Yesterday marked my long ride ever, coming in at approximately 139 miles as a part of the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race. We headed out to the beach (Lincoln City) on Friday evening and stayed in a suite at the Inn at Spanish Head thanks to team president Jim who served as sugar daddy for the evening. [...]
Archive for August, 2009
This weekend was Eugene Celebration Stage race, a 3-day, 4-stage race including a hill climb prologue, road race, individual time trial, and criterium.
The 3 mile mile prologue climb up MacBeth was my old stomping grounds, and I set a new personal best of 12:00 flat up the climb (old record was 12:41) to finish 6th in the cat 3s. In the road race, the finish came down to a bunch sprint and I got pretty decently positioned to make some passes and took 4th. This morning in the time trial I proved to myself that it’s really the discipline I need to improve in for next year, as I didn’t do particularly well and finished mid-pack again with a time of 36:21 for 15th. This stage race is almost entirely decided based upon the time trial, and that 15th place dropped me from 6th overall to 13th overall. The criterium was fairly non-eventful other than an early breakaway I got in for 4-5 laps, and I probably finished in the 15th-20th range as I never found a good wheel to hop on in the sprint.
It’s a little bittersweet to have the road racing season come to a close, but at the same time I’m tired and could definitely stand a break. I’ve been racing regularly since March, and there was a three-month period where I raced nearly every weekend. This has certainly been my best season ever. By the numbers:
31 starts, 30 finishes (1 DNF due to a flat tire)
2 flat tires (DNF as mentioned above, and the other cost me dearly as I waited 5 minutes for a wheel change and watched my chances at Elkhorn GC disappear on the first day.
0 crashes, 1 should have crashed but somehow didn’t, 3-4 other close calls.
11 top ten placings:
2nd x 2 – Rehearsal Road Race and Portland Twilight Criterium
3rd X 1 – Overall GC at Cherry Blossom Stage Race
4th X 4 – Eugene Celebration Road Race, OBRA TTT Championships, Mt. Tabor week 6, and Cherry Blossom SR Columbia Gorge Road Race
5th X 1 – Kings Valley Road Race
6th X 2 – Eugene Celebration Macbeth Prologue and Silverton Road Race
7th X 1 – Cherry Blossom SR Time Trial
I also finally got the upgrade from cat 4 to cat 3 (cat 2 next year?).
All this, and a great team to share it all with. I enjoyed having great company, and it was a huge plus to constantly have a good number of teammates in races.
Now just a secret 130 mile race-ride coming up shortly, and then it’s cross season. More to come on that. Then it’s winter training to get ready for next road season. So really, I don’t know what I’m feeling bittersweet about – next season will be here before I know it.
This last weekend I found myself out of cell phone range for the entire weekend, and it was great!
My aunt and uncle own a large plot on the Umpqua river, so we spent much of the weekend in or on the water swimming, rock hopping, kayaking, and so on. I didn’t take many pictures since for the most part I didn’t dare bring my phone near the water for fear of a cousin pushing me in or some such. But I did take a few:
It was great to catch up with family, see my parents, unplug and unwind for a while, and get a mild-to-moderate sunburn in the process.
Also of note is the cross bike – slowly but surely coming together after the addition of some new components from Joel this evening.
Coming up in a week and a half is Eugene Celebration Stage Race, the final road racing I’ll be doing this year to cap off what has undoubtedly been my best racing season ever. Then in early September comes the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race, which I’d tell you more more about if I knew more to tell. It’s not technically a race – more just an epic test of end-of-season fitness in the form of a 130 mile 6 person team time trial from the Oregon Coast West of Salem all the way into Portland.
A few more pictures:
From John Rudoff
From Thumbprint Racing
From Pat Malach
And some Videos – including some clips of me off the front in the first move I made off the front earlier in the race:
I don’t even know where to start. This race was something else.
First, I have to say the the Portland Twilight Criterium is everything it’s cracked up to be, and then some. Technical corners, fast racing, rough roads, and crashes galore. It was one of those races where your rear wheel feels like it’s in midair going through corners as much as it is on the ground. You kind of get used to navigating your bike as it floats under you without ever quite having full control.
The crowds… amazing. Thousands of people yelling at you, ringing cowbells, and generally creating the most intense and exciting racing atmosphere I’ve ever been in.
I knew I was in trouble when I was rolling around the course warming up and came up to the finish line to find most of the other riders already staged and ready to go. Starting in the back in any sort of criterium is generally a bad idea. In this one, it almost guarantees your race is over from the start. But I wasn’t about to let that stop me.
The race got off to a fast start and I burned myself hard trying to move up. I spent 7-8 laps moving myself from 60th to 30th. Then I found the opening I’d been looking for and jumped from 30th to the very front of the race in less than half a lap. It didn’t take me long at the front before I decided to test my legs and attacked off the front of the race. I had one other guy go with me, and we stayed off the front for several laps. While off the front, I picked up a prime – an hour long massage ($60 value). After we got reeled back in, I was pretty spent and took probably another 10 laps to recover, but I managed to find a good spot near the front where I could hold my position about 15th.
While trying to rest up a bit, I also was rather distracted trying not to crash – a task made more difficult when an errant tennis ball went flying into the road from the crowd. I avoided it, but it caused a pretty significant pileup further back. Derek was one of the victims of that one, but all was not lost – he got to sport some stylish neckwear to cover up a nice tire burn. That’s a new one.
With about 10 laps to go, I was starting to think about setting Robin up for the field sprint – which was my primary goal for the race. The pace had slowed a bit for a lap, so I went to the front and pushed the pace to get things moving again on a $100 prime lap. Half a lap later, I found myself still on the front of the race thinking I was an idiot for burning myself at the front. Then things went nuts.
Coming through the last corner leading to the back stretch, I was still on the front, and the guy sitting second position right on my wheel crashed himself, taking out much of the front of the field with him. I looked back to see a significant gap with only one racer chasing me down. I realized a $100 prime was mine for the taking, so I drilled it and took the prime easily. As soon as I took the prime, I sat up a bit and signaled the rider chasing me to grab my wheel. With 7 or 8 laps to go, we had a bit of a gap on the chasing field and absolutely had to make a go at staying away.
I don’t know about the other guy, but I was digging deep with my head down, giving the pedals everything I had. We got into a good rhythm of trading pulls every half lap. I looked at the lap board and saw 3 laps to go. By that point I was hurting and had reached a point where things start to get a bit foggy.
In the break, faster than the speed of… a cell phone camera
Now, here’s where I have to tell two separate stories – what I thought had happened, and what actually happened.
What I thought happened:
After 3 laps to go, we had put distance on the field and I was pretty sure we were going to go 1-2. The only thing left to be decided was who got the win. Coming into one of the last laps, the other rider got out of the saddle a bit and I wondered if he was sprinting for the finish. I looked ahead at the lap board and saw one lap to go, so I easily hopped on his wheel and let him drag me through into the first corners of the last lap. I came around to take my pull and he didn’t immediately grab my wheel, so I sprinted to put some distance on him, which I did. I held that gap coming into the final corner and laid everything I had left out there, taking the win. We talked right after the race and congratulated each other, both seemingly thinking I’d won the race.
What Actually happened:
Turns out that first time that the other guy kind of half-sprinted – yeah, that was the finish. We mis-counted laps. I sat his wheel when I could have probably easily come around him and actually contested the sprint. They left 1 lap to go up for an extra lap, and with the crowd noise, I never heard the bell signaling 1 lap to go. I hadn’t been paying close enough attention to the lap board and missed the real one to go, but naturally assumed that seeing the lap board with one to go meant the race wasn’t over yet. Bad thing to assume. Apparently the other rider thought that the real finish might have been the finish, but was also confused and kept racing just like I did. So sorry to all the crowd expecting to see a sprint when the announcer is saying we’re about to sprint. Instead you got to see one guy towing another guy through the finish line.
All in all, not a bad way to take 2nd. And I made bank. $60 massage, $100 prime, and $250 2nd place prize for a nice $410 haul.
The outcome was frustrating on several levels -I’m still in search of my first win to add to numerous top 10 finishes this year, and if I’d actually contested the real sprint I’m pretty sure I could have won it. Regardless of the bizarre outcome, this was by far my best race of the season, if not ever.
Note to self – watch the lap board like a hawk in the future.
Some photos from JLV and others: