The legs were a little tired from racing Starcrossed the day before but I was ready to go. It started raining hard Saturday afternoon and didn't stop.(Hasn't our Summer been awesome?) It was supposed to be a wash out all Day Sunday but I was surprised to wake up to a fairly warm, overcast morning. The race was at Lake Sammamish State Park which is just about a five minute drive down the hill for me. My race was at 9:45 but I wanted to get to there early since the lines for registration have been insane so far this year. I got down there at 8:00 and thought I'd be able to check in, take my time changing and still have plenty of time to warm up.....NOPE!! The registration line was huge. I parked and walked over with some teammates. We got in line and started watching the minutes tick by. I was pre-registered and already had my series number from week 1 but still had to stand in the one line they had. By the time I got to the front I had my usual 1/2 hour to dress and warm up. They eventually moved are race back 20 minutes because of the registration line. Anyway.....
The course is flat and fast with some technical sections in the woods, two long sand sections and a 4-barrier section near the end. It was still not raining when we started but there was a race before ours and the course was starting to get muddy. With "call outs", I was able to get staged in the front row. We had to wait for two other fields to go before ours.
We had a long paved strait away to get us going and I was able to hit the grass in third position. Brian G. from Stanley was in first and I knew I needed to stay close to him If I wanted any chance of doing well. It sometimes amazes me how fast we catch the fields in front of us but by the time we hit the sand it was chaos. I entered the sand right on Brian's wheel . We exited, got back on the bikes and after a few turns we hit the 2nd sand section. Again, I was right on Brian's wheel. Brian was swiftly moving though the slower traffic and for the most part I was able to follow right behind him. Then, about half way through I caught a bike wheel to the face. I was almost knocked to the ground. I stumbled and had to move left to get around the mess. When I looked up again Brian was out of the sand, on his bike and speeding away. How did he get though everyone so fast?? After the sand there is another technical section in the trees before you get out in the clear and head for the barriers. As I flew by the pits Vern told me that Brian had a 5 second gap on me. That was reasonable and I just needed keep digging. The next few laps were more of the same. It was getting really slippery in the technical sections and a lot of guys were going down in front of me. The sand sections were staring to put a lot of guys in the "Hurt Locker" Every time we would exit guys were having problems getting back on their bikes and get moving. I was going hard and still flying through racers from the first two fields and was feeling really good but each time I went by the pits Brian's lead increased by about five seconds. He was flying and I was starting to think there was no way I was going to catch him. He was in a groove. The heavens had now opened up and it was raining pretty hard. I knew there were three or four guys just behind me so I wanted to see if I could get as many slower riders from the other fields between us. Things were going fine until half way through the last lap. I came up on a young kid and yelled that I was coming by on the left. He actually turned around, looked at me and then cut me off as I was coming by. I have no idea why he didn't let me by but I had to hit the brakes hard. Of course, right after that he took a turn to hot and went down hard. I slid out while trying to avoid him and had to put a foot down. Four guys from my field got by me and another was right on my wheel. We only had a half lap to go and I just went from 2nd to 6th in a matter of seconds. I had a brief moment of panic and was taking risky moves to get back around them. I decided to play it safe and just make sure to stay right on them, pass if I could, but make no mistakes doing so. I moved back a forth with a couple of guys but couldn't get around them for good. OK, new plan. I know I am a good sprinter and if I could stay right with them until the long finish on the pavement I could possibly power by them at the finish. We came off the grass and I sat right on the back of all four. Half way down I made my move and started to fly by each of them. I only had one more to get by. I was coming up on him fast and knew I had him. Just then a slower rider from another field decided to sit up right before the finish and he started to drift right into me. If I kept driving through I was going to be pushed into the barriers. I hesitated for a second and then went around him on his right. I till had some momentum but came across the line a tire length back and took third. It was a great race and the my first in the pouring rain. I think I am baptized now.
All photos by Denise Phillips - VeloShots