Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Friday, May 13, 2011

2011 Ravensdale Road Race

It's been a great season so far for the green and black. We've posted multiple victories and have had tons of podiums. It's been fun watching teammates improve and move up through the ranks. Our team has matured and is becoming a force. Teams now have to take notice when we roll up to the start line.

This is only my third full year of racing and besides the very first time I lined up for my first cat 5 race this was about as nervous and anxious as I've ever been. I was getting ready rub shoulders with some of the best of the best in the Pro/1/2 field. Many thought went though mind as my head hit the pillow last night. Did I upgrade too soon? Was I ready to compete at this level? Am I too old for this shit? Is it going to F'ing rain.....again? You name it, it went through my mind. Needless to say, I didn't get a great night of sleep.

I woke up Saturday and it was not looking good in the weather department. As Mark and I made our way down the road we noticed that the closer we got to Ravensdale the faster the wipers moved across the windshield. We were not going to have a Vance Creek kind of day. The weather was going to SUCK! We arrived at the venue plenty early and planned to get a good warmup under the team tent. The weather continued to deteriorate and our warmup ended up consisting of sitting in my SUV with the heat cranked. We didn't touch our bikes until we rolled over to the start.

The course was on a 9 mile loop with a couple of small climbs but nothing really exciting. We did seven laps for a total of about 63 miles. The finish was on a false flat after a 1k or so climb. Before we rolled out we were warned of a really nasty set of potholes on the back side of the course. For some reason it attracted a lot of bikes.

As I rolled up to the line I received a lot of congratulations from my buddies in the Cat 3 field. I don't think a lot of them knew I had upgraded. I soon found myself sitting in the middle of a group of bad asses and I'm sure most of them didn't have a clue who I was. It was a weird feeling. Crazy thoughts were still going though my head. I only had one goal for this race.....Not to get shelled off the back!! I was the only guy on my team in the field I just wanted NOT do anything stupid, sit in and finish with the main pack. I had no ambitions of getting in a break.

We rolled out neutral I was still a little nervous but as soon as we were let go to race I settled down. The attacks started right away and when your used to being one of the guys that initiates breaks and/or dictates the pace it was really hard to just sit in. I wanted to stick to my plan and just get a feel for this level of racing. I just made sure I was near the front so I could respond to any counter attacks. So far, so good.

Most of the time I can remember really specific details of a race but by the time we were 3/4 into the race I was so cold I was put in survival mode so details for this one may be a little fuzzy.

I'm not sure if it was on lap 1 or 2 but I finally had completely settled down and my brain was back in race mode. I was sitting near the front when another attack started and I decided to jump on. Plan 'A' was now thrown out the window. We stayed off the front for a while but were finally brought back. As soon as I settled back in another small group took off. I wanted to jump again but needed a quick blow. A few more guys jumped a second later and then two more. It was a little chaotic but they all were able to bridge the gap and soon there was one big ten man machine grinding up the road. We all watched them slowly disappear down the road. It was at this point I realized the weather was never going to improve, in fact, it looked like it would get worse. We were in for a long, wet, cold afternoon. Every big team had a Representative in the break so they all worked hard to help keep them away. For a while it was the easiest race ever. I didn't do anything except sit in pedal. I was a little bummed that I went one break too early and missed out a break that looked like it had a great chance to stick.
At the start of lap five I was started to get cold...really cold. There wasn't much fun in racing in these conditions for 11th place and I really wanted to quit. The only thing I could do to stay warm was to take a a couple digs off the front. I knew I would not be able to bridge to the lead group but at least it gave me something to think about other then how cold and wet I was.

We started the final two laps and it was now evident that we would not bring back the break and I didn't care. Guys started pulling off the road left and right and I have to admin I wanted to do the same but was not going to DNF in my first 1/2 race. I have been cold in a race before but not to the point where my whole body was violently shaking. It was becoming more of a mind game now. We had a crash caused by someone going head on with the giant for warned pothole that we had passed five times now. I think guys were not thinking straight anymore. It looked pretty bad and I hope he is OK. Luckily no one else went down with him.
A we rolled by the finish for the start of the last lap I took a look back and realized are group was a lot smaller. The further we got into the last lap the harder it started to rain and at some point it even started to hail. This sucked big time. I'm was sitting in with a bunch of guys racing for 11th place and all I wanted to do was quit. I really had to concentrate on what I was doing. With about 3K to go the Garage guys started a hard rotation at the front and then John attacked. I think most of the teams in our group had guys in the break and their work was done so I don't think they cared about battling it out for 11th place so no one went with him. After John had a nice little gap I decided "What the hell" I was going to finish with the pack no matter what, why not go try to join him. I jumped and no one came with me. I waited a little too long and I soon realized it was going to be hard to get to him on my own. Now I was caught out in no man's land with about 3K to go and decided I was going to go as hard as I could until I blew up. I rounded the final sharp corner.....Slowly and took a quick look back. A few guys decided to try to chase us down. I hit the climb, jumped out of the saddle and pushed it as hard as I could. It was raining so F'ing hard that I could barely see. I made it over climb and just had to hold on for one 5oom.

It was probably the hardest I've ever worked to battle it out for 11th place but it was just something I felt I needed to do. I finished 4th in the field sprint and ended up 14th overall. It felt good......for about a second! As soon as I started to slow down my body started to break down. We still had to ride a couple of miles back to the start and wasn't sure if I could do it. Thanks God Paul was still at the finish. He yelled at me to get off my bike and head to his car. He was great. He just let me in to get warm while he dealt with my bike. I really don't think I would have made back on the bike. THANKS!!

We had another great day of racing with Mark taking the Cat 3 race!!
Sarah and Mirna finished 3rd and 4th in women's 3's.
Tina 3rd in the women's 4's
Jeff R. 11th in the men's 4's.

images by Kirsten Reed and Denise Phillips

1 comment:

  1. Nice job! As another older guy just getting into racing (and doing REALLY poorly at it so far), I'm enjoying your reports. Way to make it to Cat 2!