Six of us that included me, Mitch, Dave C., Dave M, Peter D., and Curtis headed over to Ravensdale for the 60+ mile Road Race on Sunday. It was nice to have a group out there for a change. The weather early in the week called for sunny and 70 but when you live in the great NW you know you can't plan your life around the weather. As we drove through Hobart it started to rain and....wait for it......dampened our spirits a little. :) It wasn't bad but it did start getting the roads wet. It was only about 53 degrees so everyone was hoping they remembered to bring arm warmers. We warmed up and rolled over to the start. I was a little surprised that most of the fields had only 25 to 35 racers but ours was at 62. I'm guessing a lot of guys blew it off after racing in Ballard on Saturday or were down racing at Mt. Hood.
The course appeared to be a pretty easy 20+ mile loop with a few rollers, one short climb and a 1k brutal, nasty, insane, steep, lung blowing, leg burning, sprint climb for the finish. More about that later. Wide shoulders on the road also gave us more room to move around.
We rolled out in the drizzle and right off the bat a couple of Cucina guys went off the front. They had a ton of guys in our field and I quickly realized their plan. They would send a couple of guys off the front and when guys from other teams had to do the work to try to bridge and if anyone got a little gap Cucina would bring them right back and slow the pace down again. This went on for the first 10 miles and then two more went, along with one from Wines and one from Valley Athletic. I think guys were getting sick of chasing and realized we still had 5o miles to go so we let them go. Looking back we should have sent someone with them. It is easy to say that after the fact and most of the guys in back had no idea that a break had gone free. Pretty soon they disappeared from sight. I was really working hard to stay up at 5th to 7th wheel in case another real chase attempt went. I didn't want to get caught out. This kept going on for the next 20 or so miles. Someone would get sick of the slowing pace and jump in front and double our speed and then once Cucina pulled them back the pace would slow until someone tried again. This made for an interesting race that was tougher than I expected. After the first lap we still had no indication of how far the break was up the road. We hit the 25 mile mark and a guy from Runningshoes.com that was in the break with me at Enumclaw got up beside me and asked if I wanted to give it a try. I was feeling good and we both took off. Guys chased for a couple of seconds but we set a fast pace and they let us go. We quickly got a 30 second gap and were riding hard. Our lead was gradually increasing. When we got about a 40 second gap an official finally pulled up to us and told us the leaders had about a 1:20 lead on us and almost 2:00 on the rest. We kept going and a few minutes later a different guy said they had a 2:00 minute on us. Someone gave us bad info. I was a little pissed as I still didn't really know how far up the road they were. I looked at my Garmin and we still had 30 miles to go. If the lead was less then a minute I would have kept going but we were in a place that if we didn't catch them and the pack let us dangle out there we could completely blow up and just be left in their dust to finish alone. We quickly decided to sit up and wait for the pack. They caught us and some were a little surprised that we didn't keep it going as they thought we were away clean. I thought is was a good move on our part as I didn't blow up and at least we got the pack moving. We quickly slotted back in up front and rested for a bit. At about 40 miles I believe they leaders DID have a 2:00 minute gap and I started to think we would be going to be sprinting for 5th place. This bummed me out a bit. I knew they would have to continue to work their asses off but if we didn't get organized it would be over for us.
With 20 miles to go Kenten from Cafe Appassionato and a guy from Old Town started to try to get something going. They took longer pulls up front and the pace would increase but Cucina kept pulling them back and we would slow again. There started to be some nervous tension in the pack and a few guys were yelling at people, including me. I tried to get some of our strong guys up front but at the time I didn't know that Mitch had dropped his chain at the bottom of the climb and had to do a mammoth effort just to get back to the pack. It is amazing that he even got back and that had to take a big toll on him. Dave M. unfortunately flatted and it took so long for the wheel change that there was no way he was going to get back. Curtis, in his very first race was in position and stepped up. He did some mammoth pulling up front for about 10 miles and we were finally starting to move. Once Cucina would catch him he would drop back for a minute or so and then go hard out front again. It was awesome. Other teams took notice and started to help out a bit. Next thing you know we saw one of the Cucina guys that was in the break up ahead of us. He must have popped and we quickly gobbled him up. We then saw the Wines guy. I felt bad for him as he somehow broke his wheel and he was just limping along. Two down, two to go.
We now had about 5 miles to go and the everyone was starting to smell the finish line and attacks started happening left and right. It was really tough marking all of them but I really wanted to be up front before we hit the 90 degree turn for the finish. It was starting to wear on me but I felt I had just enough gas left. Then the pace really slowed for a bit. We had hit the 59 mile mark and I had no idea where the final turn was. It was off the main course that we had been doing and I couldn't remember. No one around me could either so no one wanted to go fearing they would be jumping too early. We came around a curve and there was the other Cucina guy from the break, one left. It was crazy, everyone was bunched in but there was one short climb coming up and I decided to hammer up it to try to put a hurt on some people and spread out the pack a little. We came down and finally after going around one more bend, there is was. I was positioned exactly where I wanted to be. I believe that last year you saw the 1K mark before you hit the turn and then it was a 200 meter or so sprint for the finish. This time we saw the 1K mark right after the turn so when I was expecting a 200 meter uphill sprint I had to rethink and prepare for 1K of hell. We didn't have the full road until the final 200 meters so you were just waiting for someone to go and hope you didn't get pinched in. Some took off way earlier than I thought and I had to try to follow. I thought my solo break from last week hurt but this tripled that. It was insane. Everyone was burning their last match and it was just going to be survival of the fittest. As we hit the 200 meter mark everyone spread out. We could see the final survivor from the break up ahead and I thought we might catch him but didn't even care. I just wanted this to end. Everyone was cooked but you had to keep going. I was sitting about 4th wheel and a bunch of the antelopes flew by me. I was ready to quit but I didn't want to go this far and just fade away. I put my head down and reached for a gear I didn't know I had and started bringing them back. I was gaining ground again and passing guys. I then saw the tent at the finish and realized the Valley Athletic guy survived the break and would win. An amazing effort on his part. I gave it one last effort and came across right with four other guys. We were so close I had no idea how I finished. The finish was not at the top of the hill and it was still steep. They told us to keep rolling through so we wouldn't be in the way of the following races. No one could and we all basically fell off our bikes. My legs felt like they were going to explode. They tried to get us to move up the road but all we could do was drag our bikes into the grass. I ended up 7th and was a little bummed because of how close I finished with three other guys and could have easily been 4th. It was still a good finish and everyone else did a great job finishing with the main pack. I was really happy for Curtis for how well he did for his very first race. He said it took him about 30 miles just to figure out what the hell was going on. I was also very happy for Chandler who also was right there at the end after having blown up in his first two races. This was a long, hard........race and I think everyone did great. On to the Methow Omnium next week.
Ave hr: 135
Max hr: 179
Ave Speed: 23.4
Mas Speed: 40
Elevation gain: 2480 ft.
link to race results