Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2011 Washington State Criterium Championships

This was the start of a crazy three day, four race stretch that left my body screaming at me to take up bowling or golf as a weekend hobby! It all started with the State Criterium Championships in Bellingham on Sunday. I decided to race in the Masters 40+ 1/2/3 field It was actually looking forward to racing with my peers for once.

It had been pretty nice all week so when I poked my head outside Sunday morning and saw heavy, overcast skys I was a little bummed. It stayed that way until we hit the famous convergence zone just north of Seattle. It started to pour. The frown on my face could be seen across two counties. I did NOT want to race another crit in the frickin' rain. I asked Denise to get out her phone and check the doppler. She told me there was nothing showing over Bellingham....Yeah right! It continued to rain but as we dropped into Skagit Valley we could see a patch of blue up ahead. As we got closer to our destination the clouds magically disapeared and the sun glasses came out. The tempature rose about 15 degrees withing minutes. The frown was definitely turned upside down!

I was able to get there in time to watch our Masters 35+ women(Jill, Barb & Angela) sweep the podium!! Pretty damn cool! I had never raced this course so I made sure to get in a couple early laps to check it out. It kind of reminded me of a mini Pacific Raceway. It was a modified four corner course. Turn one was beyond 90 degrees but had plenty of road to work with. Turn 2 was barely a turn but there was a lot of "turtles" through it and into the start of the back stretch. Turns three and four were pretty standard 90 degrees.

I lined up and it seemed like half the field was taken up by Audi, Farestart and KR. I also noticed that pretty much most top tier 40+ cat 1/2 guys had shown up. This could end up being a barn burner! It turned out that Brad(Farestart) and Chandler(Audi) were battling it out for the State BARR(Best all arround Road Racer) and this race would determine the winner. So both Audi and Farestart would be working for for Brad and Chandler. If you know Mike P.(KR), you know that he has no problem speaking his mind and will tell you their plans before the race. So, all three of these teams would be playing some serious battling going on. Being the only guy on my team out there I had to play a good game of chess if I wanted to be in the mix at the end.

The first half of the race was pretty typical. Attacks when off and I even got into one myself. The headwind on the back stretch was pretty brutal and nothing lasted more then a lap or so. As we got into the 2nd half of the race it seemed like there was more yelling then usual. Things started heating up and holding your position was not easy. I banged elbows and shouldes with more than a few guys and got pushed out of my line on several occasions. It was going to be a battle for position on the final laps. With about 3 laps to go the KR guys started lining up. They were going to string this thing out early. Audi and Farestart guys started moving up too. I was sitting about 12th wheel and started to inch my way forward. It was not easy. I knew I had to be coming through turn three up front if I wanted any kind of chance. The problem is, most others knew the same thing. The finish was slightly downhill with a strong tailwind. With the speeds we were carrying, the first one out of turn 4 could probably hold on for the win. I got up to about 10th wheel and could not move up any farther. I had to fight to keep that spot. Each KR guys did their job and peeled off. I still couldn't move up so I decided to try to push my way into their train....NOT!! They pushed me right back out! The board flashed one to go. I could tell that a lot of guys didn't want to deal with the craziness and started to sit up. I was ready to play so I fought as hard as I could to move up. Coming into turn three I managed to get up to 7th. We were flying through the final turn. I was geared up and ready to go. We were drilling it at 40mph. I came through the line exactly how I came out of turn 4.....7th place. With all I had to do to get up to that position I was pretty happy in the end.

1 comment:

  1. There was a lot of yelling at this race wasn't there... :( Nice job staying up there in those last three laps.