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 / Bikesale.com 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!