Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lake Washington Velo #3 - Carnation

It felt like a Fall morning when I got up Saturday. Our fine local weather folks had been predicting a chilly, wet morning but I awoke to find it cool, crisp, dry and sunny. I had a weird feeling running through me that I didn't have over the last few races. It took me a while to figure it out but it finally dawned on me that this was going to be my last road race of the season. It was a bittersweet feeling. It has been a long, hard season with some ups and downs (luckily mostly ups) but it is always a sad feeling when it comes to an end. I think part of the excitement and nervousness stemmed from the fact that I wanted to end the season on an high note. It would give me that "feel good" sense of accomplishment that I could carry with me while putting in those long, crappy training miles in the cold, wet, dark days of winter.

Mark and I drove out early so we could watch the finish of the 4/5 race and have plenty of time to warm up. It was nice to see Richie, Barb and Mirna (our walking wounded) out there showing support. We thought we were going to have a few more teammates in our field but I was pretty happy with who we had. Mark, Scott and Bart joined me at the start and we were ready to make some noise. The course is about four miles long with three good right turns and a couple of other big curves. It is basically pancake flat and FAST. We were doing eight laps. We rolled out neutral at 11:00 with a field of about 60. Right after our lead car gave us the signal to race, Erik from Recycled took off. I decided to jump with him to see what would happen. I knew that unless we had five or six guys there was no way a brake would hold, especially this early, but I wanted to get the race moving. I grabbed his wheel and when I saw we had a small gap jumped in front of him to take a really hard pull. When I "flicked" my elbow he wouldn't go by and I wondered what his motive was. About half way through the lap he finally took a turn pulling but I just sat up and let him go by himself. The pack was all together by the time we started lap two. More of the same took place over the next few laps and I managed to hold my place up front and match any of the accelerations. Most of them were lackluster and it was just guys setting a little harder tempo. Most of them did nothing more than spread out the field a bit. I was hoping Mark could just sit in near the front while all these attacks mounted and save himself for the sprint finish but.......If you know Mark you know that it is hard to contain him and I think it was near the start of lap three when a blur of green and black shot off the front and I heard someone yell, "Now that is an attack!!" He got out there with Erik(Recycled) and Bart, Scott and I quickly moved to the front row to help keep them away. They started to get a nice little gap but on the back side of the course the road has no center line. Even though the officials told us to treat it like there was one and stay on the right half of the road guys shot way left around us and there was nothing we could do. This was the prime lap and by the time we hit turn four we were all back together. The sprint was on and I decided not to go for it. I did my best gofer impression and bobbed up to see what was happening. I could see one of my teammates up front going hard but didn't know who it was. I soon found out that Bart got nipped at the wire and took the 2nd place points!! After we rolled through and regrouped guys started attacking again. I didn't want to go with them but I made sure to match their efforts so I could stay up front. If I wasn't out there then Mark was. As we came through corner four we got word from the officials that we were getting ready to lap the women's field. They decided to neutralized us because it was their last lap and the officials didn't want to disrupt their sprint. We slowed behind our lead car and as we watched them sprint it out we started to see bikes fly. It looked crazy. There were bikes and bodies all over the road and the officials had to totally stop our race. I was feeling really good and was not happy about the rest stop but that's how it goes sometimes. I could tell that some involved in the wreck were seriously injured and the thought that we could end up the same way in a couple of laps sent a little chill up my spine. We had three laps to go and once we were back to racing, Bikesale started taking turns attacking off the front. Again I didn't really want to work with them but did want to match the accelerations so I wouldn't have 15 or 20 surge by me. As we got about 3/4 of the way through the lap we were told that there were aid vehicles all over the road and they stopped our race again. It seemed like we were stopped forever and we were told that if we didn't get going soon they would shorten our race and we would only have one lap to go. I was positioned right behind the lead car so I was good with that. We were finally allowed to start racing again and got the word that we would finish the full race. Two laps to go with the whole field together with somewhat rested legs. It felt like we had a six lap warm up and now it was a two lap race. I was not going to give up my spot near the front no matter how hard I had to work. I was worried that guy that got caught in the back might try to use the narrow farm road with not center line as a method to move up where they normally would not be able to. Luckily, Bikesale and a couple of Lenovo guys kept the pace high and we stayed pretty strung out. When we hit the 1K mark you can see around turn 4 and all the way to the finish. It is here where guys start to get jumpy and Matt from Recycled jumped off the front and got a gap. I didn't think anyone could put in a solo, full on effort for a 1K distance but he was giving it a great try. We came flying around turn four I was right where I wanted to be. Normally we only have the last 200 meters of full open road but for this race we it is open as soon as we round the turn. I'm guessing a little over 400 meters. We did pull Matt back and the attacks started right away but since we had a little bit of a head wind I knew no one could come close to holding a sprint that long. Even though a few guys drove past me I stayed patient and waited for the right moment. I could tell that Jay from Apex was looking strong and by the way he was positioning I could tell he wanted the win. I got on his wheel and at 200 meters it was a full on craziness. With about 50 meters to go I decided to have hit his limit and basically sat up. I couldn't go right and thought I was hosed. I moved back behind Jay and realized I hadn't lost much momentum. There was just enough room on the left for me to go but it was too late. I started moving around him and was almost by him when the finish line blew by. I looked over and saw that Mark was crossing at the same time. Oh yeah!!. I knew that Mike from Bikesale had won but 2nd though 6th was tight. Mark ended up 3rd, I was 5th, Scott 9th and Bart took 2nd in the prime. It was an awesome way to end the road racing season!

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