Before I get all self-indulgent; photos of everyone else can be found here: Spotshot
Evo in traffic
-Some easily forgotten song lyric from the seventies
To be honest, I wasn't feeling sharp going into the race today. My back was a little tight and I had strained my hamstrings and gluts (ass) doing weights on Monday and it was so bad I was cramping on my Tuesday commute home. I was grateful for the warm weather and was expecting that the race would stay together so I figured I would loosen up. I did.
It was supposed to be pretty nice, so I wasn't spending my evenings this past week pondering shoe cover/arm warmer and multi-glove combinations like I was back in March. I did feel like I had finally figured out packing for a road race so that it has become like packing for a cross race, I know what I'm doing and it is almost automatic.
The race started at 8:30 so despite being only one hour away we still had an early departe'. My dear mom came along with Hottie and Tux and she was cheering. Despite all the intensity of the peloton, the whirr of pedals and aero wheels I can still make out her seventy seven year old voice screaming, "Rip their legs off," as I go by.
As I rolled to the line the teams were out in force. It looked line Cucina, Bikesale, Fisher Plumbing and Olympia all were getting set for team rides. I checked out the facial expressions. They looked serious. The race started off pretty relaxed. I wasn't sure when the neutral roll out turned into racing, the ramp up was that gradual. There course was shaped like a capital D rotated ninety degrees to the right. After the long straight we took the first turn which started a long gradual uphill and as I predicted we punched it. I was ready and jumped on. Five seconds later the riders in front shut it down. What the heck?
The close proximity to Seattle, the lack of any killer hills and dry weather all contributed to a large field. There were seventy men racing in the 30+ plus category. Kind of weird for a guy whose oldest son is 29 years old to do battle with 35 year olds. I wanted to ask, "Hey young fella, how many grandchildren to YOU have?'
Similar to Mason lake, we had places on the course where we went fast every time and other stretches where we went slow and why those places had their assigned speeds is beyond me. There was a stretch on the backside where we were going just over sixty kilometers per hour and I was excited. Then when we hit a slight, and I mean short and slight, uphill and it slowed down so much I said "Aw..Come On!" out loud.
I had figured if the large field were to split it would happen on the first lap. Otherwise it would be a sprint finish. It didn't break up so I just tried to stay out of the wind and be in a good position for the finish. My legs felt heavy on the first lap and I was worried. They were feeling pretty good later on and I started to think big.
On the third of four laps a rider, whom I choose not to name, moved up on the right. I felt a tap on my left shoulder. A gloved hand pointed to the rider on the right. "Watch out for that guy," he said with sincere caution. In a bike race, you need all the oxygen you can get, so saying anything during a race has a cost. The warning was warranted and sincere. "That guy" is a nice guy. He is squirrelly on the bike. I knew him as "that guy" from earlier races and, in the interest of full disclosure, I have also warned other riders in races to keep an eye out for "that guy." For all I know others in the peloton point to me and say the same thing.
On one of the two corners "that guy" slid across with his rear wheel locked as he went from the inside to the outside which could easily have caused some blood to spill, but the riders had been cautious granting him more room than usual. We regrouped and soon we were on the final lap.
Flying peloton !I was well positioned approaching the final corner. There was still some good distance after the corner, but I wanted to be in a good spot. I was on the yellow line and sitting top ten. My buddy Geoff was on the right and I was thinking we could both have high finishes.
I expected that on the final straight (three miles or so) the speed would ramp up and there would be splits. We slowed down and the peloton "amoeba'd" from the right and similar to OVRR I thought I was done for. At OVRR I didn't get much worse than top fifteen or twenty position. As the pack oozed up on the right I went from top ten to last fifteen in a finishing field of sixty two.
Despite trying not to panic, I panicked. I slowed and moved to the right shoulder to try and find a lane to move up. I started fighting my way to the front. I wasn't off the road, but I was close and was willing to go off road if necessary. I heard someone say on your right and I couldn't figure where they would fit so I leaned into the rider to my left. I still can't believe I did that.
I was working hard and the pace had ramped up and we were flying. We passed the 1k to go sign and I was still in a bad place. I finally made it to a top eight spot and tried to tuck in out of the wind and catch my breath. I think I took two breaths and I could see the 200m sign and it was show time. I was exactly where I needed to be. I was in a perfect position. I tucked behind plaid man and he started his sprint and he had nothing. Plaid man pulled off and I was looking at the line up ahead. I looked to my right and Geoff was already going for it.
I hit the gas and there was nothing there. Like a Volkswagen microbus climbing a hill- there was no power. I had burned all my matches getting into position and had nothing for the sprint.
I've ridden two hundred miles in a day more than once. I've ridden some of the hardest cols in the French Alps. Those final two hundred meters were endless and my legs were screaming. Legs that scream when you are going fast are so much better than legs that scream when you are dying. I was dying. Make it done, make it done.
Geoff in the center of the shot (yellow cuffs on blue shorts and jersey) and Evo on the right.I went from fourth to twenty second in the final two hundred meters. It was the opposite of my last race when I just blew past people (with me being the one going forward). Before and during the race I had several people mention my sprint at OVRR and I had been feeling pretty good about myself. I had humble pie for lunch today.
After the race I saw someone with a three digit number, put his arm around "that guy" who, like Evo, rides with a four digit number (the road newbie sign) and I braced for him to tell the guy he was an idiot. Instead he gave him some advice and encouragement. Frankly that was the best thing I saw all day.