Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Longbranch Road Race

I just got back from the Longbranch road race which is somewhere near Gig Harbor on the Key Peninsula. What a beautiful area. After the weather we had last night I thought I was going to be in for a wet one today. On the way over it was really foggy near the Narrows Bridge but when I got to the start/finish it was sunny, 55 and dry roads. My nav. told me it would take 1 hour and 45 minutes to get there but with no traffic I was there really early. The course is only 10.1 mile loop so I decided to drive it since I've never done this race before. It was the perfect course for me. There were three hills, two that were about a 1/4 with gradual ascents and one steep 1/2 mile wall. At the start I was feeling really confident. We rolled out and it was like a nice Saturday morning training ride. Everyone was talking and we were going about 12-15 mph. When we got to the base of the first climb I figured that someone would go and I would just sit on their wheel. No one went. Half way up the hill we were just crawling so I decided to get the pace going and got out of the saddle. I got to the top and no one was behind me so I sprinted down the hill and hit the 1/2 mile steep climb. I hammered up it and was feeling really good. A couple of guys were finally starting to chase me down. I got back in my big ring and then it pitched up slightly one last time. For some stupid reason decided to drop back down to the small ring while I let them catch me. I dropped my chain. I didn't even have to shift and still don't know why I did. No big deal. I dismounted and went to throw it back on. I almost blew a gasket. For those of you that were on one of the Saturday training rides earlier this year when Chandler dropped his chain on the hill on Mercer Island you know what I'm talking about. The chain sucked down between the cassette and hub and I couldn't dislodge it. One, two, three guys go by. I finally realized that I would have to take the wheel off, 4, 5, 6.....By the time I got it off I was in dead last place and I think my heart rate was about 200bpm. I had to start on a steep hill from a standstill which sucked but I was able to get over the hump. I thought I would be able to catch the leaders and about that time I got my rhythem back the trailing wheel car went around me which meant I was so far back that I wouldn't even have support. I was the only guy the car went around. That takes the wind out of your sales, not to mention your pride. I decided to make the best of it and really started to time trial it. I managed to catch the wheel car along with about 5 guys right away. I was feeling a little better. These guys were hammered from the climb and couldn't hang to do any work with me. I was out there alone. At the next climb I saw two more guys and I maxed out to try to catch them by the top. It paid off. These guys just had a bad climb but were actually strong riders. The three of us were working well together but we couldn't see the pack in front of us anymore. One of them asked if we were going to quit the race after this lap. I told them I was going to keep going. At least it was nice out and I would get a good "race pace" workout in. They decided to gut it out with me. The next thing you know we started picking riders off left and right. We managed to get one more guy to work with us. We stayed together and finished the 2nd lap. By now I knew we were never going to catch the leaders but we were still catching guys that were getting dropped. We got to the big climb for the final time and I saw two more guys struggling to make it up. I told the guys that I was going to hammer up and if they were close to me at the top I would wait. I got to the top and they were way back so I decided to go it alone. I quickly caught the two guys and then saw two more. At the next climb I passed them and then saw three more. They were battered from climb and I blew past them. One of the guys was from Byne and he was young and didn't like the fact that I caught him so he started flying down the hill and passed me. This was perfect because I could sit in and rest while he did all the work. We had 2K to go and it finishes on a gradual climb. I flew by him and saw two more guys. I gave it all I got and passed them right at the finish. I was not overly exited but I did feel I worked hard. I went to the car and got ready to leave. I didn't feel the need to hang our for the results. As I was driving out one of the guys from the Wines of Washington team stopped me and told me I got 11th. I thought I placed somewhere in the mid 20's or something like that. I'm still bummed as I thought I had it today and would be battling it out for the win. Oh well, that's racing. I'll get them next week at Ravensdale.

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