If you read my last post you know that I injured my ribs last week. Training rides have been short and painful. Getting a good night sleep has been next to impossible. By the time Saturday rolled around I was still in pain but could finally ride hard and take deep breaths without grimacing........much. Since it was the first race of the SCX series I was going to race regardless. If I missed this race I'd have to start near the back for race #2. Not an option. The race was out at Marymoor and I was really curious to how SCX would set it up. We had heard that the velodrome interior would not be part of the plan. I arrived to find a grand course sprawled out in front of me. It seemed ginormous. It took up the whole area surrounding the velodrome and way beyond, using one of the grass parking lots out by the main road. I got registered and took a couple of laps. There were a few tight turns around the velodrome but in dry conditions they shouldn't be a problem. The back side of the course seemed pretty fast. The only problem was that the wind was really howling. Drafting might actually play a role for this one. The course crew was going to have a busy day running around to re secure battered course poles and tape. There were two barrier sections, one that was incorporated with a short run-up right by the velodrome and the other right after a long, paved section just before the start/finish. A tight race could be won or lost here.
The gun sounded and off we went, 45 strong for 45 minutes. I did get a call up and was able to get a pretty good start! As we entered the infield I was sitting about 5th wheel. I quickly noticed that I was sitting right on Rocky'(W.A.R) wheel. It was not a bad place to be. I just followed him as he quickly passed the three guys in front of us. On the next straight section my teammate Mark came flying by and settled in right in front of me. I looked back and my other teammate Dave was right on my wheel.....NICE!! Rocky was setting a good pace and we were strung out in one long line behind him. There was a little jockeying going on but we pretty much stayed in the same position throughout the 1st lap. The rain stopped as quickly as it started and the sun actually came back out. I was glad I left my tires alone.
The second lap was way more interesting. Guys were getting sick of sitting in and were trying to make moves to take the lead. Chris J.(Audi) came flying by me and was moving away fast. Mark picked up the pace and got on his wheel but I started to wonder if he could keep up that speed through the turns on the backside of the course. He flew through the first one but right as he was coming through the 2nd he went down hard. With his speed and the wet course he kept sliding once he hit the ground and Mark and I were able to get by him without losing Rocky's wheel. Others were not so lucky. We came up to the uphill barrier section for the second time and as we re-mounted and headed back down Mark lost his footing and went down. I somehow was able to get by him without slowing down. He quickly remounted and was able to get by me again. He was riding really strong and I looked like we could finish 1/2 if things kept going the way they were.
Just as we were preparing for lap three Mark hit a slick patch and went down hard. Once again I somehow avoided him and stayed on Rocky's wheel. There was a point on the course where it headed out towards the soccer fields and then heads right back. This allowed me a chance to see what was going on behind us. Mark must have got caught behind Mark when he went down. Rocky and I had a gap. Mark had recovered and was still sitting third with Todd(Collision One) right on his wheel. I could tell that Mark was not pushing the pace to help Todd get back to us. It was time for Rocky and me to hit the gas.
The next two laps were pretty painful. We were catching a lot of slower riders from the field in front of us and it was tough staying on his wheel as we maneuvered through heavy traffic.
I was still on his wheel but realized waiting for him to make a mistake probably wasn't going to happen. I had to make a move if I wanted a chance to win this thing. I was able to get right beside him on a couple of turns but because he had the better line he was able to accelerate out of them better and hold his lead. I was starting to run out of gas and had to keep telling myself that I only needed to suffer for five more minutes and it would be over....Yeah Right!! We made it to the flat, straight section on the back side of the velodrome and I decided I was going to have to go into "puke mode" and make a move. I shifted into a big gear, jumped out of the saddle and drove as hard as I could. The only problem was he knew this was great area to pass and he hit it hard too. I was right on his wheel but could not get around him. Just as we were running out of real estate we caught two guys from the first field. We got by the first guy pretty much at the same time. Rocky passed the second right as we entered the hard, left turn. Just I made my move the guy went down. I had to slow just a little and move off the fastest part of the trail to get by. Rocky was able to keep accelerating down the path and ended up with the biggest gap he'd had on me all day. CRAP!! We were coming into a section that transitioned from dirt to gravel and then to grass. It had been a tricky section for me all day. I had to make a decision on whether to push it really hard and risk going down like Chris did or make it through safely without losing more time. I chose the safe route. Rocky had made it by two more riders and I got held up going through the trees by the pits and couldn't get around them. Rocky's lead grew. I realized I was not going to catch him. Now I just needed to make sure I didn't make any stupid mistakes through the rest of the course. I came by the pits and looked back. No one was there. I sat up and coasted across the line in 2nd place. It was an epic battle on a great course.
Photos: Tina Wang