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!

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!

Sequim delivers again!

MB Tour de DungFriday, 9 PM, 3/28. I’m packing up the race gear. It’s snowing. There are two races the next day, a rarity. Sequim #2 or North Shore circuit up in Bellingham. I haven’t done Bellingham, but it’s hilly, and about the same distance as Sequim. And it’s snowing. In theory, Sequim is in the rain shadow, and dry. Bellingham, not so much. I check the radar… there’s rain and snow everywhere.

Saturday, 6:30 AM, 3/29. It’s partly cloudy… could Sequim be nice? Or would it be a waste of a 2 hour drive and $23 in ferry tolls to see Dungeness snowed under?

8:45 AM, 3/29. We arrive, in weather that could only be described as, “Doesn’t suck.”

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It was chilly, but warming and gorgeous. And dry. A great day for a race!

There were 35-45 in the Cat4 field… the race marshall at the beginning said 35, but folks at the end said 45. Felt more like 35, but who knows. Anyway, there were 8 Wines and 2-3 members from the usual suspects. Two strong Carter guys did a ton of work, but we were covering their moves. And of course anytime any of us tried to get away, the pack would chase things down. So, while a few people would get popped off the back, the pack mostly rolled around the course uneventfully. One of our guys caught a pedal in his Zipps… totaled the front wheel, but he stayed upright and nobody else crashed. Otherwise, bunch sprint at the end. The two Byrne guys, including Jeff whom I rode with last week, took first and second, and then our guys rolled through 3rd and 4th and then scattered throughout the pack. I didn’t take the last corner well, and the pack started sprinting almost immediately, which was about 1000km out. I was further back, so had to catch some wheels, but didn’t have enough gas to get into good position. Ended up #22 – better than last time. Still gotta work at having gas as the end though.

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And for fun, some shots of the folks after the race. Here’s Alec and Jon checking on their placements at the finish line:

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And here’s Mark Wistrom, who hung at the back nearly the entire race and still finished well! He was #21, as we were both out of gas.

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Here’s Dessa relaxing after the race. He also had a good race, finishing 11th.

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Good stuff. Oh, and as for what happened in Bellingham?
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Race canceled. We’ll see ya next year!