How not to do a race:
Saturday, I had thoughts to do this circuit race over across the bridge in Gig Harbor. Meh, well, that's only some thrity miles away, I thinks, I'll just ride over there! The race is at 1:00, so I leave at 10:45. Doing a pile of laps around a four-mile course doesn't excite me too much, but I figure, I've not done enough weekend racing lately, I'll give it a go. Well, they've just built the new bridge at the Tacoma Narrows, but the bike lane isn't open on the new bridge, so we're still suck on the skinny little sidewalk of the old one. But, they are repaving that bridge, while they're at it, so there are constrcution workers, piles of tar, big metal plates covered in tar (?), and other obstacles in the way. A lot of "bike route -- detour -- this way" signs are the only way I get any idea where I'm going, but eventually I make it to the peninsula. I've only been over here a couple of times, and though the directions seem simple, I must've missed a turn somewhere, or something, because it's quickly clear that this is the Wrong Way.
I realize that my Garmin Edge, while it hasn't got a real map, can show me at traced outline of where I've travelled relative to the start, and I can see that I've gotten far off-course. I look at the clock, realize it's 12:40, and that at this point I'm just going for a ride.
Oh, well. It was a nice ride. I got home at about 5:30, so it was a nice, long ride. I didn't have the Garmin on the whole way, but I'm sure it was over one hundred miles. Even if I didn't have the sustainable power to do what I'd like at Hood, et al, this year, it's nice to be on hour five of a ride and still feel fresh. It makes me reflect on when I started riding, and the ten-mile commute from Portland to Beaverton seemed pretty far.
Sunday, I almost managed not to do a race again, but I failed. Er, wait, let me make sense of that: Sunday, I did a race. It was a 1/2 criterium, which is hardly my spec-i-al-i-ty, but I thought, what the heck, I'd better do some kinda race!
Milton, Washington is really a cool place to live if you want to do a lot of Seattle-area racing, don't have a car, and think you are hardcore enough to ride to race starts. It will force you to get a lot of miles in, because nothing is right outside your door, but almost everything in the area, from the close-in Seattle stuff, to the peninsula, to the east valley areas -- everything is less than forty miles away. This means I can usually ride out anywhere, and then bum a ride at least partway back if I'm pretty cooked. Anyway, Volunteer Park in Seattle is also about thirty miles away. I knew vaguely of this SeaFair thing going on, but I didn't understand that it would make Lake Washington Boulevard effectively completely impassible, even to bicycles. I had to go super-slow dodging people everywhere, sort out some short-ish-long cuts.
PS, some of those capitol hill neighborhood roads are STEEP!
I made it to the race with five minutes before the start, which isn't ideal, but then, the start ended up being half an hour late, so it was all good. For a non-crit rider, this was a really fun course: a wide-open dragstip of a finish straight, a little turning chute, a sweeping downhill section, and a shallow uphill back to the straight. I just sat in, like I usually do, trying to get a "feel" for things, for the first half of the race, and the pace stayed surprisingly calm for a while. Considering you didn't need to brake for the corner at the top of the hill, there was more slowing in the pack than I'd expect. Well, with a little more effort giving up momentum to shoot up the sides of the hill, it was pretty easy to get up to the front. So, I got up near the front, and people started throwing down some attacks.
Since I don't know much about criterium tactics, I just had the plan that I would follow a few dudes that I had seen do well at other races, and that seemed to work out okay. Then, I was near enough to the front that I figured it was time to see if I couldn't bridge up to the group that I was convinced was up the road (why else would the pack be going that slow?) so I went hard up the hill. Next time around, there was only two other guys with me, and we worked together that lap, and then they rang the bell. When the HB dude sprinted for the line, I realized that the bell was for -us-, so that must mean there wasn't anyone up the road.
After that lap, the two guys that were with me dropped, so I just kept rollin' it. I made sure to drill it up the hill, and try to recover a bit on the way down. It was sorta neat to hear people cheering for -me- in a crit, that never happens. They rang the bell a couple more times, and I grabbed the primes. Hoo-ray.
D'ya know, I've never won a prime before? Not in anything, not in Cat 5, or Cat 4, or collegiate, or Cat 3, or whatever. Weird stuff. That is probably because I never attacked in crits, because I was too busy doing the death-grip on the bars thing. It's only the past few races that criteriums have been any "fun," but in the stage race ones I was basically trying to "rest."
I didn't have the gas to finish the job, though, that would've been cool. Caught with 2 to go, and I was dyin' pretty good.
PPS, I won a bunch of coffee, since this race was put on by Zoka. If you know me, you'll think this is pretty funny. YT loves his coffee. You know, I've never tried Zoka, but this stuff smells pretty good. Once I finish the last of the Fox Hollow I'm on right now, I'll give it a shot. It's called "Paloton Blend." I think they were going after "Peloton blend," but, that's okay.