This was my fourth mass-start race so far, which puts me 40% of the way to being Cat 4! (I didn't think the Seward series count for upgrades but from what I hear they do.)
Kira came to the race and got some nice pics of me trying to hang in there. Thanks, baby!!
That would be me in the blue Seattle Rando jersey, taking the hard turn (really the only corner on the course):
Sprinting out of the corner, one of the funnest parts of the race, and just after this was one of the few spots it was relatively easy to move up in the pack (on the downhill just after this):
Watching the 3/4 race - looking for clues on what to do, and what not to do:
Check out this great shot Kira took of a few of the 3/4 racers. If I'm not mistaken, the guy on the left won the 4/5 crit! No wonder he's winning the race every time, he's a damn 4. Figures. (But congrats to him for killin' it!)
Thoughts on the race
Once again, it was a ton of fun, but a lot of hard work too. I'm getting more confident in the pack, and moved around a lot more than before. In previous races I'd pretty much stay at the (ever-shedding) back of the pack and just hang on. I'd be in what I could have sworn was the middle of the peloton, but all of a sudden I look back and nobody's there.
This time I moved around and got in more or less the middle of the peloton, which was interesting - I just made sure not to overlap wheels more than necessary, and to generally just "protect my front wheel" as they say. In a sea of bikes, it was actually kind of easy to lose track of where I was course, and where the road is going.. but you can just follow wheels and bodies.
There seemed to be more sketchiness than usual, and a lot of people yelling at other races to "hold your line!" and "watch out". I felt bad for one rider in a Rabbobank kit who seemed to be getting yelled at a lot, and I heard someone say "watch out for Rabbobank" towards the end.
Somehow nobody seemed to crash, and the race went on as the usual pattern goes: first few laps are tough, then it cools down. First prime stretches out the pack, then we regroup. Repeat for second prime lap. Then a few laps later, after we've all regrouped, a sprint is launched 200-300m from the finish.
I got a little daring towards the end, and squeezed through a gap between a pair of handlebars that was not much bigger than my own bars... on the climb no less. It was that or slow down, and slowing down on the uphill at the end of the race means it's over. I wasn't going for first, so maybe I shoulnd't have pushed it, but I think I ended up top 20 or so out of the 50 that started.
One thing that was interseting was watching the usual winner set up his sprint. I'd never been close enough to see where it's launched when going this direction, but today it was launched at the base of the uphill. An older First Rate Mortgage rider, who seems to be experienced and just sitting in, rolled up beside the pack and nodded/said "go" to the sprinter guy of the same team, who then broke from the pack and gave it his all. And I'm pretty sure he won.
So if one wanted to win this race, unless you can beat him in a sprint (he's won the last few), another option might be to go off the front a little earlier, say one lap earlier. Then the question is can you hold it? One day I'll find out I hope.
Seward Park race 5/28/09:
Distance: 18.515 km
Elevation Gain: 361 m
Min Max Avg
Heart Rate: 167 190 180 bpm
Speed: 5 85.8 37.5 kph (23.3 mph)
Interesting to compare to the last few races - seems like my avg HR for the race is notching down slightly, which I would hope points to increasing fitness. I guess I'll find out next Saturday at the Ballard Crit!