’s the chip-seal. But otherwise, we’re good to go. I saw the 3s lining up, so hopped in right behind them so I and the rest of Bikesale.com could start in the front. It’s not the most important thing in Sequim, as there’s plenty of room to move, but it’s better to be in front than behind.

The race began, and after a short neutral, the lead car honked the horn. I was in 4th position, and Kirby, another Bikesale.com guy, was with me. As soon as we were no longer neutral, this big guy – 348 (which puts him as a cat 3… weird) goes. Um, ok… so we all chase him up the hill. Punchy, but not clear what he’s doing. He and a few others launch off a few attacks on the first two laps, and nothing’s going. People are content to let one person go… two or more, the pack chases.

I rest up on the 3rd lap in the first third / middle. On the fourth, I move up to the front. I’m cornering well (Zipps are doing great for that), doing well up the rollers (lifting during the off-season seems to have worked), so good to go. We get past the rumble strip and into the final 2km. I move to the front and try to duck in, but there are 3 JL Velo guys in front with 348 in 4th. After fighting a bit with 348 for 4th wheel, I let him take it and move into 4th, then we’re swallowed by the pack. I keep up, and as we corner, I’ve got good position. We’re riding 3 abreast, I’m 3rd row back – basically #7 if the first 9 are arranged like a phone keypad. Some bumping up the straightaway, but people were cool. We hit 200m… go time! Full on sprint. However, I’m cramping at the legs – both legs at the calves. I’m spinning as much as I can, but I can’t get the gear up and hold a top 10. I end up with 14th – not bad, but not what I wanted. But that’s OK – there’s always Sequim #2!

Seward Park, Cat 4/5, Clockwise

A day after racing a wet Carnation, I awoke at 6:30 AM to clear skies and dry pavement. Dragged myself out of bed, put on the knee warmers, base layer, kit, arm warmers, and vest, and hopped on the bike at 8:00 AM to head to Seward Park for the 9:00 AM 4/5 start time.

We had about 50 people in the race, so not too big. I was a bit surprised, given Carnation’s 76 person field and the proximity to Seattle. But hey, I’ll take it. Rather than start at the hairpin, the start / finish was down about 150 feet, so the finish was a long, downhill sprint after the corner. Still, first five through the corner really decide the placings.

I had a GREAT start to the crit. Lined up in the 3rd row, inched forward to the 2nd, on the far left side. We went off, and the left side was the one that went forward. Took a bit to clip in, but was able to maintain position with teammates and start taking the sweeper relatively fast. My momentum carried me through, and on 3-4 of the first bunch of laps I was moving towards the front on pure momentum – no work! We settled, and I ended up getting more winded on the hill than I’d like, which meant I found myself in the rear. I recovered, and would take the sweeper fast and just slot into a gap when the pack when up the hill. On the 3rd to last lap, for some reason the left side of the pack stopped up the hill. Not a crash, just a few people blowing up or something. I was on the right, so gained some good position. Still didn’t have enough energy to burst out of the corner with speed – lots of people would pass me there.

Anyway, second to last lap, in the middle, last lap, I have no energy, so finish towards the end. I let the main pack go, so they had a few seconds on me for the sprint. Here, no sense sprinting for 40th – plus I was tired!

All in all, a good race… need to do more Sewards next year if I can though!

Seward Park, Counter-Clockwise, 6:00

After a tough finish to Pacific Raceways, and with both Carnation and the actual Seward Crit coming up on the weekend, I decided to test my legs at Seward for a 45 minute race (as the 4/5 Seward race Saturday was 40 minutes). I was just aiming for pack finish. Due to 3 cars being parked along the road, we ended up doing the course counter-clockwise… not good for me. There were a few other Wines, Greg in particular. We started well and led for the first few laps. I even pulled up the hill on the 2nd or 3rd lap. However, I felt I was eating too much wind, so on a hill I drifted right and let about 8-9 people pass. Fatal mistake… I didn’t have the legs to climb, so I slowly drifted further back for the next 3 laps, until 15 minutes into it I found myself off the back. Did a few more laps until I got lapped and tried to hop back in – nope. Couldn’t catch up at all. Stopped off at the top for a rest, talked with Heather Lang (who also got dropped). She then tried to hop back, so I followed… neither of us had legs. So, we stopped near the finish to see how our teammates would do. Greg did well – kept towards the front, finished 6th in the sprint.

Didn’t feel too bad about bailing early – two races on the weekend, legs feeling tired… no sense killing myself for a pack finish now.

Seward Park, Counter-Clockwise, 5:30

On a rainy Thursday night, I decided to bike over to Seward for the twilight crit. How bad can it be?

Bad.

Not Pacific Raceways Crash-a-palooza bad, but still pretty rough.

We went counter-clockwise, which meant a fast downhill then a slow uphill. Because it was raining, they spiced up the race with a Win-and-Out format. After 9 laps, the sprint would decide who got first place. First place got to stop. Second and the rest… go on another lap. Six places deep, so 16 laps instead of the normal 15 for those of us not sprinting for the win.

Oof.

After about 8 laps? Perhaps 9? I found myself off the back with a group of 4 others. We generally stuck together and worked together, and didn’t get lapped by the other ~10 or so. But of course we didn’t see them slowly peel off. Ugh.

Lap 16, I took off after the downhill on a prideful breakaway. Not racing for anything but to be faster than those 4 I was with. Got away, stayed away… my own moral victory for zero points. But, felt good in the rain.

Then I rode home.

6:30 AM, I head out to Silvana for the Lake Washington Velo Circuit Race #1 – Skagit Flats.

7:20 AM, Everett. Something strikes me, and I reach into my bad and feel the shoes… SPDs! Aw crap, wrong shoes…

7:45 AM, Seattle. I arrive back at home, run in, get my shoes, and run out again.

8:35 AM, Silvana. Made it, good time, and didn’t hit any of the speeding traps in Lynnwood and Everett. Woof!

I’m #75 in a field of #75 (well, #76, as the unattached guy next to me also got in). We have 8 or so other Wines. Anyway, from the Boston Harbor experience, we were in the front, and I made a point of staying in the front to make sure I didn’t get bottled up again. Patrolled in the front covering breaks. We had one, and I let the recycled guys chase down Rich and another unattached. I tried one on lap 3, but it didn’t last long at all — too many people sprinting after turn #2. Lap #3 was a sprint lap, and while I wasn’t interested in the sprint points, I let too many people get ahead, and then I botched turn #2 again… ugh. Was in the middle / back. Turns out it was nice, as the pack was s…l…o…w… like 20 MPH slow, vs the ~24 – ~27 we were first few laps.

However, try as I might, I couldn’t worm my way forward. Argh…. for two and a half laps, I recovered nicely. Last lap, things sped up, but it didn’t really stretch out all that much past the corners, where everyone was already sprinting. Gah.

Pack finish. Fun race, had a good time. Think I’ll need to pay more attention in Carnation.

Seward Park, Clockwise, 5:30

After my first outing at Seward Park, I figured I’d try it again. Same course, a few weeks later. This time I started towards the front and stayed there for the first couple of laps, which worked OK. I then started to drift back, and found myself dangling.

Horrors!

However, I was getting more comfortable with the sweeper – and as it turns out for the 5:30 race, the hill is where everyone just collects again. So, I’d be off the back, go through the sweeper without breaking, carry my ~210 pounds of momentum through the back stretch, and slot in with the pack as they were moving up the hill. Worked great.

Pack finish, and I was pretty happy with that. Max O’Neal, the junior on our team, managed 8th – good for him!

PR: Flats (no points!)

This week was laid back, as it was the annual PR BBQ. Which means it was cold, cloudy, and threatening rain. Also meant flats – just flats, not point per lap. Ah well. I, Max (our awesome junior), and Eric (Michael’s brother) were in the race. Lots of attacks tried to go, but everything was covered. Bunch sprint at the end. I had a crappy line, as it turns out. Max got 8th – good for him!

Joe Matava Crit

My neighbor Brian Cole convinced me to do Masters C/D in the annual Joe Matava crit in Burien. His wife was kind enough to watch my daughter along with his while we raced. We got down there to see the finish of the 4/5s, and Craig, one of my teammates, was already off – commenting how fast it was. Bad news. 😉 The course is along a minor hill, but it wears on you quickly. The start is a downhill, then a sweeping turn and then back up a hill, and then back around to the downhill. No real technical corners, just fast and a hill.

I lasted about 20 minutes or so into it… I followed Brian on the start, but he had problems clipping in, thus I was already on the back. I took the first corner (which is done at speed) a little cautiously at first, which of course meant I was off the back yo-yo-ing. Ugh… power sprint up the hill to catch up, and repeat a few times. The C/Ds also kept up the pace. After a few laps, I and a number of others were getting gapped. I managed to keep finding someone to give me a bit of recovery, but then I was staring at the back of the main pack moving downhill… ugh. Went as fast as I could, and started taking corner 1 pretty quickly, but I couldn’t catch up. Two laps later, pulled.

Good news for Brian though… he stuck with the main bunch, and managed to sprint for second! Good work.

I remembered reading Dessa’s blog from last year… stay in the front, conserve momentum. Yup, pretty much… burned far too much on the corner. Next time!

PR: CCW with S-Curve

Today was the only date on the calendar going down the S-Curves. This is the most technical race, and I think the hardest, PR offers. Rather than racing down a decently steep hill and then up a curvy, gentler hill (or the reverse), racers have to descend a technical double-hairpin. Those not in the front then need to sprint up a small rise to catch on.

I personally lasted for 4 laps – the preme lap, to be precise. I wasn’t in the back, but even in the middle it was tough as the yo-yo effect was that severe. People kicked it up a notch on the preme, and while I was finally able to catch back on as the pack descended, I was done. Waited for a lap, hopped back on at the end to finish it out, did another few laps… but oof. Tough race. Each sprint at the bottom of the S-Curves was over 1000 watts for me… which is up there with PPL sprints. Oof!