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.

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