Capitol Crit

Today I headed down to Olympia for the Capitol Crit – a fairly technical criterium at the base of the Washington State Capitol Building. I was feeling sluggish, so I slept in and went to the Masters C/D race instead of the early morning 4/5 race. Same time, but my experience at Volunteer Park told me that it’d be more manageable – 100 people filled the 4/5s, but Masters C/D was 69.

Well, number of people was about the same – 44 in 4/5, 42 in C/D. OK. However, as it turns out, C/Ds went with the “thin the pack” strategy. The course runs clockwise. The right side straightaway is uphill. The left side is technical and narrow, so even though it’s downhill, the pack yo-yos nastily. About 10 or so people in front were keeping the pace fast (Harry, who finished, saw that he averaged over 24 MPH the entire 40 minutes!), which meant that each lap through the narrow technical section, whomever was in the back was just getting pushed back and then having to go anaerobic to catch up on the uphill. Nasty.

I got yanked I think after 15 minutes; I need to look at my stats. Turns out only 15 people finished… brutal race. For the 4/5s, 26 finished. Still rough, but not nearly as bad. I was talking with Scott Jensen, from L’Ecole, who raced both 4/5s and C/Ds. He finished 12th in 4/5s, and early in C/Ds. That should help explain the difference in speed. 😉

Capitol Crit CDs

PR: Flats Point Per Lap

Another week, another point per lap race. In addition, the course was slightly modified with a new earlier turn, due to a sand pit being added at the end of the dragstrip on the far west end. Anyway, we had one neutral lap, where I noticed the cornering was actually nicer than the previous route… banked well, new pavement. Cool. So, on the first real lap, I was in the lead, so I pushed it a bit to see what others thought of the new corner… and found myself way out ahead of the pack in front. I pushed a bit, challenging the pack… and they let me go! So, I settled in to an aggressive tempo… if they chased, they’d easily get me. And around the end of the drag strip they did, but I was by myself for quite a while.

5th or 6th lap I did the same thing with another guy, and this time we got away! The two of us had a huge gap on the pack. The other guy seemed to be content to do most of the work… in that he wasn’t pulling off. I passed him once, then he passed me back on the final curve… and then I just attacked off him for the win. He didn’t really contest, so I rolled over the line for my first PPL win! 2 points! And man, was I exhausted! Luckily, the Masters were there for me… I was struggling in the pack, but as we rounded the first corner into the drag strip we were neutralized for the Masters to pass us. Yay! We basically mailed it in on that lap and then back to game on. Woof! Thanks for the recovery!

I sorta contested another lap or two, but otherwise, took my 2 points and was done. Good enough for a tie for 5th place. Still no season points though. But we’re getting closer!

PR: CCW with Escape Route

June began with another counter-clockwise escape route course. Scot Weeks, another 4 on our team, was racing with me. At the preme lap, I hollered at him to get on my wheel and as we rounded the corner for the downhill, I sprinted out. I told him to stay on my wheel until the bottom, where I’d have gotten a reasonable gap on the pack and he could hopefully power it up for the preme. Well, he decided to go BEFORE the descent… and was promptly swallowed up. He’s not as big as I. 😉

Anyway, we raced around until the end, and I was just in for the pack finish. However, on the final lap, pushed, and saw him pushing as well. Moved up to the top third, but on the hill was too tired to do much. But did hear, and then after the cool-down pace heard from Scot that he managed the win! He had good position on the downhill, followed a reasonable line up, and the guy in front of him was just gassed, so he was able to pull it off. Nice work!

PR: Flats Point Per Lap

This week brought another points per lap race. Craig and Michael were there… Michael wanted to try and shred the field, so we were going to let whomever contested get lap 1, and then attack right after that sprint, and try to keep up the counter-attacking every other lap or so. Well, as we rounded the corner for lap 1 (well, first point lap), nobody was attacking… so I did! Full on sprint, and someone came with and then pulled ahead by a few inches to beat me again like the week previous. Blast!

I spent the rest of the race recovering, actually. Michael contested a number and I think placed in the race, but overall not much happened. There was a stiff headwind coming from the west, so every sprint was right into it, and every counter attack was right into it… which really put the brakes on that kind of thing.

Pack finish, but got another PPL point (ok, no season points yet… still working up to that!)

PR CCW Escape Route

Today’s race was sparsely attended after last week’s Crashapalooza. It was raining, and the forecast was LOTS of rain. But, I took a chance after my friend Laura called me out. Got down there, and cold, wet, but not raining. And the sun came out!

There were only 14 Masters, and no Wines guys in the 4/5s, so I raced Masters. Laura was also racing Masters, along with Eric and Greg. Laura told me that she felt Masters was more intense, but same overall speed as the 4/5s. Plus, they did the hill slower. Slower hill? I’m in!
Woof… why do I always forget that Masters rip your legs off? 😉

The 4/5 Escape Route race is basically a “thin the pack sprint finish” race. The pack powers up the hill, then recovers on the flat until the downhill and up again. If you can hang on after the pack gets to the top and the false flat curve, you’re good until the next lap. Preme laps can be tough, as often the pack will sprint up that hill and you need to sprint with them. But ultimately, it’s a semi-sprint finish for people to power up the climb on the last lap.

The Masters… don’t do that. They go slowly up that hill, conserving energy. Then, on the flats… ATTACK! Yes, an attack at PR. Today, even though there were only 15 racers, someone was always attacking – esp. Greg. After the preme lap, I and some others got dropped – or at least formed a smaller group of 4 from the group of 15. We chased for a bit, then the 4/5s caught us, so we drafted them. Then, they towed us to the Masters. Thanks guys!

We did a few more laps, then the end. Greg, Eric, and I were in the lead on the descent, and Eric was giving Greg an OK lead, but Greg had gone too early up the hill and blew up about halfway up the final climb. Tough race, legs were gassed… good stuff.

I drove home in the downpour… yow. Then, came home to my wife pointing out some leaks from the rain. Attic spelunking after a race…. suck-tastic. Oh well, still didn’t crash. Just now need to find a roofer!

Flats, point per lap, crashtastic, then Hills, point per lap

Today… um… sucked. But I didn’t go down.

The course was flats point-per-lap – 2 points for first across each lap (except the first), 1 point for second. Highest points at the end wins. Cool.

It was lightly raining. Not cool.

We sped around the first lap, fast… some people were pushing, rest of us were chatting, “Um, first lap neutral, no points guys…” But whatever. Second lap, GO! I was around the top 10ish, positioning myself for a sprint. Third lap, we round the bend, I’m in a good position on the right, and GO! There’s someone leading the main pack in the middle, they start to drop back. There’s another guy on my left. Turns out the pack conceded to us… sprint! sprint! sprint! And he gets me by a hair. That’s OK, first point in PPL.

We sit up and let the pack catch up. As we round the bend for the drag strip, we see that the Masters have crashed. Oof! Neutral through the crash. Sprint again, and then I’m back in the top 10ish ready for another go. I’m nervous on the drag strip, so I’m leading out the third line (left-most). We get to the almost-end of it, and CRASH! I hear bikes falling behind me. I don’t even look… I’m all about maintaining my line and maintaining my bike upright on the slick rubber. We cruise around, some people sprint, but more are looking at the carnage. There’s about 10 of us. Rory or Deanna, who run it, yell “ESCAPE ROUTE!” So the course shifts to PPL Escape Route (HILL!).

Well, with crashes and hills, we’re done. Mike, one of my teammates who made it through the crash, has legs. He pretty much goes off the front up the hill, stays away for 2 of the final 4 laps. Nobody is really pushing things though… two crashes and sprinting after a hill has just taken the wind out of everyone.

Oof… made it, got a point, drove home. Weird, rough day.

PR Flats

PR CCW with Escape Route

A week later I found myself doing the Escape Route again. Stuck with the pack (again). This time, I had told Max, the junior on our team, to get behind me on the final lap, and I’ll blast him down the descent so he can climb to victory.

That was just how it happened.. well the blast down. I sprinted to the front of the pack on the last lap, Max behind me, bombed down the descent, and then was done costing up the hill. Somebody was on my wheel, Max followed… and then the pack got us. I rolled it in on a pack finish, my job done. But, finished with the pack again… guess those legs have improved!

Pacific Raceways Escape Route

PR: CCW down the escape route

My first PR hills route… fun. Felt good. Started the race towards the front, and made it a goal to lead the pack on the descent. We did 7-ish laps (need to look at my stats), and I was on the dfront on the downhill for at least three of them. I’d extend a gap, make it up about 1/3 of the hill, and then be caught. Stuck with the pack on the first preme, which is usually when I lose them. Second to last lap was the second preme (bastard). So 2 spirited laps… but I held. Didn’t try and contest the finish, just stuck with people and rolled over the line with the pack (think I was dead last in the pack, but hey, pack finish is a pack finish!). Think this is my first finish on the hill… least first that I can remember!

Pacific Raceways Escape Route

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.