Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Monday, June 22, 2009

Boston Harbor Circuit Race - 6/21/09

Denise's parents live only 9 miles from the start/finish line so we headed south on Saturday to start off the Father's Day weekend with a baseball game. Before the game we drove the course. It was a 6 mile course on country roads. It looked pretty straight forward with only one hill of any significance, a couple of downhill sections and four turns, two of them fairly sharp. It was a chip seal road surface with few areas that had shoulders so you would need to calculate your moves. It was raining on and off most of Saturday and it called for the same on Sunday. It was raining when I hit the sack at 11:00pm. The chip seal looked like it would be quite slippery when wet so I sent out the "NO Rain"vibes to the weather Gods. My race time wasn't until 1:1pm so I got a rare chance to sleep in. We awoke Sunday morning to beautiful weather. That put me in a pretty good mode but As Denise will tell you I am a little hard to deal with on race day and to have that much time on my hands probably drove everyone in the house nuts. When I arrived at the parking lot I heard reports from a bunch of racers that they went through all kinds of crazy weather on the way down. You could see the thick, black clouds up north but we had 70 degrees and sun throughout the race.
We had about 50 in our field and since I hadn't raced the course before and was the only one on my team in the field I wanted to make sure to get lined up early so I could start up front. Since it was a shorter race and I was feeling good my goal was to stay up front all day and mark any break attempts that Cucina and Valley made. Their teams were well represented and since it was the Valley's race I knew they wanted to try to get the win. (They did) Earlier races had deer running across the roads so in addition to all the other things you normally have to worry about we also told by the official to watch out for Bambi. Out neutral roll out lasted until we got out of the parking lot. I wasn't expecting to hear the signal to race so fast but the pace went from zero to fast w/in a few seconds. There would be no easing into this one. I formed some alliances with a couple of other guys I knew that didn't have a teammates racing with them. We all figured we could use the help. We all slotted in right up front. Half way through the first lap the break attempts started. We pulled all of them back right away. We came around the 4th corner that takes you back to the finish. There is descent downhill that leads into a climb just before the 1k mark. Going up the hill I realized that I was feeling good and was right up in front. After the climb you have about 1k to get your breath before the 200 meter mark. I wanted to pay attention each lap to see how guys reacted after the climb. The next few laps were the same. Cucina and/or Valley would send a guy up the road and we would pull them back. The wind was really picking up and I was thinking that it would take something special for a break to get away. On the third lap a Cucina guy did get away for quite a while but only because we let him dangle in the wind before pulling him back. We finally reeled him in shortly after the start/finish. I was still sitting up front and feeling good so I started to think if there was a way I could sneak off the front. We had dropped a bunch of guys but it was starting to appear that we would have about 30 guys gunning it out in the sprint. We came around a corner into the driving wind and another Cucina guy went. He went at a good time when we were already working hard and the pace had not slowed down yet so I decided to jump on his wheel and see if we could hurt some guys that were hanging on the back. I think he was surprised to see someone with him. Everyone of their prior attempts had been solo. We looked at each other and then really picked up the pace. Our lead started to grow as we took turns taking pulls. We probably got a 30 second lead before we realized that the two of us probably couldn't sustain this with all of the head wind. We gave it one last effort and then sat up and waited for the pack . The last lap started out pretty easy. No one wanted to be up front and we cruised for about two miles. Finally a couple of Valley guys came up front and started to hammer. It seemed like they had a plan and wanted to spread out the pack to give one of their guys a better chance at the finish. Now the race was getting interesting. We were really flying and now you had to really fight to hold your position up front. I was moving from 3rd to 10th wheel and back in a matter of seconds. The effort it took was taking it's toll on guys and many decided to fall to the back. Everyone wanted to be up front for the final turn. It is pretty sharp and you wanted to be able to pick your line through it and not brake. I went through sitting 2nd wheel and had a good line. We hit the downhill and guys from the back were able to get back up with the leaders. You wanted to keep your momentum for the climb so you didn't get caught in the middle of the pack behind guys that were struggling up the hill. It was starting to get tense. As we climbed everyone was trying to get clear and get up as fast as they could so they could setup for the sprint. I did get caught behind a couple of slower riders but managed to get around them and up over the top close to the front of the pack. After the climb the road goes slightly downhill and straightens out. It was just like at Methow. We were five wide and six deep and flying. No one wanted to give up position and we were really knocking shoulders. The F-Bombs were flying but everyone kept their composure. Right before the 200m mark the pace slowed a little as no one wanted to lead out. Finally someone went and the guy in front of me happened to be on his team and he made no attempt to sprint,probably trying to block a little for his teammate. I had to brake for a second and then when the whole road opened I swung around him had a good sprint going but there was no room to pass and 10 of us finished right next to each other. I knew I wasn't in the top three but after that I had no idea. I ended up 7th and was was really happy with that. One of these days I'll get a good break on the sprint and end up on top. It was nice having Denise and her parents out watching the race.

Here is how close the finish was. I'm 2nd from the left.


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