Saturday, August 29, 2009

Carnation Circuit Race Cat 4/5 2009

Woke up at 6 AM to the sound of wet roads and drizzle. Hmm, should I still head out to the race today? I must admit I had second thoughts at first, but then realized I'd regret missing another opportunity for training and race experience.

I figured it was raining in Carnation too so I donned my wool Seattle Rando jersey, wool knickers/socks, then Kira & I headed out to the race staging area.

And how could you not want to race with scenery like this? (course map here)

I made quick work of signing up, and pinning on the number. The legs felt fresh but I wanted to get in a warm-up lap, unlike the last circuit race. So Jordan and I took a little spin around the course, which was great to be able to see all the bumps, wet spots (on a corner), and dirt/gravel areas we'd have to contend with.

We finished a lap and lined up behind the Masters group who was heading out five minutes before us. The rollout was on grass, and a little mud, which made things interesting.

A few minutes after the Masters (35+) group rolled out, our Cat 4/5 peloton rolled out for a neutral kilometer at about 25 km/h. One guy had a big clump of grass & mud on his shoe, but I figured it wouldn't help to tell him at this point.

(Huge thanks to Kira for taking these great photos too!)
Our group of 65-70 riders was squeezed into that one little lane - so once again it was pretty challenging to move up. And once again the first few laps felt like a breeze, but almost out of nowhere things got rough for a bit.. anyway before that it was a game of moving up, Jordan and I squeezing into spaces smaller than we'd like.

Another lap (2?), and most of the group is intact. Surely a few have already peeled off the back, but nobody has crashed out. Yet.

Another lap:
And I'm still in the pack, though in the middle/back-ish area. Tried to move into little gaps but things like a crash or two pushed me back further than I would have liked. Still, I felt better than in the Gig Harbor Circuit race and was thinking about placing better this time too.

More riders, including Rob on Second Ascent (blue/black/white) coming through.

Somewhere on the backside (which had no center line, yet the "center-line rule" seemed to be enforced), a rider went down on a slick corner and took out at least one other rider. This was to my right and I was able to skirt around it, getting more than enough of a peek at the carnage that is bike racing. Here's a shot of the pack coming around for another lap.

The backside was also interesting that it had more turns, and bumps, than expected. At first I thought this was a four-corner deal but circuit races don't seem to be laid out that way. It had some winding sections, with two hard-ish right turns, one that was nice and wet from the earlier rain.

Also there was no real shoulder, except for dirt/gravel and/or grass that some riders got lucky skidding through. I think some gravel took out at least one rider, who went down alone. Also I saw a few riders (standing) in the grass on the 2nd turn, which squeezed us into a narrow lane.

Another pass of the 4/5 pack.

This spectator was taking in all of the races - a true fan:

I was starting to hurt, and yo-yoing on the back at about 35 minutes in. You'd speed up to close a gap, only to hear "SLOWING!" and have to hit those brakes.. over, and over, again.

On the fourth lap as we were turning right on to Carnation Farm Road, we hear the sound of an approaching ambulance. Uh oh, time to "neutralize," e.g. everyone get on the right side of the road and go about 20 km/h.. surely someone had gone down in the Masters race and it required some serious attention. (A photo of the ambulance below)

The fun thing for those of us at the back-ish of the pack was that as soon as the ambulance passed the front of the pack we all sprinted, but they now had quite the lead on us. We (from the middle on back or so) were all of a sudden closing a huge gap. Yet another reason not to dangle on the back of a race, unless it's your only choice.

The right turn onto the finish stretch was where everyone jumped out of the corner, and hauled at 50+ km/h over the km or so.. and since the ambulance passing happened just before that, all of a sudden after part of that finishing stretch there was road between me and the peloton - not good.

Looking back I see a group of stragglers, but I didn't even want to get into the saga of a chase group. I wanted to stay in and finish with the pack, so I fought as hard as I felt I could and still wasn't making up ground. I guess I was doing about the same speed as the pack, so I had to keep up the gas until they slowed, which we always did on the 1st slight uphill corner. It was a long few minutes..

I liked this shot Kira got of me in no-man's land, aka the "pain cave."

Lucky for me another straggler came around and gave me some shelter from the wind (there wasn't much, but at 50 km/h you're making enough of your own drag), just enough to pull my sorry ass back into the pack.

Ahh, back in the race. Though once in the pack there was a point I had to coast and drift backwards about 20 spots, just to get about 10 seconds of rest.

Sailing through:

2nd to last lap?

So then it was the last lap, only I thought we had one more to go. I guess I didn't notice the increased pace and jockeying for position at the front, since I was sailing around at the back, struggling to hang on. I also didn't notice the final lap bell, or the sign that said 1 to go. That's what red-lining will do to you, give you tunnel vision.

There would be no contention for me in this race, but I at least wanted to finish with the pack.

I was positive it was the last lap when everyone was over the double yellow line and sprinting towards the finish.. 300m to go.. so I kicked it in but could tell I was 40+ people back.. still, not as far back off as I was in the last circuit race.

The sprint up to the line was pretty close:

A true photo finish! The unattached E'cole(?) rider in white on the left got 2nd, while the Wines of Washington rider in yellow/black took the win, and Chad in the Hagens-Berman blue/white took third.

Jordan, riding for Blue Rooster, and Tim (unattached) coming in for 13th and 14th(?).

Here I am crossing the line (blue SiR jersey) for 45th place, feeling a mix of relief that the race was over, but also disappointment in that I didn't have what it took (whether it was a mental or physical defect I'm not sure) to contest the top 20. Still, the 5th USAC-sanctioned race for me and 50% of the way to Category 4.

More Photos

here (4/5) & here (Masters)

Thanks, Kira for the photos!

The Data

Final sprint reached 58 km/h according to the Garmin, though I'm not quite sure if that's correct (36 mph). Too bad it was for top 50..
Carnation Circuit 4/5 race 2009:
Duration: 56:35
Work: 735 kJ
TSS: 79.5 (intensity factor 0.918)
Norm Power: 262
VI: 1.21
Distance: 38.773 km
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 991 216 watts
Cadence: 19 129 83 rpm
Speed: 3.7 72.3 41.0 kph
Crank Torque: 0 200.9 23.2 N-m

Here's the full race graph, smoothed down a lot so you can see the trends more than the spikes. Yellow is power, and the lower yellow horizontal line is 285w (estimated FTP). Blue is speed (km/h), and the lower blue horizontal line is 40 km/h.

You might notice the two spikes in the middle of the race - that was when I was yo-yoing off the back of the race and trying to catch up! Just goes to show it takes more power to dangle off the back (and catch back on) than it does just to sit in the pack. Hopefully a lesson learned.

Thanks to Hagens-Berman for putting on the race series, and of course to Kira for driving me out and taking these great photos of the event! It was definitely "flat and fast," just as the flyer suggested - good fun.

1 comment:

mattm said...

Ran across this note on the WSBA listserv - apparently some of the locals weren't too enthused with the race. Unfortunately I guess some racers forgot that the folks in Carnation were doing us a favor by letting us take over their roads for a 1/2 day.

You can read more here.