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.