At the end of my MoE write up I mentioned the old proverb (or contract as I'll now refer to it) "Bad things happen in threes!" I don't know what I did to actually enter into this contract but I figured the mechanical in the TT and two flats in the road race were the three bad things I'm good to go, right??? I now realize that for bike racing there are certain stipulations in this contract that have to be met before you can wash your hands of it. I read the fine print I found out that it is not that simple. It can't just be three separate incidents, it has to happen in three separate races AND in three different types of races. I got the road race and time trial out of the way but the MoE crit went well. Hmmm...... Ballard is up next. OK, I'm NOT going to race if it rains!
Because of the typical weekend forecast that shows a picture of half a sun, half a cloud and a certain percent chance of rain the pre-reg for this was small except for the 4/5 field. The course is right in the heart of Ballard and with the cobbles, uneven road, and (I've heard that there are move bars on this course than any other in the us) big crowds it can be a crazy race even dry. Add wet conditions and......
Denise and I arrived early to claim a good spot for the team tent. The weather had been nice all morning but just after we parked a dark cloud settled over us and it started to pour. No problem, I'll get a nice spot in one of the many taverns to watch the rain soaked carnage. After about ten minutes I looked at the weather map on my phone and even though it seemed like this would never end it was showing up as tiny green blip on radar and nothing was behind it. Ten minutes later the sun was back out. OK, I'll register now.
I got a good warm up on my trainer and with about 10 minutes before our start Mark and I jumped on our bikes and headed towards the staging area. I didn't realize that the 4/5 field was on their last lap and were coming through turn three as we were crossing the street. I had to pay attention to all the pedestrians on the side walk and stopped watching the race. All of a sudden we heard that nasty sound of carbon hitting the pavement. Before I realized what was happeneing a guy that was trying to avoid the carnage hit one of the hay bales head on. I had one of those slow motion "Ohhhhhhh Shiiiiiiiiiiit" moments! He and his bike launched over the hay bail and right into me. I was pushed up against the brick wall of the building behind us. WTF!! It took a few seconds to shake it off and get back on the bike. I seemed to be OK. I quickly discovered that I couldn't spin my rear wheel. I started shouting curse words that could be heard in several counties. Mark started asking me what I needed and was ready to grab me another wheel. Since we were minutes away from our start I went into panic mode. I reset the wheel, readjusted my brakes and checked for broken spokes. Everything seemed to be OK. If there were issues with the bike I would have to get it sorted out in the pits after the start. I also didn't have time to check the fine print in the "Threes" contract but I was hoping that would count.
You can see me standing on the sidewalk. This is about 5 seconds after the collison when I was getting back up. Jeeeze, it was a big, long crash. Guys are still going down.
We had a strong team at the line that included Tom, Aaron, Nikos, Alex, Matt, Mike B., Mark, Jeff and me. We've been getting someone on the podium pretty much every weekend so far and we figured today shouldn't be different. We were going to launch attacks early and often and if no one got away we would setup our large quad guys for the sprint finish. There were about 65 guys lined up at the start and we were ready for the shootout.
The race was barely under way (I think during lap one) when Doug(Audi) took off hard. Tom and Greg(Farestart) soon hopped on and at some point Pete(Slalom) joined as well. It was so early that I didn't think it would last too long. It was so early that I didn't think it would last too long. I was totally amped after my pre-race incident that at one point Alex had to reel me in after I rode off the front. After a couple of laps I calmed down and was ready to do whatever was needed to keep these guys off the front.
Even though the pace in the pack was fast we never got closer than eight seconds to the leaders. We were doing a great job in helping to control things in the pack. It seemed like Matt and Mike were always at the front when we entered corner 1. They did a great job in keeping the pace down when coming out of turn two. Things were going well and the break kept their lead lap after lap.
The ten laps to go board came up and the four were still up the road. I had been sitting about 1/3 of the way back and decided now was the time to get to the front. With six laps to go I was right were I wanted to be for the finish. Five to go! The pace picked up a little as guys without teammates in the break started to realized that they could be racing for 5th place. I fought hard to keep my spot. I was starting to feel the pain but knew I could last four more laps if I didn't fall back and have to fight my way back up again. We rounded turn three and BAM!! Even though we were pretty strung out through the corner someone went down just ahead of me. We were near the front so I could see what was happening and already had a good line to get through it.....NOT!! More guys started hitting the deck and it was coming right towards me. I drifted right but finally ran out of room and before I knew it I met one of the hay bails just past the turn. Fortunately I broad sided it and kind of just fell onto it. I didn't fully go down but had to unclip in order to remount. I was actually able to get back on before most of the field went by. I was the first one of the victims to arrive to get my free lap. I totally forgot that we only had four to go and I was quickly given the "No more free laps" from the officials. Crap! I was just going to pack it in but the back of the field was still coming through. I decided to jump back in and finish things off. It took me three laps of hell but I caught back on at turn three just before the final lap. As we raced towards the start/finish I got out of the saddle and gunned it.
I passed about ten guys but soon realized that all my matches were flamed out. I slotted back in and just looked to stay safe until the finish. I coasted across mid pack and found out that the break had survived and finished with a 14 second gap. Tom sprinted to a third place finish!!. Another podium finish for the team. (insert happy face here) I believe I have now met the requirements to get out of the "Three" contract. The only thing left to do was to figure out which bar we were going to head to for beers. Another great day for the team.
all photos by denise phillips