Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sequim (Tour de Dung) & Mason Lake #1

What do you get when you spend a total of about 320 miles in a car that includes two ferry crossings, a toll bridge, wind and rain just to ride your bike for a few hours?........................................................

Back to back road races at Sequim and Mason Lake.

Sequim (Tour de Dung) Road Race.
The course is on a 12 mile loop that our field raced clockwise six times. It is mainly flat but the weather and wind always seems to find a way to make it interesting.  New for this year we decided to move the finish to the hill just past the starting area.  The old finish had produced a fair amount of crashes in the past and this would hopefully string things out a bit.

After getting up at the crack of dawn to help set up the course followed by corner marshal duties I lined up for the start of the Pro/1/2 race.  Zach and I were the only two on our team in the field so we were just going to see how things played out (meaning wait for HSP to start attacking) and hope to get in one of the early breaks.  We had field of about 60 with a lot of strong racers so I knew it was going to be a barn burner.  Sure enough the attacks started right from the start and after trying to get in a couple of failed attempts about 10 or so guys managed to get away.  At some point I got in a group that almost managed to bring them back but we lost steam and they disappeared down the road.  Then, it started to f'ing rain and the wind picked up.  I was reserved to just sit in and ride it out but that didn't happen.  Then just after the start of lap 4  Jeff Reed (Starbucks) jumped near the top of the climb (from what my rain drenched brain remembers) and for some reason I decided to attack an bridged up to him.  No one followed so the two of us took turn taking long pulls (Jeff's were a lot longer than mine) and we got a decent sized gap on the main field.  I was feeling great but I was motivated to give it a try.  No one really gave chase at all until about 3/4 through when David (Oly) started to bridge but soon lost steam.  He was then joined by two from KR.  We now had five guys and then someone that had been dropped from the leading break joined us.  Colin was really pulling hard and I was thinking we might be able to hold off the field, even if it was for 10th place.  Just as we passed were coming up on two laps to go we hit the finish climb and my right quad cramped up.  It was only for a few seconds but the time I took to try to stretch it caused me to get gapped and with their speed I was not able to catch back on.  I felt as if it never happened so I was hoping to put in a big dig on the downhill section and catch back on......NOT!  I was left out in no man's land just waiting for the main field to gobble me up.  I kept pedaling hard just in case but soon enough the field was on top of me.  I managed to slot back in and recover. 

No one seemed interested in chasing after the heavy rain started to pound down on us.  I certainly didn't.   We started the final lap and we were almost at a crawl.  This got me chilled fast.  And all I wanted to do was get this thing over with.  About the time we rounded corner six for what use to be the finish sprint, things finally started to ramp up and I just moved to the front so I could avoid any trouble.  At this point I had no interest in sprinter for 15th place but when we got near the 1K marker I decided I didn't want to be in the mess so I started driving hard.  Brad(HSP) was along side me and we kept the pace going.  We had full open road at the 1K marker but it was still weird.  After the initial climb there was a blind corner just before you spotted the 200m marker and the finish.  Even though the road was closed I couldn't help wondering if we'd see a car come flying around the corner.  Just as the sprint started someone in front of me blew out of his pedal and that caused a minor panic.  I managed to get around him and got to the finish line in 21st place.  Not impressive but I was happy with how I raced. 

Mason Lake #1
I actually had no intention of hauling my ass in a car and driving 80 miles to a race that might have the same weather as yesterday.  I was beat to shit and none of my teammates were going to double up.  I woke up on Sunday and was planning on going on a training ride with some of my teammates at 1:00pm.  That changed when my wife told me she was going to have to work most of the day.  "Shit, should I just go race?"  Before I knew it was hauling my gear and tired ass into my rig and heading down the road.  WTF was I thinking.  I'm too old for this shit, right?  OK,  I decided to wimp out a little and planned on signing up for the Masters 1/2/3 race.  That wouldn't be as hard on the old body.  I hit about every type of weather pattern on the way over and just before crossing the Narrows bridge it started to rain so hard I could barely see out the window.  I thought about just pulling off and grabbing some beers at the Seven Seas Brewery in Gig Harbor and then just heading home.  That didn't happen.  When I arrive at the parking lot I was surprised that the sun was out and it was almost 60 degrees.  I can do this.  I walked down to registration to find that only five guys were signed up for the Masters 1/2/3 field.  Screw that, I was not going to race against five guys.  There was still an hour until race time so I went back to the car, kitted up and returned later to find no change in the numbers.  I handed over my cast and put my name in to race in the Pro/1/2 field.  At least the weather was nice.........

When we lined up it was still pretty nice out.  Most guys had ditched most of the cold/fowl weather gear and were looking forward to racing in decent conditions.  I was the only guy on my team there and my legs felt like shit so I was just going to sit in and hopefully not get dropped.  Great plan, huh?  The race started and two things happened right off the bat.  First, as we rounded the first turn it and headed up the fist climb it started to f'ing pour down rain.  Where did this come from?  Five minutes ago it was sunny and 60 degrees!  Oh wait, we live in the PNW.    Right after that Brian (HSP) took off hard off the front.  No one gave chase and off he went.  We still had 70 miles to go and I certainly didn't care.  My legs felt like shit and I was happy to just sit in.  After a few minutes he disappeared down the road and that was that.     His lead continued to grow during the next two laps and any attempt some of the Oregon guys as well as Audi and Oly did move to the front and tried to get things going.  HSP was quick to respond and didn't ever let anyone get up the road.  Even though I wasn't feeling great I was still able to get to the front during every climb.  This helped me feel that I probably wouldn't get dropped.  My only problem was that after dealing with a few sketchy riders during the fast, wet, downhill section I started to take it easy and when we crossed the finish line I found myself near the back of the pack.  There was no way I'd get any kind of result if I kept that up. 

I can't remember when it happened but I wanted to say it was just after the start of the third lap somewhere around the parking lot.  I heard that nasty sound of carbon colliding with pavement right behind me.  It sounded like the guy(s) that hit the deck were sliding for ever on the wet pavement.  I was waiting for my wheel to get taking out but I ended up OK.  Two guys went down, Steve(Audi) and one of the guys from the Oregon HPC team.   We found out that we were starting to bring back Hitch.  It was probably a combo of him starting to tire and the overall speed of the pack. It didn't matter much since I knew HSP was waiting to start launching guys off the front again.  This time up the climbs I took a couple of digs off the front.  I was quickly hauled in but it felt good to finally start racing instead of just going through the motions.  After the crash I was even more tentative on the descent and no matter what I did I could not move up through the pack.  Hmmmm.....

As we started up the climb for lap four we could see Hitch up the road for the first time all day.  Now guys were picking up the pace and by the time we hit the base of the 2nd climb we knew we'd catch him soon.  Once HSP realized this they started to attack.  I think it was Brad who took off and Kaler(Audi) jumped on his wheel.   They quickly reach Hitch and it looked like they would start working together.  I looked back to see if we'd dropped anyone and right when I looked up I saw Hitch violently hit the deck.  He must have crossed wheels with Brad or Kaler.  As we rode by I could see he was in pain.  We organized and started pulling the other two in and just before we reached them Morgan(Canyon) attacked hard and a few seconds later Todd(HSP) was charging hard to grab his wheel.  I moved to the front and we started to give chase but they managed to hold a lead by the time we reached the descent.  This time I made sure I was at the front of the pack for the trip down and I was going to work as hard as I could to stay there.  Riding at the back is no fun especially on fast, narrow, wet roads.  I managed to cross the start for the last lap sitting about 3rd wheel and I was motivated to stay there.

The  last lap was super fun and fast.  Anytime the pace slowed up Ian(Audi) moved to the front and made sure we didn't slow down.  The trip up the 2nd time was pretty fast but I had no problem staying at the front.  I took the corner and dug as hard as I could so that I could stay up front.  We whipped down the descent and onto the backstretch where things slowed down a bit.  I didn't think we were going that fast but we were riding single file and no one was trying to move up.  I was sitting third wheel and was fine with that.  Then with about 3K to go Erik(Tete de le Course) went to the front and hit the gas.....GAME ON!  A couple of guys jumped and got in front of me but I was still happy were I was.  With just over 1K to go Jason(Apex) jumped hard.  I responded and so did Kaler(Audi) and Aaron(HSP).  Perfect, we had guys from the two biggest teams up here and their guys wouldn't chase.  I was surprised we got a gap and with 1K to go it was looking good but then we lost Jason and Kaler kind of stopped working.  The field was closing.  Aaron and I looked at each other and then just put our heads down and started going hard.  This was way too early for a sprint but I didn't want to sit up and just let the field come to us.  200m to go and we were still in front.  I knew the big sprinters would blow by us but at least I wasn't sitting in the back of the pack wishing I had a chance.  Five guys did manage to blow by us.  Todd and Morgan got us by 18 seconds with Todd taking the win.  I was super happy to hold on for 8th.  It turned out to be a super fun race.

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