Saturday, April 10, 2010

Volunteer Park Crit 2010

Ahh, the Volunteer Park Crit. I originally found out about this race a few years ago when we were randomly in the park on the same day and happened to see it. At the time I had no idea about what categories were what, who was who, etc, but it looked like fun and I had a road bike. That was the beginnings of me wanting to race. Took years to actually do it..

Back then I had dreams of dropping everyone in the race on my 1980's Miyata 312 with down-tube shifters (I wanted to be "that guy") - funny how things don't quite work out that way..

Then last year I watched it again, and was this close to jumping in - but advice from more experienced racers said that course (especially on a rainy day) was not the best course for your first criterium. With some interesting turns and a winding downhill/uphill section, I think that advice was right.

Anyway, it's a year later and I'm racing now. Time to see how I'll do at this local crit. I did OK at Ballard, Joe Matava, and Derby Days (well, top 20 anyway), so I seem to be better at crits than other races. I think a lot of it comes down to handling skills less than pure power or endurance - in a crit to save energy you want to use your brakes as little as possible. Going through corners in a tight pack without touching the brakes is scary at first, but slowing yourself down is a great way to get tired, quick. Coast through those corners instead and you'll have the energy needed to sprint out of said corner and get ahold of a wheel to follow.

Warming Up, Watching the 5's

Before the race Chris from Recyled Cycles, Jordan from Starbucks, and I rolled down to Interlaken Blvd to do a little warm-up climb. Chris had forgotten his helmet but scrounged one up just in time for our race. It happens.

We came back to see the Cat 5's still chuggin' along, and Kyle (also on Recycled Cycles/Raleigh Racing) was looking strong! On the final lap he attacked through the finish line (here's a shot of said attack), and coming around the last turn he was still in the lead. He finished well ahead of the pack on a solo breakaway! (photo) (His second win via a breakaway - look for this one in the 4's soon!)

The Cat 4 Crit

Here is the pack of 77 riders lining up. You can't see me because I'm in the back, not paying attention.
(from teampics)

Lined up at the back on accident, had both feet on the ground when the whistle blew... off to a bad start. And the first 50m lead to a big sweeping right turn followed by a quick left, which strung out the pack. So I started probably 50 riders back from where I needed to be.

Here's a shot of the initial squeeze leading into the turn around the tower:
(From teampics)

A shot of Recycled Cycles very own JC rounding the corner - looking good on his new Raleigh Team bike:

(From teampics)

Here are some riders coming through the little bend at the bottom of the hill. You can imagine how someone can easily be squeezed going through there in a pack...

(from teampics)

So I decided I needed to put in some work and get up to the top 20 in the next few laps. Done. The announcer said something about primes but I ignored all of them. While I'd love to take a prime one of these days (to win something) I knew I didn't have the stamina to try that and be there at the finish. (Unlike Jordan, who likes to win both in races!)

There was a comical situation coming through the final turn - a spectator, who must've known someone in the pack, kept yelling "MOVE UP!! MOVE UP DAMMIT!!" in our ears as we passed. And at this point we were all in the top 10, sitting pretty near the end of the race.

What is he talking about? After four or five laps of this same thing being yelled in our ear, I think someone yelled back at him, "Dude shut the fuck up!" once as we came through. The next time around, I think I heard "Good job guys!" from the spectator instead - hah. (Hard to tell who he was talking to, perhaps whoever it was really did need to move up - but if I had to guess they would have loved to have been able to move up. But they couldn't..)

A Little Crash Yields Opportunity

5 laps or so to go sitting in the top 20 when I see a gap on the left open on the 5% uphill and I'm taking it to gain positions. At the same time in the middle of the pack someone's rear derailleur gets caught up in someone else's spokes... not a good sound! Then I hear people crashing, and someone yelling "DON'T LOOK BACK!! GO! GO!"

Never did look back, since this put me in 3rd wheel with just a few laps to go. Pretty much perfect, at least it felt that way.

Here's a shot of us coming through the finish for the last lap (that's the chief referee indicating one to go)

(from teampics)

I remember now giving the wheel in front of me to Max, a strong junior on And come to think of it, giving that wheel away so close to the end of the race was like giving away a spot at the end... should have fought harder for that one.

Lost a few spots in the next few laps (some not on purpose) but coming out of the last turn I was way up in the top 10, and in good position for the slightly uphill 2-3% grade sprint. Just how I'd been visualizing this finish for the last few months.

Thing is, I can't sprint... ugh that seemed like a long 200 meters to the line, and though I passed a few I was just about coasting (in fact I did a bit, see video below) when we hit the line. Gave it a throw but to no avail - was 2/3rds of a wheel away from 6th! (saw the official photo finish afterwards)

Damn, one spot out of points for the Cat 3 upgrade, but a top 10 and a strong finish in a big local crit. Mission accomplished.

Here's a little sequence of our sprint finish! That's me on the left with those pretty white booties (sequence starting here)

And here's a video from the Cat 4 race! You can see me coasting a bit in the last few meters of the sprint - ugh, with 20/20 hindsight it's so easy to think "why didn't I push a little harder, pedal longer, etc?" The legs were dead, that's why!

Jordan took the win, nice job man... makes sense that he's almost a Cat 3 (or will be one soon)


Duration: 41:05
Work: 579 kJ
TSS: 68.4 (intensity factor 0.999)
Norm Power: 290
VI: 1.23
Distance: 16.827 mi
Elevation Gain: 1806 ft
Min Max Avg
Power: 0 895 235 watts
Heart Rate: 121 197 174 bpm
Cadence: 22 145 82 rpm
Speed: 2.9 49.4 24.6 mph
Crank Torque: 0 1772 238 lb-in


  • Teampics is posting pics from all Cats - that's a lot of photos!
  • Tu was there getting shots of the Cat 4 Women's race
  • Thumbprint racing (IJM) was there taking pics of the race
  • More photos from the 4's & 5's races
  • Cool video compilation from our Cat 4 race. Including the sprint finish at about 5 minutes in - I'm on the left, with not even enough energy to pedal much in those last few meters..
Hopefully everyone can find great shot of themselves suffering during the race!!

Huge thanks to everyone for coming out and cheering us on, and to Cucina Fresca for putting on this race. A true Seattle classic. Can't wait for next year's edition..


Vaughn said...

It's always fun to read about the race from another rider's perspective. I do remember that guy at the top of the hill yelling at someone and thinking the same thing! Oh, I made your blog! I'm the guy on the front the last lap (bad spot!)

mattm said...

Hi Vaughn - hey, I guess someone had to pull on that final lap!! I was glad to be a few wheels back from the front for sure. Thanks for that nice pull...

Was that you that won IVRR? Kit looks familiar..

Seems like you're always up in the mix at the end, so I'll be seeing ya for sure!

Gliderbison said...

Hi there, I was hoping to get in touch with whoever manages Taampics -- I used the one of me winning the 1/2 race on my blog. I credited his/her picture sire, but wanted to ask too.

Kyle said...

That was my first race too!!!