Friday, June 12, 2009

3rd Place At Seward Park

Before I shift gears and do the 600k this weekend, I made it out to another Seward Park training race yesterday. Saw SiR member Gary Prince on the way down, chatted for a bit but had to hurry down to the park to get there in time.

I've been riding down Lake Wa Blvd so much lately (for training and to get to Seward) that it feels like I know each and every turn, bump, and crack in the road. Luckily there's great scenery with the lake and the mountains in the distance, so it never gets too boring.

The Race

I lined up in the middle, just found a gap in the crowd and planted myself there. No reason to start in the rear if you don't need to. Spoke briefly to another unattached guy who was at the 4/5 crit in Ballard last Saturday. Said he ended up going down in the crash on the second to last lap, that must have sucked to have come that far in the race and have that happen.

Decent turn out on this sunny-but-not-too-hot day, probably 30-40 riders in total. Funny how I barely know anyone in the field yet there are many familiar faces. Even in the 3/4 race I'm starting to recognize people, the racing scene is a small world I guess.

We were going clockwise this time, which changes the race a bit. Slows the overall speed since there's more of a climb, and also makes the downhill "interesting." You swoop down to where the road squeezes narrow and makes a decently-hard right. Going into this turn in a pack is a "fun" experience, because everyone has their own idea of a "line" through the turn and how to accelerate out of it.

More than once I went into this turn between other riders, and had to play a careful dance of not too close to this guy, not too close to that guy. There were a few close calls on that turn for sure, but we all made it out unscathed.

There was a new guy I hadn't seen before, wearing gold shoes and sporting some tats on his arm. But it wasn't the golden slippers or the tattoos that caught my attention, it was the fact this guy was throwing elbows left and right! This is in a Category 4/5 race (beginners) mind you. This guy seemed to be strong, and stayed up front most of the time. But almost every time I looked up he was jostling with someone next to him, at one point I think he even pushed someone!

Somehow nobody went down due to his crazy antics. He must be mad since he had to move down from Cat 1 to the 4/5's or something.. jeez. I wanted to say something to him about his "nice elbows" even though he never touched me, I just couldn't get over how much of a dick he was being. Might be a nice guy in "real life", but apparently not on the course.

Besides Mr. Elbows the race was generally uneventful and had the usual amount of Cat 4/5 sketchiness. I felt good throughout it and just tried to work efficiently as possible, e.g. not stay in the wind too long, and don't forget to try to coast a lot. After the downhill turn it was pretty easy to move up in the pack, I found that even seated I could outsprint many people and make up 10-15 spots in one fell swoop.

Final Sprint!

On the last three laps I made sure to be in the first 10 or so riders. A few people tried to break away on the last lap, but I just stayed in the pack and watched them suffer in the wind. No way they were going to be able to hold a huge peloton off!

Sure enough we swamped the break on the final uphill surge, but unfortunately were also overtaking a few lapped riders. I was near the curb on the right side of the road, and had to swerve around one guy to his right, then another to his left. Might have barely cut someone off with that little move, but it was either hit the brakes and get 15th or jump and get 3rd. I chose the latter.

I'm the third rider from the left, putting all I've got into my little steel machine. Interesting that the top three riders were all unttached! Go non-team.
Being chased by more than a few riders. Hurting, but excited to see clear road ahead of me at the finish.
My "rawr" face.
Now letting it all out. Ended up with a new peak 30 seconds of 628 watts. Way more than I usually put out, but having 30+ people chasing you helps a little.
The rest of the pack coming up behind me. Another randonneur, Ryan, was in the blue jersey and I think he got 5th! Way to go randos!
Full photo set on flickr. And of course a huge thanks to Kira for coming out to take pics of me!

After the race I felt more or less sick, validating the fact that I rarely work this hard on a bicycle. I could barely talk to Kira when the race was over, had to take a few minutes to catch my breath. I wasn't sure of the result, but after double-checking it was official!

This was my best race finish to date, so I'm really happy with it. Looking forward to a day of rest now before the 600k tomorrow. It's gonna be a great weekend of riding.


Joe P said...

Most excellent!

Anonymous said...

Do you see what you were doing right in those sprint photos and what almost every other rider pictured was doing wrong? Congrats on a great finish!!! keep it rolling - can't wait to read about the 600K report. Dave

Dan O said...

Wow - 3rd place. Killer job and a fun read.

Rob McDaniel said...

Hey man, I'm the other guy with the steel ciocc. Nice meeting you today. Where do you work? Do you ever get a chance in the middle of the day for a ride? Hit me up,


MM said...

Hey Matt... Great job and nice read. I am the guy in the blue at the finish. Look forward to seeing you again. Take care. Mark M. #2047

matt m said...

Rob - was great to meet you! Definitely rad to see another Ciocc out there in the peloton.

I work for a little software company out in Redmond (you might have heard of them), but lately have been too lazy to ride in much less ride at lunch. Most of my rides are either on the weekends or evenings.

Mark - I think you were the guy I (incorrectly) called "Ryan" during this race. Sorry 'bout that, you guys look similar and I think ride the same bike. And you guys both seem to be really strong. =]

Looks like I'll be seeing lots of both of you in the coming races!

mm said...

Matt. Looking forward to seeing you this evening as well. Hopefully it will be a typical Seattle day and look dreary in the AM and open up to be a beautiful afternoon. I will search you out this eve. Mark