Having not ridden much lately and having gone hard on Sunday I wanted to open my legs up some before the race tonight. Lucky for me there is a group that rides around Mercer Island every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Great..
Depending on who shows up to this ride it can be anything from just fast paced to an all-out ride of attrition. Since I was not going to instigate anything today and since the usual strong man was not in attendance we were treated to a very pleasant pace for a change. My day was getting even greater.
I took short pulls and tried to be conscious of not mashing/spinning and then at the end I wound it up and won the tennis court sprint. Greater just got perfect.
On the way home Jim K and Charlie D and I chatted it up and Charlie told me about a phenomenal cycling vacation he took recently. I am resolved to get to Europe and do that sometime…
By the time the afternoon rolled around it was nice and warm - love that! I don't excel in the heat or anything but I sure like it. In other words you won't find me complaining when it tops 80 degrees in Seattle.
ASIDE - I always want to slap those that do complain. Hello people, what has our weather been lately? And how often or for how long do we get this? The answers are crap, not very, not very and shut your face. And don't even get me started about those that complain about snow and ice.
Tonight we were scheduled to ride my second favorite course at Pacific Raceways which is when we actually stay on the entire course and don't use that ridiculous, treacherous escape road. It isn't like the hill is any longer, you just don't get such a running start at it. The road surface is a million (no, I'm not exaggerating) times better and I just like the flow more. I got in the usual lame-ass warm-up riding in slow circles on the flat parking lot and then it was time to go.
In attendance tonight were Dave H, Greg K, Ryan D and Dean J from FareStart p/b Cobalt Mortgage and most of the usual contenders like Erik O (Cucina Fresca), Kerry F (Wheelsport Cycling), Nikos M (Garage Racing), Chandler L (Audi), Mark M (Starbucks), etc., etc. Good times.
Ryan started things off by pulling us around for a bit and I for one appreciated it while my legs warmed up. Then there were a few moves off the front which contained Greg. Once he was right in front of me trying to go away and when I looked back everyone was glued to my wheel so I just slowed down… and away he went. It's interesting how some people are afraid to close a 10-20 foot gap when we are only going 22 mph. And of course I don't literally mean interesting, more like 'amusing'.
One of the breaks that got away included Dave and Kerry and it looked fairly good so I got a little worried that the race was once again up the road without me. I certainly don't mind playing the domestique - I like it even, especially when the person you are working for can deliver - but tonight I was hoping to be IN the break.
And then Dave crashed. Damn. I guess wheels got crossed and it was just terrible to see him on the ground after having had such a bad wreck just nine days ago at the Capitol Stage Race.
The break did not have a big gap and around this time I was trying to initiate something past the top of the hill. Twice Chandler and I got away with other riders but each time I would pull, Chandler would pull and then the next guy would soft pedal. Shoot.
ANOTHER ASIDE - people seem so afraid to commit to a move! I'm certainly not Go's gift to racing tactics but it seems to me that the first rule of breaking away is you need to go hard at first to establish the gap. Then you can tone it down some and establish your tempo. The break is pretty much guaranteed to fail if only two guys work and four sit on. And here's a tip when racing with Martin - I'm happy to work! I just need some help. I would always much rather get 2nd or 3rd or 4th (or whatever) in the break than hope the planets will align or the entire field will flat so I have a chance in a bunch gallop to the line. So c'mon, work with me. I will not try to drop anyone even if I could because I NEED THE HELP.
With 5.5 laps to go the move Chandler and I were in was just getting caught after we passed the start line and I kind of eased off the front one more time and this time no one came with. Chandler was right behind me and yelled, "Go!" so I did. Chandler is pretty race savvy so I respect any opportunity he points out and put my head down.
For the next couple of laps I got watch Dave sit on the ground half way down the descent. As I went by I gave him the thumbs up/down sign and he responded with thumbs up. What a hard man. I would be sulking and licking my wounds and my thumb would be down. Way down.
I established a gap pretty quickly. I guess the field had been chasing for some time already and I had teammates in the pack which must have helped as well. Looking at my clock I knew I had about 5-6 laps to go so I was metering my effort to some degree but I also know that if I didn't go as hard as I could I would not survive out here. It sure would have been nice if I could have had just one person for company but that's the breaks. Pun intended.
Another nice thing about this course is you never really need to look behind you as the corners offer you plenty of vantage points where you can see your pursuers. As you climb the hill you can see the switchback below you, as you round the corner at the top of the hill you can see people cresting the hill and as you start the descent you can see people approaching the descent. Bottom line is I had a good idea of how I was doing all night. And honestly it kept changing. Sometimes I was this close to being out of sight and then they would reel me in some. In other words I had to stay on the gas. Ouch.
A couple of years ago (maybe three?) I switched from using a 12-23 cassette to a 12-25. With this combo I never need to shift out of the big ring at Pacific Raceways no matter what the course. Even today, I was able to stay in the saddle using the 53x25 on the climb (not an ideal combo I know but hey, this is a race) and not blow my legs up. In the pack I would use the 53x23 (still in the saddle) when the pace ramped up or the 53x21 if I had to get out of the saddle and match an acceleration. Bottom line is I could never go back to using a 12-23. A bonus of keeping it in the big ring is when you hit the top you can shift in the back only to accelerate and so don't risk throwing your chain off.
With three laps to go I was Jonesing for the 2 Lap card big time but of course I knew it was not coming based on the elapsed time. In case anyone cares, the full loop - no matter what the route - takes us about five minutes to complete so if you heard Rory say that we are riding for 1:10 and your cyclometer shows you have raced for one hour we have two laps to go.
I had a small cheering section at the top of the hill which was very nice. With two laps to go I was trying to squeeze every ounce of benefit from them that I could! As I started the descent with 1.5 laps to go there were three riders off the front of the main bunch chasing hard and closing. As I went up the switchback with one lap to go they were getting closer and I was fading. With 3/4 of a lap to go Kerry caught me. In the process he had dropped his companions and damn if he didn't make it look easy.
YET ANOTHER ASIDE - people, this guy is strong! If you want to place well you could do a lot worse than sticking to his wheel.
Kerry rested for a bit and then we kept trading pulls. And I knew I was doomed.
FYI - I had been managing to ramp it up to about 27 mph on the flats and I hit 32 mph on the descent and that is what it takes to stay away. When I started to struggle with 26 mph on the flats with two to go I knew the cavalry was coming.
I knew I was toasted so pulled Kerry into the hill and then he rode away for the win. I gave a desperate glance back and saw a Garage jersey rocket out of the bunch and start to gain on me FAST. I got out of the saddle but had to sit back down almost immediately (hate it when that happens). It was Nikos. Even though he was tying up I was worse off and he beat me by about 20'. That was an impressive effort.
After crossing the line I was so out of breath! Guys were rolling up to congratulate me and I could hardly respond. I needed another lap of the flats just to ensure that my calves didn't cramp.
After the race Greg, Ryan and I went out for beers and food. Good times were had. That was a good effort but obviously I needed help. I will try again so hopefully someone else is there next time.
|Workout Food||ride - water|
pre-race - large bottle w/2 scoops HEED and 1 tablet nuun
race - water
|Time of Day||ride - 6:30 AM|
race - 7:00 PM
|Weather||race - low to mid 70s, sun, dry, light wind|
|Course||race - clockwise up the switchback|
|Distance||ride - 22 miles|
race - 28 miles
|Time||ride - 1:13|
race - 1:10
1st prime - pack
2nd prime - pack
finish - 3rd
ride - Neuvation wheels
race - Mad Fiber wheels
|Clothing||race - bib shorts, sleeveless undershirt, short sleeve jersey, cap|