Cat5 race report.
Note to self: Five beers on the golf course the day before a road race is a bad call! I hadn’t swung a club in almost six months due to a broken finger playing football in November and a serious ankle sprain in January. It was good fun and I played much better than expected after such a long layoff. That said, getting up at 6:00am and starting to drink beer at 10:30am the day before a race wasn’t ideal preparation.
The alarm went off at 5:30am this morning, boo I need more sleep after yesterday! And another thing, damn my back is sore as hell, wonder if that has anything to do with golfing, DONG.
The race starts in Brady, a small town 30 miles or so West of Olympia. Anessa drove and we arrived about 45 minutes before our scheduled 9:15am start time. Plenty of time to check in, use the rest room, and prep everything. Today’s race consisted of three 18 mile laps. The terrain was flat with several rolling hills but no significant climbs. The neutral rollout was only a few blocks so the race got started pretty quickly. Nothing to report on the 1st lap other then the fact that the bike-sale team had eight riders in the race and one of their guys was in an early break away. When we crossed by the start someone at the timing tent yelled out that the gap was 1:16.
Lap2 – I really wasn’t concerned about the gap since we still had 36 miles left. I was generally sitting in the last 3rd of the pack up to mile 20, I hadn’t seen much of Rob but I knew he was only a couple bikes behind. It was becoming clear that the bike-sale guys planned on controlling the front and keeping the pace down since they had a rider up the road. I wasn’t sure how many riders were in the break (I think it ended up being 5 riders after looking at Hunter’s video) I started chatting up another unattached rider (Travis) and in mile 21 we went off the front to try to close the gap. Travis was strong, we shared leading for several miles pushing it pretty hard. We were alone for 6-7 miles but never really got more than a few hundred yards clear of the pack. At one point my HR hit 189bpm, is that possible for a soon to be 37yr old? Up to mile 32 Travis or I were at or near the front of the pack, Travis tried hard to rally some others to get up front and do some work but there was absolutely no appetite for it. OK, I guess it’s a race for 5th? I did think it was funny that while I was out front (and had been for a while) one of the bike-sale guys actually had the stones to tell me not to “change my shirt” if I was up front. This really pissed me off, I was simply pulling down my arm warmers. I let my F-U reflex go and told him if I was up front working I’d do what ever the fuck I wanted, there was no response. Around mile 32 I slid to the back of the pack and Rob was gone, he’s a total animal so I figured he probably had a mechanical issue.
Lap3, final lap – In the first mile or two I hear “hey dr, J”, Rob was back? Somehow he had fallen off the back and managed to team up with an unattached rider who had been DQ’d for crossing the center line earlier. Pretty awesome that they clawed back into the pack. Nothing to note for the next 20 miles. At mile 51 I moved up to the front and pushed a little off the front for a very short stretch. The most significant hills hit on mile 52 and it blew the pack apart. Rob passed me halfway up the hill but I managed to stay with him. The 53rd mile we raced past a cemetery and down a steep hill with a sharp turn at the bottom. Coming out of the turn I was out of position and near the back of what was left of the pack. I managed to hang on a wheel and move up a few positions.
The Finish – CRASH! With 200yrds to go right in front of me on my left a rider went down very hard, he was immediately hit by another rider who flipped over him. I swerved hard right (Anessa confirmed this later, she was relieved to see me still upright) a piece from one of the bikes hit me in the cheek. Well, this is the CAT5 crashes that everyone talks about. I yell out wholly shit Rob, I saw he swerved left and was also safe. I jumped back on his wheel and finished right behind him. I’ll update the post when the results are posted.
Great ride, sad that a team of 8 would protect a CAT5 break away 40 miles from the finish though. Even more sad that other than Travis not a single rider was willing to even try to do anything about it. It was great racing with Rob , hopefully he catches the bug!