Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, May 24, 2010

GUEST RACE REPORT Enumclaw Stage Race 2010

John at the Volunteer Park Crit

When I first began riding with the team, John was the one who set the pace on our weekly rides. John is a beast of a cyclist that can fly on the flats like a locomotive, yet he can climb with the featherweights while generating more watts than a hydro electric plant. John’s strength is legendary and sadly he has broken more bike components than I thought possible. Bent chain rings, sheared cantilever mounts, stray crank arms and shredded derailleurs are just some of the cycling carnage that has marked John’s cycling odyssey. John and I rode the Clydesdale Championship of the Universe together and I felt like a stud to finish one spot behind him.

This is John’s account of his third place finish in the recent Enumclaw stage race.

TT - Saturday Morning

The TT went very well. I felt strong going out and rode the 10 K in 14:15. This was enough to put me in first place by two seconds going into the crit at 4:35 PM. It rained hard before and then a bit during the race and the course was wet. Luckily, it was a U shaped course with only 3 right angle turns and several moderate curves where I was able to stay down on the Aero bars.

Critirium - Saturday Afternoon

Although it rained steadily in route back to Enumclaw, miraculously, the course was dry when I arrived. It was cool to be the first guy called out to the start line as the GC leader from the TT. This made me feel like Mike Hayes at CX races; which is a good feeling. This race was super technical with short sprint lines. It was flat, but it was laid out in a tricky figure 8 configuration. The course had 8 turns, one with a nasty grate near a good turn line and another with a metal plate in the inside turn line that made a horrible noise every time you rolled over it. I just wanted to survive the race and preserve my GC position, if possible. I stayed top 20 throughout. The front group stayed fast. Despite the 8 turns, our average speed was 25.8 mph for the 30 minute race. I played out front a couple of times, but did not over work . In the end, I felt like I was in a good position coming into the final sprint turn for a top 10 finish, but got caught inside and edged out a bit near the end of the turn. This edging sent me slightly into grass at the side of the road. Luckily, there was no curb and my Cyclocross skills paid off. I was able to pull myself back onto the pavement and I finished 21st in the big group. Since my time was measured with the big pack finish, I was able to preserve the GC 1st position into the road race.

Road Race - Sunday mid morning

The course was 45 miles made up of three fifteen mile laps with one big 3 kilometer climb about 8 miles in up to SR 410 and a screaming descent back down to town.

My race went off at 8:35. It was 42 degrees at start time and it rained steadily during the entirety of the race. This was real rain. The roads were drenched and it was impossible to keep glasses clear. Beyond the rain, rear wheel road spray from other riders was constant. It was impossible to stay out of road spray to keep any kind of a draft. Early on, the attacks began. Bunselmeyer and Holland individually and team attacks by Olympia Orthopedics and NW Chiropractic. I stayed in the top 20.

I led the charge to bring back several attacks early on, but backed down as the race progressed to share the job with other riders. I was determined to race smart and hoped to preserve my GC lead. Into the first climb, there was a slow crash just in front of me when someone clipped a wheel in front. I narrowly avoided it, but had to unclip and put a foot down. This didn't set me back much and I was able to pop back on with the group. By the end of the first climb, we had lost probably a quarter of the starters. The climb was long and what appeared to be relief at the top was actually a false flat before hitting SR 410 to head back down.

The descent was screaming fast. Despite the rain and limited visibility with good roads, descent speeds were 40 + mph. This is when I am happy to weigh 200 lbs, and when I reap what I have sown in the form of working my tail off to hang with the light climbing types. In the last 4 miles of the first lap, I led much of the way downhill and into the flat before making the left to begin lap two.

In the flat sections of lap two the attacks began again. Bunselmeyer and Holland tried repeatedly to get away. Finally, just as we reached the 3 K climb section, David Hecht of IJM and a Olympia Ortho guy amped it up and zipped up the hill. Before we knew it they were well ahead. The pack must have thought we could catch them in the false flat. Fortunately we did catch them and then we all zipped down the hill at good speed. During the descent and into the flats at the bottom, Holland tried again and again to get away, but we always pulled him back in.

Finally, into the third and final lap about 4 miles before the big climb, Holland and Hecht got away and out of sight around a turn. No one seemed to think that they could hold it as a group of two for the last 11 miles, but we were wrong. They bombed it up the hill while the group made a good, but not all out effort to get up hoping to save fuel in the tank. At one point, Holland and Hecht reappeared near the top, but once they hit the false flat at the top, they disappeared again, not to be seen again except for way off in the distance with the lead car. I, along with others still thought we would have a chance to pull them in when we last saw them, but it was not to be. They ultimately finished Hecht first, Holland second about a minute and a half ahead of my group.

The rest of us in the group worked hard through the false flat and flew down the hill back toward town. With 5 miles to go, the speed came up a notch. One rider tried to break. He got a gap, but was, as expected, pulled back in and spit out the back. Into town, there were a couple of right angle turns before hitting the last turn with slightly more than 200 meters to go. Alistair L. of IJM tried get out before the 200 meter mark, but was kept at bay. Into the last turn, in a group with the whole road open, the sprint took off. Riders were everywhere. My move was a little late at the jump. Feeling like I was gaining ground, I finished 10th in our finishing pack, so 12th in the race in light of Holland and Hecht's having kept themselves away and finishing ahead of us.

All in all, I was happy with the road race result. I kept the wheels on the road in horrible weather and survived the dreaded 3 K climb and false flat that I had heard so much about. For once, I raced pretty smart, using my head and legs instead of just my legs. In the end, I would have liked to have finished the road race a little further up, but was right there in the pack to the end and kept my time low enough to end up in third place in the GC. With this third place finish, I picked up a check to go with the one I received for winning the TT. I will try not to spend it all in one place unless it is at 2020 Cycles or Fuel Coffee.

Overall GC Result-----3rd Place
Road Race----12th Pack Finish @ 1.30
Critirium-----21st Pack Finish…s.t.
Time Trial----1st

Thanks to John for Sharing..

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