A week after my shellacking at Mason Lake, I was ready to try it again. This week, the race counted. Initially I was slated to do the Independence Valley Race on Saturday, but life got in the way a bit an I ended up doing Tour de Dung #2 on Sunday. Independence Valley was my speed, or so I thought — 2 laps for 39 miles, so a bit longer than Mason, and I’d be racing just with Cat 5s. Only big difference is that there are two hills per lap.
Sequim, aka Tour de Dung(eness), worried me… at a training camp along the same course, I got dropped in two of the three practice laps. The course is fast and the wind is brutal, and if you’re dropped, you’re done. And if you get shelled (exposed to the wind in the peleton) for very long, it doesn’t take long before you’re too tired to catch up! Plus, the course is 48 miles (4 laps of 12), a combined field of Cat 4 and Cat 5 (Cat 5 = rookie, e.g. me), and in general it’s a very “fast” course. So, I headed off about 6:30 AM with a mug of coffee, steeling myself to feel good if I could make it at least two laps.
I think I ate much better for this race, as even though I was a bit tired, each lap I still had some gas. Perhaps the pancakes Saturday AM and spaghetti and meatballs in the evening that did it! Or perhaps I was able to stay in the middle of the pack much better this time, as the road often allowed for four riders riding abreast instead of a tight 3 that was the norm at Mason. Plus, the wind was far more favorable, as least to my style of riding. At the training camp, the wind was from the east, so as we started off in the course we were heading into the wind and just got shelled. Today, the wind was coming from the west at a decent clip. This meant that the first part of the course was fast and with a nice tailwind, and then the course turned into about 5 miles worth of straight road right into the wind. Translation? Breakaways weren’t going to last long — and there were a couple. But keeping ahead of everyone in that headwind was just a monstrous task, and the peleton kept roping people back in.
The field started out about 60 or so, and we were maybe half that on lap four… there’s a rolling hill at the beginning of each lap, and that’s often what dropped people from the back. I was feeling good, so I was able to move ahead on the hill and get myself in reasonable position for the rest of the race. The final lap was actually somewhat slower than I expected — people were tired! Plus, everyone was saving up for an attack towards the end and a big sprint — attacking earlier, while some were doing it, was dicey due to the headwind. However, we were all in for a rude shock — there was a recreational rider on the course, and right afterwards was the women’s peleton — we had lapped them! This caused a great deal of confusion as we passed, and thus the final sprint was somewhat muddled. This being said, I and most of my team pushed forward anyway, and got 3 in the top 10 and another 3 in the top 20 — I was 16th! Woot! I had finished, and actually still had wind. I was amazed!
I looked at the HRM data… here’s the heart rate compared with last week at Mason Lake:
What leaps out is that I wasn’t discovering a new Max HeartRate this time — I was spinning between 150 and 170 for the most part, spending most of my time between 80% and 90%. Very little time was spent in my 90%, as compared with Mason. Thus, less energy for roughly the same time. But what about speed?
Hard to see, but the average at Sequim was 24 for me, with a lot of time spent at the 30s. The straight-away into the wind was much slower. Mason, on the other hand, was about 18 or so. So, less heart rate, and 6 miles an hour faster on average. Wow!
Cadence was about the same… and like Mason, I spent all my time in my big chain ring. In fact, there were times I was spinning as fast as I could in my most powerful gearing, and I was still struggling to keep up with some folks — time to improve the gear ratio (I believe my max is 52×13, vs 53×11 on a standard race bike… gotta check that).
Anyway, this was a great race… very fast, and we had a number of fellow Winos in the peleton that were able to help out. Big kudos to Greg on the team who yelled at me to take a wheel on somebody who was busting up the line in the wind — enabled me to move up a number of spots and keep me going. Overall, it was great to race with more people from the team and have a big presence — it definitely helps my racing!
Next week, Tour de Dung #3… let’s see if I can’t muster another finish!
Update 3/27/2007: Results are online. Officially, I’m 16th, but the guy who got 7th, Rob Anderson, was actually busy filming… so not clear if somebody got hosed or there’s a phantom rider and I’m really 15th. But do check out the video!