It’s only been a day off but I’m already forgetting what happened this weekend so I better start writing quick. That’s one of the main reasons I write in this blog–to make sure I remember things because if I don’t have a written log of it or at least some photos, there’s not a chance I’ll even remember being there come a year or two down the road.
I wrote that last paragraph a few days ago. Now it’s even later in the week and I barely have a clue what race I was even talking about.
Pre stage 1: I picked up Quinn in Lake Oswego. I shouldn’t have done this because he was the eventual winner of the race. We drove up to Seattle and arrived to Sam’s house-sitting house, where Kai, Sam, Christine, and some other people were staying. Sam had gotten out burrito making ingredients for Quinn’s and my late arrival. Plus we ate the last bit of carrot cake. That burrito and cake were the highlight of the weekend. The rest of it’s just about racing:
Stage 1: The next morning we woke up early and I used a gigantic french press to make coffee. I’ve never used one that big, so I was a little intimidated. I think it was the third pot of coffee made, so there wasn’t a ton of pressure on me if I failed, but nonetheless, it was a daunting task. I ended up filling it too high and the grounds ended up mixed in with the coffee, but it was salvageable. Some day when I grow up I hope I’ll own a french press that big.
Stage 1 still: It was a TT. 10Km long and 12.5 minutes if you were fast. I was not fast. I was average, finishing 45th, which was slightly below average since there were 77 people in the race. I blame it on my lack of using a disc wheel or front deep dish, and my lack of training on the TT bike and lack of overall preparation. I’m also pretty sure it got a lot windier when I went off.
Results: Chris was 5th, Ian 12th, followed by Steve, Lang, and me.
Pre stage 2: It’s still the same day as stage 1 (Saturday). Now we find Kennett sitting in a coffee shop (Starbucks) with Chris Parish and his gf Katja. Kennett just used his last $2.41 on his Starbucks gift card on a small hot chocolate. Starbucks is expensive. After heading next door to the QFC grocery store for lunch, Kennett is not sure why people are willing to spend so much money at Starbucks when there’s free ‘Seattle’s Best’ coffee at QFC.
The three are now joined by Lang and Dan Harm and sit by the fake fire place that doesn’t give off much heat. Oh yeah, it was super cold today. I spent (I’m going to stop writing in the third person present tense now because that was annoying and I don’t really know why I started doing it) anyways, I spent the ENTIRE day being cold. I woke up on the couch that morning pretty warm actually, but once I got out from under the blankets I spent the entire rest of the day being cold. The day before, Friday, it was 70+ degrees and sunny down in SoPCW (Southern Pacific Northwest–like SoCal, you should start using this phrase by the way). And now, on Saturday up in miserable Washington where it rains 370 days a year, it was overcast, drizzly, and 55 degrees. I think my body was in some sort of super shock, because while everyone else said they were cold, no one seemed as frigid as me–coming from the tropics of Oregon. My fingers were numb all day!
Anyways, I ate most of a large bag of potato chips (because it’s light food and I’m trying to get light) and some food I brought from home (apples, smashed bananas, some warm keiffer that had been sitting out for a long time and was fizzy, and I finished off most of my pre-cooked oats I brought in some Gladware. I’ve stumbled upon a great discovery on that note. You take your steel cut oats and cook em like normal. THEN you cook them even longer. I’m talking about 45, 60, 70, even 90 minutes or more. I think I cooked these for 90 minutes. Just kept adding water to them to keep them from burning. I forgot once so they did burn a bit, but not too badly. Then you add a lot of salt and a few tablespoons of butter, and almond milk or regular milk. The final product is a bowl of oats you can be proud of. A bowl of oats you can be proud to cal Son, even…if you’re looking forward to eating your son with a spoon.
Stage 2: It was a 70 minute, figure 8 crit. Super tight turns around a little park in downtown Enumclaw. I was excited for the course, since I knew it would present a good opportunity for slow people to get dropped. I lined up right at the front and followed Lang’s hole shot move right from the gun. I sat up a bit after the first corner and let a gap open up to him since everyone was sitting on his and my wheel. Guys came around and he was caught. I held top 10 or so for the next couple laps and waited for a good opportunity. I knew there would be carnage at the back of the pack right now (or assumed there was) and didn’t want to throw away my great spot on a worthless attack. I waited until lap 3 I think before I went for it. When some people attack they can’t get a gap, or a bunch of people latch on immediately and a good break is formed. When I attack usually neither of these things happen. For some reason I always get a big gap immediately, by myself. Problem with this is that I don’t have the strength to go solo for long. Very few people do. I don’t know if it’s the way I handle my bike that scares people, the way I smell, or just my superb timing, but whatever the reason is, I almost always get a gap when I really attack hard.
I got my gap a couple times but nothing came out of it. I lead Ian out for the first time bonus prime and he won it. I stayed near the front. It began to rain lightly, just enough for someone to crash on every lap–evidenced by someone in the pit sprinting to rejoin us as we went by the start/finish. I began taking the turns like a turtle hauling a dump truck without any wheels. Niiiiiiice and slow. No need to crash here and break my collar bone. At one point I attacked, got brought back eventually and just sat on the front for most of 3 laps because I didn’t want anyone going down in front of me. I didn’t see any crashes luckily. I hate people who want to see the crashes. While it was raining and the crashes were going down in full force I heard a little kid cry out, “Crash, Crash, Crash!!!” as we went by. Crits are stupid. We spend hours and hours training hard and preparing ourselves so we can come to some 60 minute crit and break our collarbone and spend the next two months in a sling?—just so a bunch of idiots who don’t even care about bike racing can watch us crash and laugh. People like to see human pain and suffering. Just think about all the violence we love watching on TV and in movies. Crits, unless they’re safe ones with a big hard hill that strings things out and keeps everyone in check, are NOT good for the sport. If we want suburban or downtown racing, do what they do in Belgium and get a 5K course and make it a Kermes. That’s real racing. And it’s not a crash-fest either.
I actually enjoyed the crit, despite the fear of crashing. After-all, it was fun and exciting. When you really think about the bike race you just did, despite how much it hurt or how crushed your spirit is, you have to admit that it was more fun than 99% of anything else you ever do.
Anyways, now that I’m done with my little rant on dangerous crit courses (I’m mainly made because I just want more road races), I ended up a too far back to even think about contesting the sprint with two to go. That’s not entirely true. If I had wanted it badly enough I could have gotten to the front and in the process crashed a few guys out or nearly crashed them out, but I didn’t want it that badly. Maybe in a few weeks at Tulsa Tough I’ll want it that badly, but not here. So I finished in the top 20 somewhere and made the same time as the winner. Unfortunately I was the only one on our team to finish in this group and they gave everyone behind time gaps. This meant that I was now ahead of Lang on GC. He’d beaten me by 0.1 seconds in the TT.
For dinner we ate a crappy Mexican place next to the crit course. I say crappy because this was the one and only time EVER that I’ve sent something back to the cook. I ordered nachos, as did Lang, and out came a plate full of cheese. Somewhere underneath lay the chips, but I never found them. There was also supposed to be meat on them, though I couldn’t find that either. I had assumed they’d come with pico de gallo, lettuce, beans, you know–regular nacho type ingredients, but the only thing on there was a pound and a half of melted cheese and a few chips.
Later that night when Lang and I drove to his Mom’s house to stay the night, I had a real dinner. Lang’s mom had made chili and a huge batch of jalapeno corn bread. It was delicious. Especially with honey and butter. I fueled up, knowing that I’d be spending quite a bit of time in the wind the next day.
Sunday Stage 3: Goals for the day: win. Win everything. The GC and the stage. To win the GC we’d have to put time into the Team Exergy juggernaut, which was actually only three guys. Quinn, Kai, and Sam, were first, second, and third on GC. The GC was very close, with the TT as the only major decisive stage. I was down by a minute, so I’d have to be off the front in a small breakaway if I was going to think about GC glory. Realistically, our best GC guy was still Chris, who was only down by 10 seconds or so but if he was going to move up much he’d have to drop all the Exergy guys from the group which was not likely. A break was the only way to win today, and usually the overall winner wins from a breakaway like Sam did last year. This post is getting long so I’m going to try to keep it down to a minimum.
The course was 86 miles. Six laps of a fairly flat course save for one 7-minute undulating climb and then long, mainly false flat descent. I told everyone before the race that I wasn’t going to attack right from the gun, which I need to stop doing, and I didn’t. I attacked before the gun while the race was still neutral. I wasn’t aware of how long the race was supposed to be neutralized–which was well past the corner I had thought. My angry waves at the lead car didn’t make the neutralization end any sooner either, it just confused the driver and everyone back in the field.
Steve got away on the first lap but was caught part way up the climb. The first time up the climb was hard. The field split into a bunch of little groups with only 20 or so of us in the front group. I attacked on the downhill as soon as my legs allowed, just like everyone else in that group did, but nothing stuck and the whole field came back together.
The second time up the hill was a lot easier. I attacked at the top where it gets real steep and got a little group with Chris in it to pull through a couple times on the descent, but only temporarily. The field caught us and the same thing happened on the downhill with everyone attacking and going nowhere.
On the flats, though, a bunch of little breaks dangling up the road somehow merged together to form a large group of 20. Exergy was put under pressure here as Kai was their only guy in it. Sam pulled it back.
Third time up the climb. I can’t remember. I don’t think it was that bad or that memorable. I can’t really remember if it was memorable now that I try to remember.
I attacked later on the downhill and got away! To my delight, one guy followed and we worked fairly hard, but not that hard, until the top of the climb. The guy, an H&R Block rider, didn’t seem fully committed and his pulls felt a bit weak, though we needed another guy working with us if it were to succeed anyways. We were caught a little after a lap off the front as four riders came up to us, going hard. The field was right behind them. I latched on over a little riser as my breakmate went backwards. I pulled through once but we were pretty much caught a few hundred meters later. I got onto the wheel of the next guy who attacked from the field and then attacked him as he sat up, thinking it was hopeless as the field pulled up right behind us. It wasn’t hopeless, for my attack worked and I was gone once again. Solo. But not for long luckily. A new H&R Block Canadian bridged up to me a kilometer later and he was fresh, ready to smash the pedals. I sat on him a bit more than I normally would, letting him know I had just been off the front for a full lap when he asked me if I wasn’t feeling good, eh. I let him pull all the way up the hill, and then we were caught. Not by the pack though, by three other guys including Chris that had likely attacked right at the top of the hill. We worked together and my legs were getting pretty toasted, but we didn’t have enough cohesion to stay away and we got caught basically right where the field caught me the first time.
The last half lap it was ALL ABOARD THE SAM JOHNSON EXPRESS!!!! All aboard, get your tickets out!!! The train’s leavin the station at 12 sharp!! ALL ABOARD!!! Turns out Sam had been the main guy chasing my breakaways down. SJ vs KP. Master vs the protege. Sam pulled all the way to the hill as everyone decided to just rest up and conserve for the final time up the climb, where the field finally went to bits. I held on for a long time but mentally cracked right at the last riser before the feed zone at the top. Sometimes if you’ve been on the front all day or off the front in breakaways all day you get the mentality of “ahh screw it. I did my part already. I’m done.” Spending time in the wind is sometimes as equally mentally draining as it is physically draining, sort of. I got this mentality with a few hundred meters of climbing to go. Actually I had it at the base of the climb but managed to somehow hold on till 200 meters to go. I sat up, deciding it wasn’t possible, let a gap open as I saw that I was the last guy in the group, immediately regretted it and started hammering to catch back on as the slope turned into the double digits. In hindsight, I know I could have dug just a fraction deeper and made it if I had stayed mentally strong, but instead I spent the last miles of the race chasing with a small group and finished 25th, 24th overall GC. Ian won though so my time off the front was not for nothing. GC stayed pretty much the same at the very top, but Chris did move up to 4th and Ian to 6th. Steve moved up to 10th GC and Lang had a terrible mechanical part way through the race and spent most of it chasing and finished off the back. I was happy for the team’s success but disappointed in my own result. Pretty much like most of the season so far. Things will change though. My good legs are coming…soon. It’s just a matter of lining them up with the right mindset and then it’s crushing time.
Some photos from Wheels In Focus.
Me and my giant helmet riding up the hill in break #1.