Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wenatchee Omnium Stage Race

Since it was the Masters Omnium State Championship Mark and I decided to race Masters B instead of Cat. 3. A bunch us on the team rented a house that was riding distance to the crit. Some of us arrived Friday afternoon and went out to recon the TT course. It was a perfect evening for a ride and we saw a bunch of other teams out there doing the same thing. We got our race packets and checked for our TT start times. I wasn't going off until 10:01 so no setting an alarm for me.

4.5 mile out and back with short rollers.
By the time of my start the wind was blowing hard going out so I didn't think a lot of time would be gained in the first 4.5 miles. I just wanted to keep a steady pace and keep the legs loose. The ride out was crazy. At certain points I reached speeds of 40 mph. I caught my 30 second man about half way out and had a clear path at the turn around. BAM!! Good by 40mph! It was a tough ride home. The wind was brutal and my speed dropped to as low as 17mph on the way back. I felt like I was pedaling backwards at times. You tend to forget that everyone else is dealing with the same conditions. Besides the wind the only other thing of note was that there were no 1K or 200m markers. They had accidentally set them up for Sunday's road race and not the TT. All of a sudden the finish tent was in sight but no markers. I figured it was the finish but wasn't totally sure so after I crossed the line I kept pedaling hard until a guy about 50 meters down gave me the finger across the throat. It took me 9 minutes to get to the turn around and 12 to get back. I finished in 8th place and was in the points.

Four corner course with one downhill and one uphill section.
We rolled out at 5:30 and the atmosphere was great. Warm weather and a great fan turnout was making for a great evening of racing. I was feeling pretty good at the start and when we rolled out I just sat on Mark's wheel. My goal was to get him a good lead out at the finish. Everything was going great then about halfway through the race my eyes started welling up to the point where they were stinging so bad I had to shut my eyes every few seconds. My breathing path was blocked and I couldn't take deep breaths. My heart was racing and I felt horrible. After a few laps of this I was worried that I might take someone out and I had to pull myself from the race. I usually have a couple of weeks around this time of year when my allergies act up but the pollen and cotton woods on the Eastern side of the mountains was way worse. I talked to a bunch of other's that were affected by it as well and even had another teammate that had to pull himself out of the race as well. I was really bummed but got to have a great seat to watch Mark sprint it out for 2nd place with out my help. I pedaled back to the house and took my allergy pills. They would be with me for the road race on Sunday.

Road Race:
4 laps, 60 miles, 6600 ft of climbing

Talk about insane!! Because of winter damage the promoters decided to remove the upper half of the 12 mile climb. That seemed fine to me but......instead of the two laps we were scheduled to do we were now doing four. The bottom half of the climb is the hardest and now the course was gong to be even more brutal. Our start time was at 12:30 and we knew it would be hot. When we got up Sunday it was actually overcast and quite comfortable. This could be good. Right as we got done loading up the bikes at 10:45 the clouds disappeared and the mercury started to rise. It was 85 degrees when we rolled out. We moved at a fairly slow pace for the first four miles that led to the base of the climb. As we hit the climb the pace stayed pretty mellow. When we hit the right turn at Joe Miller road the road steepened and the light weights made their move. I couldn't get in a good rhythm but managed to stay with the up front. I wasn't yet sweating and the lack of wind and heat hit me hard. I was not breathing well and my heart rate soared. We were only six miles into the race and guys were already dropping off the back. About half way up the climb I finally slid off while 10 or so guys went up the road. I was starting to feel like I wasn't going to make it. I dug deep and when we hit the steepest part of the climb I finally settled down and got into a good rhythm. I was starting to catch back up. We hit the top and shot through the feed zone. I grabbed water and started heading down. Only three more times up that friggin' climb. The descent was more direct than the normal course but you could still pedal much through much of it. For some reason when I was crouched over the to bar to get aero my lower back started to really give me issues. I haven't had this happen to me before. There was really nothing I could do about it so I just pushed on and tried to ignore it. I was by myself the whole way down and by the time I reached the bottom my back was on fire. I hit the flat section and started to tt my way back to the climb. I started catching guys but most of them were from the Cat 3 field that left 10 minutes before us. I reached the climb and was probably one of the few people that was happy about it. Once climbing my back felt fine. This time up I was feeling good and continued to pick of riders on my way up. I was pretty much alone all the way up. I hit the feed zone and teammates gave me cold water bottles and dumped water down my back. It felt good. I had caught Wes on the climb and on the downhill he blasted by me and led me and four others all the way down. Once again my back was on fire and I couldn't wait to reach the bottom. Two laps to go. It seemed to be getting hotter by the minute and I just kept forcing fluids down to try to avoid cramping. By now this race looked more like an organized citizen ride than a WSBA sanctioned race. All the afternoon fields were ripped apart and scattered all over the course. I would catch guys from my field as well as the Cat 3 men and woman's 1/2/3 fields. I hit the climb and would see a group of guys just ahead. I would push it hard, catch them and find that I had just caught five cat 3 guys. Every once in a while I would finally catch someone from my field and it gave me hope. I really had no idea how I was doing but I felt really good the whole way up on the 3rd lap and at the feed zone my teammates told me I was right around the top 10. This first indication I had to how I was doing. I really pushed it on the downhill, back still on fire. This time on the flat section before the climb the wind had picked up a little and it was tough going. I felt a little sluggish and the day was starting to wear on me. I finally hit the climb for the last time and as I started going up the back pain went away and I was once again feeling good. I wasn't climbing as fast as the last two laps but still felt good and continued to pass guys all the way up. Right at the steep section before the feed zone I heard a car settle in behind me. I looked back and it was the lead car for the Pro/1/2 race. It was just one guy, Ian McKissick and he went by me right before the road flattened out. I went through the feed zone on his wheel and kind of laughed as people cheered us on. Look a my bib number, it ain't double digits!! As we hit the descent I took my last big hit of EFS, poured water over my head and on my legs and got in the drops. I watched Ian disappear in front of me and then watched as Sam Johnson flew by me. My back started hurting immediately but I was able to block it out. I kept looking back to check to see if there were more chasers in the Pro/1/2 field coming and I wanted to give them all the room they needed to get by. No one else came by on the descent. I hit the bottom and stepped on the gas. Only six more miles to go and I could see I was gaining on guys just up the road. I had been in the saddle a long time and told myself I could easily suffer for six short miles. There was no on on my tail so I knew I at least I would not loose any places on the way to the finish. I just focused on the guys ahead. I caught the first guys...crap...another Cat 3. I put my head down and continued to drive. I hit the 3k mark and saw three more guys just ahead. I reeled them in at the 1k mark. Hey, there was a B in the group!! I sat on back for only a few seconds and realized they had no gas. I drove by, hit the 200m mark, looked back and saw no one. I soft pedaled unceremoniously across the line with no knowledge of what place I had finished. I was actually just happy knowing that I'd finished, many didn't. I ended up 9th and was super happy to get a top 10 finish in such a crazy race. When I got back to the lot and got off my bike my back seized up and I couldn't even sit down to take off my shoes. My wife and a teammate had to help me out. I couldn't even stretch to try to loosen up. All I could do was grab my recovery drink and walk around the lot for a 1/2 hour and talk to guys from other teams. It was a hard race but I was glad to walk away with two top 10's. I hope I'm recovered by Enumclaw next week.

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