Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Methow Valley Tour - 2009

What a weekend!! I decided to race in the masters catagory which included all masters age 35+. It was not broken down or scored separately. There were some legit Cat 1/2 racers in our field so I was a little intimidated. We had around 50 in our field.
Denise and decided to make a long weekend of it and we rented a cool little cabin that was in between Mazama & Winthrop for three nights. It was a great location since all three races started in different places around the valley. The weekend weather called for temps in the high 80's with chances of t-storms in the afternoon.

Time Trial:

My start time was at 10:13 so I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn. We got to the start in Mazama and it was beautiful out. I think it was already close to 75 degrees. I warmed up on my trainer for about 45 minutes (probably not enough) and headed to the start. The course was a 9.2 mile out and back over rolling terrain that curved with the river. I was just hoping to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack. 5..4..3.. 2..1.. Crap! Right out of the blocks I somehow locked up and my chain skipped. I had a moment of panic but got rolling. I probably waisted two seconds right off the bat. I felt like a dork but finally got rolling and up to speed. I still really haven't developed my TT skills so I just focused on my 30-second man. I hit the first hill and went over it feeling pretty good while mashing it out in the big ring. I was closing in on my rabbit. The rest of the way out I was feeling pretty good but then caught my 1-minute guy right at the turn around. We had an awkward moment as he "zigged" when I "zagged" which slowed us both almost to a stop. It took me a while to get back in my groove and it cost me some time. I was still closing in on my 30-second guy. There was a little head wind on the way back, just enough to give me something to complain about. Each hill got a little tougher. I was now not picking up any more time on the guy in front and was starting to suffer a little. At the final hill I had to drop to my small chain ring at the top which sucked but got me over it. I finally hit the 1k mark and for the first time I did a head check to see if anyone was around me. A guy from Byrne was gaining fast and it gave me the will to dig deep so he wouldn't catch me at the finish. I put my head down and dug it out. 9.2 miles of pain. I did hit my goal and finished in the top half of the field....barely, with a time of 23:49. Somehow the official time was a minute off but it was like that for everyone. Time to cool down and get ready for the hill climb.

Hill Climb:
I rested and tried to stay hydrated back at the cabin and watched the temperature continue to rise. I jumped in my rig at 2:00 and it read 86 degrees. This might suck. Our start time was at 3:30 so it wasn't going to be cooling down anytime soon. I seemed to have a panic moment before each of these stages. This one occurred on the way out. I had the directions plugged in my nav but got behind a car with a couple of racers. I tuned out and just followed them. I finally started to think that I should have been to the lot by now and looked down and noticed were were traveling almost 7 miles in the wrong direction. I started flashing my lights and got the guys to pull over. I told them to follow me. I was looking at my watch and realized that warm up time would be basically getting dressed and heading to the start. I got there with only a 1/2 hour to get ready. As we got near the parking lot I noticed that a storm was brewing and blowing right towards us. I didn't care if it rained but it was that the clouds showed up right before our start. You could hear the thunder in the distance.
The course was an 8 mile hill up a forest service road. I had never seen the course but the tech guide said it was a 1.5 flat roll out to a 6 mile climb with grades of 4% to 10%. That doesn't sound too bad right? The 1.5 mile flat was our neutral start. All 50 of use were packed in tight and carrying on idle conversations. We hit the turn, the horn sounded, race on. The 1/2's in our race started attacking right away and even though I told myself to ride my own race, I jumped on. Guys were dropping off left and right and within the first mile of the climb our field had diminished to only about 20 guys. I was feeling good but was working hard. About half way up the big hitters went off again. I still managed to hang on and now there were only 15 of us. It finally got to me and I had to drop off along with a couple of Cucina guys. As we went backwards I made the mistake of trying to pick up the pace again. This left me out by myself and the wind from the storm really picked up. Even though we were climbing it was slamming us right in the face. I should have slowed right away but didn't for some reason. I started to crack. Finally, four guys working together caught me and I had just enough in the tank to grab their wheel. What a difference that made. I was able to sit in and rest for a bit. At about the six mile mark the grade flattened out and you could get in the big ring and hammer for a while. One of the Cucina guys took off and I got on his wheel. We dropped the other two but there was a group of about six who probably rode a smarter race that were closing fast. We finally hit the 1k mark and I was starting to crack again. Two guys flew by and I couldn't jump on. It was now up to me and the Cucina guy to hold of the pack. 200 meters to go and they were closing fast. There was no way I was going to let them catch us. I hit the line in 19th place. I was not happy with the result but I'll take it. As we were sitting on top waiting for the women to finish it started to drizzle. As we started heading down it started to pour. At the bottom I saw the cat 1/2 and cat 3 guys running to their cars and hiding under trees. I left and don't know if it stopped raining for their race. I didn't have to race until 12:15 on Sunday so it was off for some microbrews and grub.

Road Race:

I was starting to regret getting to sleep in. The temp was climbing again and as we rolled in to Winthrop it was 86 degrees and felt hot. We had a canopy so I just climbed on my trainer and did some easy pedaling. As I was getting ready we started hearing ambulances coming from all directions. We found out the cat 4 woman and the cat 4/5 men both had nasty crashes right at the finish of their races. I heard some people blaming it on the downhill finish. That made me a little nervous along with the fact that I figured that the cat 1/2 guys would do what they did in the hill climb and start attacking right away. We had a beautiful 15 mile loop that went through the hills around Winthrop and passed through downtown each time. We would do four laps. I just wanted to be able to hang with them and not get dropped. I was worried about keeping hydrated but I didn't want Denise to have to sit in the sun at the feed zone all day just to hand me bottles so I decided to just throw an extra in my jersey. It proved to be enough. We rolled out and I wasn't really feeling it and was probably sitting about 4oth wheel. I'm not used to being in the back and realized how much work it is. I was starting to worry that I'd get dropped if the field decided to go. We finished the first lap and I was still in back. The first lap was fairly easy. As we went through town I was surprised to see how many people were lining the streets and cheering. We started to climb the hill out of town and I got out of my funk and realized that I was feeling pretty good. Why the hell was I sitting in the back? I got out of the saddle and sprinted to the front and slotted in about 5th wheel. I'm not exactly sure when it happened but a guy from 2nd Accent had made a break and we let him go. I don't think anyone thought it would stick. As we continued his teammates did their job up front and kept the pace down. Cucina started sending guys off, along with another guy from Valley, I think, and finally two of them were able to get away from us as well. From then on the pace was fast as guys started to try to bridge constantly. I knew how strong some of these cat 1/2 guys were and since I was the only one on my team in this field I wasn't going to try anything stupid. We finished the 2nd lap and at this point the leaders only had about a 30 second gap on us and I thought we would haul them in for sure. as we hit one of the hills half way through the lap we caught the cat 3 race. I think this helped the guys in front to increase their lead. We got by them and then guys really started to put up a chase. I was still feeling great and was now marking all the accelerations. We hit the feed zone and I tossed a bottle and pulled the one from my jersey. I was ready for the attacks to start. We hit town and this time the trip up the hill was full tilt. You could tell people were starting to hurt. As we crested I looked back and we were in a long single pace line and we probably only had 30 to 35 guys left. We hauled in everyone from the break except the 2nd Accent guy. He had been gone all day and I was thinking he might hold us off. We hit the final climb and we were all spread out but I managed to stay about 5th wheel. We flew by the feed zone for the last time and that is when realized what happened in the 4/5 race. As usual, we didn't have the full road until the last 200 meters. The road has no shoulders and is straight and downhill to the finish. Everyone that was struggling up the climb was able to coast right back in and we were 30 deep, shoulder to shoulder heading to the 200 meter mark. It was intense. We were all fighting to hold our position and I was bouncing and leaning on shoulders most of the way in, unwilling to give an inch. I was sure there was going to be a big pile up. As we hit about 400 meters a guy from Cucina took off. Let the sprint begin. At the 200 meter mark I was sitting right where I wanted to be when the guy right in front of me touched wheels with someone and swerved hard. Luckily we just gained access to the full road. I had to swing wide left right into the wind. We finished in a tight bunch but because I had to slow to keep from going down I only finished 16th. I was still really happy as at least I was in there for the final sprint. All and all I finished 19th overall for the weekend. Time for more beer.

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