I was told once that there is a law in the books that makes it illegal to rain in Sequim. If you're a dork like me you start looking online and watching the news for a race day's forecast about a week out. It always changes. Example: Monday: 10% chance of rain, cool and calm. Wednesday: 40% chance of rain, cool and breezy. Friday: 80% chance of rain, cold and windy. Basically you never really know what you're going to get until you line up for staging so I packed crappy weather. I guess I paid a price for winning last week because by Tuesday morning I was feeling pretty shitty and spent most of the next two days in bed. I did manage to get one easy ride in during the week but that was it. I was feeling better by Friday but was still a little sluggish. I decided I didn't want to get up at zero crap thirty on Saturday morning so I jumped in the RV and headed for the ferry early Friday evening. It was cold, windy and pouring rain, just as predicted. This continued as I rolled off the ferry on Bainbridge and on up the road towards the peninsula. I'm not lying when I tell you that as soon as I saw the "Welcome to Sequim" sign the rain and wind stopped and the roads were dry. Maybe there is something to that law?? Is it weird that the first thing that always pops in my head when I drive through Sequim is "Kitchen Dick and Woodcock."
I camped out at the race parking lot and it did rain off and on throughout the night but when I stuck my head out of the rig Saturday morning it was basically dry. I had a long day ahead of me. My race wasn't going off until 2:15pm but since Garage and Audi share duties for putting on this series I was up bright and early to perform my volunteer duties. I was going to be keeping the peace at corner 4 with Mark and Zack for the next 3 1/2 hours or so .
I'd been thinking about racing in the rain all week but it never crossed my mind until my drive over that I might be standing on the side of the road for about four hours in it. Thankfully it was dry. It was actually fun hanging with the guys while checking out the races and local. Watching and listening to the Cat 5 guys while they tried to negotiate corner 4 was quite comical! I'll just leave it at that. The drivers were just as interesting to deal with. Most were quite courteous and generally interested in what was going on. I did have one driver totally ignore my stop sign and a group in a truck gave us the one finger solute and then actually turned around just to do it again. A handful of guys in pickup trucks decided it would be fun to floor it as they drove by so we would get a nice cloud of diesel smoke blown in our faces. Volunteer time was finally over around 12:30 and it was Time to get ready to race.
Michael, Qayam, John, Zack, Brian, Kyle, Nikos, Jason and I all lined up for the Pro/1/2 race. Minus most of HB's squad (I think a lot of guys were at their training camp) most other teams were also well represented. We were going to race six laps for a total of 72 miles on a mostly flat course. Let the fun begin!
The first lap was pretty uneventful except for the fact that is felt super fast. Of course, attacks were mounted early on but none of them stuck. I might be wrong (still a little balloon headed after being sick) when the break actually got away but I think it was just after the start of lap two. My teammate Kyle managed to escape with David R.(HSP), Mike H.(Audi), Morgan S.(Exergy), Todd G.(Guinness), Logan O. (HB) and Logan W.(2nd Ascent). As they disappeared up the road I was happy to just sit in and help disrupt any counter attacks that might get launched by teams that got left out. Bikesale was the biggest team that didn't get anyone in the break and soon enough they jumped to the front and started forcing the pace. They did most of the work but guys from KR and Recycled Cycles also came to the front. By the time we started lap 3 the break was still safely up the road.
The next couple of laps were pretty much the same. Bikesale seemed to have given up on their effort to chase down the leaders. Even though HSP had a man up the road they started coming to the front to force the pace. I wasn't sure what they were doing but they must have had their reasons. We just kept guys near the front so we could watch what was happening. Individuals that didn't have team members up the road were still launching attacks to try to bridge with no success . Things were about to get interesting.
|Chasing the break|
Even though KR didn't have a lot of guys out their they started making their presence known. Jim, Ryan, John and especially Jamie were launching individual attacks that really started to get the pack moving. I was still happy with how things were going but that was about to change. We saw a single rider up the road and as we got closer we soon realized that it was Kyle. No one wants to get dropped in any situation and I was bummed for him. He put in a killer effort.
Without a word our team rallied to the front of the pack and started to mount an all out assault to bring back the break. The only other person we got help from was Steve W.(Bikesale) who jumped right in and worked the pace line with us. Pretty soon we saw another lone rider up the road. It was Todd(Guinness). It looked like he was cramping. The break was now down to five. I still didn't have a clue if we'd ever catch them but we weren't going to stop until it was a done deal. Then the strangest thing happened. It was a genuine WTF moment. We looked up the road and all we could see was a large group of racers at a complete stand still in the middle of the road. It was the Masters 4/5 field that we were about to lap. We didn't get any info from the officials so I assumed there was a crash that still had guys down on the road. We slowed up for only a couple of seconds and then decided they were sitting neutral so we could pass. It was a little sketchy. They were taking up most of our race lane and there were two or three cars coming at is in the other lane. We were moving pretty fast and there was not a lot of room for us to get by. Everything went fine but what a cluster F*$k. Soon after we caught and lapped the Women's 1/2/3 field.
At the start of the final lap we were still up front going as hard as we could. Steve was still helping out but everyone else seemed to be content with letting us do the work. As we started up the first roller Nikos dropped off and yelled something to us. I couldn't hear what he said but it turned out his saddle was about to fall off and he had to stop racing. He had been riding super strong to that was a bit of a bummer. We forged on and after a short while we realized that all our work was going to pay off. Just up ahead we saw the flashing lights of our lead car. We pushed on and pretty soon we were back to one big pack. After about two seconds of rest more attacks started. I was surprised that after being sick all week I was still feeling really good. After a minute or of sitting in I decided to jump with Ryan(HSP). No one else wanted to play(maybe for good reason) and soon we were trading pulls in an effort to escape. How close are we to the finish?? I figured we had about 4K or 5K to go. Maybe had a chance???? We both had strong teammates that could help us out but..............We hit the final roller on the course and as we started up I had the first bad feeling I'd had all day. I couldn't accelerate as fast as I wanted to. I looked over at Ryan and told him that I probably couldn't hold this pace to the end. I kept pushing to the top of the climb in hopes that the downhill would give me some kind of magical power......NOT!! Soon enough we were pulled back. Sorry Ryan.
With about 3K to go I slotted back to mid pack to take a breather. Someone else may have gone solo up the road but I wasn't sure. We were now stacked in like sardines and there was a lot of elbow banging going on as guys tried to position themselves. I soon realized that this was probably going to come down to one big ass field sprint and I had to decide if I wanted to involve myself. I've seen it all at the end of this race. Just after the 1K marker you fly around the final turn and can see the 200m marker and the finish tent way down the road. It makes guys anxious and crashes happen. With about 2K to go I was not in a great position. I looked around to see where my teammates were and we were scattered all over the place. I thought about dropping back but soon instinct took over and I found my self working my way up towards the front.
As the 1K marker approached I was still not in ideal position but had managed to get to the front 1/4 of the pack. I decided to just hold my position on the yellow line and wait for the furry to be unleashed. More elbows and F' bombs were being thrown and it was starting to get a little sketchy.
|The finish sprint You can see some remnence of the crash in the back left of photo|
Here comes the 200m mark! BAM!!! Right at the marker a crash started just to my right. As guys reacted I had to swerve hard left. I lost some serious momentum and the wheel I was sitting on. I had no one to draft off so I was just going to have to put my head down and hope for the best. A think lot of guys got held up by the crash. I came across the line and was actually super surprised to find out that I finished 10th. I was most happy with the work my team did to bring back the break. Congrats to Jeff Hoover for pulling out the win.
photos by Kirsten Reed