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

Monday, October 10, 2011

My front wheel – a CX love story…

While this will be a brief SCX #2 race report I’d be remiss to not kick it off without a call out to my front wheel/tire. Just like dating hot women there are pros and cons to riding tubulars. In the first couple months of the road season I flatted 6 times racing on tubulars that has to be a record, and a serious con! I hung in there though, sleek, lightweight, ride like a dream, all pros! For Cross season I picked up a pair of older Zipp 404 tubulars, the promise of lightweight, no pinch flats, and low tire pressure turned me on. Let’s quickly flash back to Labor day. Half way into my fist warmup lap I started a sharp left hand turn that I didn’t finish. Halfway through I was rudely introduced to the ground, WTF I thought? Ah, rolled my front tire off the rim, sweet. After racing back to my car and jacking up the air pressure I started the race, I made it 1.5 laps before I again kissed the grass, rolled tubie – con! Flash forward to MFG#3 in North Bend. My tire and wheel have a new layer of glue holding them together. I made it through my warm up A-OK, I even made it .5 laps in the race before now for a third time in two races I was on the ground, I knew exactly why this time. I finished off that race (Cat4 35+) and the following Cat4 race on a pit clincher. The clincher got me to the finish line (pro) but I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel yet on my tubulars. The amount of glue I used to secure my front tire this week left no doubt in my mind that it would hold. I have nothing funny to say, I really did use damn near a tube of glue.
SCX # 2 Steilacoom:

Cat4 35+
Chris and I were the only 9:15am Apex racers this week.  Chris raced the open Cat4 and I did the Cat4 35+. Chris is super fit but new to CX racing this year, I am less fit and also a newbie this year. This course was much more interesting then Mountain Meadows the week before. There were 2 short climbs that separated out fitness levels quickly. The top 24 riders from the previous SCX race were “called up” to the front. This is a big advantage in a Cross race because it can often be challenging to pass on the course. Rows were 8 across and several riders were absent, I was able to get a good spot in the 3rd row. I had an OK start probably hitting the turn onto the grass in 25th place or so.
Before the top of the first climb I had already started catching some of the slower Cat4′s, from here on it was hard to tell the “old guys” from the “kids”. I guess it didn’t really matter though, I tried to pass everyone in sight. As I would have guessed on the uphill sections I passed riders easily, more of a surprise however was the fact that I didn’t lose much ground on the technical sections and downhills. I felt much more confident then even the week before. On the 2nd climb of the second lap I was pinned behind a pack of riders 3 across, I managed to hop up onto the field above the “road” and pick off 4-5 riders. As I came by the Start/Finish line I heard the bell ringing, one lap to go. Damn, we were told 4-5 laps, longer the better for me. I went deep up the first hill catching a couple more guys in my field, on the 2nd climb things got spicy. I had 2 Motofish riders in my sights, I knew one of them had been finishing well in previous races and if I didn’t get him on the climb I wouldn’t get him at all. I channeled my inner GOAT and dropped the hammer, it hurt but I wanted these guys. As I approached I yelled “on your left” so naturally dude goes left to cut me off. Without missing a beat I went right, he didn’t like this and leaned into me pretty good, hmm, OK dude whatever. Once wasn’t enough for this fella though, he comes back into me again? I had already nosed ahead of him and he hooked his bars somewhere on my bike and down he went. This pumped me up even more and I made sure I went past his buddy hard as we crested the climb. There is a fair amount of contact in cyclocross but this guy was not playing fair. Anyway, I finished off the lap and the race without further incident.
My goal coming into the race was top 10, I finished 8th. For my second CX race I am really pleased with the result. I should get a call up next week, this will help with early positioning.
My front tire stayed on the whole race! Major pro! I ran 35psi and had very little slippage. I was SO excited that I left my damn wheel at the race! It was on the side of my car when I was getting changed, totally forgot about it until I got home to clean it off. Love story over? Nah, this is a happy PG rated report. I quickly called Cemanski who was racing later in the day. After some work on his part my wheel was found slumming it in some other teams pit. She will be coming home to me Tuesday night.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

MFG #3 - SCCA/Starbucks GP - North Bend 10/2/2011


I am a million posts behind but I'm going to try to keep up on Cross updates.

My total CX experience consists of racing Lake Sammamish in 2010 and 1 lap of the Labor day season opener this year. I only made it 1.5 laps due to rolling my front tubular tire off the wheel. My fitness is pretty solid right now but I have zero off road skills, game on!

The plan was to race Cat4 35+ @ 9:30am and the open Cat4 @ 10:20am, back to back baby! I drove out to North Bend and arrived in plenty of time to register and take a couple warmup laps before the first race. I have been adding more running into my workouts lately, this and a hard-ish team ride the day before left my legs feeling just OK. At the start I was nervous but ready to go. I was starting from the 3rd row and had some work to do to improve my position. I started off OK, probably 30th back or so in a field of 90 going into the first turn. After a short uphill section on gravel there's a sharp right hander, as I hit the apex of the corner I found myself on the ground, dammit! Rolled my front tire off again.  I picked myself up and hurried back to find the neutral wheel tent. Thanks FSA for being out there supporting these races! The rest of the race was uneventful, I picked people off and built a little confidence on the course.

I had just a few minutes between races to race back to my car, adjust my brakes, swap my race numbers, get in a gel and water, and finally shoot back over to the start. I arrived at the start line 2 minutes before we started. My start wasn't fantastic, I got pushed out to the right down the opening stretch and again was 40 or so riders back entering the first turn. Over the next couple laps as riders tired I made pass after pass on the straightaways. Once I moved up to about 20th it was apparent that the guys in  front of me were generally far superior technically. Over the last couple laps I passed a few riders but for the most part I would pull riders in on the flats and get dropped in the turns and technical sections. I was at the tail of a chase group of 6-7 riders starting the last lap. Try as I might I just didn't have the legs to get past this group. I took a small amount of pride in piping a guy at the finish but was disappointed I couldn't have picked off a few more riders. Overall I finished 16th out of a field of 90. Hard to get real excited about 16th but for my 2nd CX race ever and 1st this year I'll take it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011 Elkhorn Classic

2011 Elkhorn Classic

When I first read about Elkhorn over the Winter I knew right away that this was a race I really wanted to do. Big miles with lots of climbing in an amazing location. I was still really excited last week leading into the race but my expectations for a good result were extremely low after getting dropped on the final day of the Capital stage race. My plan was to have a great time, hammer the TT, survive the Crit, and help Travis as much as possible. Travis and I along with Jason Cemanski left Seattle around 4:00PM Thursday and arrived in Baker City at 10:30PM after stopping for a great steak dinner in Pendleton, OR. Cemanski had three other teammates racing that were staying in the same motel (Knights Inn), we agreed to meet up for breakfast and get in a spin before getting ready for our 2:00PM race start. After breakfast Friday we took the TT bikes out to check out the TT course. We ended up taking the wrong route but got in a good “easy” spin.

Stage 1: The Oregon Trail Road Race
71.6 miles with 3,055’ of elevation gain. The weather was beautiful, warm enough to race w/o any thermal gear but not too hot. The fields were down 40 percent this year so organizers mixed the cat 4/5 with the masters 4/5 but would score us separately. One of Cemanski’s teammates Bill was racing Masters 4/5 and we all agreed ahead of time to race together as much as possible.

The first couple miles were neutral as we rode out of town, it was pretty cool starting in town vs. the middle of nowhere. Travis was off the front a couple times early but never got too far away. The first Cat5 climb came at mile 23, I started near the front and faded back to the middle/rear of the peloton, I wanted to conserve as much energy as possible. Shortly after the climb the calls came out for a pee break, I didn’t really need to go but I figured I should since everyone else was. By the time I finished up most of the group was riding again and several of us had to put in a solid 2 minute effort to catch back on. Getting dropped on a pee break would seriously suck! The next 20 miles cruised past w/o incident, then we hit the Cat3 climb and things blew up. The climb was 2.9 miles and gained almost 800’, I tried not to panic when a few riders started pulling away. After the first 5 minutes I started to get into a groove and began pulling riders back. I slowly moved past Travis and Bill, I was now pulling a few riders along behind me. Cemanski was doing the same a few meters in front of me, I put in a big effort and soon we were a group of 10. Our grupetto was roughly 30 seconds behind the leading group of 8-10 at the top of the climb. We closed in a bit on the descent and quickly reeled the leaders back in within a few miles. After a hard chase I was elated to hear Travis and Bill had rejoined the group. Over the next couple climbs we dropped a few riders but the 4 of us were still together. The final rollers that led into the final climb were brutal for me, they never seemed to end. I was really digging deep to hang on, I didn’t want to get gapped off after all the work I had already put in. Somewhere on the final climb a Master came across the road at a wild angle and slammed into Travis’s front wheel. Travis kept his bike upright but his bars were knocked sideways and he had a damaged front spoke. Travis was able to finish the stage but this cost him over 3 minutes on the lead group. A young Second Ascent kid soloed off on the final climb, our chase group was 1:05 down to him at the top of the final rise. Over the final 3 miles we cut his lead to 30 seconds, but there was no coordinated effort to chase him down. Our group was now 15, Cemanski and I were both scared to mix it up in a sprint with several of the remaining guys, it was surprising how many poor bike handlers there were. With 1K to go Cemanski agreed to try to lead me out, at 200M he swung left across the yellow line, we had a clear shot to the finish. I would love to see video of the sprint, before we hit the line both of us cramped up and were yelping, I went around Cemanski too early and didn’t (couldn’t) pull past him before the line. We finished 1-2 in the sprint though, 2-3 for the stage. 

Stage 2: The Pleasant Valley Time Trial
11.3 miles with 260’ of elevation gain. It was a cool overcast morning, perfect for hammering a TT! 

The TT was an out and back with an addition mile added past the start line so we finished in town. The first 5 miles were slightly uphill and into the wind, I wanted to be careful not to blow up on the way out. Travis and Cemanski both out TT me so I really wanted to take 3rd and not let Cemanski who was starting right behind me pass me on the course. Mission accomplished! Cemanski almost got me but I held him off. Travis won the TT in 25:30, Cemanski was 2nd with 25:36, I took 3rd with 26:00, 4th place was a further 41 seconds behind me @ 26:41. Podium sweep = sweet. Cemanski took over as race leader, I was 2nd 24 seconds back.
GPS Data  (I didn't stop it till .3 miles past the finish)

Stage 3: The Gold Rush Criterium
40 minutes on a 6 corner flat course.
This was really the race that wasn’t. by the end of the TT in the morning the rain had started and we figured the crit would be canceled, our start time was 2:30PM. Around 2:00PM we jumped on the course to check it out and get a warm up in. Main St. has a lot of river rock in it so it was clear that if it was wet there would be problems. Well, it was wet. The rain started picking up at the start line while we were getting instructions from the race official. I got a good spot on the front line and was able to clip in quickly as we started, I was able to get a good position near the front. I gave up some ground early so I could keep an outside line thru the corners, it was already getting slick. In the first corner of the 3rd lap there was a pile up of 6 riders. As I passed by the kid who won the first stage was screaming that he lost his teeth, bad news! We were neutral (sort of) for the next couple laps before the crit was officially cancelled. Goal achieved, I survived the crit.
After dinner Travis and I along with the Apex guys drove out to Dooley mountain to check out the summit finish of Sunday’s stage. 8 miles of climbing to finish a 101 mile stage, ouch. I took some solace in the fact that the pitch wasn't that bad, 4.3% on average with the steepest sections near the start and at 4.5 miles. We headed back to town and had a fantastic dinner at Barley Brown's Brew Pub. The rain had stopped and we were treated to watching the Men's Cat3 and 1/2 races. 
Stage 4: Dooley Mountain Road Race
100.5 miles with 6,635' of climbing.Six rated climbs, 2 Cat5's, 3 Cat3's, and a Cat1. It was a bit chilly warming up before the race, I started with arm warmers but no other thermal gear.

Our neutral rollout was a couple miles, as soon as it ended Travis took off. This is becoming Travis's MO to open his legs up early. A few guys freaked out and started to chase but Travis stayed away for several miles before sitting up. Cemanski and I were both concerned about the guys 3rd and 4th in the GC, they could climb well. One guy (#411) had talked a little trash at the crit the night before, he wasn't thrilled that he was out sprinted in the 1st RR and beat by all three of us in the TT. The other guy Paul was a total wildcard, this was his first bike race! We all came to really like him and were super impressed by his climbing. I was really just hoping to make it to the final climb with the peloton and have a crack at defending my 2nd GC position. I had 5 rated climbs to contend with 1st though!
About 14 miles in I was at the front with a team Oregon rider, we each took a little pull and then slid off. At least I tried to get off the front, I looked down and I was doing 16mph (into a modest wind) and the two of us had gapped the field a bit. Right away I thought, hey, if I can get a head start on the first short Cat5 I might as well take it. We worked together at an 80% effort for the next 3 miles and hit the climb with a small gap on the field. Travis and Jason in an attempt to make 411 work chased up to us and took 411 by surprise, this forced him to pull the field up to us. Half way up the climb 411 pulled up to me huffing and puffing hard, Travis's move clearly worked. 10 miles later we started the hardest of the cat3's, 3.2 miles, 4.4% grade. The pace was hard but none of the better climbers were trying to hurt the field. Despite this, at the top of the climb 15 minutes later the peloton was halved. The second Cat3 was a lot of work but the pace was slightly softer than the previous Cat3. Next up was a Cat5 that was fast but a non event. The Final Cat3 came up a couple miles after the previous Cat5. The pace was up and there was a lot of huffing and puffing in the field. Maybe a 3rd of the way up Travis took over pace making. It was perfect, fast but not so fast he dropped us. This kept 411 in check until near the end of the climb when he soloed off. Cemanski started to chase but I told him not to, 411 was not going to solo the next 30 miles on his own before the final climb.
As I mentioned before the 4/5's were racing with the Masters 4/5's. Before the second Cat3 a breakaway formed that contained 4 Masters and 1 Cat4. the Cat4 got spit out the back pretty early so there was no pressure on the 4/5's to chase. I was in favor of double pacelining to real the break back and help Bill out but there was no interest from the 4/5's outside our group. For the most part Bill and 2-3 other Masters drilled it for the next 30 miles, at times we were north of 30mph on the flats (we had a helping wind), it was work to just sit in. Travis had been protecting me all day and helped pull me along during this stretch.

92.5 miles in we hit the final climb. 411 went right to the front and was drilling it. I started to lose his wheel after a few minutes, Cemanski and Carsten from Second Ascent came around me. Carsten was only about 80 seconds down to me in the GC. I was able to dig deep and pull back up to 411's group. The road swung left, I was hurting to hold on, then I hear a bad sound and see Cemanski's chain hit the ground right in front of me. I couldn't believe his bad luck. Before the next switchback I was gapped, 411, Paul, and a Master were pulling away slowly, SHIT! Bill was on my wheel when I started feeling better, I unzipped the jersey to get the nice white trash look going and picked up the pace. I started reeling Carsten back in, this fueled my fire. I tried to attack Carsten when I went past but he had some fight in him and held on. For the next few miles it was just the two of us, he tried to pull a couple times but it was short lived, I did 90% of the pace making. Up the road I saw Paul pass 411 and the Master he was dragging along. I only had 41 seconds on 411 and 56 seconds on Paul. About this time Travis starts yelling encouragement to me from an SUV, WTF? I was pumped up but confused, turns out he felt so bad about Cemanski (#1 GC) sitting on the side of the road that he handed him his bike! Pretty fricking amazing, after helping drag our asses 92 miles with 5K of climbing he gives up his bike, wow. I dropped Carsten with a few miles to go and was flying solo. I have to say it's the closest to a Tour de France type experience I have had racing all year. I went deep the last few miles and finished as strong as I could. There is a festival with free beer and pizza at the top, very cool. not 15 seconds after I finished Cemanski comes flying in. He almost caught me after his earlier disaster. I finished 3rd on the stage but dropped from 2nd to 4th GC. I had a great climb up Dooley, 13.0mph average was faster then all the previous shorter climbs that day. Next year my power will be up and my weight will be down!
Elkhorn is an amazing race! I would encourage everyone to consider it for next year. This was my 6th stage race of the season and by far my favorite.
Between Cemanski, Travis and I we picked up 6 of 9 possible podium spots (no podium for the crit) including a sweep of the TT, not too shabby.

If you made it this far you must be a hard core cycling nerd, or retarded, or both.

Final note: One of my goals was to get some upgrade points this weekend. I succeeded by picking up 9 ORBA points, bad news is USA Cycling won't accept them, total BS!


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ravensdale Road Race 2011

Today was my 20th bicycle race since March 6th and sadly this is my 1st blog entry. Come to think of it I'm behind at least 2 ironman races, 2 70.3 IM races, and a bunch of other crap. I'll get caught up on that soon I'm sure :-)

Anyway, today's race!

Last week at Vance Creek we enjoyed dry sunny conditions, the same could not be said for today. The Cat4 race didn't start until 11:09, it was great to be able to sleep in a bit and "enjoy" slightly warmer weather then the morning starters. Today we were racing 5 laps at about 9 miles per lap. Pretty standard stuff, nothing really significant about today's course, one little hill and a couple small rollers but that's about it. At either the end of the first or second lap there was a crash in a corner, I was a couple wheels back and managed to swing wide to avoid it. I had to chase a bit to catch back on to the pack but it wasn't too serious. The rain and wet roads were awful, today was a day to stay on your toes. On the third lap I was about 4-5 rows from the front when I saw my teammate Travis off the front with 2 other riders, Jed and Jason. Jason has won nearly every race he's entered this year, Jed is very strong, and Travis is a beast. I knew if the pack didn't close them down soon that this was a breakaway that would stick, they had some serious horsepower. At the beginning of the 4th lap I moved up to my teammate Chad who was near the front. He was sitting behind 4/5 Byrne (another team) riders who were working at the front to bring the break back. I respect that they were trying but either they didn't have the legs or the heart to really do much. The race official gave us a 1 minute to the break time check around this time, I knew the worst Cycle U (my team) would finish today was 3rd, the break was going to stick. One final note on the break. Bikesale is a team that had 11 riders in the field and they made absolutely no effort to pull the breakaway back. I was truly embarrassed for them, not to even try was pathetic.

Back to me, it is my blog after all, even if I only update it once a year! Since I had Travis up the road I was able to just sit in the pack and take up space till the end. At the start of the final lap I moved back up near the front with Chad. Chad is fantastic at moving through the pack, I stayed stuck to his wheel the rest of the lap. Inside the last mile Chad was in the lead up the final hill, he was setting a strong pace and I was sucking his wheel, thanks Chad! With a few hundred meters to go riders started coming up on both sides. I was able to jump behind Paul from Recycled Cycles and actually catch my breath a little. Somewhere inside 200M a couple guys launched hard up the side, I was slow to react but I slid left and hammered it. I was able to get by Paul and a couple others but I ran out of road before I could run down the two guys who broke early. I rolled in 3rd behind these guys finishing 6th overall. All things considered I'm pretty happy with 6th. Last week at Vance Creek I finished 4 seconds off the winner but rolled in 26th and was very disappointed.

6th place out of 72 starters + Travis took 2nd place = great day for Cycle U in the 4's.

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