Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Monday, March 29, 2010

Independence Valley Road Race

After last year's insanely frigid, snowy weather at IVRR where I ended up with a DNF, I was really glad to see weather close to 70 degrees when our race started at 2:35. The warm weather brought everyone out for this one and we had the largest field of the day with just under seventy racers. This is a great race but it is another course that has NO shoulder so it makes for some tight racing and we found out that most of the morning races had at least one good crash so I wondered if ours would be any different. We were doing three laps with two climbs per lap for a total of 60 miles. With the guys I saw lined up it looked like we had a lot of the stronger CAT 3 riders there, so I knew we were in for a tough day. We rolled out and the attacks started immediately. The field was strung out within the first few miles of the race. The first hill comes early in the lap and to me it is a hard climb because it is steep enough that it takes a big effort but short enough that you feel you have to power up it. I thought I had a good warm up but the pistons felt like 2x4's and for a second I thought I'd be popped off the back before the race even started. I managed to make it up with the front guys and settled in for the downhill and jumped back on the train. The attacks kept coming and I really wanted to stay up front and pick a break to go in. It seems that a break usually gets away in this race and lasts to the finish. I jumped on a couple of breaks and thought one of them would go but it ended up falling apart after a few miles. After that I didn't want to burn another match for a while and sat in. Of course, that is about the time the Apex and Second Ascent guys that eventually made the successful break took off, never to be seen again. Those two made a impressive two man run with their gap getting up to 1:50 at one point. We didn't get organized fast enough and we soon were racing for 3rd place. I rode up front the whole first lap and flew over the first climb of the 2nd lap with no issues. I was able to stay up front but was starting to worry that I didn't have enough fluid to finish the race. Just after the descent, everyone that hadn't already been shelled of the back regrouped. I guess someone wasn't paying attention and maybe reached for some food or water and took out about 8 or 9 guys. It happened right next to me but luckily the crash went to the right and I was able to avoid it. After we cleared I looked back and was happy to see that Wes and Mark made it though. Wes came up and told me to get off the front for a while so I dropped back with him and Mark and rested until the next climb. The funny thing was that about five minutes after he got me to drop back he flew up to the front and went ballistic. Game on again. He strung out the pack and he and another rider started to roll away. More guys started to drop off the back and I was having trouble staying on the back of the main group. Both Mark and I were on the back of it, but eventually I regained my form. When we hit the 2nd hill I was feeling good and flew up it in my big ring and crested in front. It was nice to be out there hitting the fast downhill section with no one in my way. I was flying. Once we hit the flats again I sat up and waited for the rest of the pack to catch up. The pace slowed way down and nothing much happened until we hit the climb to start the last lap. This time I really struggled to stay with the pack. We were probably down to 30 guys now and I did not want to get dropped. We hit the downhill section and it took me a lot longer to recover but at least I was there. I looked back and both Mark and Wes made it as well. Right about the time I was feeling good again guys realized that if we didn't go now we would never catch the tow leaders. Constant attacks went off the front and the quick accelerations were taking their toll on guys, including myself. Two others got a gap on us before the hill and got away. About a mile before the last climb it really started heating up and as we hit the hill we were flying. While climbing we passed a couple of 1/2 guys and I think most didn't catch their numbers so thought we'd caught the 2nd breakaway that had 2 guys in it. Going up the hill dropped a bunch more guys and I powered up and over and was comfortably sitting about 10th wheel. The rest of the way to the finish was nothing but constant accelerations. Someone would jump and we pulled them back and the pace would slow to about 17 to 18mph for about a second, then someone would jump again. I started noticing that my left calf was cramping up every time these surges would go. Once we let up I was fine but this was constantly happening and if we hit it right I was worried I'd be off my bike soon. Coming into the last 2k I was really worried I wouldn't be able to sprint but wanted to be there to give it a shot. I got up to 5th wheel at the 1K mark and at 300 meters we went. As I got out of the saddle my calf balled up and the pain was insane. I found that as long as I stayed in the saddle I was fine. I didn't have the kick I wanted but was still able to slide in with a 9th place.....No, make that 11th. It turned out we hadn't caught the 2nd two that went off about 8 miles before the finish. I was still really happy with my performance, as almost half our field didn't finish the race and many that did limped to the finish far behind. It's about a three mile trek back to the lot after the finish. As I talked with others I found that many guys had trouble with cramps on the last lap and some were still in agony as we rolled back. My teammate Mark had had his hamstrings cramp up bad on the last lap and had to slow up so he could get to the line. All and all it was a great day of racing. The way I felt when I got back to the car made me swear that I wasn't about to do another 60 mile the next day especially since the weather was supposed to be pretty nasty. But.......

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