Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wenatchee Omnium 2010: First Podium!

The Wenatchee Omnium had been on my calendar for a few months, and since it was a relatively big regional event I made it an "A" race, e.g. one that I targeted specifically. Besides planning to crush souls there I also trained for it by building up in the weeks leading to it and then tapering off a bit in the last few days before it.

I figured an overall win was out of my reach since the TT isn't my strongest race, and I'm not so hot racing up a 5-mile climb either. But I figured I could squeeze some points out of the criterium by getting a top 6 in it.

Saturday AM: 9 mile Time Trial

Josh & I had ridden the out-and-back TT course the day before, which was great so we could see just what we had in store, given it wasn't completely flat, but instead featured some rolling hills. And wind. He pointed out the tailwind on the way out and how it's apparently always like that around here.. while this makes for a fun out-leg, the return trip is a bit slower..

A shot of the road out to the TT:

It was about 10 miles outside of town, and since Josh's Cat 3 race wasn't until way later in the day, I just rode out to the start for a good warm-up. It was a perfect day, not too hot, and sure enough the same wind out of the west was there.

Got to the start with plenty of time, and went to the parking lot to find Todd & JC, along with other team mates. After some chit chat I went back out on to Malaga-Alcoa Hwy and got in an OK warm-up, but I've really not been giving them enough attention, especially when it comes to TT's.

Noting that it was close to start time for me (9:18) I somehow got there with about a minute to spare, jumping in front of the line of riders waiting to go off. Just in time, that'll get the heart pumping!

After an OK start I was off, not having any power data since the batteries were out and I'd yet to replace them, just going off of heart rate. I felt pretty good on the way out, and kept the HR around 171 or so, though looking back I should have paced harder on the way out given the downhill-ishness of the course and the tailwind.

I had my 30-second man in sight, and was gaining on him as I went. As we came to the turn-around cone at 4.5 miles I was perhaps only a few bike-lengths behind him! But as we turned around the headwind and uphill slopes hit and I no longer felt like I was putting in good time. In fact, I wasn't! Whether or not pacing was good on the way out, I just couldn't push hard enough to gain on my guy without red-lining. Probably due to bad aero (only using clip-ons) and not enough (functional) threshold.

In the end I lost contact with the 30 second guy and was never passed, passed a few others, which pretty much says it was an average TT. It was. 23:51 or something for 25th place... lots of room for improvement there! (the winner in Cat 4 was 21-minutes and some change)

Saturday PM: 25-minute Criterium

For me this was the real chance for points and maybe even a win. Our hotel was a few blocks from the downtown crit course so I got a chance to check out the Cat 5 race, and get a feel for the course which I hadn't seen before.

The marshal at corner 2 said he'd specifically requested that corner since it's "where all the action is" - and by action he meant crashes! I could see why, it was all cracked with two sewage-covers with nice big tire-size holes in them. One guy at the corner, who was apparently also one of the race organizers, was giving me tips on how to come through tight in the corner - which was not what we were watching the 5's do. They were taking a slower, perhaps safer, outside line that sent you over the same cracks anyway. Something to think about when I raced later at 4:25 or so.

Here's a few shots of corner 2 so you can get a feel:

And a shot of the broken-up pavement & manhole covers...

Actually the races were running behind, which made me think I had more time than I did to warm up, which put me at the back of the pack. Lined up next to a team mate JC, and we joked about how bad our TT times were, and I told him that's OK, this is the race for us! He's also pretty good at crits and I was happy to have him in the race.

The whistle was blown and we were off - well, some of us were. A few rows up at least one guy couldn't clip in, and was stuck looking down at their feet, fumbling to clip in. The opposite of a good start in a crit, but I've gotten pretty good at going around them at the start of crits.

Settled into the middle of the pack or so, and got a feel for the course. The 5% downhill leading into corner 2 gave you plenty of speed to just jam over all the cracks and stuff, but boy did our bikes make some interesting noises there! It took confidence in your equipment and cornering ability to make it over that corner without slowing each lap.

In fact that nasty corner was where I made up the most ground each time, taking the inside line just as the organizer had earlier suggested. Then on the (also rough) back stretch we would jam at a good 27-30 mph, hitting the 3rd turn into a 5% uphill that had its share of cracks in it.

Coming up the hill on the backside into corner 4 my rear wheel was skipping around almost every time, looking bad I should have just stayed seated there. And I liked taking the outside line there, instead of jamming up the inside and coming into the turn slower.

After the uphill and fourth corner, it was on to the home stretch, a slight 1% uphill grade. I just hung on for the first few laps, since my warm-up wasn't quite good enough and the start of this race hurt more than it should have.

After recovering a little, I decided it was time to move up - only 25 minutes of racing to be done here, so there wasn't a ton of time to set up for the end. So about halfway through the race I used the wide-open home stretch to jump and move up to the top 10 of the pack. Looking back this little effort was enough to set up for the later podium, and without it I would have had to work harder later or come in 10th place.

Now in the top 10 I even found my way to the pointy end of the race a few times, leading our pack through the finish straight. When that happened I would make sure not to do too much work, since there was a headwind there and there was no point in doing a bunch of work to make us all faster for that little stretch. Sometimes it felt ridiculously slow at the front, but I reminded myself it was about me resting and being in a good spot, not looking strong.

The last five or so laps came, and I just maintained my spot in the top 5-10. One guy tried to get a break-away going, or something, but nobody wanted (or could) go with him.

One lap to go, and we're all still together. Turn three comes, and I'm in the top five! In pain and at or above 185 bpm, but I remind myself there's less than a minute left, how bad could it be? Turn four comes, the final turn, and it's time for the straight-away. The home stretch!

The announcer was yelling of course but I didn't hear anything, it was all I could do to keep the pedals turning and just shoot for the line. Passed one or two guys (I think) on the way to the line, and saw the guy in front of me let up a bit, but it was too late.

But I came in 3rd in the end! Yay for me, all this training and racing finally paid off, though it wasn't a win.. that's next on the radar, and well within reach I think.

Was sitting 5th overall GC after the TT/Crit, but knew the RR the next day was gonna be tough.

Sunday AM: 44-mile Road Race

Oh boy, what to say here? There was a five-mile climb (5.5% avg. grade) and I got dropped going up it the first time (we were only doing two laps). Great views, but dammit it hurt going up! Pretty fun going down, but could only get up to 45 mph or so, no real super speeds on the way down. Rode with some stragglers and chatted a bit, finished the ride to not get a DNF (don't have any so far).

Came in 34th (out of 55?) overall somehow, minutes behind the finishers.. not my day, that's for sure!

But was happy with the crit placing the day before, so not too big a let down, or even a surprise.

Came in 10th overall GC.

Photos & Videos

(sorry for getting this post out a week late, I've been lazy!)


trantor said...

congrats on the Podium spot! If I'd known that earlier I would have let you choose your Otter Pop flavor instead of simply giving you the orange one.

matt m said...

Ha, forgot about that! Thanks for the icy-pop, it really hit the spot on the ride back to the hotel. Definitely the coolest hand-up I've received so far in bike racing.

And not two minutes after finishing said icy-pop, I ran over what must've been a whole broken wind-shield.. and though I was ready with a patch kit, a nice couple gave me a ride back into town in their mini-van.

Thanks again for the cool treat! I had no idea it was you btw.. =]

Eric Cockrell said...

Congratulations dude! A podium spot is exciting, more to come I'm sure. Keep on keepin on.

Dessa said...

Congrats on crit, that is a hard one!
As far as TT, you should actually go easier on faster part and harder on slow part, just like with hills vs flats. So, going out a bit easier is right way to do it. Think about this, you go 30 vs 28 miles per hour: 9:00 minutes vs 9:36 over 4.5 miles. And on the way back: say 15 vs 17 mph: 18:00 vs 15:52 minutes. So you'll loose 40 seconds on the way out but gain 2 minutes coming back.

Anonymous said...

Here is an upcoming community event you might be interested in posting.

Gear up for an evening of biking, dining and doing good
Bikers and Lovers of Food invite you to participate in the first Spoke and Food Event on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010! This event will combine bicycling and dining into one evening, while also raising funds for Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program. This is a great opportunity to give back to the community and have some fun on one of those beautiful Seattle summer nights!
The main goals of Spoke & Food this year are to motivate our community to use their bicycles as they dine out and to improve access to healthy food for all by supporting Lettuce Link, an innovative food and gardening program growing and giving since 1988. Lettuce Link creates access to fresh, nutritious and organic produce, seeds, and gardening information for families with lower incomes in Seattle.
So get out and bike on the night of Tuesday, June 29th and help support a healthier community! Bike to any of the following restaurants and they’ll donate 15-20% of their proceeds to Lettuce Link!
Participating restaurants as of May 15th include:
Dad Watsons (Fremont)
The Scarlet Tree (Ravenna/Green Lake)
Montlake Alehouse (Montlake)
The Stepping Stone (Ballard)
Snoose Junction Pizzeria (Ballard)
Fiddler’s Inn (Wedgewood)
Muleadys Irish Pub (Magnolia)
Naked City Brewery & Tap House (Greenwood)
Cantinetta Restaurant (Wallingford)
If you are interested in more information, please contact

matt m said...

@dessa: thanks, and good point! Interesting to see the huge time-differences, I hadn't thought of it like that.

See you at the Cascadia Crits?