Warning!!! If you are not sitting by a fireplace with a hot cup of joe you will need to do so before reading this. You have officially been warned!
Just like last weekend I decided to head over to Sequim Friday night. This time Denise and the dog came with me. We stopped to eat dinner at the Alder Wood Bistro (very nice) in Sequim before heading over to the Dungeoness Spit. The weather had been beautiful all evening but sometime around 12:30am it started to rain hard. I figured it was just a squall passing through but it never let up. It was still raining when I let the dog out at 7:00am. I was not looking forward to standing on the side of the road marshaling traffic for 3 1/2 hours in this. I got dressed and by the time I jumped back out of the RV it was starting to let up. By 8:00 it had pretty much stopped raining and by 9:00 the sun broke through. The roads were dry by the time the morning races finished.
By 1:30pm weather looked like a carbon copy of last week so I kitted up in the same gear. Ha! We had another strong group lining up for the Pro/1/2 race that included Michael, John, Zach, Aaron, Kyle, Steve, Jason, Brian, Qayam, Nikos, Mark and me. I think Audi had about the same numbers so I was sure we'd be watching each other closely. We got the privilege of racing an extra lap this week for a total of 84 miles. This probably won't be the most accurate play by play (You'll know why by the end) but I'll do the best I can.
We did not have a neutral roll out so it was game on right our of the parking lot. The only problem was that we were ready to get going but our lead car wasn't. We were packed in right on his bumper and there was a lot of brake tapping going on during the first mile or so. We finally got some room and the attacks started. I didn't even jump on my bike until it was time to stage so during the first couple of hard accelerations my legs didn't really want to go. I decided to sit in and let others attack while I warmed up a bit. Like I said, my post race brain had trouble remembering what and when things transpired in this race so I don't know when the break actually got away. From what I remember Qayam got away with Brad(HSP) Patrick and Ian T.(Audi) and Steve(Bikesale). Nice, we had a guy along with two from Audi so things were looking pretty good. It didn't seem like anyone was too anxious to try to bridge or chase them down so there wasn't much for us to do except sit in and enjoy the ride. The break slowly disappeared down the road. A short time later we saw a lone rider up the road and soon realized it was Qayam. With the numbers we had all the other teams knew we would be the ones to have to work to bring back the break.
|chasing the break|
At the end of lap one I think I remember that their gap was less then one minute and we still had plenty of time to bring them back. By the end of lap 2 I think their gap had grown to 1:20. They were definitely in it to win it and without a guy in the break we quickly moved about six guys to the front and started are quest to bring them back. I was sitting in the middle of the field and decided to wait until a couple of guys dropped back to take a breather. After a short time I moved my way up through the field and slotted in to help work the pace line.
Jaimie(KR) jumped right in work with us and every once in a while his teammates also joined in as well. Pretty soon we had a nice rotation going and the pace really picked up. The sky had become dark and I think it started to drizzle sometime during the third lap but it wasn't making the roads wet. By the end of lap 3 we had really narrowed the gap and things were looking good.
It was business as usual during the first part of lap 4. (I think it was lap 4 but really have no idea) We were still doing most of the work up front. I think I remember Patrick (Audi) riding towards us in the opposite direction at some point. I also noticed that Brad was back with us in the pack. Are they down to only two guys? We kept pushing the pace and could see the lead group up the road. 200m off the break. I think this is about the time the weather started to get really shitty. The roads were started to get wet and I was starting to get a little cold. They stayed at the same distance for a while but at some point their lead slowly started to increase again. I know a bunch of guys decided to try to join the leaders. I think Zach made it into the group along with Brian(HSP), Dan H.(Astellas Oncology) and Ian M.(Audi) but as they raced away they didn't look to organized. Pretty soon most of them were back with the pack but Ian and Dan managed to stay with the break and then road off the front. The two of them have engines and soon they were the new break up the road.
Here is where the fun really started. I think the cold, wet rain was starting to drill into my core. The last two laps are a little fuzzy. We made our way past the finish line for the start of our final two laps. The weather was now about as shitty as it could get and I was starting to really feel the effects. As we rolled by the parking lot I took a look back and holy shit, where did the rest of the field go? I thought I was sitting about a third of the way back, trying to stay warm but I was actual now right near the back. I had thoughts of quitting but I decided to try to gut it out for one more lap. My legs still felt good but my fingers and toes were starting to get really cold. By the time we were half way through the lap I started to not give a shit about what was happening and just focused on staying warm, which was next to impossible. Every time I thought the rain would let up it just started coming down harder.
We rolled through the line and for the start of the final lap and the two man break was still up the road. Once again I looked back. Wow!! From just a glance it looked like we only had half the field left. No pride here. I'm F'ing done!! For some reason as my body wanted to take a right run into the parking lot my frozen ass brain told me to keep pedaling. WTF was I doing? I was about as miserable as I've ever been on a bike. OK, One laps, 12 more miles. I can do this!!?? I still had plenty of juice left in the tank but my fingers and toes were now past the freezing point and were now full on numb. I didn't grab any food or drink during the last lap because I couldn't grip anything. I couldn't feel my hands on the bars anymore and I was worried that something bad was about to happen. It looked like everyone else was feeling about the same. I think the only thing that kept me going was that four of my teammates, Zach, John, Michael and Aaron, were still out there suffering with me. There may have been a few feeble attempts to get away but I think pretty much everyone was now in survival mode. Maybe some guys still felt good but was definitely NOT one of them. I just wanted to get this over with. I was starting to make little goals for my self. Just make it to corner 4, then to corner 5, etc. It helped me focus on something other than how I was feeling.
We finally saw that big, orange sign telling us we had just 1K to go. I don't think anyone was really trying to make a move to escape but our speed did increase. We came around the final turn and I could see the finish tent down the road. Thank God!! To give racers some more room to sprint for the finish the officials had moved the 200m sign back to about 350m. I don't think it was going to be an issue for us.
|The remaining few sprint it out|
It was probably about 300m from finish to the parking lot and in that time my body completely failed me. I threw my bike down and jumped into the RV. My hands were so numb that I could not unclip my helmet. I was stripping down as fast as I could. I turned on the generator and cranked the heat. Denise made it in just in time to see huddled on the floor with nothing but my bibs still on. I was comforter over me. A few minutes later when I started to thaw out the pain that went through my nerve endings was almost unbearable. It took about 10 minutes for the pain to stop. I was finally able to get some dry clothes on but was still shivering. Looking back I'm glad I gutted it out to the finish. If I get put in that same type of situation again I'm not sure I would make the same decision.
photos by Denise Phillips