Saturday, February 18, 2012

Andy Salmon Kermesse 2012 season kick off - 2/5/12

Time to see if busting my ass the last 3 months training is going to pay off! I was sick for the first time in over a year the week leading into the race. I felt guilty for missing a few workouts earlier in the week so I might have over done it just a little on the Saturday team ride. My legs didn't feel great after a warmup lap Sunday but it was time to throw it down! I raced the same basic course going the opposite direction in last August's Ronde Ohop. I fared well in that race (2nd in the 4/5's) and hoped for another good result. Apex Racing was by far the best represented team in the race, we were rolling 8 deep! This was an interesting race because all categories start together.
All smiles before the race.
I was able to get a good starting position in the second row between teammates. Bill was on my left, Chris on my right. Both guys are silly strong, Bill however has been operating on a different planet since last Summer and is a Cyclocross ninja. Bill was gunning to win the race, although I didn't know everyone in the field I liked his chances. My highly complicated race strategy was to be in the top 8-ish going into the gravel section (we started on .5 miles of pavement) and stick to the lead group as long as possible. The plan actually was working out OK until a couple hundred meters before the beginning of the gravel I start getting passed on both sides, dammit! We took a sweeping right hand turn into the gravel and I hit the gas. 460 Watts over the next minute moved me up into the top 6 or 7. My teammate Bill and a couple other riders already had a gap on the field. By the time we exited the off road section back on to the pavement I had moved up to 4th position but was alone. Bill's leading group had a bout 10 seconds on me and I was 10 seconds or so ahead of a small group. Knowing I wouldn't catch Bill's group I plugged away at about 70% until a chase group of 4 caught me right before going back into the gravel. I was really excited to see my teammate John in the group, we were now a group of 5.
Chase group #1 (I'm on the left)
For the next 4 laps (out of 10) it was much of the same. I sat on the back of our group of 5 for the most part.  John and I were off the hook for working hard because we had a teammate up ahead and we were well clear of anyone behind us. On the 6th lap the Alki and Slalom riders put in a dig to drop us on the pavement. John had been pulling me around for a few laps so I took charge on this one and pulled him and the Sbux rider back. With 1 to go the Alki guy tried to get away again in the gravel but I was able to mark him. On the final lap as we exited the gravel and started the last .5 miles on pavement to the finish the cat and mouse started. The Alki and Slalom guys appeared to be working together. The Alki guy started to ramp up the pace on the front, I was marking the Slalom as I thought he had the best legs in our group. I was right! The Alki guy pulled off the front with about 400M to go, almost immediately Slalom hit it hard. I was ready and stayed glued to his wheel (662 Watts for 40s), his effort was strong enough to create a gap on the other three riders. With about 25M to go I was able to pull around him and claim 4th place by 1/2 a bike length.
Working hard for 4th place
John rode away from the other two riders and finished 6th! Bill ended up winning the race, and two other teammates finished 9th and 10th overall. 5 Apex'ers in the top 10! Overall I was really happy with the race, I just felt my legs were "OK" on the day but I still managed 4th overall (behind 3 Cat2 CX'ers) and 2nd Cat3. I picked up $10 and 2 upgrade points to boot!

Strava data
Video from the race This gives a good idea of the course. We lap the guy filming right at the end.
More video This is on the back side of the course. Bill comes past first, I'm last in the 2nd group.
Apex was in the money

Sunday, January 1, 2012

MFG #6 Woodland Park 11/13/11 - triple play!

Race #1 – 9:30AM Cat4 35+
Calm before the storm
I got a great staring spot in second row, no excuses, lets roll! Well, not an excuse but my start sucked ass! I was a little tentative sprinting downhill and then got caught behind a crash in the first turn. I was probably back in 20th or so coming out of the first turn. I love this course, not very technical and suited to a power rider like me. Near the end of the first lap I had moved up to 7th or so, the leaders were in sight. As I entered a quick left-right –left section I over cooked the second turn and went off course. SHIT! Only cost me a few seconds but this wouldn't be my only slip up. This same section got me nearly every lap! Over the next few laps it was the same story, I would latch on to the front group only to fall back after riding off course. In the end I finished 5th (out of 99) 26 seconds back of the winner, only a second behind 4th place and 20 seconds ahead of 6th.
Front wave of the Cat4 35+ race (I'm in green and black on the right)
Getting out of the finishing shoot took forever. I was anxious because I only had a few minutes to swap numbers get a drink and line up for the next race. By the time I got all this done the starting chute was packed full of riders. 

Race #2 – 10:20AM Cat4
I was looking forward to this race since the top 16 riders in the series get "called up" into the first 2 rows. Call ups are based on series points, since I missed a couple early races in the series this would be my 1st call up. Well, by the time I was ready to line up the call ups had already happened. I decided screw it and basically jumped the queue and slid in to the 4th row, I politely told the guy next to me I missed my call up and I was going to start here.  I had a much better start this race and was probably in the top 20 going into the first turn.  After the 1st lap things started to thin out a bit. I had moved into the top 10 and finally made it cleanly through the section that killed me in the 1st race.  Most of the race I was really in no man’s land. I had pulled away from the field but was 10-20 seconds behind the 5 leaders. With a lap and a half to go I caught the kid from UW that beat me out a Magnuson Park earlier in the season. He had some type of issue at the stairs and I was able to slip away. I ended up finishing with no one around me in 5th place (out of 117).  I felt great getting back to back top 5’s!

Suffer face
Race #3 – 1:20PM Cat3
After freezing my ass off for a couple hours I got in a little warm up and headed towards the start line. Two teammates Jason and Bill got call ups and were in the first couple rows. I was happy to start in the back with another teammate Ed and stay the hell out of peoples way. To say my legs were blasted already would be an understatement. I did 2 races at all the previous MFG races but this was my first time going for 3! At check-in I was told I was the only racer all season that did 3 races in one day, pretty cool I guess. I had zero legs left but the one thing I did have going for me was I knew the fastest lines to take. It would have been interesting to have a power meter and see how much my power had fallen off by the 3rd race. On the uphill gravel section I was big ringing it the first two races and now I was barely getting up it in my lowest gear. Anyway, I finished right in the middle of the pack - 28th out of 54. Considering the higher level of competition and it was my 3rd race of the day I was pretty happy.

Look mom I can jump
Two top 5's in such big fields is a big confidence booster for me going forward in Cross. I learned a lot this season and should be a lot more dialed in next year racing with the Cat 3's.

Monday, November 7, 2011

MFG #5 Magnuson park 10-29-11

Warm up:
Apex had a big turnout for the early races this week. It was great to warm up with teammates. The course was fast and soft from overnight/morning rain. There were two sections where you could big ring it, awesome!

Race #1 - 9:20AM Cat4 35+ 30 minutes:
I got my typically sweet starting spot in the 6th row, solid! First lap went by OK but I noticed quickly the 35psi in my front tire was to much. I was having a hard time keeping the front tires from sliding in most corners. When I descended into "Randy's crack" on lap 2 I totally washed out the front and went down on the pavement.
Getting back on the horse after my spill in Randy's Crack
An ode to Randy's Crack by a hilarious teammate who's name will remain a mystery.

One feature that was only barely mentioned in previous Magnuson reports was ‘Randy’s Crack’. Of course when guys are traumatized by something, they are reluctant to discuss it. This is understandable because many a good man went down hard in Randy’s Crack on Saturday.
Randy’s Crack, as you might recall, was adjacent to the restroom area. And let me start by saying that Randy’s Crack is a terrible place to bite it.
Early in the morning, after a long wet night, Randy’s Crack was very slippery, you might even say slimy, not to mention tight and treacherous with a manhole right in the middle — so guys were hesitant to just charge right in, although clearly the temptation was there. The question was, do you ease slowly into Randy’s Crack, or just charge in hard and hope for enough friction to see you through? Indeed, do you circle wide around Randy’s Crack or do you just dive in tight?
Well, even though Randy’s Crack had dried up a little and gotten a bit stickier later in the morning, both Don and Travis dumped it in Randy’s Crack and came out dirty and battered. Even Connell went down hard in Randy’s Crack and emerged a little sore.
Somehow Jason defied has natural inclination to come too quickly into Randy’s Crack. Instead he eased in gently and kept his shorts clean and his dignity intact. Bill the Drill, not surprisingly, drilled Randy’s Crack repeatedly with great aplomb. Each man handled Randy’s Crack in a different manner.
In the end, Randy’s Crack was the undoing of many men. I can speak for everyone when I say that we hope to never see the likes of Randy’s Crack again!

The crash  took some spunk out of me for sure. I picked up a few spots on the last couple laps and rolled in 15th.

Race #2 - 9:20AM Cat4 40 minutes:
This old dog learned a thing or two from the previous races start. I queued up on the left side of the road with Chris and Travis prior to the call ups. Once the first row was called up we were in prime position to to slip into the 2nd row, my best start position of the year! I got off to a pretty good start, maybe 10-12 back. It was really cool to have the leaders in sight after the opening straightaway for once. I was down to 30psi in the front tire, that combined with my knowledge from the 1st race I was picking pretty good lines. My only big mistake of the race was overcooking a downhill right hand turn off the gravel road and onto the pavement of the finishing stretch. This was with 2 laps to go, it totally sucked because while I was at a stand still in the bushes the guys I had just passed on the uphill stretch were getting away. I clawed back past a couple guys and on the final lap bridged up to a UW rider and my teammate Chris. Our teammates were great at yelling out our positions every lap, Chris and I both knew we were fighting for top 10's. The UW kid had just been sitting on Chris on the straightaways, shortly after I joined the group he attacked. I thought we might be able to work together to bring him back but no luck, Chris and I rolled in 6th and 7th.

This was my favorite weekend of CX racing so far. Great course, great weather, and lots of teammates out cheering and participating.

Deep in Randy's crack

Lots of great pictures here

Sunday, October 23, 2011

MFG #4 Marymoor park

First things first, I raced today and... wait for it...I finished both races with the wheels I started with, Hellz Yeah! Turns out if you don't run the last 10 minutes of a race you'll place higher, weird.

Race #1 - 9:20AM Cat4 35+ 30 minutes:
I hate to start a race with a poor attitude but that's what I was bringing to the table today. No coffee, moderate hangover, flat course, 8th row start, all bad signs for me. Well, fuck it, I'm here and it's time to party!

The start went pretty smooth and once I got going I was picking riders off quickly. Nothing of note for most of the race other then it was slippery out there.With 1/2 a lap to go I was closing in on a couple riders who had been called up. Huh, maybe I'm closer to the front then I thought. With a couple hundred meters to go I got past Randy from Byrne, I nipped one other rider at the line in a full sprint. The final effort turned out to be worth it, I took 10th place out of 80 starters.

Race #2 - 10:30AM Cat4 40 minutes:
I was lucky enough to get a pretty good starting spot in the 3rd or 4th row for the 2nd race. For one reason or another (bad start position or mechanical issue) I have yet to be in contact with the leaders of any CX race this season. Surprisingly it happened in race #2 today. I was maybe 20 or so back going into the first corner, a lot of the usual suspects were up front. After a couple laps I had moved up to about 10th and caught onto the back of a group of 4 racers. A couple Farestart guys and Evan and strong Jr. rider were in the group. I lost contact after plowing into a stake after over cooking a corner, no harm done but now I was 10-15 seconds down again. I was back in contact near the finish of the 3rd lap when a Starbucks rider I was lapping ate shit right in front of me. FAIL, down I go, again nothing major but there went another 15 seconds or more.
Dude, really? This is how kool kids wear their helmets these days.
 I regained contact with Evan after a bit, he would sneak away in the corners and I would real him in on the power sections. Late in the 4th lap he took a spill and I moved past him. the 5th lap I was alone, no one close behind me and no carrot close enough to chase. My Teammate Chris made a big push on the final lap and moved up several spots, we ended up finishing 11th and 12th in a big field.

Great day over all! 10th and 11th in back to back races made for an awesome morning. I was able to hang out after the races and cheer on teammates for a few hours, great fun! The MFG point system doesn't seem as stupid as Seattle Cyclocross, maybe I'll get a call up next week!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Seattle Cyclocross #3 Silver Lake

The Awesomeness continues!

Fucking Tubulars!

As you can see in the picture to the left I had another tubular issue this week. More about that later.
Silver Lake was a hard course, no two ways about it. Lots of sand and very little time to recover. It took a couple warm up laps before I got at all comfortable riding through the sand. It was hard for me to judge how fast to "hit" the sand sections. Gradually it dawned on me that the best approached was faster the better!

The Start - I asked the USA Cycling official if call ups were based on last weeks results or season standings. I didn't get the answer I was looking for, season standings it was. Even though I finished 8th the previous week I missed the 1st race of the season so I was ranked 29th, no call up for me. Call ups are critical in cyclocross because it allows faster riders to position themselves in the first few rows. Fitness levels in cross races vary so much that a mid pack start can trap you behind much slower riders. We had 87 riders in my field (Cat4 35+) I started in the middle of the field, maybe 40th or so. Within a 100 yards of the start line the course transitions from pavement to sand. I fully expected to get caught up behind a shit storm of riders going down in the sand. True to form some guys in the second row went down and by the time I even reached the sand I had to dismount and run around guys on the ground. I remounted and pushed through the beach section about 2/3rds of the way before again getting caught behind fallen riders. The remainder of the first lap was spent trying to pass riders that were already gassed. The second lap I tried running across the beach section. now I'm a "runner" but this was a mistake, it was hard as hell and not particularly fast. The 3rd lap I got into a pretty nice groove and slid by quite a few riders.
Starting the 4th lap I felt strong and powered through first sand sections. I had already passed my motofish "friend" from last week (who had the benefit of a call up) and was closing in on one of his teammates. I got passed him on a small uphill section but he stayed right on my wheel over the next minute or two. On the final mini climb I was determined to crush his soul and give myself a cushion leading into the finish. Well I was crushing, John Alving (a teammate who races 1/2's) was yelling at me, I was pooped but fired up. As the course transitioned from pavement to to dirt around a small turn I jumped out of the saddle and... FAIL. I knew it right away, I rolled my back tire off the rim. No need to get down about it, I tossed the bike over my shoulder and started running. Roughly 1/2 a mile to the finish. It stung to get passed by 15 riders or more that I had passed along the way but I'm proud of my 26th place finish.

Before my training class at HSP last night I was chatting up Thomas the master bike tech about CX gluing techniques. Four coats of glue was his recommendation. I have some gluing to do this week!

Article on Sunday's race -

Friday, October 14, 2011

Independence Valley road race - 3/26/11

"Catching up on old reports"

Ended up having a lot of fun today despite making a big mistake and having a little bad luck. I was on my own for today’s race, Travis’s wife had a ½ marathon and the only other CAT5 (Gabe) raced in the even group, I was in the odd. The IVRR course consists of two 20 mile loops with two pretty good climbs per lap.
My big mistake came early on. I figured the 1st climb would blow the pack apart and in all likelihood a half dozen stronger riders would pull away on it. I knew I had to be in the lead group at the top of the 1st hill. Since the 5’s have been split every week  the packs are so small that if a half dozen stronger rider’s get off the front there just isn’t enough horsepower or numbers in the peloton to run them down. I was way too far back starting the 1st climb, maybe 15th wheel. I incorrectly figured I would slip through the field and catch the guys up front. When I hit the gas I quickly hit (literally) the rider’s wheel in front of me who was already gassed after 10 seconds. Frustrated, I continued and managed to get through the field but the lead group of 7-8 was already up the road. By the top of the hill I was in no man’s land, a hundred yards behind the lead group but ahead of the rest of the field. I bombed the descent the best I could and chased on my own for a couple miles before it became obvious I wasn’t going to catch up solo. A group of 10 riders or so caught me and I did my best to get everyone to work together, I knew we would never catch the leaders (even though we were still only 30 seconds back). Aside from a few guys there wasn’t a lot of heart left in that group of ten. When we hit the second hill the group of ten became 3 by the time we reached the top. At the top is where my bit of bad luck came in. Flat tire! Boo, race over 13 miles in! Watching the rider’s stream past was rough as I sat on the side of the road. Much to my surprise CAT5’s had neutral wheel support today, I raised my hand, the car pulled over, I yelled back wheel, the friendly volunteer swapped my wheel, and boom I was riding again after 3-4 minutes.
I flew down the second hill and time trialed my way up to a father son duo riding for bikesale. We worked together (for the most part) until we started picking up other riders. At the end of the first lap we had about 10 riders in total. The pace was slow, I quickly took a flyer off the front hoping a couple guys would join but no luck. I dangled for a mile before they caught me again. The next climb arrived shortly after, I hammered the lower section pretty good and got a solid gap on the other riders. About 2/3rds of the way up the hill I said to myself, self, what the fuck are you doing? There is no chance of you running anyone down solo so why hammer this hill. I laid off a bit and crested the hill with maybe a 20 second gap. I zipped down the other side and was on my own for a couple miles before meeting up with a teammate, John C. We worked together for a bit before 5-6 guys caught us, from there our group of 7 worked together well. About a mile before the final hill our group of 7 was down to 4, the other 3 guys were all pretty strong and nice guys. At the base of the last climb we spotted a couple riders near the top from our race. The 4 of us decided to keep it together on the climb and work together after the descent. The 4 of us were really working well together, despite this we were caught by a couple CAT5 even Audi guys and a Second Ascent rider. The three riders slipped past us but after a couple good group pulls we picked them up. Our new group of 7 lasted to the finish. We did managed to catch the couple riders from our pack in the last 1K.
Finish: Not much of a sprint, one of our 4 guys busted his cleat near the end so it was just 5 of us plus the 3 guys from the evens. I hit the gas hard at 200M, I got some room on a few of the guys but one of the riders who had been working with us for miles came around me with a few meters to go for 10th place.

IVRR 2011 finish
All things considered I really enjoyed my race today. Despite missing the lead group on the 1st climb and flatting on the second climb I raced hard and managed 11th place out of 30ish. Tomorrow I’m taking the upgrade class so this was my final CAT5 race!
Garmin Data:
Next week I’m headed to Spokane for the Frozen Flatlands stage race and hopefully a little redemption in a new category!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cougar Mt Madness

Tonight’s commute home had a little added flavor! Char agreed to meet up at the Factoria Sbux for a little evening hill climbing. Char is new to the team so he was wearing his old teams kit, I think this was primary contributor to his cramping. After Montreux Char had to call it a night, I was on my own to finish off Zoo Hill and Lakemont. On the upper section of Cougar near the towers I had mountaineering memories flooding back. Every breath lit up by my headlamp, grinding uphill in silence, vision restricted to what my light illuminates.

Hopefully as the weather gets worse more (any) teammates come over and join the Thursday night PARTY!

Char cramping up on Montreux