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 (bikesale.com) 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!

1 comment:

Robert H said...

Hey Matt,

FWIW, I don't know that I'm doing that 200K on the 24th. It has turned into a busy summer and I'm just trying to keep up.

Maybe you can make it out on a Thursday night with us sometime for bikes and beer?