Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Thursday, October 6, 2011

2011 MFG #3 - SCCA/Starbucks GP - North Bend

Bike races are known liers!! Before every race across the country small talk between friends from other teams start up as soon as you reach the venue.  The question is always the same common, small talk question you can hear in any social situation but the "big fat, wouldn't ever pass a lie detector"  answers is what sets bike racers apart.
"How are you doing?" is the standard question.  You'll get that certain smirk accompanied by a shoulder shrug followed by.......THE LIE!! It can range from the two word responsee of "Not bad", which carries little or no weight if it just stopped there.  It never does.  After a short pause the BS will start to flow.  "I went a little too hard on my training ride yesterday and my legs feel like lead weighs" or, "I had to travel all week for work and haven't had a chance to train."  Or, "I'm just getting over some weird illness and probably shouldn't be out here racing today."......  "I don't race well in this weather, well see how it goes."  You get the picture.  Some may actually be telling the truth but after years of seeing someone dominate a race after hearing one of those little fibs you learn to not listen.   You rarely hear anyone ever say, "I'm feeling like a F'ing champ and I'm going put a hurtin' on the field today!!"  They may feel like that but will never say it.   I WAS feeling like million bucks but my response was, "My ribs are still hurting and I'm not sure how hard I'll be able to push it today."  My ribs had finally stopped hurting and I'd had three glorious nights of perfect slumber in a row.  I'd just come off tough 2nd place finish last week and I WAS ready to kill it! 

The race was at a brand new venue out at Mountain Meadows Farm out in North Bend.  I had been out there several times before for company picnics but forgot how beautiful it was. The course was setup in a HUGE grass field that was right at the base of Mt. Si.  You couldn't ask for a better setting.  I was also excited because it was my team's race and the money raised was going to SCCA.  Oh...and for the first time ever I was one of the random, pre-reg six pack winners!!  It was nice to start the day off with a little win.

 I wanted to get there super early so I could find a good place to park the RV in the team area.  I was super happy that Denise...and our dog were willing to get up that early on a Sunday to come hang with me.  I decided to take a couple of laps on the course before the first race started.   It was another monster.   I couldn't see the far side of of it from the staging area.  As I made my way around I realized the  ground had held up after the overnight rain and it was still dead pan hard, bumpy and fast.  Single track lines were already forming and those would get a little slick as the day wore on.

I finished my laps and headed out to watch our Cat 4 women race.  Theresa won her first ever race in dominant fashion with Tina finishing 6th.  That was followed up with Justin and Jeff finishing 1st and 2nd  in a 90+ Cat 4 field.  Soon after Jitka came across the line in 2nd place in her field. We were off to an awesome star!......After that, thinks got interesting.

It had drizzled off an on all day but we actually couldn't ask for better conditions.  Mark, Dave and I staged for our 11:20 start.  I got my call up to the front row and both Mark and Dave also ended up with great starting spots.  I knew were were going to be in for another dog fight.  All the top dogs were here including Rocky(W.A.R), Don(JL Velo) Todd(Collision One) Larry, Brian(Stanley), Chris(Audi), Robert(Team CNC), Tim and Brad(20/20 Fuel), Paul(Cycle Therapy), Joe(2nd Accent) and....I could go on.  There are easily 15 or so guys that could win a race on any given weekend.  We have a really strong field and I love racing with these guys.  Jeezus, I sound like I'm getting ready to join a drum circle. "Snap out if it!!".  Time to race!!

We were sent off about a minute after the first field and I got my best start of the year so far.  The start was on a straight, wide, fast grass section and the first hard, left hand turn was super tight. 
We were stacked up as we approached and everyone wanted to get to front so no one gave an inch.  I entered the turn with one of the 20/20 Fuel guys on my left and Mark on my right.  The pace was soooooo much fast that I don't think everyone was fully ready go from being about eight wide to three and then to one so fast.  We hit elbows and struggled to keep our balance.  I was actually lucky to be in the middle because I could lean on the others.  The guy on my inside could go slightly off course and recover but Mark was not in a good spot.  It was the only area on the course that dropped off and it was full of blackberry bushes.  He was riding a tight rope and I thought he was going to make it though but ended up having no where to go.  He went in hard and I almost stopped to see if he was OK.  He yelled that he was OK and to keep going.  I felt like shit for having a part in sending my own teammate off the course like that.   It's scary enough having Mark breathe down your neck during a race.
 Now he looked like he was attacked by a bear.....LOOK OUT!!

I forged onward and after getting around a few guys found myself in a familiar spot......right on Rocky's wheel.  Robert T.  had an excellent start and was just in front of us.  Things were looking good.  We got to the section that started downhill, took a hard left up a short climb and then u-turned downhill again.  After warming up I decided would ride it only if I had a clear path coming into it....meaning I was probably running this sucker every lap.  There was some passing going on but I was still right behind the leaders and feeling good.  I came through the turns on the back side of the course and during some of the switch backs I could see Mark powering back through the field.  I was glad to see him back at it.  By the end of lap one we were still all together.  It was going to be a dog fight.

Lap two was about the same and things were going well until sometime shortly after the run up.
 After descending I could tell something wasn't quite right.  I couldn't figure it out at first but finally noticed there was something wrong with my front end.  I thought something was jammed in my brakes so I reached down to see if I could clear it out...SHIT!!!  I had rolled my f'ing tubie!!  I wasn't all the way off so I could still ride but the wobble was horrible.  I was still a good distance from the pits so I decided to keep riding until the thing came completely off.  At this point I was still moving faster than I could running with my bike.  I was having trouble controlling the bike and my speed slowed.  One by one guys flew by.  I was starting to panic.  I almost made it to the pits w/out running but ended up having to hike the bike for about 50 yards....I hate running!!   By the time I slogged into the pits I had lost a shit load of places and time.  I yelled at Vern that I was coming in and he gave me a smooth, fast hand off with my back up bike.  I was in and out in a flash.  Thank God it happened before the pits.  If it would have happened right after there was no way I would have ran with my bike all the way around this giant course.  I would have packed it in.  I could still see the group of 10 guys in front of me....Damn!!.....I had some serious work to do.  I did have open ground in front of me so I was able to pick my lines and ride at a fast pace.  I was taking tons of risks and almost went down multiple times. 

Three laps to go!  I was slowly making up ground but wasn't sure if I had enough time to catch back on?  For some reason they weren't slowing down to wait for me.  Don't they know the rules??  When I came by the pits again Vern had put a new front wheel on my bike and it was ready to go.  I had Paul(4-Corners) right on my ass and several others that were not far behind.  I didn't want to loose anymore time and I was feeling pretty comfortable on my back up so I just forged on.  Paul and I had a nice little side battle going on.  I can't tell you how many times we traded positions during the next three laps.  It definitely helped to keep us motivated to catch the field. 

The last lap started and Paul and I were slowly gaining ground.  I saw that Joe M.(2nd Ascent) and a few other guys were slowly closing on us. I needed to pick up the pace.  I made another move to get around Paul and then tried to accelerate away.....NOT! 
He was right on my wheel.  I kept pushing. If I made a mistake and went down, so be it.  As we were coming through some of the tight turns that led up to the first set of barriers I heard a loud noise and took a quick look back.  Paul had hid the deck.  This was my only chance to shake him so I pushed a little harder.  As I wound back towards the 2nd barrier section I could see him flying by the guys that passed him.  He was flying!  I looked up again and could see Chris(Audi) and Larry(Stanley) just in front of me.  I'm almost there!! I wanted to quite but seeing them motivated me to go into suffer mode.  I came oh so close but couldn't overtake them by the time we hit the line.  It was a hard fought battle but with the mechanical I had to settle for 12th.  It was another great day of racing on an awesome course.  We raised a ton of cash for SCCA and I heard that the Blue Rooster team gave us a check for a $1000 to donate.  Very classy. 

1 comment:

  1. Hahahaha... that was great! Super job Sean, way to roll the backup bike to a very respectable finish.

    I once showed up to a race (Mason Lake? PR? Can't remember...) and when I got asked the usual question of, "How do you feel?" I actually said, "Fucking great! I am on fire." The guy who asked me just turned away in shock. He was totally expecting the usual lame excuse. I don't recall how I did in that race but that moment is burned into my memory. :)