Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Notes From Winter Training

Well technically it's not "winter" yet, but it seems close enough.

I got to ride in big snowflakes through the north end last week, which made me feel like Andy Hampsten on the Gavia, barely able to see through the thick whiteness of it all. Except the snow in Seattle wasn't sticking, so it made for a nice little ride.

(The ride was around the north end of Lake Washington - a nice hilly route including 5th Ave through Northgate/etc (hills), Juanita Hill, east side hills including the "col d'bellevue", that short-but-steep section leading towards I-90 off Main street.)

Start of Base Training

In other news, training for the 2011 race season is well under way! "Base" training (e.g. endurance-zone riding). A big part of my training plan is the commute to Redmond, about 17 miles over I-90 & Mercer Island, through Bellevue, or as I now call it the Belly of the Beast.

  • Base 1, Week 1: 10 hours - commuting & a team ride on the weekend
  • Base 1, Week 2: 13 hours - commuting & a team ride
  • Base 1, Week 3: 16 hours! (probably the most I've ever done in terms of actual training)
  • Base 1, Week 4: rest - just two rides on the weekend for a total of 6-7 hours

The pattern seen in Base 1 (three weeks of work, one rest week) continues in Base 2 and beyond, and after those two blocks I move on to the "Build" period - two more blocks of four weeks each, then it's time to shred some legs!

As a side-note, it's not just endurance rides I'm doing in this Base period, but also some "speedwork", such as spin-ups or low-gear sprints. I've been getting in the 34x25 gear and spinning out in excess of 160 rpm - the PT reported 218 rpm the other day but that seems crazy. By 180 rpm or so I'm bouncing on the seat, it probably looks interesting to anyone watching.


While the training hours can get tedious, and cold, I just try to think more about the upcoming 2011 race season in March.. it's not that far away right? Just 89 days away..

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

RCR Meet the Team Ride: This Weekend!

This Saturday is the Recycled Cycles/Raleigh Racing's Meet the Team ride! Come on out if you want to ask all those questions that you didn't get a chance during the races, since it's hard to talk while doing 25+ mph.

The team blog hasn't been updated in a while, but it was an active season of road racing for us in Cats 3-5, with wins in every category. And hopefully some 2's next year..

Cross is in full swing, with a lot of blue & gold RCR jerseys gettin' dirty in the mud. And though we have some great deals from our sponsors, you don't want to join a team just for discounts - it's the people that matter, and it helps if they actually show up to race. We race.

We'll be meeting at Pert's in Leschi at 9:30 AM, leaving around 10 for a chatty ride around the south end of the lake.

Our official blurb from the WSBA mailing list:

This Saturday, September 25th is Recycled Cycles Racing's Meet the Team
ride. Please arrive by 9:30am at Pert's Deli in Leschi for a casual and
informative no-drop group outing. Please utilize fenders if it looks like
rain, bring supplies for changing a flat, and throw a couple of bucks in
your pocket for a cup of coffee.

Since its inception 13 years ago, the Recycled Cycles Racing team has
emphasized rider development by encouraging racers to fulfill their
potential. This relationship promotes the sport of cycling and demonstrates
our commitment to teamwork and to the cycling community. For the 2011
season, we are developing a women's RCR team. We support grassroots racing
programs, local race promotion, helmet safety, cycling organizations such as
USAC, Washington State Bicycle Association (WSBA), IMBA, NORBA, and
affiliate associations. We're seeking committed cat 4/5 racers, both men and
women, who want to learn the in's and out's of racing with the goal of
upgrading by season's end. We also seek cat 3 racers who are looking for a
tight-knit group of friends to ride and race with. We support Road, Cross
and Track racing, and have a developing mountain contingent.
See you there!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Seward Park Season Ender

[this race was 8/29/2010, still catching up]

I've been racing at Seward on Thursdays all year, about 15 times in total this year I think. The 6 PM race is a Cat 3/4's race, so it's pretty competitive. But it's only 45 minutes so not a super long race. Today [8/29] was a Cat 3-only race, 60 minutes long.

The rumor was that last year they had a $5 prime every lap, which would be... interesting. Then I heard $1 per lap, which would still make the race pretty fast, and also hopefully burn out a lot of contenders for the finish. Turns out we just had the usual 3-4 primes, I was kind of glad they didn't do the prime-per-lap thing.

The Race

Not a very big crowd, as it turns out not everyone actually like racing at Seward?! This was seriously news to me that some in the local peloton think Seward is 'boring', 'sucks', etc - don't tell anyone, but my theory is they happen to 'suck' at racing Seward..

So with only 34 riders in the pack we set off. Some people spectating, and the announcer was calling out prime winners and stuff. And of course bad music blaring that I never hear during the race, luckily.

There were attacks, of course, but I've never seen a break actually stick at Seward in the 3's or 4's, so I wasn't too concerned. Though I should have been concerned, since I'd heard they have in the past and indeed that was what happened this time around too.

Eric on my team set off some initial attacks, as usual, but was brought back every time. A WWU guy (turns out he's actually Bikesale?) went off the front and never came back, I don't even remember him sneaking away!

Before too long there were 3-4 off the front, with up to a 45-second lead on us. Not wanting to sprint for 4th I tried to bridge once, towards the end of the race, but it was all for not. The closest we got was about 25 seconds, if only we had more time we could have brought them back.

Fast forward to the last few laps, and I'm sitting on the front trying to chase. Since I didn't know WWU guy was actually Bikesale (so I heard) it makes sense none of the Bikesale guys wanted to chase. And everyone else seemed content to let me do the work..

On the last lap were shifting positions and I rode up next to Josh, a strong team mate, and said, "Let's go!", as in, get on my wheel, I'll lead you to the final sprint. But he said, "No man, I don't have it today.." OK. Plan B. Me.

My team mate Mike was up there too (he always is, super strong), and he had me on his wheel, heading for the front of the pack. We came down the hill, and as we came up the backside he was leading me up the right side of the pack.

In a split second he was squeezed to the outside/left, along with 3-4 other riders, and this gave me a small hole to shoot through. And shot through it I did..

In the sprint for the 140-degree turn, I came into it so damn fast I almost hit the curb on exit! But I came out of it in 4th, and spun hard as I could to hold it. At first scared people were about to come around, but then confident I had it.

My first top 5 in the 3s! More importantly my first Cat 3 points! Two down, 23 to go!! Huge thanks to the team for riding great as usual, and for a bunch of other cat 3 racers for coming out to have fun in the sun.

The sprint for 4th:

More photos on

A great video of the race can be found on vimeo.

Unfortunately this meant the end of the season for me, as cross is too..... obscure for me at this point. It's all about road for me!

Though cross is entertaining to watch, that's for sure. We went out to Starcrossed this weekend and Kira got some great shots of a bunch of the 3-4 PM racers.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Carnation Circuit Race: Attack!!

[catching up on the last few races of the season]

A few weeks ago was the final race in the three-race circuit series, a flat 4-mile loop out in the fields of Carnation. Views of the Cascades, scattered clouds, and about 66F - what more could you ask for?

Oh, about 54 other cat 3's to race against, that's what.

Ride to the ride

Took the bus from downtown to Redmond, just to save time and not have to leave super early like the ride to the Gig Harbor race a few weeks ago. From Redmond I rode Novelty Hill Road out to Snoqualmie Valley Rd which was part of the race course. Some hills but nothing too bad, and some nice views along the way.

The ride was slow and pleasant. Didn't get there in time to see the end of the 4/5's race, but saw all the usual suspects after the race. Jeff won again, that seems to be a repeating theme in that field!

The Race

I had four other Recycled Cycles team mates in this Cat 3 race, and one of our guys, Eric, loves to attack. And he did so just after the lead car sped up, ending our short neutral rollout. I used to be kind of nervous when the neutral rollout would end and the pack would speed up at once, but now I'm more excited and ready for the race to play out. And hopefully have an effect on the outcome..

The backstretch of this course was a narrow one-lane farm road, but we had had the center-line rule, so (in theory) you can't move up on the left side since cars might be coming the other way. But people still did it anyway..

It was a decent size field of 54 riders, enough to pack a lane and make it really hard to move up. For some reason I started in the back with a few of our guys, while two of our guys started up front. I should have just started up front, but instead had to slowly work my way up in the turns and the sprint.

Last year I had a really hard time hanging on when we came down the final straightaway, especially when at the back. Almost got dropped.. but this year I made sure not to be on the back there, and at least have a wheel to hang onto while coming through there.

That section was much easier for me this year, I didn't feel like the elastic was going to be snapped for me even during the sprint lap. So while I was trying to move up, Eric was still putting on attacks, one after another, I loved watching that!

Mid-way through the race or so, our field was neutralized and we had to come to a stop on the finish stretch, there had been a crash in the final sprint of the women's race. When we were re-started we passed some riders still down from the spill, I saw some skinned elbows, torn kits, ouch.

Later that lap we were stopped again, this time while sprinting out of a corner on the backstretch. They were still clearing riders from the road and had to bring in an ambulance..

The refs said they were shortening the race, and that there would be one to go after this, when there would normally be two to go. Shortly after they changed their mind, and re-started us, the race was back on.

I was sliding back somewhat during this lap, just not paying attention, and Carl on my team reminded me I should probably move up if I wanted to contest the finish at all. Good point! We moved up through the pack but there wasn't much space at all.

On the backstretch where everyone broke the rules and left the left side to move up, I did the same and hopped into 20th wheel or so, a decent position for the sprint.

It was pretty windy, with what felt like a cross-wind on the backstretch, and a headwind on the finish straight. I didn't want to be on the front of the pack coming out of the last turn..


On the last lap, the pack was all together and I was about 20th wheel, thinking about how the sprint was too long for me, 300-400m, so I needed to approach it another way. I gained some speed and came up the side of the pack, and lit up an attack. Went all out and held it for about a minute, then just tried to ride it out to the finish with one mile to go..

I went over the bridge with a decent gap, but I hadn't looked back yet, it was too early, though I could tell from the silence behind me.

Came around the penultimate turn hard, hoping to build on my lead. With an attack like this you can't commit 90%, you've got to give it everything. All or nothing. Gave a quick look back and the pack looked small!!! I was surprised. Maybe I'd caught them off guard and this was the winning move?!

Two riders warming up for the 1/2's race cheered me on as I hammered towards the final turn, off the front. 500 meters from the line and the race is mine.

It was starting to hurt if it didn't already, and looking at the data I spent about 2 minutes at 194 bpm (heart rate).. and averaged 28 mph for this last mile.

Came around the last turn, into the final straight, 300 meters to go, and the race is mine!!! (maybe, maybe, I'm hoping)

The headwind is evident as ever and my legs are turning into slush. Burning slush. Looking down I'm doing about 30 mph, giving it all I've got, but I know that's not enough to hold off the pack, which surely must be gaining by now.

A quick look back and I see a First Rate Mortgage kit on the left, damn. Up until that point I thought the race was mine, guess I got ahead of myself!

200 meters from the line, and 35th place is now mine. But it was one of my best Cat 3 finishes, even if my worst result so far. In some of the photos you can barely see me in the background, just hoping not to get hit by riders coming around me, wondering where my legs went.

Maybe next time I should go with 1km to go instead of 1 mile.. it was a great race though.


Hung out with some team mates after the race, checked out results, and got ready for the ride back.

I went back to Redmond via Union Hill road, took it really slow since my legs were kind of tired and there was a race tomorrow, the last of the season: The Seward Park Season-Ender.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gig Harbor Circuit Race+ 2010

The main goal for this race last Saturday was to survive. Last year, I survived up to the last lap, then I got dropped. Came in outside the rolling enclosure that race, first time ever in my race career to come in to the silence of off the back.

In addition to surviving the race, I wanted to get in some extra miles in addition to the ~30 mile event. So I rode from Capitol Hill to the Fauntleroy ferry, then from Southworth to the race start in Gig Harbor. About 32 miles extra each way, not much, but the ferry adds a ton of time to the round trip!

The 3's race was at 11 am but I had to leave way early to catch the 7:30 ferry, since the 8:30 ferry would be cutting it close, with the 22 mile ride from Southworth to the race. And of course there are short but steep hills out there on the peninsula. Luckily most of them were steeper downhill on the way there, with a few big "rollers" too.

Got to the race a way earlier than I wanted to, but it was better than getting there too late. Was going up to the start when the 4/5's pack came shooting by in the opposite direction, with a few familiar faces in there.

Got registered and went back to watch the end of the 4/5's race. Was yelled at by the officials when crossing the road, even though the pack was a good 500 meters up the road, but that's their job I guess. But dammit I wanted to see the final sprint!

As the sprint became more clear, I saw a Second Ascent rider in blue/white leading the pack with a nice gap and good speed. As he gets nearer I see it's my friend Rob!! I give him a good shout and am really glad I'm filming this at this point.

The pack is extremely strung out behind them, and later we learn there was a crash at 1k to go.. yikes. No wonder they're all spread out..

And then Chad from Hagens rolls up with a broken handlebar, and blood splattered on his white shoe. Looked like his fingers hit the road and took some of the grinding on chipseal, damn.. and there I was sitting with no gloves at all (lost a pair and have been lazy about replacing them), really wishing I had some long-fingered gloves to use.. oh well.

Chatted with Rob, the race winner, and JC from my team, along with a few others after the race. Can't wait until they're in the 3's...

The Race

Suffering all around, on a nice summer day - 39 Cat 3's doing 7 laps:


I had two team mates in the race, but I told them up front my plan was just to survive, I had no intentions of going off the front or doing anything spectacular, due to last year's failure on this course.

And it felt weird to watch Eric P. go off the front about 4-5 times in the first two laps of our race, and not be able to try a counter-attack.. but it was great watching him put on a display of aggressiveness while it lasted (he ended up having to DNF due to a plastic bag getting in his rear derailleur of all things).

The hill on the backside near the 1k sign was still there, and still hard, but it did seem a tad easier this year. Was it the 18 lb bike instead of the 22 lb bike? Or the fact that I'm probably 5-10 lbs lighter as well since last year.. or all the training over the winter/sprint/summer? Perhaps all of the above.

But it wasn't easy by any means. I soldiered up it n the 53x25, and once the 53x23 for some reason, holding my spot in the pack or sometimes drifting backwards a bit. Only 45 seconds or a minute of suffering, but oh did it hurt. And it flattens out a bit at the top, then has one last up before you get over the top. Ouch. Would have been some good pictures from there..

On the first few laps a small dog (chihuahuah?) was running out of a driveway on the left, and yapping at our heels from about two inches away... that was interesting. People were yelling "DOG!! DOG!!" and swerving to the right a bit, pinching others on the right. Quite the scene.

But the dog was at least smart enough not to cross the center-line and dive into the pack.. but I figured if it came down to it I could bunny-hop it. Luckily it didn't come to that..

Besides the dog the race was pretty normal. There were attacks, and more attacks, and I watched them all with no response. Not the way I usually like to race but I just wanted to save energy, not waste it.

The downhill was fun, but a little scary - we must have been doing 40-45 mph in the pack, taking a wide right turn and just hoping the guy next to your doesn't decide to move into you, or randomly crash, which would take you out. And people are depending on you to keep a straight line as well, to not do anything drastic. Lots of trust, and it all worked out. Even with little divots/potholes on the left side that could really wake you up.

On the backside I realized that last year I hammered up the little riser before the flat section to the bigger climb, wasting energy. This year I took it only as hard as I needed to, no harder.

The final bell lap came, and it was time to lay it on the line. I was glad to still be in the race, and not be totally red-lining, though I was definitely close. On the climb near the end I was sliding backwards, and eventually found the wheel-car on my wheel, e.g. I was at the back of the pack! No!

So I made an effort to move up, and did. But there were still 15 people ahead of me and a lot of ground to make up.. the 1k-to-go sign came and went, and I didn't have enough gas in the tank to really get up front and have a go at 4th place (at this point there were two guys up the road, and one bridging to them).

The 200-meters-to-go sign came, and I'm in a pack, but too far back to really do anything useful. 20th place... oops, I kind of let that one slip by, wasn't up front like I should have been, guess I was more gassed than I thought. But it was fun..

The Ride Back

Was slow.. took about three hours (including stops) instead of the two it took to get out there. And it was hot. Like 95-degrees hot, which is a lot for the Seattle area! And it seemed much steeper going north on Crescent Way, one section had to be 15-20% for a good 1/4 mile.. good times.

But I made it. 97 miles total. What a day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Skagit Flats Cat 3 Circuit Race - Breaking Away

A few weeks ago I made it up to Silvana with three team mates, for the 1st in the Lake Wa Velo Circuit Race series. The first of a three-race circuit race series.

Last year I did horribly in circuit races, coming in 49th at Gig Harbor, and 45th at Carnation.. some of my worst placings all year! At Gig Harbor I remember finishing outside of the "rolling enclosure" of the race, getting dropped on the last time up the hill - not something I want to repeat this year.

I didn't make it to the Skagit Flats race last year, so this was a new race for me. All I knew about it was a few keywords: flat, fast, windy, crappy roads, crash-marred finish. What else could a budding Cat 3 ask for?

On the way up we planned the race a bit, and my "role" was to stay up front, cover breaks, and generally ride for Josh, our sprinter who's also a new Cat 3. He's a 2 on the track, and has been killing sprints so it made sense for him to be "the guy" for this race.

We made it out to the farmland of Silvana, and found a parking spot in the gravel lot in front of the old grain silo. It had been wet all morning but was drying up.

While getting ready in the parking lot, Rob, a 4 from Second Ascent, came by and said he crashed out! Sounds like there was one problematic corner, that took someone out in every lap of every field so far... yikes. Rob was OK, luckily, but it was nice to have the warning about this corner.

But luckily it dried up by the time we raced at 11 AM.

The Race

After an OK warmup of riding around the country roads, we lined up in a small-ish field of 35 riders. Only my 5th Cat 3 race, but already some of the faces of other competitors are becoming familiar.

We'd been warned many, many times about "the corner" where everyone was crashing, but it was drying up and never was a factor.

The course was on flat farm roads, and even featured a few squeezes when we went under a few railroad trestles, complete with big wooden posts and a tight space to get everyone through.

The wind was out, to be sure, and some decided to spend the next hour+ in the comfort of the pack, others like me, decided to go for better odds in the sprint and go off the front.

On the front, part of my role was to cover breakaways that looked promising - so that at least someone from the team would have a chance of winning should the break stay up the road.

Josh, the guy we were riding for, decided to take a few flyers, looking very strong - probably just getting warmed up. He upgraded to the 3's a few months before me, and is a great team mate to have since we're almost always riding well together, finishing pretty close to each other.

Eventually it was my turn to cover a break, and was sitting about 10th wheel when I saw the two riders up the road, about 200m ahead. I turned on the gas and stayed in the saddle, just riding by everyone on the front not with a race-winning sprint like I usually try, but just enough to do 30 mph instead of the 25 they were doing.

After 30 seconds of hammering, not looking back at all, and just focused on the group ahead, I found their wheels. They were working well and taking short pulls, a good sign.

One of them was Jennifer Wheeler, a super strong Cat 1 Hagens-Berman racer who was using our race as a warmup for her later Women's 1/2/3's race, the other from Second Ascent, I think. I was hurting once I made it, and sat on for a bit and announced that I was here, let's do it, etc.

The speed was good, doing 27-28 mph pretty well, taking super short pulls. We made it about a lap (6 miles) before a strong UW guy bridged up, but by this point I was hurting a lot and already skipping pulls again. Not because I wanted to get an advantage on anyone, but because I just couldn't sprint through every 30 seconds for that long. After all it was only the 3rd lap or so out of 5.

Jennifer said after a while that we needed someone from Team X, a big team not represented in the break, I think it was IJM perhaps. If they weren't in the break, they would chase us down, was the thinking - and she was right. I was hurting too much to think much about strategy at that point, so it was good someone was.

We got brought back in eventually, and it was kind of nice to do a leisurely 20-25 mph instead of the grueling 27+ we were pushing out in the wind.

Not too long after there was a sprint lap coming up (for series points), and I was sitting about halfway down the pack. Carl, a guy on my team who is also more experienced than me, said I probably wanted to be further up for the break that will inevitably go after the sprint. He was right, so I moved up to 10th wheel or so and got ready. Here we go again..

Holding on to the group of 4-5 that were going for the points was enough to establish a small gap coming through "the turn" and the straight section through the finish. Sure enough, once the sprint was complete, a group of 2-3 went.

We had a good group of 3-4 for a little while, but the organization wasn't as good as before, and we only stayed out there for maybe half a lap if I remember correctly.

The final lap eventually came, and we were chasing one guy off the front. As we came up to the final turn we were back in a big group, jockeying for position for the final sprint. I was sitting 20th wheel or so, and made a move up the side of the pack and slotted into 5th wheel, though looking back I wish I'd been more like 10th coming out of the turn, it's a long 300-400 meter sprint..

We lit up the sprint and I see the pack of 5-6 ahead, but I don't have enough to hold any wheels and start to slip backwards. We had maybe a small gap on the rest of the pack but before too long I'm getting swamped and am ready for it to be over, and roll in knowing I'm out of the top 6 (for upgrade points), damn. I hate those long sprints like that.

Ended up 11th, Josh got 8th. A lot of work for no real result for me or the team, but it was fun! And a great workout.


Josh coming into The Corner, with a nice gap on the field:

A sequence of the final sprint:

The buy in yellow ( and the guy in white (NWCC) are Mike & Ryan, both new 3's. And killing it. And killing my legs..

It was a pretty close sprint, but Mike took it - nice job!

Of course, I don't think anyone in the top 6 spent any time in the wind at all during the race, which was the winning strategy of the day. But sometimes, the break sticks.. and when it does, I want to be there!

Photos from

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Derby Days Cat 3 Crit 2010

The 70th annual Derby Days criterium out in Redmond is the longest running bike race in America! Yes this was the race last year that featured a mountain bike in the 4/5's crit. I heard this year a cruiser of some sort showed up for the Cat 5 race this year... yet another reason I'm glad to be in the 3's. I think it's great that people want to start racing, I just don't want to race with them in their first few races!

In the Cat 3's you actually have to try pretty hard to maintain position, nothing comes for free. In the 4's I felt stronger than a lot of the pack, and could just about choose my position and hold it pretty easily. But in 3's crits you lose positions that much faster, and the sprints are that much harder. It's like everybody is at least as strong as me or stronger. At least it feels that way.

My race wasn't until 5:15, but I left the house at about 2 PM to ride out early and see the end of the Men's Cat 4 race, in which at least one Recycled Cycles team mate was riding in. I stupidly decided to take the bus from Montlake, barely missed the 545, and had to wait 25 minutes for another bus to come.. it was late. Lucky for me the race was running late too.

Got there late, but in time to see the last two laps of the 4's race. I heard the announcer say "Second Ascent has been on the front of this race a lot, let's see what happens now." Was hoping my friend Rob on Second Ascent might place well, but when they came around the final time I didn't see any blue/white plaid up front, just yellow ( and orange/white (Byrne/Invent). The guy who won has got to be a 3 soon.. I've seen him win three or four races this year!

With $300 up for 1st place in our 3's race, and payouts for top 5, I had heard people might "do dumb shit" for the win.. but what else is new. People will take risks for a bag of tubes if you put them on a bike in front of a crowd.. bring it on!

The Race

Even though I'd gotten to the race so early, I ended up at the staging area in the center of the venue later than most, so was at the back of 50 guys jockeying for position for the lineup. But it was wide enough that everyone spread out, and I got in the second row. Looking back I should have just gone out to the side to get a front spot, but gambled on the guy in front of me being able to clip in.

When I started racing last year I used to be so shaky, almost dreading the starting whistle or gun shot as much as I was looking forward to getting the race on. But now I feel much calmer, and am excited to get rolling, a much better feeling.

Phil shot the start gun and we were off, though the guy in front of me couldn't get clipped in (of course). 50 minutes to catch up though, after starting in 40th place it felt like.. I don't remember if there were many attacks at first but Randy from Arrivee was riding aggressively as usual, and went on an attack or a prime or something. Later on a guy from UW won a few primes by a good deal, and Blake from Cucina was off the front for a while too. Impressive for what felt like a pretty fast race - Cat 3 crits are definitely more animated than 4/5 crits too, which makes it fun.

I just worked on positioning in the pack and eventually moved up on the outside out of turn three, one of the few places on this course that it was pretty easy to do so. Pulled the pack for 3/4 of a lap; was hoping to have my team name called out by the announcer (success) and maybe getting my name mentioned too (fail). After all, my mom was in the crowd so I wanted to put on a decent show!

With 10 minutes to go, I still felt good and was mid-pack at worst, even moving up on the back stretch in the gutter once. Another time I found myself in the gutter when trying to pass Mark from Starbucks on the inside of corner three. When I did that I heard a young spectator standing there say "Whoa!" as I probably came closer to them than expected. I love the gutter.

With 3 laps to go I was sitting in great position, 3rd wheel. I should have just stayed there....

But they'd just announced a $50 prime and I was surprised nobody had jumped yet coming out of turn one, given all the earlier attacks. I guess the smart thing to do here would be to ignore the prime, as it would be hard to recover in time for the finish..

Coming out of corner two, I was thinking well if nobody else is gonna take this money, then I will. So I gave it a kick and left the pack, and entered turn three first. But after taking a few more hard strokes I started to feel gassed already (not good), and could see someone on my wheel (uh oh). All of a sudden I saw why it was a bad idea to go for this prime. I let up and succumbed to the IJM guys behind me, one of them taking the prime.

Two laps to go, but recovery time. Damn. I found myself in 10th place or worse, and by the time we came around the penultimate corner we'd been swamped by riders on the outside, and now I'm 25th or so. I can see the spots slipping away..

The final corner comes, but I'm watching a bunch of guys sprint up the road, and from the sound of the screaming announcer and crowd, I really wished I was up front to see the close sprint. Instead I'm putting in a dig to at least pass a few guys in the back, ended up 19th out of 52. Could be better, could be worse.

Randy won it, nice job man!


In the end it was a fun experience, and having my mom finally watch me do this crazy hobby was great too. No crashes in the 3's race, though there were a few close calls from sketchy guys, but nothing too scary.

Much thanks to the organizers and everyone for keeping this race going! I'll definitely be back next year for this one.


The Bellingham Stage Race is next weekend, but I'm thinking of skipping it and taking a week or two off from racing. This amateur racing is tough stuff!

Thinking of doing a little ride with my old randonneur friends on the 24th, though I really wish that ride started within riding distance.. I haven't done a ride over 80 miles this year, unlike last year when I was doing 200-600k's, and riding to Ramrod.. all that stuff was fun but it took so much time!

Still, the nature of a long ride against the clock, without the need to keep a specific pace, is alluring. Sounds relaxing even..

Speaking of long rides, good luck to all those doing the STP this weekend!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Notes from Seward Park: June/July 2010

Last three weeks at Seward have been great - no rain, nice temps, and decent fields. Good clean racing in the city.

6/10/2010 - 3/4's 6 PM race

For some reason* I was hurting like it was my first race all over again in this one. After 20 or 30 minutes I wanted to pull out, but pride and the thought of posting about being dropped kept me in there, but barely.

During the race a team mate Chris asked me how I was feeling, and I said shitty, real shitty. He thought I was joking but I was in the red zone like it was a year ago and I'd just started racing.

*my theory on the poor performance was that I'd been slacking/resting that week, and the charts in WKO even reflected this, with my TSB reacing a high of +20 on that day (meaning fitness was low).

6/17/2010 - 3/4's race

This was an animated race for me, as fitness was back up and I was feeling good. Went for one of the first primes, was first up the little hill, but then Jeff (strong unattached cat 5) and Mark (strong cat 3) were on my wheel. Actually Jeff had come around me, and I was now sitting on his wheel. I got to take a two-second rest in his draft, and as the line was approaching I went around him, with flashbacks to the velodrome and calculated sprints.

The only thing was that Mark was on my wheel, and waited to jump around me when I went. Duh. We went head to head for the preme, and he just barely beat me out - which in itself is progress for me from last year. Close...

We had a gap on the pack at this point but were obviously hurting, so we coasted and sipped our water, waiting for the pack.

On the next preme lap, I went from the bottom of the hill (or before) and this time nobody was on my wheel, and I was able to take it! First preme won at Seward, won a water bottle, some Nuun tablets, and $10. Raced for free!

6/24/2010 - 3/4's race

Started off hard in this one, hammered on the front for the first two laps, and was already hurting by then. Just got my Cat 3 upgrade sticker, it was official! That probably made me push a little harder, just for fun.

A preme came a lap or two later, and I went for it at the bottom of the hill (going clockwise this time), but nobody even tried to go with me. What's up with that? I kept on hammering, not worried too much that nobody chased.

10 seconds later I saw why nobody was going with me - there was a rider way up the road! He had snuck off the front at some point, and was about to beat me out for this preme. This made me push that much harder, and while he was blowing up I was accelerating, I could tell it was gonna be close but I just kept pushing harder and harder.

I passed him maybe 10 feet from the line, much to his dismay, and to the delight of spectators and myself. Another preme!! Just goes to show you should never give up.

Now I was really hurting, even though it was only 11 minutes or so into the race.. the pack caught back up and I filtered through it, still huffing and puffing, still recovering. Then I found myself on the back, then I found myself off the back.

It all happened so fast, and before I knew it it was silence all around me, and the 10-meter gap from me to the pack seemed insurmountable. Legs on fire, lungs gasping. Dammit! And this was at the bottom of the hill too..

I let the peloton go on the uphill, and settled into a nice 6 mph pace up the hill. At the top Randy asked if I crashed out but I said no it was the preme, it did me in! For the first time in racing for a year at Seward, I had to pull out and take a lap or two off. Never thought it would happen, but I guess I dropped myself!

Got back in and just sat in the pack, not going for any premes since I'd pulled out of the race already. (but you're allowed to jump back in at Seward) When the final sprint came an automatic response happened and I found myself sprinting and in the top 10. Love sprinting up that hill going clockwise!

Raced for free!

7/1/2010 - 3/4's race

An aggressive race for me, trying to get in almost all the breaks, but when I'd get there usually I was too cooked to do anything useful besides sit on the back. And then we'd get caught anyway...

Team mate JC is back in action after a month or so off, good to see him back in it! He was active in this race as well. Other team mate, Mike, was giving me advice about tactics in the race: if you're on the front, then you need to chase down breaks or bridge attempts. True, but it's tough on a course like this, which isn't quite a criterium but not quite a circuit race or road race either. It's just a loop with one turn. and a climb each lap.

Being a 3 now team tactics are coming up more, and we always theoretically want someone in the break if there is one, if not initiating the break. The problem is that so many of them fail, so it's tough to which ones are worth covering and which ones aren't. Part of what will eventually make that easier is knowing who's who in the peloton.

This race was interesting because they always have four prime laps, usually about 10 laps in and then interspersed throughout the race. People are expecting this format, so they switched it up a bit this time. 25 laps in total, and with 15 to go people are already getting antsy for a prime. At 10 to go people are already yelling at the race organizer to ring the bell! Nothing but silence.

5 to go, and finally the bell goes off. Four preme laps in a row, then the finish lap?! If you're not super strong you've got to pick one of those to go for. I picked the finish, but it was tough just hanging on with all the prime surges, much less the setup for the final lap.

Came in the top 15 in this one, nothing special. But it was fun.

7/8/2010 - 1/2/3's race

Was at work too long so didn't make it back to the hill in time for the 6 PM Cat 3/4's race. So I opted to finally try my hand in the 1/2/3's race at 7 PM, the "A" race on the weekly schedule.

Got there with a few minutes to spare, and chatted with team mate Ian who had just done the 5:30 4/5's race, then the 6 pm 3/4's race too! He'll be a Cat 3 before too long, I'm sure. Another team mate, Eric, who's a 3 as well, was there for the 1/2/3's race. Cool, a team mate in the race!

I recognized some of the guys lining up as Cat 1's, ex-pros, even WSBA #1 was there, David Richter. I'm probably every Cat 1's nightmare: just upgraded to the 3's and already looking to mix it up with the big kids.

For the most part the peloton just looked older, more tan, and nicer equipment than the other races. And they go faster too, with breaks forming usually on the first lap. 1 hour race instead of the 45 minutes of the 6 PM race.

Goals: hang on, hang on, hang on.

From the start there was indeed a break of some kind being attempted, and the pack was strung out all the way down the hill. In the 3/4's race the peloton will usually bunch up at the very bottom of the hill, but in this race you had to work to catch back on, the pack not bunching up until almost 100m later.

The first 15 minutes of this race were the most painful, and I found myself drifting from the middle to the back, and struggling to hold a wheel on the downhill. Guess people were chasing a break, so the pack was strung out for a while.

On the steep-but-short uphill I felt strong enough, and could keep up pretty easily. Cool. But it was that downhill that was the most challenging in this race.

At about 30 minutes in the peloton slowed down a bit, and I got a chance to rest. We slowed so much a guy in the pack yells, "Everyone's getting tiiiired!" in a teasing way and jumps out for an attack. Nice.

We sped back up, and this time I found myself back in the middle, closer to the race itself and not struggling to hang on. Eventually moved up so much that I found myself trying to bridge to the break, trying to hang on Richter's wheel! He was being marked by a K-R guy, who already had someone in the break. On the uphill all of a sudden I didn't feel so strong, but fought to hold a wheel. Was overheating. Ouch.

Held on for a lap I think, but the pack caught us eventually. The break never came back.

The rest of the race was a blur, it was just a lot of hammering after the turn, and getting a nice aero tuck on the downhill. Some aero wheels would probably help... but Open Pros will do for now.

With 5 laps to go, I was excited thinking to myself that I did it! I hung on, finished my first 1/2/3's race.

Was not in a great position on the final lap, but still gave it my all on the uphill before the slightly uphill sprint to the line. Yeah, I was sprinting for 20th, sue me. One guy yelled "It's over!!" as I flew by, and he was right: the break had stuck, all 6 guys collecting the only spots that matter at the finish, and everything after that was pointless.

He's probably done this race 300 times, but this being my first 1/2/3 race I at least wanted to beat out some other 3's I recognized. Came in on the back of the first finish group after the break, I think about 20th-25th. Success!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Joe Matava Cat 3's Crit 2010

Last year this was my 2nd "real" crit (besides Seward Park), got 11th, and was of course super happy with that result.

A fun 4-corner course with the start on a downhill, two left turns leading to an uphill backstretch, two more lefts and then the downhill to the finish. Classic crit format. In Burien.

The Ride Down to Burien

Unlike last year, when I was racing the 4/5's and had to get up super early to ride down in time to register, this year the 3's were racing until 12 PM or so, giving me plenty of time to rest, and take my time on the way down. I averaged about 13 mph down there.

I still left around 9:30-ish, hoping to catch some of the racing and was afraid the 3's field would sell out, as it supposedly did last year. Overcast and a little windy, but not too bad. Took Delridge to Ambaum to get down there, much to the delight of a few drivers.

Watched some good racing from the juniors, the women's 1/2 field, and rode around with Mark from Starbucks, Karl from Keller-Rohrbach, and Mike(?) from Garage, all nice guys but we'd be racing against each other soon. We rode in circles in a closed off block, an OK warm-up but I need to start bringing a trainer to races..

The Race

Upon signing up for the 3's race, a woman at the registration table said "Cat 3 means you're good! I learned that this morning." I laughed and said well I'm getting there, but enjoyed the idea that I'm something special. Works for me!

Took a few practice laps and lined up in the back, but there were only 35 or so other racers, and only a few rows of people. The Capitol Crit a few weeks ago was fun, but with so few riders and a tougher course it didn't have the feel of a straight-forward criterium, something I've gotten pretty good at. So this was my first bigger 3's crit.

The pack:

We started and a strong team mate Josh, who just upgraded to the 3's a couple of months ago, set off some early fireworks and launched an attack from the whistle, in our 45 minute race. Sweet.

I sat back and watched as he hammered in the distance, actually building quite the lead for a few laps:

He came back into the pack after a while, but it was a good effort. I'm still a little timid about attacking in a 3's race, but I'm getting there. And crits are so fast that I don't feel like I can last very long anyway..

I ignored all the premes, even though some were $10, $20, or $50, saving energy for the final sprint. Not ready to try for premes and the win or top 5 placing, not yet anyway.

Even so, at one point there was a break of 3 or so up the road, and I attacked the peloton from 3rd wheel coming down the straigh-away finish. A little camera time, if you will.

Later in the race Jordan took off on an attack for a preme and held off for a few laps, and Josh was out there again, if I remember correctly. Damn those kids are strong! Jordan he won $60 in the race too! Nice man..

There were more attacks here and there, but we were all together for the final few laps at least. And that's when people really started competing for the corners, and I had to back off a bit coming into the first corner on the last lap, there just wasn't any room, and people were getting way frisky (e.g. swerving a lot).

I remember at the time thinking, "Well there goes placing in the top 10.." as I watched 10 more people swarm around me. Sometimes you just know when you've given up spots that will cost you in the end.

In the 2nd corner a UW guy slid out, Jordan said he ran over the guy's bike! (and kept going)

Then in the 3rd corner, I'm sitting 10 wheels back or so, and a guy up ahead all of a sudden bucks his back wheel up a foot off the ground, and I'm thinking, "Yup, he's screwed!" But not a second later, my own pedal lightly touched the ground... maybe a little too early to gloat.

Coming out of the last corner I was about 15th, and looked up to see the riders fanned across the road. Well, maybe I can gain a few spots here? There are cash payouts for top 10 after all..

The Field Sprint

Hard to tell who's going to take it from about 150m out:

I put in a good dig but coming from 15th I was gunning for 10th at best. Actually passed a few guys that sat up near the line, or just couldn't hold their sprint long enough. Ended up 11th. (Just like last year no less!)

Patrick from Second Ascent took the win in the end, he was actually in the big crash in the Boston Harbor Circuit Race a few weeks ago. Helluva recovery! Good for him:

Photos from

The Ride Back

Ride back was slow, and traffic was heavier at 3 PM. But it felt great to have done decent in the crit, and kept it upright, ready to race again.

Next up: Derby Days in Redmond! $300 up for grabs for 1st place..

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hello Cat 3! (Capitol Crit & Boston Harbor CR)

This weekend marked my entrance into the Cat 3 field in Wa bike racing. (Cat 1 is the highest amateur category in the US, and you start out as a 5 and move up from there - rules are here)

Well you have to jump into a new category at some point, and this was my chance. No reason in waiting until the end of the season to upgrade, I had the points, and upgrading was in fact the point of racing in the first place. When I first started watching local races a few years ago, the Cat 3's seemed so sleek, so slim, and so fast. They were half-way to pro for all I knew.

Fast forward a few years later, and they don't look so tough any more. (Well, a few of them still do!) And now I'm one of them!

The Capitol Crit Cat 3's, 50 minutes - Saturday 6/26/2010

It was a rush to make the ~1 hour drive down, and we left a tad late and got stuck in traffic... it was a close call, but there was no way I was going to forfeit the race just from being late. I'd rather get dropped from a race than be late to it!

Anyway we made it down with minutes to spare, 10 to be exact, barely enough time to sign up, do a lap, and line up. Upon lining up I noticed the pack was tiny... wtf? I thought this was a big annual race (at least, I think it used to be), but the word on the street is everyone is burned out from the racing season and taking a break. Or something. Screw that, at least a few of us showed up!

The course is interesting, right in front of Olympia's capitol dome, a slight uphill, some snaking turns, broken up pavement, and a little uphill sprint finish.

Only 15 racers, but it'll have to do. I didn't have a goal of getting a good placing for upgrade points, just wanted to hang on and see how it went. They say Cat 3 races aren't actually that much faster, just longer, smoother, and more animated.

And indeed, from the gun, attacks went up the road. I figured they were all doomed, as it was so early in the race! But after a while they were still out there, and guys were bridging up, or trying to. I thought about going as well, but was already at >180 bpm and didn't want to get dropped from my first Cat 3 race.

More people were going up the road, and it was all I could do but watch. At first the gap was around 10-20 seconds - a manageable gap so early in the race. I was this close to jumping on a wheel to try to bridge as well, but held back so as to not overdo it. Just hang on, see how it goes.

After a few more minutes the gap had grown to 30 seconds, then 40. And somehow 4-5 others had made it up there, leaving 10 or less of us behind! The race announcer even threatened to pull us towards the end, if we didn't close down some of the gap. And here I was thinking they were they break and we were the race, but maybe they were the race and we had been reduced to a chase group?

I also had no idea which teams had guys up the road, meaning I wasn't sure who was trying to "block" the chase and who was trying. Looking back it seems obvious, but at the time it was confusing.

But no way I'm getting pulled in my first Cat 3 race! So I got on the front a few times, though it hurt a good deal, and pulled. Or tried to. When I did so, it sent the heart rate way up (e.g. over 190) and I had to back off... ugh. There's just nowhere to hide in a group of 7-10 riders on a windy-ish day.

There were points where I thought I was going to have to pull myself (read: get dropped), but I kept on pushing. That's the name of the game, keep pushing on, don't give up. The finish is out there somewhere. (This idea works well in the rando world too)

Finally I look over to see they've stopped the count-down clock and switched to the lap count. 10 laps to go. I can handle that, just hang on..

5 to go. Still in there. Time to start thinking about the finish, and my positioning in the "pack." With 1 to go, I tried to get in the top 3-4, and did so.

Coming out of the final turn, there were 3 guys ahead of me. One took the turn a bit wide, so I passed him on the inside. Then he finished his wide turn, while sprinting and apparently looking down, and came back into the lane, where I was. Luckily I was ahead of him by enough that his wheel just hit my frame (or something), and I cringed a little, waiting to hear that sound. (of bikes & people hitting the ground)

After the dust settled I'd gotten 3rd in the "field sprint," for 8th overall. Not too shabby for my first Cat 3 race!

On the cool down lap the guy that almost ran into me came up and said, "You did this and that, yada yada yada..." and I replied, "hey file a complaint with the officials, I held my line!"

Later after we'd cooled down a bit I said I was sorry, even though I'm still pretty sure I was going straight at that point, and he came to the right into me.

Had I made a crazy move in that last 50-100 meters, the USAC officials would have relegated me or DQ'd me, or something. That's what they look for, it's part of their job. But nope, there I was in the results, scored as 8th, proof enough for me that I didn't do anything wrong in the sprint besides lose. Maybe next time I'll just yell during the whole sprint so people that aren't paying attention will at least know what's around them...

Boston Harbor Circuit Race - Cat 3, Sunday 6/27/2010

6 laps of 6 miles each, on rolling hills north of Olympia. Not very long of a race, but it'll do. Last year I had a rough time with the circuit races, placing 30th or worse in all of them. Dunno what it was about them, but they always hurt, bad.

Having survived the crit the day before, I had a little more confidence coming into this one. Plus I was gonna have some team mates in the race! They say team tactics don't really start until the 3's, so I was excited to see what the talk is all about.

And I was glad to see 50 or so other Cat 3's show up, so we had a decent field. Cool. Too bad we all had to be packed into one tiny lane... there isn't a ton of space to move up in these types of races!

Anyway we set off and did a 1/2 mile neutral lap, where people jockey for position for when the race really starts. We went down the hill, a sweeping right turn, then a slight uphill. The race was on.

In a big pack like this you can stay protected, and dare I say relax a bit! Instead of the 182 bpm I averaged for the whole 50 minutes of Saturday's crit (yes, ouch!), I looked down to see 130-150. Ahh, this is like a group ride around the lake!

Well, only for so long. In the first lap the attacks started, and there were many. Adam on RCR went off the front, but was reeled in. Groups of 2-4 would try, and maybe last 1/2 lap, but get pulled back in.

About halfway through a group of 4-5 was up the road maybe by 50m, and it looked promising. I was on my team mate Mike's wheel, and was going to try to bridge if he didn't, but he did. And once he did I tried my hand at "blocking," so I got on the front and went slow. But I didn't do it right, it was way too obvious, and a guy behind us (there was another guy from another team blocking as well) yelled, "C'mon guys, there's blocking and then there's blocking."

So I scooted over and let him through, he just wanted to bridge up. Maybe that was the last of the big teams would bridge up and the pack would be happy with the combination of riders up the road, and let them go. Which I'd be happy with since Mike was up there.

Of course you don't want to chase down your own team mate in a break-away, so once people starting amping up the pace I just let them do their thing. No need to break wind for anyone and make it easier for them to catch my guy up there!

The group got brought back though, and we were only about halfway through. Still plenty of racing left.

Later in the race I joked with Josh, "Hey man when are you going off the front?!" And he replied, in a serious voice, "Soon." Sure enough, within minutes he was heading up front, getting ready to make a move. In the beginning of the last lap he moved up the right side of the pack and rocketed off the front, solo.

By the time we hit the right turn leading to the first big-ish downhill, only maybe 30 seconds later, he had what seemed like a huge gap. "Fuck yeah, go Josh!" I yelled with glee. But 5-6 miles can be a long time when you're trying to average 25 mph or so, solo.

He stayed off the front for almost the whole lap, getting caught on the slow riser leading up to the 2nd biggish downhill. It was a great attack though, I enjoyed watching it. I thought about countering once he was caught but figured it would be a suicide mission.

So I waited for the field sprint, along with everyone else. The last mile features a little climb, then a flat/almost-downhill section leading to the finish line. Alex had told me this race usually ends in a big field sprint with a big crash, so I was up front to hope to avoid the chaos. Mike, a team mate who's been racing for 10 years or more, also advised me to stay in the top 15, at least, for the finish.

I was fearing the sprint in fact, not because of crashes, but because of the hill that led up to it. Lucky for me most others seemed to have the same thoughts, and the whole pack took it (relatively) easy from the 1k mark at the top of the hill to the 200-meter mark. A breather at the end of the race, last thing I would have expected! (Looking back, that would be the time to attack, though it's tough given the previous hill)

Anyway we hit the 200-meter sign, and everyone went at the same time. From 30 mph to 35 mph, and then....


Right in front of me guys started falling. At 35 mph no less... bikes and bodies flying, and that sound. Quite the view I had, that's for sure. Went left around the carnage, ran over a bunch of shattered plastic (sunglasses perhaps?), and saw a bike with big aero wheels cartwheeling towards me from the right.

Ok, that was close! After making it around the crash I pretty much sat up, given someone had already won and the top 6 was spoken for, the results didn't matter anymore. What mattered was that I made it out unscathed! Pretty sure I came in about 20th, but never saw the results so it's hard to say.

After the race we talked to Sean, one of the guys who went down. Shoulder had a quarter-size hole in it, but worse was that his back was covered in road rash, as if he'd been clawed by a dragon. Ouch.

Patrick, a nice guy I'd just met the day before, also got caught up in the "action" and looked about the same, if not worse.

At least they were walking around, but will certainly need to take a few weeks off to recover. Could've been me, it was so close.. but hey that's racing.

You don't get rewarded without taking some risks.

All in all it was a great weekend of racing! Next up is the Joe Matava crit on the 4th, one I did last year. Can't wait! Let's see if I can avoid the carnage... with more confidence I hope to start animating a bit more in these Cat 3 races. Time will tell.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tacoma Crit 2010: Cascadia Crit Series Finale

(so yeah this is about two weeks late, but here you go - enjoy! Coming up next are Cat 3 reports from the Capitol Crit & Boston Harbor Circuit, so stay tuned)

A few Saturdays ago was the last race of the Cascadia Crit Series, and I went into it in 1st place, wearing the Leader's #1 number. A little pressure, but not much since I had a good deal of points ahead of 2nd place, and was feeling good. And I can corner like a mofo, which is what crits are mostly about.

A few shots from the scene:

View from the beer garden:

The Race

After 20-30 minutes on the trainer, we did a few practice laps with other racers. The 4/5's were going first so they were still setting up the course when we got there, and at one point they put a big red inflatable banner across the course, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought it must be a joke. Only 20-25 feet across, I imagined parts of our peloton bouncing off the inflated thingy and causing epic crashes..

Luckily they thought twice about the plan and put the red inflatable rainbow thingy off to the side, where it belonged. There were enough turtles in the road to look out for without having to worry about that monstrosity.

Anyway we got to the race and did call-ups, I got to get called out as 1st place overall once again. Not something I could get tired of, I must admit...

We got off on the first lap and I put in a good effort (looking at power data, the peak 5-sec/30-sec/1-minute/5-minute/etc for the whole race!) from the gun, hoping to hit the pack hard and soften if up for Kyle, who was gunning for a spot on the top 3 podium, sitting in 4th place.

One junior from Rad Racing and I somehow ended up with a gap between us and the pack on the first lap - not the plan, but for my last 4's race why not? I just needed to get another top 15 or so and I'd keep 1st in the bag.

But once you're out there alone (or with one other you can barely hang on with, in this case) you realize how hard it is to maintain that. I can only do 190 beats per minute for so long..

We got reeled in before too long, maybe a lap or two out there, but it was fun. I guess the warm-up was good, because I jumped right back in the pack when we got caught and got ready to snatch up points premes if they came along (on Kyle's behalf, I didn't really need them).

Sure enough a points preme came along and I got 2nd in it, enough to get 3 more points.

The pack was a little.. squirrelly at times, if you will, and while there were a few close calls on the slower backside (4-5% uphill), I think there was only one minor crash in the race. I came through a few gaps that weren't very big, but luckily kept it upright.

In the final lap I sat back a bit and watched Kyle move up and take 3rd, I got 7th. Success! Kyle moved up to 2nd on the podium, and also got some more points towards his 3's upgrade.


As a reward for holding on to 1st place overall I got showered with all kinds of gifts. A trophy (pictured below), a wheelset (seriously!), a leader's jersey, and $125. Never thought I'd get anything but a challenge from racing, but it's been that and then some I guess.

1st overall leaders' jersey!

A cool trophy from the Chihuly institute:

More photos

AJ & other rider off the front in the 3's race:

The pace car for the 1/2's:

More photos on flickr, as usual.

Thanks to Rob from the ride down, and to everyone for racing & not crashing too much, as well as to RT and the whole Cascadia Crits crew for putting on such a great series. Looking forward to next year's edition!

Goodbye Cat 4, it's been fun. Hope to see some of you guys up in the 3's soon!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Brad Lewis Memorial Criterium 2010

Last Saturday was the Brad Lewis/Boat Street Crit, the annual race held in the U-district in front of Recycled Cycles. The 5th race in the Cascadia Crit Series, and I had a pretty solid lead in the 4/5's.

As a part of the RCR team I worked the race all day, helping set up before-hand, sweeping the corners, etc (starting at 6 AM!). Also worked registration later in the day, and enjoyed a great day of racing - even though it rained a little.. but it was some great urban racing.

The Cat 4/5's start, with a few of us in blue n' gold up front. Kyle & I got the call-up so we got nice spots up front.

Heading into the first corner, a little uphill into a one-lane section. That's Adam on the front, in 2nd place overall, a strong dude:

Another shot of the first corner:

Heading into the second corner:

Second corner:

The 3rd corner:

Leading the pack through the finish straight - notice the big cracks in the road, love it:

Leading again, a little further down the road:

(thanks to JC for taking those photos during my race)

At another point, attacking and/or going for a prime:

(thanks to Todd for taking that photo)

As you can see from the photos I spent a good deal of time of the front of the pack, perhaps too much. But with my 26 points I actually didn't want the points you get from winning, which would force a mandatory upgrade (at least in theory) so I sat up on the last lap and let everyone duke it out. I still came in 7th overall, so I guess I sprinted but I made sure to do it from 10th place or so, not from the front of the pack. Seems silly now to try not to win, but with one more race left in the series I didn't want the five points you'd get from winning this race.

After our race the women's 4's race went on, and then the 3's race - usually the 3's are thrown in with the p/1/2's, but they at least got their own race. Unfortunately not many women showed up due to the rain most likely, but I thought it was great the organizer at least did that for once.

The 1/2 women raced as well, along with the Cat 3's, juniors, and the kid's race. Eventually it was time for the p/1/2's. I was working the registration booth when many of these racers sign up and I can attest that they seemed mostly human, quite surprisingly.

Video of the 1/2's going through the second corner, chasing a breakaway most likely.

The 80 minute p/1/2 race was certainly more animated than our race was, with a breakaway of five or so off the front for one half of the race, then a different set of 4-5 off the front for quite a while. In the end there were two off the front (I if recall correctly) who got to sprint for the win together.

It was a great day of racing, watching racing, and working the race. Glad I finally got to do this race!! Thanks to Recycled Cycles and the Cascadia Crit Series for putting it on. Already looking forward to next year.

Tomorrow is the Tacoma Twilight Crit, looking forward to it! I'll be in the money no doubt tomorrow, and should be able to hold on to 1st place overall. Then it's time to move up to the Cat 3's!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ballard Criterium 2010: First Win!!

The Ballard Twilight Crit has been on my calendar since last year, as an "A" race. That meant my whole training plan (when I had one anyway) was centered around this race. It's the atmosphere there that made it great to race there, and probably makes it an "A" race on most people's calendars too.

Getting 13th in the 4/5's last year, after about a month of racing, I figured I could at least do better this time around as a Cat 4, after about a year of racing.

And going into this one I was the overall leader in the Cascadia Crit series 4/5's, even though I hadn't actually won any of the races (placings were 4th, 5th, 3rd - being consistent was paying off, along with the fact that the top guy dropped out after Seward).

In fact I hadn't won any races up to this point - and isn't that why one gets into racing, to win? Getting fitter & faster is fun too, but winning is the ultimate goal.

Getting Ready

Kira & I drove over to Ballard and parked close to the course, behind a building where others were parked (we figured it was safe to park there, but nope we got a ticket after all!) I didn't have to worry about getting into the race like at Seward, I was pre-registered and just had to sign in. Plenty of time.

Warmed up under our team tent, a Cat 3 let me use his trainer for a few minutes, sweet. And in fact it was for only a few minutes; after getting signed in, waiting in the porta-potty line, etc, there were only about 20 minutes until our race time!

Riding the trainer was so much better than my warmup for Ballard last year: rolling around the streets east of the course, just riding back and forth on the .5 mile stretch before Fred Meyer. I don't ever use the trainer we have at home, since I like riding outside, but for something like this it was a great way to get the heart rate up and get sweaty. I've always heard you should be a little sweaty when you get to the line, and even though the warm-up was only about 10 minutes long it was enough.

Got to take one or two practice laps of the course, and it was familiar from last year, though there was cardboard held down by duct tape over some 2x4" cracks in the pavement in corner one, and a set of hay bails blocking the apex of turn two, which was a little different.

The Race

One of the great things about being on the overall podium in the Cascadia Crit series is the "call ups" you get to do before the race. Once everyone is lined up they call up the top five people in reverse order, so I got to go last. It gives you some recognition and also gives you a good starting spot.

The whole pack of 75 lined up and ready to go - but only one can come out on top:

After some announcements from the official we were sent off, and I was excited! I used to almost dread the start whistles of these big crits, now I can't wait for them. Another chance for points, another chance for a win. Another chance for fun, and to gain more experience racing.

Got lined up in the first 10 or so riders in the first turn, and loved how much more smooth this race is from the front of the pack than from the back, where I raced it last year. Last year I felt like I really had to dig to maintain contact coming out of turn two, but this year we were coasting into a nice fast backstretch with a tailwind, and not having to jam it at all.

It felt a lot easier than last year overall, though the average speed came out to about the same. Guess I've just gotten stronger. Actually I know I've gotten stronger, I can see it in the training numbers and more importantly results. I was just surprised how different this race felt this year.

Before the race the announcer explained premes to the crowd, and said that "racers can used them to gauge the sprint and get a feel for it" or something along those lines, something I'd never thought of. I always thought of premes as a waste of energy or for those who were super strong, if they could win a preme and then take the race too. So I usually ignored them.

But this time when a points preme came up, I was on the front and went for it. Just kept the pace high and led the pack out (from what I remember). It seemed easy, was nobody else going for it or what I thought? Only 5 points to add to the ~800 I already had in the omnium, but for me it was more about figuring out that sprint. And winning that preme probably gave me the courage/confidence to really go for the final sprint (something I never thought I'd win).

Other premes came and went and I just made sure not to drift too far back, stayed in the top 20 pretty much the whole time. Some people like to ride the race from the back, and "tailgun" it, but it seems to me that just sets you up to have to deal with gaps, crashes, and the accordion effect. F that.

The Crash

About half way through the race we come into the finish straight and we're being waved around a First Rate Mortgage racer lying on the ground in the middle of the course near the finish line. Doesn't look good.

Next lap we come through and there are more people waving at us, and at first we're getting ready to go around the injured rider again but soon realized they wanted us stop completely. I wouldn't have thought it was possible to stop a crit, but it was done pretty smoothly. The officials had the chasing pack stay about 20 feet behind our lead pack, as the field had split into two groups at this point.

They had an ambulance come and take the guy away. Heard later he was knocked out at first, probably broke his collarbone and might have separated his shoulder as well. Along with a concussion, as his helmet was supposedly smashed as well. On the one hand that's a scary image, but I guess that's what helmets are for..

I heard about three different versions of how/why he crashed, ranging from he was along and went down out of nowhere, to the version where a lapped rider took him out on accident. Either way it didn't look good but he was conscious and gave a thumbs-up on the way out.

Hope he's doing alright - anyone have updates on his condition?

Race Restart

The officials set 15 minutes on the clock, and restarted us. I looked around and the front line was almost the same as when we started, lots of points leaders: Dave Z., Chad, Adam, Rob, and me.

After a little while they switched from time to 8 laps to go, and the countdown began. A Lenovo guy went off the front, but couldn't get much distance. Pretty hard to go off the front in a flat crit like that, but he lasted a lap or two I think.

With about three laps to go the pack was back together and my team mate Kyle came around the front and started to light it up. I could see what was happening (he was leading me out for the win!) immediately, so I jumped on his wheel. This was the time that would decide the winner, I figured.

One guy in an orange or red kit was between Kyle & I, but on the backstretch he dropped out, couldn't hold the pace. I could barely hold the pace myself but yelled "GO!!!" at Kyle, making sure he kept the gas on. We were doing close to 30 mph, or maybe more, and it was all I could do to hang on. I could only hope our high speeds were stringing out the pack, and setting everything up for a win.

Looking at the photos, the pack sure was strung out! Perfect.

This effort hurt, a lot, but I knew that there were only minutes left in the race. Time to empty the tank.

One lap to go, and it's still Kyle & I on the front, and he's turning the screws as they say. In the back of my head I'm just hoping we can hang on to this, and see what happens coming out of the last corner.

Sure enough we come into the final turn 1st & 2nd, and as we get into the finish straightaway I'm hoping people don't start swarming around us. Wasn't sure how much of a gap we had on the field, if any, but I know my sprint isn't award-winning so it was going to take a little gap to get me to the line.

Switched all the way to 53x12, and ground out the sprint up the slight uphill towards the line. Felt hugely over-geared and as if I was doing 60 rpms, but just held the gas as much as I could. Nobody was coming around yet!

I could hear the announcer calling the sprint and my name, and it certainly helped as motivation. Since Kyle is so fast I was almost afraid I wasn't going to be able to come around him, but slowly gained ground on him and finished with space between us, his hands in the air in celebration of our team's win.

(as a side note, I promise to buy these photos!)

(from the GCRacing FinishLynx camera)

Thanks a billion, Kyle! Couldn't have done it without your leadout. Team work in the 4/5's, who would have thought?

After crossing the line I closed me eyes and thought "HolyshitIcan'tbelieveIjustwonBallard!!!!!", then sat up and gave my victory salute: arms down but slightly out to the side, as if I were ascending into the sky at that very moment. I like to think of it as my "Cat 3 birth" in fact, as it give me the points I need to upgrade to the 3's!

After the race we did a cool-down lap I got to give a little interview over loudspeaker, that was pretty surreal.

If all this description of the race isn't enough for you, someone from the team made a great video of the 4/5's race! (and a bunch of the other races too)

Race #4: Second Ascent Ballard Twilight Criterium Men Cat4/5 2010 from David Hose on Vimeo.

Won a Thompson seatpost & stem, along with some more free socks (I'm starting to get a collection of these). And of course bragging rights for the next year..

The other thing I got from the race was seven upgrade points, giving me 26 total! Since you only need 20 points to get to the Cat 3's I can upgrade now, something I thought would take years. (Some never get out of the 4/5's at all) I became a Cat 4 back in March, so it's taken about three months, I can't believe it. I think the whole "build/base/peak/race" training plan has worked out well! (7-12 hours per week these days, for the record, as I've been asked a lot about this lately)

Since I want to finish out the Cascadia Crit series as the 4/5's points leader by doing the Tacoma Twilight Crit next weekend, I'm going to be a "sandbagger" for that one race and stay a 4 for now. $125 goes to the overall winner in our category and I want that person to be me!

A message to Rob, Ian, Chad, Dave Z, Tim, Kyle, Jed, Adam, and everyone else I know in the 4's: get your asses up the 3's soon! I'm gonna need the company. But I'm looking forward to longer races that start later in the day, and "Cat 3" certainly has a nice ring to it..

From what I keep hearing it's not that much faster in the 3's, it's just that the surges are faster and the fields are deeper, and of course the races are longer (crits are one hour, road races are 60-90 miles). The worst it can do is make me faster.. also looking forward to racing with Jordan R., Mark, and Jordan L. that I've raced with previously. See you guys soon!


Ballard Crit 2010 (minus stoppage time)
Duration: 31:10 (38:18)
Work: 463 kJ
TSS: 51 (intensity factor 0.991)
Norm Power: 287w
VI: 1.16
Distance: 13.071 mi
Elevation Gain: 855 ft
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 1004 247 watts
Heart Rate: 121 198 182 bpm
Cadence: 16 121 81 rpm
Speed: 0 37? 25.1 mph (a tad faster than last year I think)
Crank Torque: 0 1695 243 lb-in

Thanks to all the volunteers & the Second Ascent team/shop for putting on this awesome race, and all my friends (Liz/Dennis, John, Rachel) that came out to race or watch! And of course to Kira for coming out and cheering me on. I'm so glad you were all there to see it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Cascadia Crit Series: Leader!

I was sitting 2nd place overall in the Cascadia Crit Series coming into the Seward Park race yesterday before this race. The third race out of six, Seward is a course I've done about 25 times since last season, so nothing new, but a big crowd and lots of motivated riders ready to tear it up.

I've been racing the 6 PM race there this year (the 3/4's field) which has provided extra challenge, so I was hoping doing a 4/5 field would be a tad easier. Maybe, but not by much!

The Race

Team mates Kyle & Chris were there, and Chris even went on a flier during the race, hoping to draw Counterbalance guy into a failed break, or something. Kyle later did the same later on, trying to wear out those eager to win from a break. And the whole time, I just sat up front and watched with glee.

As the final laps came around I made sure not to leave the top 10, but that was easier said than done, and coming into the final downhill I was probably about 15th. As we got to the flat-ish section the pack was together, waiting for someone to pounce. If nobody pounced most would happily cruise up to the top of the hill, and then light up the sprint.

But I've raced here enough times to know that the ones that win the sprint start before the climb, to get a gap on the field. A guy led me up the left side of the pack and then pulled off, and that's when I took my chance. I pounced. Already red-lining but the finish line is close, so I emptied the tank.

As I took the soft left on to the climb, I looked down and though to myslef, "Holy shit! I'm in first, and nobody has come around yet! I won finally!"

But it was too early to celebrate, and not long after cresting the hill at least one guy had already jumped beyond me, and I could hear others behind. The rest is kind of a blur but one more guy snuk around me towards the line, and I just held on the gas up to the line. Here are the three of us sprinting around the bend towards the line. (Note: I didn't coast in the sprint like I used to, that's for sure!)

Congrats to Jeff that took the win, he also beat me out in one of the points premes and is obviously strong. I looked around to see how Aaron on Counterbalance did, since he was 1st overall and leading me in points. Nowhere to be seen?? Later on someone said he had to pull out due to a mechanical issue or something. Sucks! Not the way I wanted to get on top of the overall podium but that's racing I guess.

On to the podium, where the top 5 in the race got $20 cash. Then the overall podium, and guess who's on top? Me!

In addition to a nice pair of socks and a water bottle & nuun tablets, I was also presented with a Leader's number to wear in the next race! Pretty sweet:

But it's not over yet, there's still Ballard & the Brad Lewis Crit to contend with this weekend!

Here we go...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Woodinville & Fremont Crits 2010

Saturday - Woodinville 4/5 Crit

The first crit in the 6-race Cascadia Crit Series.

Rode 20 miles to the start up the Burke-Gilman, but got there way too early so it wasn't the best warm-up. Got there with 45 minutes or an hour until the race, so the course wasn't even all the way set up yet. Signed in and said hi to a few familiar faces: Rob, Alan, Chad, Tim, and even met a guy from the East Coast here for the race! I wonder how racing out here compares to over there..

Took a few practice laps in the wet, and got a feel for the course. 3 corners, almost flat. The word on the street was some man-hole cover and (slick) crosswalks in a few of the turns - and indeed they were there but weren't really a factor. The third/final turn kind of pinched from three lanes to two, so that made things interesting. And a gazillion white "turtles" in the middle of the lanes to boot.

Lined up in the front row for the first time, which I actually didn't like; our bars were so close it seemed like we were doomed to crash in the first few feet. Luckily I got off the line faster than most of those around me, or close enough, so it wasn't too chaotic.

Avoided all the turtles & man-hole covers in the corners, and generally just tried to stay in the top 20 from the get go. There were some prime laps, but the only ones I cared about were the (omnium) points primes - 5, 3, and 1 points for the top three on that lap.

We stayed together until the prime attacks came, and a Counterbalance guy eventually got off the front, and stayed out there solo! A few guys including me tried to bridge at one point, but couldn't hack it... he was generally unknown to the peloton, and we all thought he'd just come back. Never did.

Went for a omnium points prime and squeezed out one point from it. I think on that one I attacked before the third turn and got a little gap going into the third turn. Held off all but one Bikesale guy who came around me for 2nd place for points.

That gave me a good feel for just how long the final sprint was, and how fast I could go. Time to set up for the finish! And ignore any other primes that came along, no matter how tempting they might be.

The course was nice and wide, so when you wanted to move up you pretty much could, except for the final straight that was only two lanes wide and not so much space. But still enough to move around. I would essentially drift backwards over a few laps, then move up after the 1st turn on the inside before the next turn. Slight uphill there and people went pretty slow on that section.

It was at least 300m and slightly downhill from the 3rd corner to the finish, so I felt like I had no chance with a field sprint out of the corner... and also didn't want to fight for the apex of the turn with about 20 other people - I wanted to enter that final turn solo. The Counterbalance guy was somehow still off the front solo! He had at least a half-lap on us and was eventually out of sight.

On the last lap I lit up my sprint in an all-out 1k-attack of sorts, in between the 1st & 2nd turns. Didn't look back, just concentrated on going as hard as I could.. on the next leg of the course, which was felt slightly downhill, I already felt like I wanted to give up but didn't hear anyone behind me so I coasted for two seconds and kept on grinding.

And sure enough I went through that turn alone, though I figured guys were closing in from behind. I felt like I wanted to go into it much faster but since it was wet I just did the best I could.

So at this point I'm already turning myself inside-out, and the 300m+ sprint was about to start.. two guys came around me about 100m from the line, and I was just waiting for the rest of the field to come around.

But as you can see in the photo below we had a decent gap! Came in for 4th place.



An image of the power output for that last minute or so - as you can see there was an initial jump (at 1000+ watts), another little one after the next corner, and then another sprint after the final corner.
(yellow = power, red = heart rate, orange/brown = elevation, blue = speed)

4th place, lots of omnium points, 3 upgrade points, and my first real winnings in a race: $35 gift certificate to a bike shop!! I might just frame it.

Huge thanks to Rob for giving me a ride home after the race! Even though I brought another kit for the way back my shoes were soaked and I really didn't feel like doing the BG Trail again. Gotta save energy for tomorrow's race..

Sunday - Fremont Crit Cat 4/5's

Another 3-corner affair, but flatter and on "city streets" in Fremont (read: cracked pavement, some nice gaps, reflectors, man-hole covers, etc). When I got up early in the morning it was sunny and I thought this was going to be a more comfortable affair.

But by the time I rolled out towards the race there was a light drizzle. So be it.

Got there with enough time to sign in and do a few warm-up laps. The race was right next to the outdoor movie theater & close to the Fremont Market, a great setting for a crit.

The first turn was indeed interesting, kind of like the 130-degree turn at Seward Park. The back stretch was long-ish, and featured some nice old/wet leaves or something in the right lane that looked nice and slippery.

Turn two had a manhole cover and led to a hugely-cracked short stretch that led to the final turn and a short sprint to the finish line. Cool.

More familiar faces & got to chat with the Counterbalance guy that won our crit the day before. Congratulated him on holding us all off, and he said he was surprised by it! Also said it put the hurt on his legs and when I asked him if he was going again he laughed and said probably not. I told him I'd be on his wheel if he went this time..


Kyle & Ian were there and we lined up together in the third row or so. I joked about how not many in the field will clip in well and how we'd have to dodge lots of them, and sure enough it seemed like most guys were still fiddling with their cleat while I was ready to get it on. (I'm using Speedplays, very easy to get into, no need to look)

Eventually we got up to speed and hit the first turn. I was probably in the back half of the pack at this point (out of 60 or so starters), and just hung on for a while to see how the course was and figure out where to move up.

After a few laps I made a little jump up the right side on the backstretch (ironically where all the dirt/leaves/slippery stuff was), and slotted into the top 10 or so.

Pulled for a lap or two, and when on the front I made sure not to push too hard, since people will always come around when you start going too slow. I used to hammer once on the front, which is OK to do sometimes, but can be a big waste of energy sometimes too.

A points prime lap came and I found myself going for it, and getting 3rd in it for one point. Not surprisingly it was the Counterbalance guy and Dave Z that beat me out for 1st. Seemed like not long after that the announcer said it was time for another prime and I wasn't quite recovered yet from the last one, so I shook my head in mock disgust. The announcer saw this and said "Even if you shake your head!" or something, kinda funny.

I let people go for that one and just hung on, losing spots but knowing it would cool down a bit after the prime was over. Sure enough we came back together and I found my spot back in the top 5 or so.

At one point I attacked coming through the final straight, and held it for a bit, and the Counterbalance guy bridged up. But I could barely hold his wheel, and knew I just didn't have the legs to stay off the front at that speed. Had to drop back to the pack.

Soon after Ian, another strong guy on my team, went off the front in one of his favorite moves: attacking.

Later on in the race the Couterbalance guy was off the front with Kyle, a strong youngin' on my team. They stayed out there for a while, but they eventually came back. It seemed like the Coutnerbalance guy was stronger than all of us, and was in every break attempt.

Towards the end of the race it seems like I heard about three crashes behind us in corner one, that's where most of the action was.

In the final few laps I was in decent position (top 5 or so), and when the final lap came I was setting up for something good. (weren't we all?)

But coming into turn two, a hothead came up on the inside (yelling "INSIDE!!!" as if that really makes a difference..) and jammed our three or four-person paceline to the outside, causing commotion and yelling/cursing. Coming up on the inside out of nowhere in a turn is a common tactic that commonly causes crashes.

Coming out of that turn the guy in front of me started get really bad speed-wobble, so bad he even unclipped and I figured the race was over and we're going down. Dammit. Somehow he save it(!!!) and I came around him, but had to slow down if not brake a bit, ruining any chances of a top three in this one.

Coming out of the last turn the race winners were far up ahead, but I wanted to at least get some upgrade points out of all this. So I put in my best effort, and just barely passed Adam from Arrivee before the line. It felt like a good effort but I was but I was sprinting for 5th instead of 1st. Got 5th, not bad but not what it should have been...

Kyle from my team won it! He just barely beat out the Counterbalance guy at the line: (click for sequence)

So now I sit 2nd overall in the Omnium points standings! Won some socks, my second-ever item won from bike racing. I'll call that progress... next step, cash!

Oh and 5th earned me two more upgrade points, so that's five for the weekend and 15 overall - if my calculations are correct. Cat 3 used to seem like next-to-pro, but it's starting to seem less intimidating. I always thought it would take me years to get there, but it looks like I should be able to get there by the season's end or early next year. The upgrade will probably send me to the back of the pack, but I'm thinking racing with faster/better racers can only make me faster/better.

Before I do upgrade I'd like to get a win though! Let's see if I can do that at Seward on Thursday, Ballard on Saturday, or Boat Street on Sunday.

(photos by wheelsinfocus)