Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spectating at the Volunteer Park Crit

Yesterday a friend of mine was doing the Volunteer Park Criterium, which is always fun to watch! She was racing in the Cat 4 women's division, early in the day. I wanted to see the cat 5 men's division too, but got there too late.

I took the long way to Volunteer Park, which is about five blocks from my place. Up the hill to 15th Ave, John St down to Madison, then after a 60-70 km/h downhill, take a left on 28th Ave. I decided to hit up one of the steepest climbs around on the way to the race, just for fun. This is the Aloha climb that has one long section that's got to be at least 15-18%!

Doing that climb when fresh was a great feeling, I could actually keep a straight line and hold 10 km/h, as opposed to doing at 50 or 90 miles into a ride (then I'm pushing 5-6 km/h). It wasn't necessarily easy, but easier than usual.

Watching The Races

Rachael's already having a great 1st season, with top-10 finishes in all of her road races so far. So I knew she'd do well in this one too, her first crit. I could only hope for such a starting record.

She rode strong the whole time, in the front of the 50-woman peloton, sometimes even leading it! She ended up 6th overall, not bad for a first crit!! Congrats.

Writeups from racers: here and here.

Riding after the races

John, Andy & I did the southern portion of the Lake Wa Loop after watching the races. It was a perfect day for it: 70+ degrees & sunny! I even had to take off my arm-warmers. That's the kind of weather I've been dreaming out for the last six months or so..

We did the counter-clockwise loop through Leschi, Renton, Bellevue & Mercer Island. On the I-90 bridge heading back to Seattle I was holding 50 km/h (30 mph) at first, and kept it above 45 km/h the whole time, somehow it felt almost easy! A tail wind perhaps? The light & stiff Ciocc definitely helps..

I was trying to catch a racer in The Garage's racing kit, who started out way ahead. I didn't realize it at the time, but John said that a Cucina Frecsa racer was drafting me the whole time. Once I hit the incline leading up to the Mt. Baker tunnel, I could no longer hold 45-50 km/h, but stood up and kept a 32 km/h (20 mph) pace. I don't usually go that fast uphill, but it felt like I was being propelled, by my own momentum, and also by the motivation of watching races earlier. John said I dropped the Cucina guy going up the incline too. Not that it counts for anything.. but it was fun.

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