Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lake Washington Velo Circuit Race #3 - Carnation

......or should I call it "Crash Fest" This was the third installment of the Lake Washington Velo Circuit Race Series and it did not disappoint! When Denise and I left the house at 7:00am and it was pouring. I started to question my sanity and wonder why anyone would willingly get up early on a Saturday to go race on a flat, fast, sketchy course in a down pour.with 75 other guys. As we headed down tour hill it began raining harder. All we could do was laugh. You expect this kind of weather in the early season races and sometimes even into June but in late August? As we got closer to Carnation the rain started to lighten up and by the time we reached the parking lot it had stopped. The roads were still soaked but it looked like the sun would eventually make an appearance.

I still wasn't fully motivated to race and took my sweat time getting ready. I roamed around the field talking to friends and teammates until finally needed to get on the bike and warm up. We took a couple of laps around the 4.5 mile course and it didn't make me a fan. It was almost completely flat with four right turns, two of which were 90 degrees or beyond and a couple of sweeping curves. Someone had been four wheeling or something to that affect in a field and had spayed gravel and mud onto the road right at turn four but the Hagens guys worked really hard and got it cleaned up for us by the time we came thought it on our 2nd lap. There were no shoulders on most of the course and the "turtles" in the road were slightly right of the center line so it made the road even more narrow. The long, straightaway up to the finish had a lot of uneven pavement on the right side of the road that you wanted to avoid but they were giving us about 450m instead of the standard 200m so we could more easily avoid the bad parts. Anyway, on to the race.

We were doing six laps on this 4.5 mile course with an intermediate sprint at the finish of the third lap. We had 76 guys in our field so with having no hills and wet roads I knew we were in for an interesting race. As we rolled out neutral I joked that I was going to attack as soon as we were given the OK to race. Everyone joked about doing the same thing but when the horn sounded I took off like I was on fire. No one expected it and no one responded. Since our field was so big I wanted to make things interesting right off the bat. I quickly built a nice lead and the Starbucks crew sat up front and controlled the pace while my lead kept growing. I was feeling really good as and was wondering if I could hold onto a solo break for 24 more miles. I was slowing inching farther ahead when a couple of guys did get nervous. Eric and Ian from NWCC got around and forced the issue to haul me in. I made them work to catch me but waited for them to catch up. When they did we had a long single file pace line going and I felt I accomplished what I wanted to do. When you have 76 guys packed into a tight course it is nice to be up front and not caught in the craziness of the back of the pack.
Everyone made it through corner 2 without incident. I few guys came dangerously close to overshooting it but no one went down. We hit the first second sweeping turn and I felt my rear wheel start to slide out. I didn't freak out and kept it upright but it was close. It was a little weird because it didn't seem like a place where that would happen. As we came through corner four there was still some debris on the road but not nearly as bad as when we were warming up. We cruised by the start/finish and we still had everyone and before turn one we were all bunched up again.

The second lap is where it started to get interesting. Going into turn 2 more guys came close to hitting the ditch but no one when down. As we hit that sweeping turn that almost put me on the deck I heard that all so familiar sound of bikes hitting the pavement. It is a lot louder than you think. I'm not sure how many guys went down but I heard there were quite a few. As soon as I heard the crash I yelled at everyone to pick up the pace. If we could drop them and anyone who got caught behind us it could make our lives a lot easier. We came through the start/finish for the 2nd time and this time the pace was a lot higher. We had sprint points at stake at the end of lap three and I think guys were queuing up to get ready for it. Points went three deep going 4, 2 1 respectively. Everyone managed to stay upright on this lap but there were a lot of close calls. As we came up for the sprint I was sitting 4th wheel but decided not to contest it. I wanted to save my energy for the finish. I stay close enough to be able to jump on after a handful of guys flew by me.

We hit my favorite corner again and two guys in front of me overshot the turn and when they hit the brakes the both when sideways. I don't know how they didn't go down. I was right behind them and almost hit the deck. Heart rate up, speed down....not a good thing. I lost about 10 spots and had to fight to get back to the front.

The next lap was uneventful except for turn two.....again. A guy went down right in front of me and I am not sure how I avoided him. Again, I dropped a few places and had to work to get back to the front. The race was now on and everyone was jockeying for position. I was sitting about 4th or 5th wheel and was poised for the final sprint. We hit corner 4 and the guy right in front of me overshot and hit the brakes. I had to brake and then get around him w/out going down. I managed to do this successfully but when I looked up the sprint to the finish had already started and I was down to about 20th wheel. I thought I was done, all this work for nothing. Oh well, that is racing. At least I should be able to hold onto my 5th place overall for this three race series. As I looked around I noticed that most of the guys I knew to be strong finishers were back with me. Hmmmm...maybe not all is lost. I saw three of them move over to the left side of the yellow line and I made the decision to jump on. All of a sudden I thought that I might have a chance to salvage something here. We were flying and all of a sudden were were passing guys like they were standing still. We still had 200 meters to go and within a couple of seconds my shifted from "You're done" to "I can win this thing!" It was crazy. There was no shoulders and we were riding right on the edge of the road. Spectators were lined up on both sides and there were ditches right beyond the road so they had no place to go. (Asked Denise and Steve about that) so as we flew by they were literally inches away. The finish line was coming up and I went to make my move I flew around the first two guys and as I was moving by the fourth I felt something on my right side. Jordan from Caffe Appassionato and I were joined at the shoulders and I really thought we both were going to hit the deck. I think a few explicitness flew out of my mouth and I decided at that point it was better to stay upright than to try to sprint through the finish. We both kept our composure, stayed upright and kind of sat up. I coasted through in 5th place. I couldn't believe I was able to make up that much ground in 350 meters. some of the guys that started the initial charged dropped off and ended up placing in the 20's When I got home and uploaded the stats from my Garmin I was surprised find out that I was doing 40 mph down the stretch. It was an incredible feeling. I think I may have been able to grab 2nd but I was pretty happy with the result. I took 3rd overall for the three race series and took home a little cash for my effort.

Garmin Stats:

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