Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Friday, April 4, 2014

What do you get when you spend a total of about 320 miles in a car that includes two ferry crossings, a toll bridge, wind and rain just to ride your bike for a few hours?........................................................

Back to back road races at Sequim and Mason Lake.

Sequim (Tour de Dung) Road Race.
The course is on a 12 mile loop that our field raced clockwise six times. It is mainly flat but the weather and wind always seems to find a way to make it interesting.  New for this year we decided to move the finish to the hill just past the starting area.  The old finish had produced a fair amount of crashes in the past and this would hopefully string things out a bit.

After getting up at the crack of dawn to help set up the course followed by corner marshal duties I lined up for the start of the Pro/1/2 race.  Zach and I were the only two on our team in the field so we were just going to see how things played out (meaning wait for HSP to start attacking) and hope to get in one of the early breaks.  We had field of about 60 with a lot of strong racers so I knew it was going to be a barn burner.  Sure enough the attacks started right from the start and after trying to get in a couple of failed attempts about 10 or so guys managed to get away.  At some point I got in a group that almost managed to bring them back but we lost steam and they disappeared down the road.  Then, it started to f'ing rain and the wind picked up.  I was reserved to just sit in and ride it out but that didn't happen.  Then just after the start of lap 4  Jeff Reed (Starbucks) jumped near the top of the climb (from what my rain drenched brain remembers) and for some reason I decided to attack an bridged up to him.  No one followed so the two of us took turn taking long pulls (Jeff's were a lot longer than mine) and we got a decent sized gap on the main field.  I was feeling great but I was motivated to give it a try.  No one really gave chase at all until about 3/4 through when David (Oly) started to bridge but soon lost steam.  He was then joined by two from KR.  We now had five guys and then someone that had been dropped from the leading break joined us.  Colin was really pulling hard and I was thinking we might be able to hold off the field, even if it was for 10th place.  Just as we passed were coming up on two laps to go we hit the finish climb and my right quad cramped up.  It was only for a few seconds but the time I took to try to stretch it caused me to get gapped and with their speed I was not able to catch back on.  I felt as if it never happened so I was hoping to put in a big dig on the downhill section and catch back on......NOT!  I was left out in no man's land just waiting for the main field to gobble me up.  I kept pedaling hard just in case but soon enough the field was on top of me.  I managed to slot back in and recover. 

No one seemed interested in chasing after the heavy rain started to pound down on us.  I certainly didn't.   We started the final lap and we were almost at a crawl.  This got me chilled fast.  And all I wanted to do was get this thing over with.  About the time we rounded corner six for what use to be the finish sprint, things finally started to ramp up and I just moved to the front so I could avoid any trouble.  At this point I had no interest in sprinter for 15th place but when we got near the 1K marker I decided I didn't want to be in the mess so I started driving hard.  Brad(HSP) was along side me and we kept the pace going.  We had full open road at the 1K marker but it was still weird.  After the initial climb there was a blind corner just before you spotted the 200m marker and the finish.  Even though the road was closed I couldn't help wondering if we'd see a car come flying around the corner.  Just as the sprint started someone in front of me blew out of his pedal and that caused a minor panic.  I managed to get around him and got to the finish line in 21st place.  Not impressive but I was happy with how I raced. 

Mason Lake #1
I actually had no intention of hauling my ass in a car and driving 80 miles to a race that might have the same weather as yesterday.  I was beat to shit and none of my teammates were going to double up.  I woke up on Sunday and was planning on going on a training ride with some of my teammates at 1:00pm.  That changed when my wife told me she was going to have to work most of the day.  "Shit, should I just go race?"  Before I knew it was hauling my gear and tired ass into my rig and heading down the road.  WTF was I thinking.  I'm too old for this shit, right?  OK,  I decided to wimp out a little and planned on signing up for the Masters 1/2/3 race.  That wouldn't be as hard on the old body.  I hit about every type of weather pattern on the way over and just before crossing the Narrows bridge it started to rain so hard I could barely see out the window.  I thought about just pulling off and grabbing some beers at the Seven Seas Brewery in Gig Harbor and then just heading home.  That didn't happen.  When I arrive at the parking lot I was surprised that the sun was out and it was almost 60 degrees.  I can do this.  I walked down to registration to find that only five guys were signed up for the Masters 1/2/3 field.  Screw that, I was not going to race against five guys.  There was still an hour until race time so I went back to the car, kitted up and returned later to find no change in the numbers.  I handed over my cast and put my name in to race in the Pro/1/2 field.  At least the weather was nice.........

When we lined up it was still pretty nice out.  Most guys had ditched most of the cold/fowl weather gear and were looking forward to racing in decent conditions.  I was the only guy on my team there and my legs felt like shit so I was just going to sit in and hopefully not get dropped.  Great plan, huh?  The race started and two things happened right off the bat.  First, as we rounded the first turn it and headed up the fist climb it started to f'ing pour down rain.  Where did this come from?  Five minutes ago it was sunny and 60 degrees!  Oh wait, we live in the PNW.    Right after that Brian (HSP) took off hard off the front.  No one gave chase and off he went.  We still had 70 miles to go and I certainly didn't care.  My legs felt like shit and I was happy to just sit in.  After a few minutes he disappeared down the road and that was that.     His lead continued to grow during the next two laps and any attempt some of the Oregon guys as well as Audi and Oly did move to the front and tried to get things going.  HSP was quick to respond and didn't ever let anyone get up the road.  Even though I wasn't feeling great I was still able to get to the front during every climb.  This helped me feel that I probably wouldn't get dropped.  My only problem was that after dealing with a few sketchy riders during the fast, wet, downhill section I started to take it easy and when we crossed the finish line I found myself near the back of the pack.  There was no way I'd get any kind of result if I kept that up. 

I can't remember when it happened but I wanted to say it was just after the start of the third lap somewhere around the parking lot.  I heard that nasty sound of carbon colliding with pavement right behind me.  It sounded like the guy(s) that hit the deck were sliding for ever on the wet pavement.  I was waiting for my wheel to get taking out but I ended up OK.  Two guys went down, Steve(Audi) and one of the guys from the Oregon HPC team.   We found out that we were starting to bring back Hitch.  It was probably a combo of him starting to tire and the overall speed of the pack. It didn't matter much since I knew HSP was waiting to start launching guys off the front again.  This time up the climbs I took a couple of digs off the front.  I was quickly hauled in but it felt good to finally start racing instead of just going through the motions.  After the crash I was even more tentative on the descent and no matter what I did I could not move up through the pack.  Hmmmm.....

As we started up the climb for lap four we could see Hitch up the road for the first time all day.  Now guys were picking up the pace and by the time we hit the base of the 2nd climb we knew we'd catch him soon.  Once HSP realized this they started to attack.  I think it was Brad who took off and Kaler(Audi) jumped on his wheel.   They quickly reach Hitch and it looked like they would start working together.  I looked back to see if we'd dropped anyone and right when I looked up I saw Hitch violently hit the deck.  He must have crossed wheels with Brad or Kaler.  As we rode by I could see he was in pain.  We organized and started pulling the other two in and just before we reached them Morgan(Canyon) attacked hard and a few seconds later Todd(HSP) was charging hard to grab his wheel.  I moved to the front and we started to give chase but they managed to hold a lead by the time we reached the descent.  This time I made sure I was at the front of the pack for the trip down and I was going to work as hard as I could to stay there.  Riding at the back is no fun especially on fast, narrow, wet roads.  I managed to cross the start for the last lap sitting about 3rd wheel and I was motivated to stay there.

The  last lap was super fun and fast.  Anytime the pace slowed up Ian(Audi) moved to the front and made sure we didn't slow down.  The trip up the 2nd time was pretty fast but I had no problem staying at the front.  I took the corner and dug as hard as I could so that I could stay up front.  We whipped down the descent and onto the backstretch where things slowed down a bit.  I didn't think we were going that fast but we were riding single file and no one was trying to move up.  I was sitting third wheel and was fine with that.  Then with about 3K to go Erik(Tete de le Course) went to the front and hit the gas.....GAME ON!  A couple of guys jumped and got in front of me but I was still happy were I was.  With just over 1K to go Jason(Apex) jumped hard.  I responded and so did Kaler(Audi) and Aaron(HSP).  Perfect, we had guys from the two biggest teams up here and their guys wouldn't chase.  I was surprised we got a gap and with 1K to go it was looking good but then we lost Jason and Kaler kind of stopped working.  The field was closing.  Aaron and I looked at each other and then just put our heads down and started going hard.  This was way too early for a sprint but I didn't want to sit up and just let the field come to us.  200m to go and we were still in front.  I knew the big sprinters would blow by us but at least I wasn't sitting in the back of the pack wishing I had a chance.  Five guys did manage to blow by us.  Todd and Morgan got us by 18 seconds with Todd taking the win.  I was super happy to hold on for 8th.  It turned out to be a super fun race.

2014 Icebreaker Time Trial

Not that you probably noticed or even cared for that matter but I haven't posted since back in September.  Road season started in late February and didn't end until Masters Road Nationals in Bend, OR in early September. I left Bend and two days later I rolled to the start line for my first race of the cross season which just happened to be StarCrossed.  After finishing right in the middle of a super large field I realized I was not as excited about racing as I usually am.  I kept showing up but it was clear I was just going through the motions.  After flatting on both my main and pit bike at the State Championships I decided to call it quits for the year. Racing was no longer fun and I needed a break.  I took some time off and limited most of my riding to my commute.  Sometime after the holidays I started training hard to get ready for the 2014 road season.  I started having fun again and......Oh Shit! March 1st is next week. Where's my TT bike? we are, another start to another Washington Road Racing season.  I should have been psyched but for some reason I wasn't.  Was it the fact that I won my field in this race last year and felt pressure to repeat?  Was it that this year I noticed that our field was stacked with guys that do well riding bikes really fast in a straight line?  I'm not sure but during the week leading up to the race I was looking for any excuse to skip out.  I found it hard to get psyched for a 20+ minute race......20 minutes of lung crushing, leg burning, mouth drooling fun!

 The day came and I ran out of excuses on why I shouldn't race but I soon found myself heading out to the race.  It looked like the weather might hold and it wasn't as cold as the "weather people" said it would be.  Then, right as I took the exit off hwy. 167 it started to rain pretty hard.  I still had 1 1/2 hours until my start so I was hoping...... It had stopped by the time I arrived.  I spotted a spot to park right behind my buddy Jeff (Starbucks) who by the way who was on the bike with me....literally, the last time I'd raced a TT.  We had raced to a 2nd place finish at Masters Road Nationals on a Tandem.  This time though, Jeff was taking off thirty seconds behind me.  He finally had his own TT bike and had been putting in a lot of time getting it dialed in during the off season.  I would rather be on a tandem with him than racing against him.  It's funny but we are both super competitive and pretty even when it comes to time trialing all I could think about while we warmed up was, "I hope Jeff doesn't catch me!"

I checked my Garmin and it was time to get off the trainer and get the bike on the road for a couple of fast starts and to just make sure everything was good.  It was chilly so I wanted to time my trip to the start line at just the right moment so I wouldn't cool down.  I pulled in just as my 30 second guy was getting his 10 second count down....Perfect!

My teammate Alex was supposed to be taking off one minute behind me but he asked for an earlier start time so he could get back to town for family stuff.  He was able to tell me the course conditions and it looked like we would be flying on the way out and hit in the face with a fairly strong head wind on the way back. 

Off I went.  "Please don't let Jeff catch me! Please don't let Jeff catch me!"  Before I knew I was cruising at 32 mph.   I never know how to dose my efforts.  I had more to give but I knew it was going to be brutal on the way back so I didn't up my effort.  I kept it pretty consistent and before I knew it I was in a groove and totally focused.  Before I knew it I saw the turn-a-round sign and the only thing I could think of was Jeff and I hitting the deck during the turn-a-round at Nats.  Shit!  I slowed and sat up WAY too soon!  I thought about hitting that gas again but it wasn't going to happen.  It was probably the worst setup for a turn I've ever taken in a TT.  Oh well, no time to dwell.  I quickly ramped back up and got aero just in time to see Jeff approaching.  I wasn't sure but it looked like he had at least picked up a few seconds on me.  Maybe holding off a little on the way out would help. 

During the next couple of miles things were going good.....if you can call it that!  No longer was I cruising at 32 to 33 mph.  I was now hovering between 25-26 mph and was having to deal with a lot of slower riders and car traffic.  I had to change my pace a couple of times after cars flew by me only to have to slow up for a rider in front of me.  For a country road it sure gets a lot of traffic.  Oh....and now I was finally starting to feel like shit.  It took about 7 1/2 miles but yeah, puking and blacking out didn't seem far from reality.  Two f'ing miles to go.  That's not bad, right.... Not if you are going 60 in a car.  Going as hard as my old body will let me was not going to get me there in two minutes.  I tried to keep a steady pace but my mph was starting to drop slightly.  I shifted gears and spun a high cadence for a few pedal strokes then got on it again.  Where the hell is that 1K marker.  I reached it and for some reason that gave me zero motivation.  I tried to hold everything together but I was starting to hope I would get a flat.  Come on,  you have .6 miles to go.  HTFU and finish this thing.  I looked up and saw my buddy Denny just up the road.  I set myself a goal to catch him by the finish.  It was all I could do to keep going.  I pushed hard and passed him just as we crossed the line.  I forgot to stop my Garmin (I had to focus all my attention to make it through the intersection and avoid all the peds., cyclist and cars that seemed to be everywhere.  I felt like I left it out there but didn't have a solid idea of my time.  Hey, Jeff didn't catch me.  As I turned around I saw Jeff's wife Kirsten and I told her I think Jeff may have beat me.  She said there was about a 30 second gap between us so it was going to be close. 

They didn't post our time right away and I was getting cold so I decided to hit the road as it was starting to hail.  Thank goodness it held off for us.  I soon found out I finished with a time of 22.42.  It was about 45 seconds slower than last year but most people I talked to....most....had similar results.  It was good enough for 6th seconds behind Jeff.  I was happy with my I guess that shows we were compatible mates for the tandem, huh?  I was happy with my first TT of the year. Now on to some real racing!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2013 USA Cycling Masters Road Nationls

I won the last race of the Washington State Road Season by attacking solo off the front only a mile into the race. Not sure why I did it and really not sure why no one came with me or tried to chase me down but I held them off to finish with a 1:04 minute gap over the main field. My teammates ended up going 2nd, 3rd and 4th so that was insanely awesome! 
Denise and I then took two weeks off work and headed down to Bend for the Masters National Road Racing Championships.
About a month before heading down to Bend one of my old Starbucks teammates told me he had borrowed a tandem from a teammate and wanted to know if I would race it with him in both the 40k TT and the 84k Road Race at Masters Road Nationals. I think I'd only been on a tandem once or twice when I was drunk in college. It would cause me to have to race four days in a row down there but I ended up telling him I'd do it.  This will be interesting to say the least!

To prepare (if you want to call it that) for nationals, we decided we actually needed to ride this thing together a couple of times.  Jefff showed up at my house so we could set up the bike.  He asked how we should determine who should be Captain and Stoker.....What??? Oh, the stoker is the one on the back. Since he already had his saddle and pedals on in the Captain's spot we decided to start off that way and switch it up later. We hooked up with two other local teams that were both going down to Nats as well. Both were couples that were going to race in the mixed categories. They all ride these crazy bikes together all the time and even do crits with them....Yes, Crits!! They were seasoned and we got a lot of valuable tips from them. Jeff and I are both strong riders but we pretty much got our asses handed to us on this training ride. There was a lot more to this than I had thought. We decided since we were probably only going to get 3 or 4 rides in together before we raced that we should just keep things the way there were....I am now a Stoker dammit! We got in two more rides and on the third we actually felt like we knew what we were doing and were stealing Strava KOM's left an right. We were ready to roll.

Tues Sept 3rd
We arrived in Bend and decided to head out to Prineville and recon the TT course the day before the race. We originally thought we'd ride our regular racing bikes but decided that was stupid and left them behind. I had logged a 55 miler up to Bachelor the day before but Jeff hadn't ridden in a few days and wanted to open it up a little. We only went hard for a few short burst to open up the legs and ended up with a time of 55 minutes. Not bad when the previous year’s winners rode a 53:30!  That gave us a glimmer of hope!

Wed Sept 4th
We drove out to the TT course early and saw teammates who were finishing up their solo TT efforts. As we watched we noticed the other tandem crews rolling in with these crazy custom, carbon machines with full on TT wheel setups. We figured some of these bikes were in the 15 to 20 grand price range....Out glimmer of hope dropped a few notches. We warmed up solo on trainers and proceeded to the line 7 minutes ahead of our start time. I guess we were pretty focused because a couple gals from one of our local teams were waiting for their start times joked that we looked like we were marching to our deaths... You could say that we had our game faces on.  Jeff was so focused that I had to tell him twice to clip in when the race crew held our bike before the start.
 So we crashed on the turn around!!!.....but that's the middle of the story

We got the countdown and off we went.  We took off super hard.... maybe a bit too hard on the way out but we were flying and it felt good. I basically had my head down and really had no idea where we were on the course. It was like doing the most painful indoor training session ever. It was a 40K (about 24 miles for you Americans) and before long Jeff let me know that we had reached the turn around. We had made it in under 25 minutes. We slowed and prepared for the 180 degree turn that we have both done tons of times, INDIVIDUALLY and a few times in training but never at 25mph.  We were 80% through the turnaround and started to accelerate, but the increased speed forced us to go wider and the front wheel left the road. We hit gravel and washed out. We both yelled "crap!" (Polite version) and hit the deck. We immediately hopped right up and started running w/out checking out the bike or our bodies for damage.  I told Jeff that we were still doing great and to remain calm. We both kind of ran with the tandem and somehow did a nice syncronized CX remount. I can't believe nothing went wrong with that. We probably lost about 15 secs. We tried not to overcompensate and blow up. the way back was harder with a bit of a head wind, and tired legs. I stayed tucked in tight. Every time Jeff scooted back on the seat to get more aero he hit me on in the head. Good thing I had a helmet on. We poured on as much power as we could muster, limping up the three little hills on the way back. Finally Jeff saw the 5k sign, there was another tandem ahead that we were chasing down. 3k sign, and Jeff realized that I wasn't seeing these signs so he yelled "3k to go". I didn't want to ride 3 more f'ing Kilometers but I know Jeff wasn't going to let up so neither did I. At one point I actually shut my eyes for about 30 seconds and just concentrated on my pedal stroke. We tried to go harder. We passed the tandem ahead of us. Then pushed even harder at the 1k sign. We finished with the time 53:00.80. We hurt so bad we couldn't even pedal for a bit after crossing the line. It was kind of funny as we were trying to figure out if we should stop and try to dismount or to try to keep pedaling. We limped back to the car. Early non official reports were that we won!! We heard it a couple of times over the loud speaker. We went over to wait for results to be posted. We hurt so bad we couldn't even sit on a bike seat or stretch. Neither of us have ever hurt so bad after a race. We chatted with other folks and rumors were that a tandem in our category did a 49:15. Dang. When results were posted, it turned out that a tandem in our field did post a 49:15 and set a new course record. Another tandem had a time of 53:01.78. We took 2nd by .98 seconds. Wow was that close.
The turnaround crash almost cost us second. It was a bit of a letdown since we thought we might have won, but it was still awesome feeling when Jeff's wife Kirsten reminded us that we were still number 2nd in the nation!
Thurs Sept 5th
This was my day for the solo assault in the road race. I'd been riding strong and felt I had a chance to make some noise in this one. My teammate Nikos who was also in riding well was racing with me.  My legs were feeling good and I was ready for battle. We wanted to get up to Bachelor early to watch other teammates that were going to be finishing up. We signed in and as we walked back to the RV an epic storm blew over the top of the mountain. The temp dropped from about 65 to 45 degrees w/nn minutes and the wind started to blow like crazy. Then came the thunder, lightning and marble to golf ball sized hale. 

We were getting kitted up and were putting on pretty much everything we brought with us. "Are we really going to race in this shit?" Fortunately, NO.!! All afternoon races were postponed until the following morning. Unfortunately it was the same day as the Tandem road race and since Jeff wasn't doing the individual road race I decided to drop out and just race the tandem. I was bummed but not matter what I would get to race and Jeff would miss out if I raced individually. Meanwhile we almost forgot that we had teammates still out racing in this. Before long we saw Kyle and Ed come in and we quickly got them into the van.  Kyle was freezing and it looked like he had been peppered point blank by rounds out of a paint ball gun.
Friday Sept 6th

So my saddle came loose and almost fell off...

We didn't go off till 3pm, so we sat around nervously waiting for the time we should leave to head to the race. It was hard trying to keep still and I think we were driving the wives crazy. It might be that any mistakes or weakness hurts both racers, and I didn't want to let the team down or the thought of 30 tandems heading downhill at high speeds in a pack. Whatever it was, I just wanted to get to racing. 

Because they had to reschedule all the afternoon races until today the officials decided to combine all the tandem categories.  We would all be scored separately but it was going to change the racing dynamics.  The race started and a tandem from our group immediately jumped off the front probably before we were even clipped in. I don't think most of the racers, including us knew that someone was off the front.  I only knew when a moto came back and said a team was off the front.  "Who was it and where were they?" The moto just rode away.  This is when we first noticed how things would change.  No one attacked to try to bridge because no one knew what field the group off the front was in.  The moto came back again and told us they had a 20 second gap. "Who had a 20 second gap?"  He took off and quickly came back with the bib number...Shit, they were in our field.

It wasn't really an option to attack since we were already hitting 60mph on the descent!  It was insanely frightening to be sitting on the back of a bike with absolutely no control while watching these huge bikes weaving all over the road, trying to grab the fastest wheel.  Having absolutely no control made me more petrified than you can imagine. I was sure there was going to be an epic crash. About half way down everyone started to settle down a bit and it wasn't quite as terrifying.
We took the corner at the bottom of the hill and my heart rate finally settled down.  Jeff and I decided to attack just after a corner and got away solo. Not ideal but we hoped others from our field would bridge up and help us close the gap.  It was right about then that I noticed that my saddle was a little loose.  I let Jeff know but didn't worry about it too much.  No one did so we decided to give it a shot and closed the gap from about one minutes to about 35 seconds and also got about a 40 second gap over the rest of the field.  We held both gaps for a few minutes but couldn't close on the guys up front.  If they were going as hard as we were there was no way they could hold this......could they?  We found out later that if we would have gotten a second closer they would have sat up.  They were at the end of their rope.  We decided it wouldn't last, and we went back to the field. We were wrong, there were nine different races inside our race, and the other folks didn't care a bit about the tandem up the road. We couldn't get a chase together. We learned how to attack on a tandem, not a quick maneuver, and we attacked several times, each time ending up going back to the pack after no one from our field would help to organize a solid chase.  We finally decided to give up killing ourselves and tried to force other teams to go.  They did but when we got on their wheel they would sit up instead of rotating through. It seemed they were already content to be racing for 2nd place . We tried to stay out of the wind when we weren't attacking so we would be fresh for the final climb. It was about this point where I really got worried that my saddle was going to actually fall off the bike.  Jeff even asked others if they had an allen wrench.  I had to sit just right to keep it from moving around.
The course is kind of weird in that it is just one big 84K loop and all of the climbing is basically in the last 12 miles with the hardest climb in the last six miles.  We went over the first part of the climb and while when we reached the flat section through the big meadow and I told Jeff that as soon as we hit that next curve all hell would break loose.  The climb started right on cue, two of our competitors hit it hard, so we slotted in behind them. We rode their wheel going about 14mph up a 6% grade.  Teams were getting dropped left and right and we just held steady at the front behind these two teams. Finally a team from another field got impatient, attacked and blew by us. I could tell Jeff wanted to go but I told him to just sit in behind the two teams from our field.  Soon enough one of them cracked and pull far left over the center line.  I thought that they would slot in behind us but they couldn't.  I then yelled that we should go now and bridge up to the one team off the front and we blew by the other team in our field. I looked back and saw that they were not able to hold our wheel.  I gave Jeff the intel and we pushed even harder.  We towed a few other teams up with us but none from our field....I think.  We both dug deep and closed the gap.  We moved to the front and set the pace.  After a minute or so I asked for help but we the other teams told us they couldn't pull through.  I just shook my head and we kept driving.  We looked back and now only two teams were left with us.  One was a 70+ men's team and the other a 110+ men's team.  That is the combined age riders have to be to race in a field.  Jeff and I were in the 90+ category.  We new the road was going to flatten out a little just ahead and we wanted to make sure that if teams recovered they couldn't organize and catch us.  I was actually feeling good so I kept going as hard a I could.  I didn't know how Jeff was feeling but we were flying.  I looked over Jeff's shoulder and told him the that up ahead was the near 180 degree turn that was about 1.5K from the finish.  There was plenty of road and we easily stayed up right. We were still getting no help from the other two teams but we didn't care.  We just drove on and with about 400 meters to go I told Jeff to sit up.  I don't know if he knew that neither of these teams were racing against us because he didn't sit up right away and probably thought I was crazy. 
I told him who they were and that we should let them by to enjoy the moment.  It kind of sucked knowing we just worked our asses off,  hauling two teams up to the finish that were both going to get Gold medals while we were getting Silver.  We coasted in for a second, watching the other two team celebrate.  We made up over 4 minutes on the leaders during the climb and wished we could have had a chance to go head to head with them but.......They made a move like I did in my last road race and I should have known better.  Anyway, being second in the nation twice ain't so bad!

After a while we went over and checked out the bike and we were a fraction away from completely loosing the saddle.  Lucky Us.

Well, now it's time to head back and get ready to get my arse handed to me in Cyclocross!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

2013 Gig Harbor Circuit Race

Gig last road race of the season before heading down to Masters Nats. in Bend.  We had a good crew racing in the Masters 1/2 field with Me, Mark, Tom, Nikos, David and Landon.  The marine layer was still hanging over the area and it was a little cool but perfect for racing.  The course is a short, 4 mile loop with a nice "kicker about 3K from the finish.   We all took a warm up lap around the course and I found that my legs were not really feeling it.  I was working hard to just keep up with everyone on the climb.  After we finished the lap I took a couple more trips up the hill by the start but never felt quite right.  Oh well......

Our plan was to keep doing what we've done all year.  We were all going to take turns attacking and if we were all together at the end we would try to set up Mark for the sprint finish.  As we staged I looked around and saw that we had a strong field.  This could be a good one! 

We rolled off neutral and were quickly let go.  The course immediately goes downhill.  At the bottom is takes a nice little right hander before flattening out.  We were probably only a mile into the course when I decided to take a dig off the front.  I mainly just wanted to take an opener to see if I could get the cobwebs out of my legs and to let other teams know that we were not going to just sit in.  I didn't really attack as much as just pick up speed an roll off the front.  After  a couple of seconds I got on it and before I knew it I had a nice little gap.  I help that pace for a short while to see if anyone was going to try to join me but no one did.  This is a circuit race and we were only doing 7 laps for 28 miles so I don't think anyone could say I went too early.  I decided I was going to push the pace until turn two and force the other teams to work.  As I entered the turn I looked back again and still no one was making a move.  I decided right then to go all in.  No one could see me once I made the turn so I got out of the saddle and put myself in the red.  I kept my head down and just pedaled as hard as I could through the winding road that let to the climb.  The road takes a lazy right hander just before the climb and it is one place on the course where you can get a nice look and what's going on behind you......Still no one chasing.  I decided to hit the hill like it was the last lap.  When I got to the top I looked back and could still see the field but it didn't look like anyone was off the front trying to attack.....Shit!......Now I guess I really have to do this.  I didn't let up on the downhill section after the climb and really hit it on the slight incline before the finish.  As I flew by I saw the lap counter showing 6 laps to go.  "This is going to hurt!"  Keeiichi Otani (HB) was working the course just passed the finish and he yelled that I had a 38 second gap.  I decided to ride the next lap as hard as possible and hope for the best.  Once again I took the climb as hard as I could and at the top I could not see the field anywhere.   I came through the finish and my gap had increased to 50 seconds.  I rode the next lap at tempo and took a little off on the climb and then dug hard to the finish.  I was half way done and now had about a 1:20 gap. 

Now things were getting interesting.  I was starting to get a lot of people standing on the course yelling for me and that helped motivate me.  I still had 4 laps to go but I was feeling really good and took lap for really hard again.  This time I had about 1:28 gap.  It was still increasing but not as fast. Even though I was feeling good I was starting to doubt myself.  Could I keep this up for 16 more miles?  There was no way I was going to give up so it was all or nothing I was either going to win this thing or they'd find me in a ditch after the pack chased me down and spit me off the back. 

Three laps to go and my lead was holding steady.  I tried to remain focused and just keep a hard, steady pace.  This time when I came through the finish I was told that I had a 1:38 gap on the field.  With two to go I now felt I could pull this off unless I had a mechanical or I cramped up.  I was feeling the burn but was motivated to get this done.  I told myself that I would take the hill really hard this time and then if I still held my lead I'd let off on the final lap.  When I came through to start the bell lap I still had a about a 1:30 gap.  Even though I wanted to ease up I didn't.  I didn't want to take a chance. 

I reached the base of the climb for the last time and took a look back.  Someone on the road yelled that there was no way I'd get caught but I still drove fairly hard up the hill.  At the top there is probably a little over 1.5K to go.  I sat up and pumped my fist to a few people that were standing at the top of the climb cheering me on.  I pretty much soft pedaled my way to the finish and had plenty of time to celebrate the win.  I ended up with a 1:04 lead on the pack. 

After coming through the line I didn't waist time cooling down.  I quickly turned around and got a good spot to see the rest of the field come in.  Soon enough I saw the lead car coming up the slight incline before the finish.  because of the angle I couldn't really see the riders behind.  A few seconds later the road flattened out and I could see blown up pack flying down the road.  It was an awesome site.  Up front all I could see was a bunch of green helmets flying towards me!  Mark came flying through the line in 2nd followed by Nikos and Tom.  We took the top four places. 
The team executed perfectly and it was a great way to end the Washington Road season.