Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Longbranch Masters/Juniors State Championship Road Race

I'd been travelling for work and had been off the bike for over a week. I was a little worried about the layoff but was exited to do this race. It was the Masters/Juniors State Championship Road Race so I was racing against guys in my category and my age group. We had guys in all four categories and Mark and I were the only two racing the B's. The weather forecast was typical for Western Washington, calling for sun, rain, and chilly temps that were well below the norm for this time of year. I just threw every piece of cycling gear I owned and hoped for the best. It rained off and on, hard at times, all the way from Bellevue but when we arrived at the lot at 11:30 it looked like rain but the roads were dry. Our field was racing for 65 miles. We were doing four laps on a about a 16 mile course that had a 1/2 mile steep climb, two other 1/4 mile climbs and new loop that was full winding curves and rollers. We started with about 34 in the field but that didn't last long. IJM lined up with six guys and I was wondering what they might do. Not far after the start, Brad from IJM went hard off the front and no one jumped on his wheel. He slowly developed a nice little gap and when guys finally decided to try to bridge his teammates did there best to pull them back. The hard surges through this new part of the course were hard on me. I don't think I warmed up enough. There was a delay every time I tried to accelerate but I was always able work my way back to the front. This was still very early in the race and if this kept up I was wondering how long I would last. Brad's gap kept increasing and he and the lead car finally disappeared from our view. I didn't care, l would be happy to let him go and just race for 2nd place. We got through the new loop and ventured back onto familiar territory. By the time we got to the first installment of the "big" climb I was finally starting to warm up and was feeling pretty good. I was able to stay with the leaders all the way up. I was out front when we crested so I decided to put the hammer down for a bit to see if we could pick up some time on Brad. I kept this up until the next climb and then just settled in until we hit the start of the 2nd lap. Lap 2 was pretty much the same, guys attacked and IJM brought them back. Brad's lead climbed to over three minutes and I was starting to think he might do a solo run from start to finish. That would have been impressive!. We came through for the start of the 3rd lap and I finally decided to check behind me to see what was going on. HOLY Crap!! Half the field was gone. We only had about 20 guys left. The hills were taking their toll. As we moved through the lap we started getting word from the officials and course marshals halls that we were starting to close the gap on Brad. I think guys got a little motivated and the third lap was pretty fast. We stayed together the whole lap but when we got to the second, shorter climb near the finish I got caught in the middle of the pack during the climb and some guys jumped. I was feeling good but couldn't get though the slower guys to jump with them. We crested and we were divided into two groups. We couldn't let this happen at this point. I put my head down, got in the drops and just went as hard as I could. No one would pull through and I started to worry that I was going to completely blow up. Finally Joe from Bikesale pulled though. I was so happy for the help. A couple of other's finally started to work and we caught the group right before the start/finish. THANK GOD!! I didn't want to do the last lap solo. I think because of that big surge we finally caught Brad. I felt bad for him but he was able to slot back in and stay with the pack. Right after we caught him another IJM guy jumped. I was only going to jump on if a few others did. No one did so I just sat in. It seemed that most of the guys left were having troubles at different parts of the last lap. We never seemed like fine rolling peleton but more of a guys bonking on a long group ride. There was no quit though. Guys still wanted to bridge the gap and we all during the short downhill sections before the last trip up the big climb we started to gain ground. I'm not sure how far we had left but maybe about 2k before the big climb two guys finally put in a big effort to catch the race leader. We let them go but a couple of minutes later two more jumped and I had no choice but to jump. I found that in my group no one but Joe from Bikesale was willing to work with me. It was super hard but with the hill about 500 meters in front of us we pulled everyone back. This is where I made my only mistake of the day. I decided to drop back in the pack for a breather and wasn't paying attention. I had been looking for a place to slot back into the pace line and when I looked up I saw that about seven guys had jumped before the climb. It totally caught me off guard. I got out of the saddle and moved up to the front. Brad(IJM), Joe(Bikesale), Alex(Garage) and I think a guy from Lenova took off from the group. At the pace were were going the climb was brutal but we managed to stay together and tried to organize to catch the lead group. We were all tired and we didn't organized well. Alex seemed to be doing most of the work and we soon realized we didn't have what it would take to do the extra effort to catch the leaders. At the end we were all strung out and there wasn't a real sprint to the line. I ended up 14th and was pretty happy with my effort.

you can see how strung out the field was at the finish.

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