This turned out to be a good week for me. On Tuesday I rapped up the overall win in the Pacific Raceways series (CAT4/5) http://www.buduracing.com/raceresults/20090811_368.xls and on Saturday followed it up with a good showing in the LWVC #3 race over in Gig Harbor.
The Gig Harbor race is the 2nd of three in the Lake Washington Velo Circuit race series. When I got up it was only 52 degrees at my house and still pretty cloudy. This time I made sure to grab my arm warmers and a 2nd layer. It wasn't supposed to rain but when in Washington, anything can happen. I hit the road with a friend from Byrne at 6:45. We got to the lot around 8:00 and it was still quite chilly but there was no threat of rain. I think I had a few too many beers the night before as I was not my usual organized self. I was fumbling around trying to find items in my car. I couldn't get my frame number attached. I left a full banana I was planning on eating somewhere near the registration table. I Almost forgot to put on my heart rate monitor, started riding off w/out my helmet, etc... Luckily I had someone with me or I would have forgot my bike. When we finally were ready to roll out to warm up, John noticed his rear tire was half flat. We pumped it up and it was holding air so we just rolled out. Had I been thinking straight I would have forced him to changed it right there but we only had 20 minutes until our start. You can guess what happened to him during the race.
I basically only did about 2 miles of riding before the start and was NOT warmed up at all. When we got to the staging area and found we were only doing 5 laps I was a little worried about my pre-race warm up, or lack there of. I moved my way up to the front as it looked like we were going to have a huge field(75 to be exact) and I didn't want to start from the back. The course was a 4.5 mile circuit and with only 5 laps were were only doing 20 miles. It was going be like a crit. There were two hills, one that was fairly long but gradual (maybe a 7% average?) and the other, right after it that was short and maybe 5%. There was only one corner that would be considered "hairy" that came at the bottom of a fast descent and was beyond 90 degrees. There would be one intermediate prime on the 2nd lap.
We had a really short neutral roll out and then we started racing. We were going at a good pace but nothing to write home about. Right away, Max, a junior from Wines took off for what would be the only breakaway attempt of the day. We let him go until we reached the first hill. The pace up the hill was slow and it was easy to stay up front but my legs felt like 2 x 4's from the lack of warm up I did and I was a little worried I wouldn't be able to accelerate when I needed to. We hit the next short hill, rolled through the finish line and got ready for the prime lap. The pace stayed pretty mellow throughout the lap and didn't start getting heated until the first climb. I had no problem keeping to the front and my legs were starting to feel better. I had no intention of contesting the prime as my only goal was to finish strong for upgrade points. I only needed two to get my CAT 3 upgrade so an effort in a prime was of no interest to me. With about 300 meters to the finish several guys took off hard and others that wanted series points took chase. I jumped on chaser's wheels just to make sure not to get dropped if a surge came from the leaders after the sprint through the line. I know we were starting to spit guys off the back but most of the pack was able to catch back on. The third lap was uneventful.
As we started the 4th lap I was still sitting up front and feeling good. We hit the fast downhill section and for some reason the guy in front of me hit his brakes pretty hard. I had to really grab mine to avoid going into his wheel. The guys that kept their speed on the inside flew by and all of a sudden I was sitting about 20th wheel. I wasn't worried because during the first three laps passing on the hill was easy as the pack got strung out. As we hit the tight turn at the bottom I was able to move up about five spots but was still not in a happy place. Then, the pace slowed to a crawl and everyone was in a tight bunch as we came to the hill. There was no room to pass. I was getting frustrated but there was nothing I could do. We were going so slow that it was hard to get a rhythm going up and I was braking a lot. We came through the finish for start the final lap and nothing changed. We were still tightly bunched going into the downhill section and I couldn't make any move forward. I was starting to get worried that I'd get boxed in and be in no position to make the sprint at the finish.
As the course started to flatten out and were setting up for the last time through the tight corner. I was still sitting about 15th wheel and was on the yellow line side. II was able to move u a few spots on the prior lap w/out trying so I decided that I needed to make something happen through the turn. I figured if I could line up wide and take the corner at speed with no brakes I could get out of the saddle and sprint up the left side while everyone in the middle had to tap their brakes. The downside would be that I would come in too fast, overshoot the turn and end up hanging out with the squirrels. It worked out perfectly and I shot up to 5th wheel and my heart rate went from 172 to 138. The pace was starting to pick up but still not too bad. We hit the first uphill section and this time the pace was fast. Everyone was in their big chain ring and out of the saddle. I could see guys out of my peripheral dropping off fast as we got half way up. The legs were hurting a bit but not too bad. I was able to keep my breathing under control. I just wanted to stay smooth and climb up fast enough to stay about 5th wheel. I didn't want to push hard enough to get caught up front and have everyone keying off me for the finish. As we crested I looked around to check out who the competition was and knew everyone up there. I felt the tension of the pack and was ready to unleash and go balls out for the finish. We hit the 1K mark and I figured the pace would rapidly pick up but didn't think someone would go until about 300 meters to go. To my surprise someone jumped right after we went by the 1K to go mark. It caught me a little off guard but I was in good position and quickly accelerated. One other guy timed the move perfectly and was on the leaders wheel. There was about a wheel length gap between me and the two leaders and I was pushing hard to close it. Just before I could lock to them the 2nd place guy went. I wasn't close enough to follow the move so I focused on staying with the other guys as I knew he was a strong finisher. He finally put it into the gear that most people don't have at about the 250 meter mark. At 200 meters the road was fully open for us and the drag race was ON! I was really feeling the burn from taking off at the 1K mark and hoped I had enough in the tank to finish this off. I wanted to take a peek behind me to see if anyone was on my wheel. I forced myself to keep my head down and push as hard as I could to the finish. I was at my max (heart rate, power, speed, etc.) and I was really expecting a wave of about 5 to 10 guys to come flying by me at the 50 meter mark. "Keep your head down stupid, drive through the finish!!" I kept telling myself that and all of a sudden the finish line showed up and no one went by. I finished third!! I looked back and saw that I had a decent little gap over 4th place and was really happy with my effort. Thank God the course drops downhill right after the finish. Pedalling might not have been an option.
The points from this race gave me enough to get my CAT 3 upgrade!! This was a great end to a great week of racing.