Doing it all the hard way...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mason Lake Road Race 2011 Race Report

One cooked Evo.. If you look closely, you can see the crane is holding me up.
The plan had been to ride the Frostbite TT last week and race Mason Lake next weekend. Snow a week ago cancelled the TT, and the miracle we call sunshine made racing today an attractive option. John and Matthew were planning on racing this one as well, so I decided to pin on a number and mix it up.

Last Cyclocross season I tested some carbon wheels for a friend and when he gave them to me there were some road tires on them that I pulled off and hung in the garage. A week ago, I took those old tires and glued them back on the same wheels and I had a set of road tubies and 50mm carbon rims. I pulled the pads off my cross bike and I was set.

I decided to race on my blue Curtlo and I stripped off the lights, saddlebag etc. and it sure looked fast. I put in a good week of training and things seemed to be coming together.

The alarm went off at a horrible time and Hottie, Tux and I were on the road just past six thirty. Tux, once again proving himself to be the wondpup settled down and wasn’t a problem the whole day.

Tux and Sophie
I will paraphrase the directions to the race:
Drive to Tacoma, turn right, follow the road until you reach somewhere, and then turn left. Follow the road until you arrive at nowhere and take a right. After going four miles past anything at all, take a left and ascend the hill and follow the road until you see the sign for the bike race.

It would be presumptuous of me to say that the locals probably give directions that contained phrases like, “when you get to the holler, you done gone too far.” I will, however, say that this was a remote location.

I signed the waiver, showed my license and chewed my Nutella slathered bagel and made my way back to the car. The morning was cold, but the pave was dry. I looked around and just like most races I ride, there were some guys that looked fast. Unlike most races I ride, they all looked fast.

We rolled out and the yellow line rule, combined with the narrow road and sandy micro-shoulder, made picking a good line critical. Five minutes into the race the first breakaway took off. Three guys got fifty yards and my teammate John, chased them down. Our peloton was tight and I was near the back, but I stayed attentive.

For me road racing is managing a series of opposites. Try to go fast, but try to conserve energy. Constantly be attentive, but try to relax. Don’t take your hand off the bars, but eat and drink as needed. Be nice to your fellow riders, but watch out for yourself.

I watched one breakaway after another go and get reeled in. I grimaced as my teammate John did as much work as everyone else put together in bringing back the attacks. Although he is an absolute beast of a rider, he got the George Bailey award for doing the most selfless work.

The race was four laps of a twelve mile circuit around a lake. I started with two bottles of energy drink and a refillable tube of gel. I consumed everything pretty much as I should have. To my amazement, I was still in the pack at the start of the last lap. After a few twitchy breakaway attempts on the final lap, the pace ticked up and our peloton went from short and fat to long and skinny. Since I was still in the mix, I decided to try and move up to help my teammate John. After we made a sharp turn I knew we had about six miles to go, I battled hard and jumped into every opening. There was bumping going on and I realized my hards were tired from gripping the bars too tight.

With less than three to go we came upon some riders who had been dropped by their race in front of us. They were spent and almost wobbly as as approached. As our fast group passed these riders it disrupted the peloton formation. I took the opportunities that came along to move up and found myself in the top twelve. We passed the one-kilometer to go sign, and after a short, steep and loose downhill I was still up there. John was on the far left and I was stuck on the far right. I saw an opening and took it. I pushed to get in front of a rider and when I did I found myself in front of everybody. I powered through the next corner and saw the 200 meters to go sign about fifty meters ahead. I wondered why these guys weren’t blowing past me. I kept going and saw Tom Wick, a race official who rides with us on Sunday mornings, standing at the 200m sign. His jaw dropped as I passed him. He did not expect to see me. Heck, I didn't expect to see me. While I know 200 meters is about 200 meters in length, it looked like a mile. The people looked lat the finish line ike ants in the distance.

While this isn't Tom, but is in fact Kyson, the expression is the same
I tried to ramp up the power and it was like I was flooring a ’66 Volkswagen, there simply was no power. It took all I had to keep upright and rolling. I crossed the line and looked at the heart rate monitor I had strapped to my handlebar. 186 beats per minute is a record for me.

I finished 23rd in the bunch sprint. John took 12th. We averaged 22.5 miles an hour and I was as happy as I could be with the result. I felt like a bike racer. I don’t know that I have ever felt that before. I usually feel like a bike rider who is dressed up in a bike racer's clothes.

I am reminded of what my good friend Kevin told me. A little success can be the worst thing; you try and build on it and you blow up. If this turns out to be the highlight of my limited road racing career; that is okay. Today I was a bike racer.

Today, like everyday since January, I was also a grandfather. My daughter and her family live about an hour north of nowhere. We had to visit..


bikelovejones said...

Baby cuteness! Aaaaaauuugh!
At some point your grandson will get bigger, more mobile, and much more opinionated. We'll see if he's still as much fun then.

Amazing race, and great report. A little winning, IMHO, is not a bad thing. Congratulations!

erik.christofferson said...

1) I'll just point out as the proud owner and operator of a '66 bug, that there is plenty of power if one sets thier expecations appropriately. This observation tends to hold true for most things.
(Don't disrespect the bug...)

2) This reader is in total agreement about nutella slathered bagels as they are the worlds most perfect food.

3) I think you nailed it - life indeed peaked at Mason lake. Kinda cool in a zen like way...