Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Monday, October 11, 2010

MFG #3 - SCCA/Starbucks GP - Five Mile Lake Park

I was looking forward to this race, mainly because it was our team that put it on. It was at a new venue in the Federal Way area and our race director, Charles, working with the MFG guys put on a great race. I'm not sure if it was because of the location, (between Seattle and Tacoma) or because it was a new course, but we had a record amount of racers that preregistered so it looked like we would have a great turnout. This was probably one of the longer courses so far and it had a little bit of everything. There was a long, crazy sand section that was rideable (most of the time), a run up, narrow trails with slow, technical turns, several grass to gravel sections that gave many racers fits and some wide, fast sections thrown in to keep the pace up.

I showed up pretty early so I could get trained on registration and figure out other ways I could help out with after my race. The weather was decent for early October. It was overcast, fairly warm but looked like it could start raining at any time. Since I was there so early I was able to get three good laps in before my start. I was in the first race at 9:30, starting in the 2nd of four waves. I was sitting in first place, tied with Brian from Stanley so I had the nice advantage of getting a "Call out" for starting in the front row. My goal was to just get a good start and settle in somewhere in the top five before we exit the first turn. I am starting to gain some confidence for racing cross but I still don't want to be in the lead during the first laps. I should get over this, especially when our field is not the first to go. We usually catch the slower riders in the field in front of us pretty quick so if you are first you can get slower riders in between you and the chasers. Anyway, I did get a good start and came into the first turn sitting 4th. Jeff (NW Cycling) and Brian (Stanley) were both there as well. I quickly moved around several guys and settled into third spot behind Jeff and Mark from CXRacing. Unlike prior races where just a few of us got a large gap right away we had a big group of us fighting for position throughout the first lap. Several guys powered passed me before we hit the first technical section but I didn't let it bother me. The first technical turn on the course is a is two tight turns that turns you 190 degrees and is tight. Brian made it through clean but the next three guys overshot the 2nd turn and went behind the ropes. I was able to get by them and get right on Jeff's wheel. I think Brian got caught behind them and Jeff and I were able to get a little gap as we came into the long straight that leads to the finish line. After the finish is where you reach the longer, technical section in the woods. We had already caught riders in the field in front of us and Jeff was doing a good job picking his way through them. It wasn't easy staying on his wheel. As we came out of the woods we hit a short, straight section and I was able to pick up a little ground. We hit the run up for the first time and as usual, it was a mess. I basically had to keep my place in line and slowly walk it. The hecklers had found their place at the top of the run up and were in rare form. I quickly got back on my bike, hit the short downhill which led to a tricky, sharp right hand turn a lot of racers overshot. After a couple of straight sections in the grass we did one more turn in the woods and hit the beach for the first time. It was fairly deep but rideable. The problem was that there was a slight right hand turn before the exit that gave people fits. I got through it fine and as we got back on the grass we did a 180 and as we were coming back I could see that Brian was a bit back but after him there was a gap. The next couple of laps consisted of Brian expertly picking his way though slower racers, me trying to keep pace and Brian slowly gaining ground. At the start of the last lap it was down to a three man race. By the time we hit the run up it was still really congested. It slowed us down but helped Brian I me to gain some ground on Jeff. From this point on the three of us all had a good chance of winning, especially if someone made a mistake. Just before we hit the beach for the last time Jeff was able to get by a handful of lapped riders. I tried to stay tight on his wheel and pass them at the same time so I would be right with him when we exited. He was riding strong and I'd have to take a risk and make a move at some point because he wasn't Brian was right on my wheel. There is still plenty of course left after the sand but I decided to make a move to go around the lapped riders while in the sand. That didn't go as planned. As I hit the slight turn I altered my line and tried to go around them. My front wheel dug in and down I went. As I was untangling myself from my bike Brian was able to get around me. I scrambled to my feet, grabbed my bike and ran the rest of the way though the sand. I jumped back on and turned it up a notch. I started to make up some ground but Jeff and Brian finished the course error free and I had to settle for third. It was a great race on a great course and I had no problem finishing behind the two of them.

Here is a great video that captured many aspects of the course by "Scatman" the very end you can see me running though the sand (after crash). Brian has just past me to move into 2nd place.

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