05 May 2012

Vance Creek Road Race

Last year there was a dearth of masters racers in my category at events and promoters were eliminating the category that I race in (Category 2 but not yet 50 years old) which was kind of a shame as it meant I had to race with the Pro/1/2 field (which I can barely do) or just stay home. This year we have eeked out sufficient numbers to have races again and at the Olympic View Road Race last weekend it was actually a great field. Enough folks (28) signed up this weekend again so here we go one more time.

I have a love/hate relationship with the Vance Creek Road Race. It's hard enough that I suffer but I still seem to usually get in the break. That does not mean I routinely win the thing but I do well enough that I can taste success and keep coming back. One year I flatted out of the winning break, one year I stayed in the break but got last/6th, another year I kept getting dropped on the hill but chased back every time and another year me being in the break helped set up victory for a teammate so here goes.


For company I had Ryan Dean, Dave Hecht, RC Rogers. Nice. Both Dave and RC are over 50 but they frequently race 'up' and I for one am sure glad they decided to do so today. Garage Racing had the dominating numbers again with guys like Matt Hill, Nikos Mills, Tom Wick, etc., etc. There was also a contingent from Keller Rohrback and Audi and an old buddy from back in the day when I first started racing - Rick Benson - who has been handing it to the 50+ crowd lately. Game on.

Rain on too it seems… it had been spitting on and off the entire drive down and no sooner do they turn us loose that it begins to sprinkle. Shit. At least I had opted for the wind vest. Good thing as I never took it off all day.

Surprisingly there were no hard efforts during the first half of the first lap; everyone must have been waiting for the hill. On which I felt like DIRT. As everyone seemed to be climbing effortlessly I was thinking, "Oh no, not again…" but managed to cling to wheels up and over the top. Then the attacks started. And although there were no massive moves or 100% commitment, they pretty much kept up the rest of the race. We did a super job of covering moves with at least one of the four of us in each one.

I think it was the third hill when Tom from Garage went like stink right from the bottom. This time we shed a few people and I was DFL as we crossed the finish line. Not good. At least I had hung on.

By now everyone is soaked and muddy. Each time we rode through the 'fields' on the flats we were getting sprayed with grass clippings, mud and cow(?) shit. I remarked to someone how the wheels spray tasted salty here and as soon as the words were out of my mouth I was grossed out. I had teammates sneaking off the front along with Garage riders quite a bit so tried to sit and create a gap more than once but kept getting swarmed and the break got chased down.

With about 1.25 laps to go, just as we turned right out of the flats and onto the main road Tom took off it was more instinct than anything else that made me jump after him. It turns out I was the only guy from our team in a good position at the time so good thing I went. Up until now everything that had moved was getting chased but this time we got away… Time to get stuck in.

I bridged to Tom and knew right away that he was the stronger rider today but you do what you can and Tom was smart and committed himself to the move so had no problems with doing the majority of the work. He came very close to shelling me on the climb. I briefly thought about asking him to slow down but that would have risked him just taking off solo if he knew how lame I felt so instead I just shut my mouth and hoped I could hang on which I was luckily able to do.

By the time we got half way up the hill we were well out of sight and I was thinking guardedly optimistic thoughts.

Knowing I needed to keep eating and drinking I tried to grab a gel on the descent. I guess I was squeezing it too hard when I ripped the top off with my teeth because most of the gel sprayed all over my hand and my left thigh. Oops. Tom looked back to see why I was not pulling through and I'm, wiping my glove on my shorts and my leg with my glove. :(

As we turned right onto the flats at the base of the descent I looked back and saw the pack. Damn. I told Tom we were getting chased down and the suddenly found my second wind and across the flats I was able to do my share of the work finally. As we turned right exiting the flats I could still just see the bunch…

the first couple of roller killed me. Tank empty. What a lousy feeling. Still, I was hopeful that I could pull a 2nd place out of my ass if we got lucky so I just tried to hold Tom's wheel. On the second to last climb we passed the Women's Pro/1/2 field who were also on their last lap. We had a small gap as we hit the last descent but heading into the feed zone I could hear the fat lady singing.

First Tom started to leave me behind and then I got swarmed by what was left of our field and some of the women. Who am I kidding, it was most of the women.

In the end Dave got 2nd and Ryan got 7th so me being up the road helped my teammates rest in the pack. I gotta say, I have no problems giving it my all when I know someone behind me can pick up the slack if I get caught.

As riders streamed past me Ryan said something like, "Nice job!" At the time I was thinking, "Save it for after we're all across the line Ryan, GO RACE!" But perhaps I was a bit tense at the time.

Kudos to Dave and Ryan for great placings, to RC for mixing it up all afternoon and to Nikos for once again showing us his rear wheel. These finishes are tailor made for him.


Here are all the pictures.

You can see from my Garmin data that my heart rate spiked markedly on 'the hill' which makes sense. What's interesting is that my heart rate was almost exactly the same each time up but the first and third hill felt much harder than the others. I attribute the first one to not being properly warmed up and the third one to Tom going so hard right from the bottom. Too bad I didn't have power.

Sleep 6
Waking HR  
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Breakfast 5:30 AM - Smoothie 2.0
8:00 AM - 2 eggs, avocado, tea
drive to race - large bottle w/3 scoops Perpetuem
Workout Food 2 large bottles each w/1 tablet Nuun and 3 scoops HEED, flask of gel, 2 PowerBar Energy Gels
Time of Day 1:20 PM
Workout Type race
Weather low to mid 50s, mostly cloudy, off an on rain, fairly calm
Course 13-mile loop with one stair-step hill culminating in an uphill drag to the finish, one gradual/non-technical descent a few miles past the finish
Results pretty much DFL (19th/21)
official results
Equipment Road Bike
Mad Fiber wheels
39/53, 12-25
Clothing knit shoe covers, bib shorts, Craft short sleeve undershirt, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, wind vest, Patagonia gloves, cap

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