Pacific Raceways – Counter Clockwise down the Escape Route

Well, after a month or so galavanting around Europe, I was back on track on the track – Pacific Raceways, counter clockwise down the escape route. An hour around the track. There was a decent field; a bit small but enough for a good race. I was hoping to make at least half the laps before getting dropped, and that turned out accurate. Around lap 5, the legs started to burn up the hill, and lap 6 I got popped. I chased back on during the flats, but on the next uphill I had no energy left. I sat out a lap and caught back on for another couple when the pack came around again after five minutes. This was actually much better than toughing it out solo… the final laps are interesting, especially the last which feels more like a 2-mile semi-sprint rather than a normal finish. Because of the big uphill climb, on the downhill everyone spreads out and then on the uphill people are already sprinting, as there’s no help from drafting.

Good race regardless… next week is up, which I’ll probably miss, and then the final race in two weeks – flats!

2007-08-14_pr_ccw_er.jpg

Pacific Raceways Escape Route

Pacific Raceways – Clockwise with Escape Route

In the official Pacific Raceways flier, Rory leaves a clockwise and counter clockwise day open so he can decide on the day of the event whether to use the S-Curve or Escape Route. Today, we were doing clockwise, which scares people away — HILL! And since it wasn’t known to use the escape route, people guessed it would be the S-Curve, meaning BIG HILL! But, thanks in small part to the heat on asphalt, we just did the easier clockwise loop – escape route. This was still brutal, as it’s a big hill about 10 times. I managed to get dropped on the first preme when the pack bolted after the hill – finish line was at the main grandstands where we start, vs at the hilltop. I didn’t feel like waiting out a lap, so I just muscled through, occasionally catching a draft with the Masters or once the 123s. Given how small the field was today, it wasn’t that big a deal.

That’s it for a while for PR — no event next week, and I’m out for a few weeks after that. So perhaps a closing event in August or so!

Pacific Raceways Escape Route

Pacific Raceways: Flats, and my first crash

Today, July 3rd, the day before July 4th, we had a weird race at PR. It was the flats and fairly benign at first, at least for the 4/5s and Masters. However, the 1/2/3s only had about 25 in the field, and it disintegrated pretty quickly after numerous attacks. At one point, a few overtook the 4/5s (and we went neutral right – meaning we slowed to a neutral pace and let the 1/2/3s pass on the left – as is normal). Then shortly a few more overtook, but yelled for us to go neutral left. Then the 4/5 peleton overtook the combined breakaway as they apparently sat up. This was weird, and at some point people squeezed in while we were going about 30 MPH… and we had some bumping, and next thing you know it’s a 8 person pileup, including myself. Ow.

I’m a bit scraped up, but nothing bad. The bike appears to be fine – I need to retrue the front wheel, and I need a new saddle, but I didn’t really like the one I had anyway, so no big deal. One of the other guys in the pileup may have broken his collarbone – an EMT racing with us took him to check.

2007 PR Crash

Here’s a snapshot of the HRM right before the crash to see what it looks like… nice and dramatic!

Well, as they say, if you race enough, it’s not if, but when you crash. Although I was getting some ribbing about maybe now I’ll shave my legs to make healing scrapes a bit easier… although I’ll have to see if MK will let me. :)

Update 7/5/2007 – The guy behind me was apparently recording… check out the video! Looks like just the guy in front stopped and veered left, and then I plowed into him and others plowed into me. Plus, I did apparently go down on my right side, as much as I thought I went down on my left. Huh!

PR Flats

Crit: Des Moines Masters State Championship Criterium

2007 Des Moines Crit - MapThis morning, I rode in my first crit. The Des Moines Masters State Championship Criterium, hosted by my team, Union Bay Cycling / Wines of Washington. Crits are short (< 1 mile) courses, typically in a city around a few blocks. I had been nervous about this for quite some time… from what I’ve read, crits are hard, fast, and intense. Plus, the main factor in a crit is corners – no sweeping, gentle corners like you see in typical road races. Corners are city street intersections.

Well, the day of the event came, and I headed down. The first thing I realized about crits – later start times! The typical road race is 2 hours away and starts about 9 AM, meaning people in Seattle are leaving about 6 AM. Des Moines is 30 minutes away, and the first race for us (Cat 4/5) was 10:50 AM… amazing what a few extra hours of sleep will do.

The second thing I realized is that crits really are a spectator sport. At road races, there are some spectators near the start / finish, but for the most part the peleton is busy riding through tranquil, rural scenery. At a crit, there are spectators all over, as the peleton makes a loop every minute or two. At this crit, there were a number of spectators at the start / finsh, as well as a homemade grandstand at turn 3 (SW corner) where a bunch of residents were throwing a party while watching the race. It was quite the event.

Back to the crit itself. In road races, the pack starts with a neutral roll-out, which means a few miles of riding for a quick warm-up and to make sure everyone’s comfortable in their bikes. At a crit, you race when the official says go, and you’re going at 25 MPH as quickly as you can. Clipping in and sprinting fast is key so you don’t get towards the back. This is what happened to me. The back is dangerous in a crit, as the corners yo-yo — the first people through go a bit slower through the corners and then pick up the pace, which means the rear ends up going much slower and has to sprint to catch up. Much more energy is expended.

The Des Moines crit isn’t flat – the two short stretches are, but the straightaways are at an incline. Now, the incline is about 30 feet total according to the altimeter in my HRM, for about 1,300 feet – a 2% incline. This would be considered a false flat if anything in a Road Race, but going up this at 25 MPH 15-20 times, it certainly saps one’s energy — fast. Talking to some of the other guys, apparently this is one of the tougher crits because of the hill.

I was in the back third pretty quickly, and tried to hang on. After maybe 4 laps, I was dangling. a big gap would open on the hill, and while I could catch back up on the downhill straightaway a few times, after a while I was unable to make it back to the pack before they rounded turns 3 and 4. I ended up with a small chase group with a Hagens-Berman racer and an Oberto junior. We tried to get the junior back, but after lap 11, the official pulled us as we were about to get lapped. Just as well, as we were sagging badly.

Looking at my HRM data, it’s clear I was well above my normal intensity levels… a road race typically has my heart rate between 150 and 170, with spurts to 180. We started out the crit about 170… far too high for me to keep going for 35 minutes. And that was while I was in the pack, so it wasn’t sucking wind. Clearly, need to work more on speed and hill climbing for next year!

All in all, a fun experience. I spent the rest of the day as a corner marshall (well, intersection marshall) guiding traffic through the course and watching the races. I took a few videos with my cellphone, so we’ll see how they turn out. And now to see when the next (flat) crit is!

2007 Des Moines Crit - Erik HRM

Pacific Raceways: CCW with S-Curve, and I suck at hills

Today was another S-Curve day at Pacific Raceways. I thought I had some energy, but after my first warm-up lap, I knew I was in a bit of trouble. Just not fully there today. I felt my legs were tired, and I wasn’t terribly comfortable on the bike for some reason. Plus, I managed to forget my HRM, which bugged me.

I managed to hang on for 4 laps I think, then got popped on the back hill. I muscled it out and finished the remaining 5, including one after the rest of the 4/5s finished. More of a pride lap than anything. My back was sore — probably due from a heavy weight lifting day and exercising the lower back — and overall, well, blech.

And I suck at hills. Yeah, I know CCW w/ S-Curve is a rough hill, but it’s basically a 50-foot 90-foot climb… shouldn’t be enough to get me. And if it was just the S-Curve, I’d be easier, but Enumclaw, Ravensdale, and previous runs…. all points to a need to push more on the hill! So, time to do some research and start getting the legs in shape for next season. Yeah, a bit early already, but I’m likely in Europe last half of July, and August is when everything starts winding down. So, may as well look ahead now!

PR S-curve

Pacific Raceways – Flats Point per Lap

Today I raced PR on the flats in a 60 minute point-per-lap race. The difference between flats and flats point-per-lap is that on flats, the first guy across the line wins. In point-per-lap, each lap the first rider over gets a point, and most points wins. This changes the strategy a lot, as there tends to be a lot of sprinting at the end of each lap as well as an attack by the pack to overtake the sprinters as they try and recover.

Some of the other Winos there mentioned how tough the race tended to be. As there were only 2 other 4/5s, I decided to sit in and just go for a pack finish and figure out the race. The race was a bit weird… both preme laps were actually very slow. There were also a few well-represented teams that were clearly trying to work the crowd — the FSA guys as well as Old Town Bicycle crew did well. A few times 4-6 riders from the team would speed up to the front and give one of their guys a great leadout for the point. Zoka had a number of riders there, but they didn’t seem to be working as a team on the win.

I sat in… on the first preme lap, Jamie got a flat and bailed, leaving just Jon and I. I had plenty of gas at the end of the race, so clearly I could have pushed a bit more, but I wanted to make sure I knew what was going on first. Besides, sprinting for the last finish turns out not to matter in a point-per-lap race… it’s at best a pride thing.

PR Flats