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

No comments: