Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mutual of Enumclaw Omnium Stage Race - 2009

Two days in the Enumclaw, WA.

Day 1:
Denise and I got up at 5:15 Saturday morning to get ready. I'm not going to lie to you, I was nervous as hell all morning. It was supposed to get up to 85 degrees, I have never done a short time trial and the figure eight crit course had me a little freaked out due to crashes from last year. I showed up at 7:30 and we set up our canopy which was really needed because we would be there all day and it was going to get hot. There were 76 riders in our field which was by far the largest compared to other categories. I had a 6.5 mile TT, a 30 minute crit. and a 44 mile, three lap road race with three big climbs ahead of me. Time for some pain.....

The TT:
My TT start time was right at 9:30. It was a mostly flat 6.5 mile, U-shaped course with one short out of the saddle climb. The start/finish was at the King County Fairgrounds. As I was warming up the Cat 4's had started and we saw a guy crash right in front of us. That is something I didn't expect to see. I warmed up on the training for about 40 minutes(probably should have done more). When it was finally my nerves settled and I was ready to go. We went out in 30 second intervals. They had a person on the line to hold your bike so you could be clipped in before the start. They gave me the five second countdown and I was off. I started in a big gear(maybe too big) and quickly got up to speed. I settled into a rhythm and was feeling OK. I was watching my HR and was careful to not go over my threshold at the beginning. I had no idea if I was doing well or sucking bad. I took the first turn and saw I was catching my 30 second man. I quickly passed him and was feeling good. I was doing 30 mph. My legs were starting to burn and I was only half way to the finish. I got to the short climb and passed my 60 second guy going up the hill....Two miles to go. I was now in pain. I kept pushing and was never so happy to see the finish of a 6.5 mile ride. I thought I was going to die by the time I crossed. I finished 22 out of 76 and I was extremely happy with that since didn't know what my strategy was at the start.
It was only about 10:30 and the Masters C/D crit didn't start until 4:35PM and it was going to be HOT. We hooked up with some buddies from Recycled Cycles and hung out under our canopy. By noon it was already 78 degrees. I just tried to rest and stay hydrated.
Distance: 6.3
Time: 15:02
Ave Speed: 25.9
Max Speed: 32.2
Ave HR: 172
Max HR: 181

The Crit:
A figure eight course running right through downtown Enumclaw with eight corners. There was a good group of people out watching and the music was cranked up. I had a bunch of friends racing in the CAT 4 race which was over an hour before mine so I had time to watch before warming up. Of the start they were setting a fast pace and a couple of my friends on others teams were sitting in good positions. On the last lap Josh(Recycled Cycles) was sitting 3rd wheel and I knew he was the strongest of the three so I figured he would win the sprint. All of a sudden 2nd place veered into 1st place's back wheel. Josh, couldn't get out of the way and went down with the 2nd place rider. He busted his frame but only suffered a little road rash. I have never seen something like that out in front of a race. This made me little nervous.
We were allowed on the course for warm up laps and for some reason I, along with about 20 others took two laps when everyone else stopped to line up. This sucked as I was now lined up about 60 riders back for the start of a .9 mile course. Right off the bat I knew I was going to be working too hard. You don't want to start off in the back of a 76 person field. It is way easier to ride up front. There were eight corners and the lead guys could fly through them without braking. Where the pack thickened up we had to brake, so after every corner I was working as hard as I could to hang on. You had to finish each stage to move onto the next and I didn't want to miss the road race. If you got lapped or quit you were forced out by the officials. If you made it half way through and got pulled by the officials you were still good, but if you quit you were done. After about 10 minutes I was definitely not having a good race after all the work I was doing to hang on to the back of the main pack. It is not often I am put in a state like this but I was praying to make it to the 15 minute mark without getting pulled. We had four primes and they were all brutal. I must not have put down enough fluids as I was cramping up and nothing felt good. I finally dropped just off the front pack but hooked up with a 2nd group and started to recover. We were working hard to get back to the pack and I was starting to feel good. I still wanted this thing to be over. We finally got the two laps to go signal and I was happy to know I'd finish on the lead lap and would be racing on Sunday. I thought we would finish with a clean race but....with two laps to go we had crash. I made it though clean with one lap to go. As we were coming up on turn three of the final lap we saw a ton of guys in the middle of the road. It was surreal and I couldn't figure out what was going on. I thought it was guys just off the course warming up for the next race. It turned out to be a HUGE pile up. Two guys went down hard and it seemed like another dozen or so unclipped trying to get through the mess . The Starbucks guy on the front of our group flew right into them and almost went down too but I managed to stay up and get around. I coasted to the fishish and Denise and I went straight to the Mint for a beer. I was surprised to see I finished in the top 1/3.
Distance: 14 miles
Time: 35.20 Minutes
Ave Speed: 24.1
Max Speed: 31.9
Ave HR: 165
Max HR: 175

Day 2:
The Road Race:
I got up Sunday morning at 5:15 and I was a little stiff. I kind of laughed when I realized I only rode about 23 miles on Saturday but felt like I did 100. Every one of those miles were hell. I was out the door at 6:30, this time without Denise. The whole way down I was feeling a little bummed as I've had four top ten finishes in a row in road races and I was sitting 2nd place overall down at Pacific Raceways. It had been a really good month. I was sitting 28th overall for the Omnium and I kept wondering what I could have done differently on Saturday. I also figured I was not going to finish with any points. I was starting to figure that is just wasn't going to be my weekend. Our start time was at 8:35 and I was happy we weren't going to be riding later in the day when it was 85 degrees. Because of riders who crashed or got pulled from the crit, we were down to about 60 in our field. I made sure to get up to the front for the start this time. It wasn't as important as the climbs would give you room to move but I felt the need to start up front. We rolled out and started at a nice comfortable pace. We knew Mud Mountain Rd. was coming up soon and no one was in a hurry to get there. The climb is about two miles long and is pretty tough when they have KOM points on every lap. We finally got to the climb and I quickly noticed that I was feeling REALLY good and many others were definitely not. Two guys (1 and 2 in the overall standings) took off to grab the KOM points. I didn't want to chase them down as I wanted to really make sure I had good legs. I stayed close and finished a close third. I got no points but I was up front and feeling great. As we regrouped at the top we noticed everyone was gone except for 10 of us. One of the guys was really pushing us to keep up the pace. After a fairly long flat section there is long bomber downhill back to 410. Last year guys regrouped and were able to catch back up to the leaders on the descent. I figured that would happen this year but the 10 of us decided to give it a shot. We worked the dual pace line to perfection, working only about two or three good pedal rotations on the front. We hit the downhill and kept our rotation going. It was a thing of beauty. When we hit the flat section back toward the start/finish, you know it well from RAMROD, it is slightly downhill but you have a decent little head wind. We kept working and finally got word from one of the officials' cars that we had a 1:30 minute lead over the next pack of 20 guys and a big lead over the rest. I looked back and couldn't even see them. We decided to keep up the pace and get to the climb before they had a chance to catch back on. As we hit Mud Mountain for the 2nd time we saw that we were catching the CAT 4 race. This was great as they had to neutralize and we blew by them on the way up. It gave us an extra spark and we were flyin' up the hill. After we passed the CAT 4's the same two guys flew off the front and took the points. I didn't work hard at all and came in right behind them in third. This time when we regrouped we had dropped half of our group. We were down to six. This would be harder to work the pace line but we kept it up. As we got to the bottom of the hill we found that we had a two minute lead over the chase group now. I knew then I was at least going to finish top 6. We made it to the final climb and as we started up I noticed that guys were really starting to look spent. Guys started to talk about going slow up the hill and staying together as a group. They wanted to make sure we were together at the top so we could keep working together. We would let the same two take the points but we would all stay together. Most of the guys were all happy to comply. I thought about this little discussion and figured the guys that wanted us to do this were cracking and it was a ploy so we wouldn't drop them. I sat third wheel and when we got 200 meters from the KOM line three guys dropped off. We were not working hard at all. We couldn't slow down one of the guys dropping off yelled at us to wait. At the 100 meter mark I made my move and blew by the the front two. One yelled that they thought we had an agreement and I yelded back that this was a race, not a club ride!! I took the KOM and when I turned back I was surprised that they didn't chase me to the line. They were about 50 meters back. I turned the corner and on to the flat section and figured I was feeling strong and could take any of them in a sprint so I sat up to wait. I looked back again and saw that they were not trying to haul me in. The were actually waiting for their teammates so they could work together and catch me. I couldn't belive it. I decided to pick up the pace and make them work to catch me so they would be more tired for the finish. I looked back again and noticed they were still "F-ing' around so I decided to take a gamble and go on a solo breakaway. I knew if they regrouped and worked together they could catch me on the run back into town where I would be hanging in the wind by myself. I made it to the descent and really started to hammer down the hill. I looked to try to haul me in on their own. At the bottom of the descent I was still away. I started to hammer down the flats. This made the time trial feel like kids play. I was completely maxing myself out. I kept looking back and I still had a good lead but did notice they were inching closer. I looked at my Garmin and saw I still had four miles to go. I was hurting but kept pushing it. There were a few times when I thought I would just sit up and wait and then try to beat them in a sprint at the finish. I knew I would hate myself if I did that so I kept pushing. If I was going to lose they were going to have to catch me. The official told me I had about a 30 second gap but they were closing. I just wanted to get to the turn to the fairgrounds and get out of the wind. It seemed like it would never come. They were now starting to be people on the side of the road as well as volunteers that were yelling at me to keep it up. It gave me a little extra push. I wanted to stop but knew I had only two miles to go. Gut it out, gut it out. That is all I kept telling myself. I finally saw the turn to the finish. I looked back and saw them but couldn't figure out if they were close enough to catch me. The 1K mark came up and now everyone on the road was yelling for me. I hit the 200 meter mark which was by the start line and all the racers warming up were yelling for me. I put my head down and was really pushing it again when I heard someone yell, "Dude, you got it the win, sit up and enjoy it!" I looked back one more time to make sure and knew I had it. I've never been in this situation. I'm usually in a brutal mass sprint for the finish. I didn't really know what to do. I sat up and pumped my fist. I then actually checked to see if my jersey was zipped up (for you, Steve, and all our other sponsors - what a dork!). With about 10 meters to go I threw my hands up and coasted across the line. I won by about about 20 to 25 seconds over 2nd and 3rd place. It was my first solo breakaway win in a road race. I don't remember a better feeling. I am still riding the high.
I ended up 4th overall in GC and collected $110 for my efforts. I want to thank all my Lakemont teamates for all the support and the hard ass training rides with all the climbing we do.(I guess we have no other choice) It really paid off. I love you guys.

HELL YEAH, BABY!!! This is what it is all about....until next week that is....
Distance: 42.94
Time: 1:50
Elevation gain: 2175
Ave HR: 143
Max HR: 169
Ave Speed: 23.5
Max Speed: 44.5


  1. Really good job yesterday, good win for you. I didn't have any legs at all this weekend, I knew at the top of the second lap that I wasn't going to be with the break at the top of the third lap. I heard those guys talking about staying together as a group for the climb, and I thought that was a little silly, I agree with you, it's a race- no deals. And by the way, I let you guys go about 1/3 of the way up the climb and no one waited for me, and I never expected them to either. The race official said I had 90 seconds at the top of the hill on the chasers, and I gave them 89 seconds back. I am glad that race wasn't 200m longer! Hopefully I have better legs for Winthrop, will you be there?

  2. Thanks! Good job holding off the pack. It's funny how one day you feel really strong and the next you don't. I got dropped in the Wenatchee road race and had to really fight to get 8th. I am going to race the Methow. What cat are you going to race?