Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Monday, April 15, 2013

2013 Volunteer Park Crit

I'm not paying to race the VP Crit in the rain!  I'm not paying to race the VP Crit in the rain!  I'm not.....

Based on the forecast I was pretty sure I wasn't going to show up...well, OK, I was probably going to still show up but wasn't going to race in the rain.  I came up with other reason to keep me from racing.  I just got back from vacation and didn't touch a bike for 2 1/2 weeks.  I went Skiing all day Saturday and was feeling it.   Oh, and...It's going to f'ing rain!!  This course can be slicker than snot in places even when dry.  I'd rather save myself for Walla Walla, right?? 

So as I was watching the lower category  crashes I wondered over and handed in my USAC, if you die it's your own fault release form, $30 cash and went out for a warm up ride. It wasn't raining and some guy on the news told me it was only going to get better as the day went on.  Cool, I mean really cool.  It was only about 45 degrees when I set out but hey, it was a dry cold!  I hooked up with my teammates and by the time we headed to the line for our start the sun had burned its way through the clouds and it actually felt nice.  I love Seattle!!

This is not the typical, urban crit course.  Most consist of four or more corners set on downtown streets lined with businesses.  This course is like our Thursday Night Seward Park course that is just down the road.  Did you notice the word "Park" in those two venues?  Does that give you a vision of tall trees, green grass and people with dogs frolicking around wondering what the hell a bunch of people with lycra and expensive racing bikes are doing in their park?  Then you get the idea.  Right smack in the middle of park is a seldom used .8 mile loop that really has only one corner.  It's at the top of a short climb that leads you to the finish.  Sounds pretty simple right?  Just a bunch of guys/gals riding circles around the park on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Sounds like fun right?  Not so fast!!  It wouldn't be a real crit unless there were "turtles", manhole covers, post holes and, wait for it......MOSS.  Yes, moss!!  That Pacific Northwest "grass" that accumulates on your lawn and roof every year also plants itself on the pavement in Volunteer Park. 

I was happy to see a large group roll to the line for the start for the "Old Guys" 1/2/3 race.   With the five we had (Tom, Alex, Matt, Kevin and me) I felt we could do some damage (that's probably not the best word to use for a crit but......).  Time to test the well rested legs.

During the first couple of laps we were pretty bunched up but after that the attacks really started and that started to string things out.  As we picked up speed I started noticing certain areas on the course where guys were loosing traction with their back wheel.  It happened to me at least three times during the race and one of them caused my wheel to slide out about six inches.  It made for some tense riding.  I really worked hard to always stay near the front the whole race to minimize the the potential damages.  I attacked a few times, mainly to see how the pack was feeling and also to help keep things strung out.   The bell rang for the first time while one guy was off the front.  I was setting tempo at the front of the pack and when I say him slowing up as he rounded the corner at the top of the hill I decided to go for it.  It was a pretty good sized gap but I closed fast and nearly took it.  We stayed together along with two others and kept the gap for a few more laps.  When we were brought back Matt took over and pretty much was on the front or in breaks the rest of the race. 

It was looking good for us.  Every time there was an attack one of us were in it.  When we got just over half way through the race I was really started to tell you the strong guys were.  Rusty(Fanatic) was constantly taking digs off the front and took at least two primes. He never showed signs of ware. The Audi and Bikesale guys seemed to be really motivated and I knew Brian(Fischer) would be in the mix at the finish.    A little later things got more interesting when Alex and Matt both got off the front in a break.  Nice, I just sat stayed near the front and let other teams do all the work.  We still had a ways to go but I was hoping they could hold on.  Pretty soon another bell rang and the pack got motivated and we caught them.  Rusty shot off the front and took the prime and Tom, who said he was going to be patient for once took the opportunity and dug hard to bridge the gap.  They had two others with them and they just rolled away with only four laps to go.  At first I thought no one would let them get away but it wasn't happening.  I moved up to 2nd wheel as we raced through the downhill section of the course.  At first we were driving pretty hard but as we approached the hill the guy in front pretty much sat up and no one took over.  I got out of the saddle and pushed it just so I could get to the top of the hill first.  I didn't want to get caught napping if there was a big push from behind.  There was no way I was going to drop down towards mid pack with all the potential tire slipping that might happen when things got heated for the finish. 

Two laps to go and Rusty and Tom still had a gap.  I was still sitting right on the front.  It was hard work and I was a little worried I'd have nothing for the finish but I didn't really care as long as they stayed away.  All of a sudden I hear some yelling and then Greg and Dave?? from Audi came flying by.  GAME ON!!  I slotted in right behind them.  They were hammering.  I was starting to think that Rusty and Tom might get caught but as we got the bell for the final lap they were still away.  As we neared the climb for the last time Audi faded and just at that moment Mike and Andrew (Bikesale) came flying by.  I saw Brian(Fischer) coming up fast and I knew it was time to put it in overdrive.  I felt I was in great position going into the last turn but then the guy right in front of me slid out a little and it caused me to have to coast for just a second.  I had been positioned well to get on Brian's(Fischer) wheel on the home stretch but that little bit of momentum lost killed those hopes.  I could see Rusty and Tom heading towards the finish.  Would they make it???

Brian came close but had to settle for third.  Alex rolled in sixth, me 10th and Matt 14th.  It was a great team effort for the first crit of the season and I was really amped for Tom.  It was a tense race but we had no crashes.  On to Walla Walla.

photos by:
woodinville bicycle

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