Saturday, November 1, 2014

Vance Creek Road Race -2013

Wayne, Alex and I were in the Cat 4 field.  Warm up a bit shorter than I would have liked but I used it to test out gearing on the final hill climb. Wanted something that I could use for my first 2 laps to go "easy", then something with enough teeth for the hard push to the finish line.  Course started on the downhill from the finish line, and we were off.  Saw a few breaks try to go off the front but they were caught every time.  Eventually the pack started to get lazy and our pace dropped as folks mostly gave up on breaks. 

I was feeling strong on the hill climbs and remember when Wayne commented how bad everyone was looking.  Knew that I'd want to be in front no later than the base of the climb if nothing else to avoid getting stuck behind a slow wheel. So sure enough about 3km out, I purposefully "surfed" up to the front intent on holding a wheel in the top 10 before anyone took off.  At one point a fella from Apex yelled at me about moving over so he could have a wheel I was on.  I ignored him and he started hitting my left leg I think with his handlebars?!  That's a pretty dumb way to try to move in, as he's more likely to crash out than actually do any good.  What he didn't see was a slow rider dropping back on the right side that I was avoiding, so I explained the circumstances to him... loudly... and told him to back off.  We talked later, and I still think he must have just poor line handling skills or something.  Is it possible to actually do anything by running your handlebars under someones leg? I don't thank that works does it? Good way to crash out though.

Pretty much I just ignored and marked the dude, and focused on the task at hand.  Apex had 4 at the front,another Cucina guy, polka dot dude, and me in the mix.  So they never were able to get a lead off as there were plenty of people willing to reel in the efforts (or be in the break with them).

Base of the climb a junior (couldn't be older than 16-17 yrs) and an Apex took off, I pursued.  Random Apex dude blew up about halfway and I never saw him again, junior (weighing in at 110lbs soaking wet) kept on chugging, and I pursued.  Eventually we saw the 200m sign passby and I waited on my "sprint" until just a bit later, really only stepping up the cadence enough to close the gap on junior guy.  Didn't have quite enough distance to catch him, and actually 2 others passed me right at the line.

Great race, wished I had another lap or 2.  Got to visit with a friend while waiting for the masters to finish, and really enjoyed seeing our cat 5 guys making the tough climb, and Wayne scoring a point too!

Wenatchee Omnium/Crit -2013

  I had skipped the TT knowing that I wouldn't be racing Sunday on the road, so the GC didn't matter to me, and I was only in it for any points that could be scored for upgrade and to help out others.  Since this was a 4/5 mix field and I knew the showing would be small it was unlikely to get much points unless I took 1-3rd.  

The first prime goes off and I'm in a great spot to chase the group, there started 3 of us but mostly it was another rider and myself that were contesting it.  He had entry to the 3rd corner nailed, so there was literally very little chance of catching him after the downhill and corner 4.  I put some energy into drafting and sprinting it out with him but backed off well before redline realizing that there was no chance at that speed to pop up ahead.  Felt like a safe bet and we both sat up to rejoin.

As soon as the front of the pack caught us, another break formed and the pack didn't respond quick enough, a group of  ... 5 or so was off the front.  Eventually that would turn to 3 riders (I thought it was more than that) and my chances of scoring any points was pretty much gone.  But that just meant the chance to work some tactics with the fellas was a much higher priority.

Nick and I attempted to work off the front and real in the break but nobody else seemed to put any effort into it... I even badgered the other riders to get to work, but I'm pretty sure either they were all barely holding on, or were just flat out lazy.  I tried to see who's teams were in the front and couldn't get a good view of jerseys to see who could be blocking.  Note: always see what teams are upfront so you can identify folks trying to slow the pace.

Anyways I rolled up to Alex, said hi and started the slow acceleration up to the front, when I knew he was on I attacked and drug him and Nick as far as possible hoping that he'd be in good position for corner 3 (the crucial corner) and the rest is history. I do enjoy hearing other teams comment "watch those Roosters" seems that we've made a name for ourselves.  Many teams are watching us, and I know Apex in particular feels we're a threat. Officials screwed up the last lap call, and I somehow ended up with a DNF, but couldn't care less so didn't protest the result.

Did however work with the officials to help find Alex's finish and they were really cordial about it.  I've found the officials to be really quite reasonable if you approach them level headed and with a good argument.

Nick's a strong dude, and it will be fun to work with him when he hits the 4's.  Enjoyed the ride over chatting with Johnathan about all kinds of things, made the time fly by.  Also, took a dip in the Columbia river for some ice bath recovery before the drive home.

Ravensdale -2013

My report:

Masters 4/5 35+
I did this one, simply because I could!  Finally I get to race masters and I'm stoked to get to know the field.  Had a blast, there's much less herky jerky during neutral start, better line selection and generally a good chatty bunch.  Plus, my buddy Davo is in masters.

Raced carefully, not knowing the players in the field, then took my opportunity for a long sprint from about 300m.  Got jumped right before the finish for 3rd place.

Quick recovery at the car, didn't have enough water, enough food.  Forgot to air up the tires before the previous  race, but figured they were pretty full anyway.  So checked tire pressures, and I was rolling a big 60psi... oops.  Aired up the tires, then met Alex, Wayne, and a friend of from school who is interested in our team.

Cat 4
Roll out was typically obnoxious with a herky jerky neutral start, but pretty quickly the pace picked up and we were actually racing a fairly well put together field.  There was Olympia Orthopedic, Bikesale, Apex all with 4+ riders.  One terrible rider on Apex was all over the place, he would charge up the right side on terrible pavement with high risk of falling off the road only to gain 3 positions with 3 laps to go?! He dove left while at the front, not even while leading the pack only to catch the front wheel of a Starbucks rider who managed to lock up his rear wheel and stay upright.  That Starbucks rider had amazing bike handling skills, so much that I spent the rest of the laps trying to find him and give a compliment.

I really enjoyed working with Alex at one point to bridge a gap, we both had the same mindset and launched from the left and right side of the field putting a small (unintentional) gap into the field, this lasted only a little while when other people saw us as a threat (little did they know I was pretty exhausted from the previous race).  Our small break got gobbled by the field but it spurred folks to chase a bit more aggressively and we eventually caught the more threatening break that was up ahead.  Mission accomplished, I knew I wouldn't be able to hold out in a break so that worked really well.

I made the bonehead mistake of not bringing enough fluid either, had to start rationing to sips from the bottle with about 2.5 laps to go.  Also, ran out of nutrition and only had my backup hammer gel left.  Imagine eating a gel with cottonmouth and you know how miserable that can be. 

Final sprint I worked my way into Olympia Orthopedic's lead out train and enjoyed some protection from the wind up the hill to the finish.  Jumped at the same distance as the previous race, but just didn't have the steam to hold out.  Took 11th.  Found water as quickly as possible and sat in the my truck with the AC going to cool down.  Yikes, I'm going to add a big jug of water to my race box from now on.

MOE -2013

Figured out I wouldn't be able to do the road race on Sunday last week, so determined to spend my time preparing for the crit on Saturday, which: 
1. Could score me the needed points for cat3 upgrade 
2. Is ridiculous fun (actually the whole event is in my opinion)

I lined up knowing the GC was not an option, but was planning on using the TT as a great opener exercise for the crit later in the afternoon. Combined with the substantial equipment handicap I felt like this would be a good strategy.  Didn't warm up enough before my start time, but I put as much effort into my cantilevered CX bike as I could and squeaked out a 16th. Eh, not quite as well as I'd hoped, but still fun.

In between...
Started getting nervous when the rain started coming down.  This crit course is already pretty sketchy in cat 4/5 because riders tend to crash hard.  But in the rain I thought for sure it would be a mess.  So I was half tempted to skip it all together.  But about 2 hours before the event I found a chance to reset my mindset.  It's amazing what a difference a warm up makes.

After some solo trainer time by my truck I decided the smart move would be to fight like mad to stay inside on the corners (mostly), to stick to the frontish of the pack, and to watch out for people going sideways.

Start line I chatted with a rider about his SRAM Red components, as I'm pricing SRAM stuff for the Cat 3 bike.  Right before we took off I gave my complimentary "Stay safe, stay upright!" to everyone just before the whistle and we were off.

Started about 3/4 back and began picking off 3 people at a time to work my way up to the front.  Ignored the prime sprints, as I was determined to grab a good finishing position.  Dan and I had worked out a plan to attempt a break after one of the primes, but we never connected for that.

One solo break went out with 7 laps left to go, I later found out it was Kevin T, and that dude has been having some great finishes recently.  When I saw him go off, the next lap I was urging the field to bridge and indeed pulled the whole lap causing the field to splinter just a bit, but not quite enough for me to feel comfortable breaking away on my own, and nobody was willing to work with me to reconnect with Kevin.

Discouraged I fell back realizing that either these guys had written off 1st place (possibly...) or they were just flat out tired from the TT earlier (likely,.,.)  I realized my best bet for a strong finish with 5 laps to go now was not to try and catch up to Kevin basically by myself, but instead would be to hide back around 5th-8th and then attack from way back on the last lap because I was feeling quite strong still.

I heard that there were some crashes in our field, but my planning paid off and no problems at all except a squirelly rider (rockin the SRAM Red as it turns out).  Only had to yell at him once to watch his line as he'd cut across the whole field to chop the corners without looking.... ?!

With 4 corners to go I accelerated up to get position putting in the effort early, and advanced up to around 5th wheel recovering a few spots I had lost, then fell in behind some strong riders, and hammered again with 2 corners to go holding strong lines that I'd previously figured out.  Got up and sprinted and caught 2 riders for a 3rd place finish 2nd in the pack, just didn't have enough road to catch the guy that took 1st in the pack.

Joe Montava -2013

Raced the Masters 1/2/3 at Joe Montava, simply because I could!  Great to be in a category that allows doubles like this.  Masters race went off hard and maintained a fast pace the whole time (25.7 mph avg).  Got to race on my new bike, and I love it. 

Took it easy for most of the race hiding in the pack in order to conserve energy, was planning on keeping the HR right around 160, and was able to stay there for most all of the race.  Only at one point did I go redline, and I don't think that was even the final sprint!?  
Saw a couple crashes, but really enjoyed the new category. Even saw some of my buddies from cat 4 who must have upgraded around the same time as me.  Ended up swarmed, and intentionally avoided putting much heart into the finishing sprint.  Saving the matches for the next race...

Open 3s, as Bart said saw 5 Roosters!  Was great to see so many out, and I was eager to get to work together with some guys where we could.

Pace seemed completely manageable (23.7 mph avg)in the 3s field, with some mostly solid line holding, only a couple times did I feel at risk until eventually on the back stretch someone over-reacted to a crash in the middle of the field jumping hard left, into my front wheel.  I dove left but not quite quick enough, we both went down and I slid on my butt for aways. Excising myself from the pavement I could tell I'd mostly slid and not hit hard, indeed my chain was still on and everything.  Bike was in good shape.

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Sequim 2 -2014

Sequim 2 report.  Really enjoyed getting to race with some former teamates and current.  Our race was 5 laps, at 60 miles.  I knew that there would be break attempts but after last weekends hard efforts to reel in some breaks I opted to take it easy this time, and contest the pack sprint.  I've been testing a new method for sprinting and wanted to put it to practice.

The race pace was pretty quick as there was a break of 3 up the road that was only a threat because of the teams involved. Both the biggest teams in the peloton were involved, and one of the strong young racers from Rad.  They stayed out for just about 3 laps before we reeled them in, but we did see some great blocking tactics from the other two teams that most certainly threw a monkey wrench in the plans.  Though it was done really well, very safe, but very obnoxious and effective.  

We had just about a half lap of easy pace, but then as expected another break.  Same teams involved, and all our chasers were either exhausted or holding back for the sprint.

I made some offers to former teamates and buddies to bridge the gap with them, and really wanted to try working with a new guy who I haven't had a chance to race with yet, but they didn't bite.  Instead trying to "con" me into chasing down the break....not this time.  I was saving the legs for the last 2km.

Josh put in a herculean effort a few times at the front, so I knew he'd be pretty exhausted in the uphill sprint.

Earlier in the race I'd picked out my gearing I wanted for the final sprint, and was planning my attack distance.  So when we finally got to the last lap, all I had to do was 1. stay in front of the swarm. 2. hold a strong wheel for most of the flats (already picked on out earlier) 3. be flexible for changing conditions (ie don't get boxed in, be willing to let a wheel go, plan for pack movement) 4. test out the new sprint legs

It worked out well, and I was able to change up position from around 12th going into the base of the hill, about 5th by 200m, and finally upshifted, stood and hammered to take the pack sprint.  As it turns out we almost closed the gap on that break, and I was 3 seconds back, so ended up 4th and captured the pack sprint.  It was fun to hear my competitors yelling as I blast past them, and I let out a "war cry" on the way up the hill.  Ha, that sprint was fun.

The BBQ afterwards was great and it was good to hear the stories from teamates.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Route: Entiat 971 Loop

38 miles
2100 ft of elevation
Alternate route to Lake Chelan from Entiat


  • Crumbly rock faces
  • Tough guy yorkie
  • Wild asparagus
  • Low traffic
  • Mostly good shoulder
  • Mushies?

Go check it out here: Entiat 971 Loop Map

My Notes:

Great new way for me to get to Lake Chelan that avoids the infamous Alternate Highway 97 route, though less direct.  Frankly, I don't know if that's really a drawback as this route takes you through some nice shade pine trees and a long canyon that's mostly undeveloped.  Long stretches of no cars to be seen, and mostly courteous drivers. 

After turning off Hwy 97A, you immediately face one of the tougher climbs on this route.  Downshifting into the smaller chainring and mostly leaving it there 39 tooth, not compact :P  Just behind me and up ahead is a crumbly rock face overhead that made me a bit nervous, so I was riding in the middle of the lane to avoid rockfall.  Truly, as I rode past I could hear gravel and small rocks dribbling down the side of the face.  While it isn't that high or threatening, I'd rather not chance it.

The route then turns right and the grade begins to mellow, just in time to find a tough guy yorkie that has proven his worth by chasing off this big ol threat of a cyclist.  In fact if that yorkie weren't so overweight he might actually get a nip at my foot.  Good for him he's actually pretty slow.  My options were to either let him take a bit at my foot, use the mighty emergency whistle to scare him off (preferred method), or kick him when goes for my foot.  Yes, I think he would actually try and bite btw....

Either way, he scared me off for a second time in as many days and proudly trotted back to his big rock to sit in the sun.  Good.  Well done chap, you did a good job and protected your territory.  Realistically, just keeping in a moderate to easy gear was enough to outrun him.  He's got a little yorkie belly from easy living, ha!  Makes for a great story to tell post ride too.

On the left side there's a series of orchards all throughout the valley, but one of the first ones you encounter that's fenced in has wild asparagus growing around it.  In fact I saw some on the right side of the road as well.  Probably a bit earlier in the season would be good when it's just coming up.  By now folks have already mostly picked the crop over.  Though I did see some that people have missed that happily were spreading around the fenceline.

The ride itself had very little traffic, and a reasonable enough shoulder for most of the route.  There's really only a couple times the shoulder was unsafe, like in the plateau section before the downhill you'll some logging equipment and a rough broken up shoulder on the right.  Otherwise a relatively safe shoulder to ride on.

On the way down there's a few pine sections that provide shade for the descent and possibly host some mushies?  After the descent you'll drop down on the S Lakeshore Rd along Lake Chelan, and begin heading East.

Once you hit Hwy 97, you must choose, go right to continue the loop or take a detour into town to get some coffee?  After making that tough choice, the climb back out of Chelan is moderate and long, but completed in basically one effort.  You'll then get the chance to drop down with traffic, TAKE THE LANE as you descend by the way, do yourself a favor. The tunnel that you pass through has a light that you can stop and press to warn cars of a "bike in the tunnel" but it's not worth it.  Braking hard to hit that button simply lights up some flashing lights on a sign way back up the hill.... really pretty pointless, and just about as unnoticeable as an actual cyclist in road camouflage.

Concrete colored, for the Darwin award nominees among us.  I like how the jersey even looks like a cloudy horizon, brilliant!

Your momentum will carry you quite far, and not much longer you're back to town.
Hit stop on Strava now...