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.

1 comment:

Aubrey said...

We would really appreciate your help in spreading the word about this fundraiser bicycle race! Would you be willing to post it to your blog? Details:

Alleycat Bicycle Race
Help the UW Student Food Cooperative raise seed money for our food cart and cafe by joining this street race in Seattle!
October 2nd - Race Starts at 2pm

@ Recycled Cycles on Boat St.

Arrive early to register (1-2pm)

$10 Registration fee - cash only!

What’s the heck is an Alleycat?… It’s an informal bicycle race with checkpoints throughout the city. Speed helps, but most importantly you’ve got to know your way around Seattle! If you’re smart and think fast, your course will only be about 15 miles long… Win bragging rights and prizes from our sponsors at CHROME, HUB and BESPOKE, GREGG’S CYCLES, BELLTOWN PULLAPART & DUTCH BICYCLE COMPANY!!!

Invite your biker buddies! More info at