Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Race Report # 10

Number of pro teams at the race last weekend 2
Number of pro riders 13
# of women who lost teeth and had to get their jaw wired shut after crashing
Cloud she was on after a whole lot of Percocet ™

Last weekend was the Enumclaw Stage Race, a local favorite because it is the only stage race in the region that is less than three hours from Seattle. As is the routine it started with the time trial Saturday morning/early afternoon followed by the criterium later in the day, and the road race on Sunday. This particular race was missing some of the local big names, but we had the entire Symmetrics team to make up for it. Symmetrics is Canada’s top pro team and has a lot of talent. This same team competed against top level European teams at the Tour de Georgia last month.

The TT was a 10km loop (6.2 miles) that is mostly flat starting with ~2 mile straight away, followed by a sharp right turn into another 2 miles of winding farm roads with one small 30 foot climb that then led into a 1.5 mile straightaway before the final left turn 400 meters before the finish line. Once again my friend Suz (the women’s pro rider for Subway) was kind enough to lend me her aero trispoke front wheel, so once again I was without any way to determine how fast I was going other than how blurry the ground in front of me looked. My 30 second man was a Symmetrics rider who was pretty impressive looking with his tricked out TT bike complete with a set of Zipp (top of the line very expensive) aero wheels. He made a good carrot to chase over the first two miles and I found myself slowly closing on him. By the time he made the right turn onto the winding portion of the race I had cut his lead to 15 seconds, but could no longer see him as 15 seconds was plenty of time to get around the next bend and out of site. I caught site of him just before the small 30ft climb—a 30 foot climb doesn’t sound like much but after pushing yourself at or above your lactate threshold for seven minutes it feels like a mountain. I stumbled up and over the hill trying to balance my need to conserve momentum with my fear of pushing myself too far into the red with more than a third of the course left. At the top of the climb he was within striking distance and I passed him shortly after managing to wheeze out a “LEFT” as I started my pass in order to get him to yield the inside of the bend that we were approaching. On the last leg of the race the wind picked up a bit and I found a new carrot to chase. My minute man hadn’t started the race, so this was my minute thirty man. Catching the rider who started a minute and thirty seconds in front of you on a course that is only a hair over six miles long is no simple task so I started to really bury myself in the effort (I also wanted to demoralize the pro-rider that I had just passed). I caught the minute thirty man just before the left turn signaling four hundred meters to go and sprinted out the remainder of the course. Later in the day at the criterium course I found out that my time was good enough for fifth place; I was bested by one local rider and three of the Symmetrics riders, one of which is the current Canadian TT champion (Svein Tuft) and another (Eric Wohlberg) won the eight consecutive Canadian TT championships before that and is a three time Olympian. Considering that resume I suppose that I can accept losing to them (this time).

When I was checking out the TT times at the crit course there were a couple of racers from a local team called “Valley Athletics” who were looking at the results and saying

“We need to steal this James Strangeland guy before some other team does.”
I said “You mean James Stangeland?”
“You know him?”
“Pleasure to meet you.”

It was pretty funny to see the looks on their faces at that point. About an hour later I got my first official offer to join another team. I politely declined, it was fun to get an offer but I don’t want to leave my team, even if we aren’t quite as strong as some of the other local teams.

The criterium is a figure eight course that would be fun if it stayed dry, but it never seems to do that and as such has a bad history with our team. Last year there was a bad crash in every single race and all but two of those crashes involved someone from our team. The worst involved a teammate who landed hard fracturing his chin resulting in it being wired shut for six weeks (that’s a whole lot of ensure that you have to drink). This year the weather started out dry and then started to rain midway through the races steadily getting heavier through the day until the final (my) race. Nobody on my team crashed, but once the rains came one woman pulled a repeat of what my teammate did last year. The crash combined with my discomfort with crits in general plus the increase in rain made me a very unhappy racer. I started near the front, but was tentative about bombing through the wet corners at high speed (I didn’t have a computer, but the cops who were acting as traffic control clocked us going 32 mph through the corners, that’s fast given that the corners should be the slowest portion of the race). I quickly dropped to the back of the pack and sat there for the entire race. Symmetrics was on the front controlling the race very effectively and I knew that I wouldn’t be in contention for the time bonuses (top three places) so I sat on the back and finished with the pack thus receiving the same time. At the finish I had so much dirt on my face that it looked like I was growing a beard. I didn’t care I just threw my hands in the air after crossing the line in 44th place yelling “I didn’t crash!!!” Then I crashed.

Just kidding.

The road race was a 15.5 mile loop that we went around five and a half times including a two mile climb that we went up six times. Symmetrics went into the race with first second and third place firmly in their grasp. They just went to the front and set the pace. A few breaks would go off of the front, but the Symmetrics would pace them a few hundred meters back and let them wear themselves out. In general this made it really easy for me on the flats because I could just sit on the back of the pack and rest assured that while there would be some attempts at break aways I didn’t need to concern myself with them because it was handled. One exception was a portion of the flats where we had some severe cross winds, I can’t hazard a quantitative guess as to how strong they were, but I will say that they were fierce. In those portions of the race Symmetrics would form an echelon, giving themselves shelter from the team but providing little to no draft for anyone behind them. Then they would hammer, this split the pack a couple of times, but most of them caught back on, of course if they didn’t I probably wouldn’t have noticed. The hill portion was more of the tough and less of the easy. It’s safe to say that there is no such thing as taking it easy up a climb in a race, especially when you have a pro team driving the pace. The final climb up the hill was a doozy and nearing the top I was caught behind a small group of riders that was getting gapped by the leading group of ~15 riders. At the top of the climb the route takes a left and there are two miles of ridge riding flats before the finish line. I wanted to catch back on before the flats because I wasn’t confident that I would be able to do so once the pack started hammering for the finish line. With a big last push and a whole lot of lactic acid four other riders and I managed to catch on just as they were cresting the climb and making the left turn onto the ridge. The last couple of miles consisted of lots of jockeying for position and at one point I was ¼” from being shoved off the side of the road and into a ditch. Just after the 1 km to go sign a Broadmark (local team) rider made a break for it. I jumped and got on his wheel ignoring the nagging voice in the back of my head that said this wasn’t quite right. As would be expected he blew up shortly with at least 500 meters to go in the race. This left me in the lead position long before I would have liked to be. The smart move would have been to sit up and wait for someone else to jump, but substantial lack of experience, a generous dosage of exhaustion, and a touch of hypoxia ganged up on my brain and apparently rendered me incapable of logical thought because as soon as the rider in front of me blew up I jumped providing the perfect leadout for everyone behind me. Ooops. I managed to hang on for ninth place in the sprint but if I had acted with a little more intelligence I could have done much better.

End result 5th place GC finish and $175 check for my troubles.

No racing this coming weekend, I’ll be back in the mix June 5th at Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill. So if you’re in Seattle and you want to watch, it’s a great venue for spectators.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Race Report # 9

So I’m a little tardy in my race reporting, I’ve been busy yadda yadda yadda, who cares.

Two weeks ago by the numbers
# of races...........................................................................3
# of which I kicked butt in..................................................1
# of which my but was kicked in.........................................2
# of race weekends that have been tougher.........................0
# of opponents caught being a chucklehead cheater.............1

The races this weekend were part of the Wenatchee Omnium, it started with the time trial Saturday morning followed by the crit that evening and then the road race on Sunday.

The time trial was 9.4 miles out and back course of gently rolling road on the outskirts of Wenatchee with 30 second intervals between the riders. I had been looking forward to this event since finding out that my 30 second man was a rider named Ian McKissick. Ian is the only other racer in the Pro-1-2 field that started the season as a cat 4 rider. He is strong as an ox, friendly, fun, and an all around great guy so of course I want to beat him badly. It also doesn’t hurt the competitive spirit that in pretty much every meeting that we’ve had he’s come out on top (grrrrr). While I was warming up about 20 minutes before my TT Suz Weldon (a woman who used to be on our team until she went pro—now rides for Subway) came up to me and offered to lend me her aero wheels. This is no little thing as they represent well over $1000 in equipment. I eagerly accepted the loan of her front trispoke wheel, but couldn’t take her rear disk wheel because it wasn’t compatible with my bike. This caused one minor issue in that her wheel didn’t have a magnet for my bike computer to read so I wasn’t going to have any idea how fast I was going, a mild annoyance at worst.

I caught Ian before the turnaround halfway point and caught one more rider after that. In the end I placed 5th out of 44 starters, not bad considering the fact that 1st place is a rider that got 4th in the nation last year, 3rd place was a pro a couple of years ago and 6th place is a professional cyclist now.

The criterium was a twilight crit that didn’t start until 8:10 that evening. I had never done one of these and it was very cool to start just before sunset, race into the dusk have the street and flood lights come on and then continue racing into the dark. The race started off fast and stayed that way. It was a four corner crit two blocks long and one short block wide. The two short blocks were small hills with flat stretches for the long segments. After corner one we would bomb down the hill bringing us into corner two at a blistering pace over uneven ground, cracked pavement, and manhole covers. It was a good thing that it was dry because we definitely would have had some crashes there had it been wet. Even with the good weather I still lost traction with my rear wheel a few times going around corner two but managed to stay rubber side down in all instances. Corner three took us around a large orange plastic traffic barrel and into the uphill. The uphill was short but if you had some extra juice in your legs it provided a good opportunity to move up in the pack before turn four and the final block and a half to the start finish line. Once the sun had set and the flood lights were turned on the race took on an entirely different feel. Monster cycling shadows chased you in and out of corners and over the flats giving you a slightly discombobulated feeling, but it was very cool. Also exciting was the fact that this was the best attended race thus far this season with spectators on every corner and along the length of every street. About halfway through the race (60 minutes total) I decided to go for one of the primes, sprinting up the hill and over the next block and a half to the start finish line. Unfortunately Russell Stevenson (current Washington State Champion and former pro) decided to go for the same prime and nosed me out by half a wheel. The effort left me pretty darn gassed and when the pack caught back up to us a lap later I quickly dropped to the back and had to struggle to hang on. The next ten to fifteen laps were wretched because just after I was reabsorbed into the pack an attack went off the front driving the pace and giving me no chance to recover. With three laps to go that attack had a twelve second lead on the pack, a lead that was erased in the last three laps. I still hadn’t really recovered, and it was all I could do to keep pace, but I managed to hang on for a 15th place finish. Not a good finish by any means, but it was better than a lot of good riders, and over half the field didn’t even make it to the finish, so I’m not too disappointed. Another cool little tidbit is the race director/announcer/ regional USCF (United States Cycling Federation) representative used the PA system to point out my quick upgrades from cat 4 to cat 2 and said I was a strong rider with all the tools to become one of the top racers in the region. Or so I’m told; between the blood pumping through my head and swallowing mouthfuls of bile, I didn’t hear a word of it.

The road race was just hard. It was a 13 mile easy flat lead up to a loop that was not easy, it was 12 miles of climbing followed by about the same distance decent. We had to do the loop twice. To make a long climb short I got flicked off of the lead pack about 9 miles into the climb and just couldn’t quite catch back on. I finished the rest of the race more or less solo and placed 20th. One loser on a team that shall remain nameless did the first lap went and rode circles in the parking lot then hopped in the second group heading towards the finish line. I would be pissed, but the guy is obviously an idiot that is just cheating himself out of training and toughness, and I will have fun every time I beat him for the rest of the season.

In the G.C. I ended up 14th overall thanks to my good TT, but I was too far back in both the crit and the road race to earn any points.

The race report for last weekend (once again this one was for two weeks ago) is coming soon, and I did pretty well (yay!).

Monday, May 16, 2005

Race Report # 8

Weeks since last race report……………………………….…....2Races since last race report………………………………..…….1Number of crashes in last race……………………………..….…1Square inches of skin currently missing from right leg………~15The weekend before last was the State Juniors and masters championships, that's riders either 18 and under or 30 and over, I'm smack dab in the middle, so no racing for me that weekend. I didn't get to race but I did get to go for a great training ride with two ofmy teammates who also fall in the same age nether region that I do. We drove up to the North Cascades Highway aka highway 20 hopped on the bikes and went riding. It's pretty fantastic up there and it was fun to get to go up some mountains again. I haven't done that since I biked through the Pyrenees. That and I kicked butt despite being 20 and 30 pounds heavier than my two teammates. This weekend was the Elma/Vance Creek course that I raced on earlier in the season as a Cat 3. It’s a 13 mile loop with a long series of small flat farm roads heading in one direction then a turn, a 1000+ meter climb (linear, not vertical) with some rollers at the top, then a big descent that takes you back down to the flat farm roads.
Just before our race began it started to rain, not hard but enough to be annoying and get the roads nice and slick. It stopped 15 minutes before the start of the race, but once the race began we rode a couple miles into it when up ahead there was a curtain of rain hanging over the road. We went from dry, nice, happy riding to torrential pebble sized raindrops downpour and the worst part was it was just sitting there while we were riding into it of our own volition. Idiots, all of us. That happened just before the climb and continued through rollers on the top and into the descent back down the other side. I was a little nervous going into the descent because the last time I had done it we were cracking 50 mph, but it had been dry. I really had no desire to go down that fast given the fact that my glasses were completely fogged up and I could barely see a thing. Fortunately that seemed to be the consensus because we made the descent at a relatively tame 40 mph.
We got to the bottom of the hill and I breathed a little sigh of relief—while my pants were soaked, it was not I who wet them. Then just like that we were out of the rain. The roads were still wet which became an extra special treat upon turning onto the farm roads. The farm roads were covered with what in polite company might be referred to as dirt. Since I’m writing this report and not someone from said polite company I’ll call it what it was, shit; excrement, fecal matter, poo, manure, crap, all very stinky, all very slick, and all flying at my face off of the tire in front of me. I’m actually somewhat surprised that I haven’t suffered from some kind of Giardia or dysentery. Lucky me.
The next several laps were all pretty much like that. The rain would hop around to different parts of the course keeping the whole thing nice and wet but giving us false hope that it had stopped every time we left the curtain. The 5th time up the hill (out of 7) I was up near the front because the pack felt pretty twitchy and I was expecting a break to go. The last 1-2 race that I saw finish this course had been very spread out and I was both eager to be on the good end of that spread and to see how my fitness actually compares. I was sitting second position in the pack when the man in front started to push it. I stayed on his wheel as we cranked all the way up, and came close to blowing up at the top. I had been waiting for the attack I was expecting to come around me when I looked behind me and realized we were the attack. We had left the pack about fifty meters back, unfortunately neither of us really had much juice left just then and the two of us by ourselves weren’t going to make it stick. I grabbed a Gu (basically a packet of sugary paste that your body can absorb quickly) and started to eat it at exactly the wrong time because as soon as I got it in my mouth the pack caught up to us and started sending counter attacks. This left me in the unenviable position of sprinting after people with a mouth full of paste, a little silver packet sticking out of my mouth, and a mantra of stupid-STUPID STUPID running through my head. Little attacks kept going up until the downhill where a group of seven or so were off the front. I took the descent pretty easy as it was still quite wet and I was still quite nervous about it. At the bottom we caught the break and myself and two others formed a counter attack. We had a small but distinct lead, five seconds or so, but it was growing and one of the two riders I was with I know to be a very strong racer from a very strong team that would help to muck things up in the pack so that he (we) could get away. In short I was thinking that this might stick.
We turned onto the farm roads flat section and I was pulling us through the first 90 degree right when I noticed that I was horizontal and no part of myself or my bike was touching the ground. This didn’t last long because gravity is a total jerk like that, and I was soon sliding across the poo-covered chip sealed pavement. For those of you who don’t know what chip seal is, it’s a type of road surface consisting of gravel (in this case very sharp pointy gravel) glued to the road with tar. Kind of has a very rough sandpaper, or cheese grater effect on the legs. After the shredding of my thigh was kind enough to bring me to a stop I picked up the bike, jumped back on (being careful not to look too closely at my leg) and caught back onto the back end of the pack. One minute later I notice my rear tire is flat, I don’t know if it was from the crash or if the crash was from it but I pulled over and signaled for a wheel change. Sadly in the crash I had bent a piece of my bike known as the derailer hanger making it very difficult to get the new wheel on. It took about three minutes and the pack was completely out of site. My race was pretty much over because there was no chance of me catching back onto the pack with only a lap and a half to go unless the officials neutralized them, which is very unlikely. I finished the lap I was on and waited at the finish line to see who won.
Lesson for the race: don’t crash, it sucks.
That being said, I’m fine, it actually hurts more to walk than it does to ride so I will be racing this weekend and hopefully will produce better results for my next report.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Race Report # 7

Tour de Walla Walla by the numbers

# of miles driven (each way) from Seattle to Walla Walla……………………280
# of months ago that I pre-registered for this race……………………………...2
# of times I had to email the race director to change my category (upgrade)…..2
# of acts of God during road race………………………………………………1
# of teammates who sought shelter in liquor store during said act of God…….5
# of bottles of Jaegermeister consumed while there…………………………....1
# of crashes in the criteriums (that I am aware of)……………………………..5
# of riders who went into seizures after crashing………………………………1
# of times the ambulance came to the crit before deciding to just stay..……….4
# of riders permanently injured ………………………………………………..0

So I had been looking forward to this race for quite some time, from all accounts an excellent race. The schedule called for a 5 mile time trial Saturday morning followed by a 93 mile road race Saturday afternoon and a crit on Sunday. This was a stage race (albeit a very short one) meaning that in addition to awards for the top finishers in each race, there is the GC (General Classification) which is the cumulative time for all of the events.

The time trial was a short, but deceptively difficult course. There were a few small rolling hills and a very strange wind pattern that tended to swirl around and act as either a headwind or crosswind depending on course location and time of day. There isn’t much to report about time trials; the guy in front of you goes off , you roll up to the start line, they hold you at the start line, 30 seconds after the guy before you, you are off. There are different approaches to time trialling, some like to pretend they are the only ones on the road and make it a very solitary event pushing their bodies as hard as they think it can take, others use an analytical approach involving power and heartrate monitors. As for myself, I just pretend that the guy who started in front of me stole my wallet and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let him get away with it. What happens when I catch him you ask—well I could try to run him off the road and get my wallet back, but I generally just pretend that the next guy has it. In this fashion I managed to catch both my 30 second and minute men (the riders who started 30 seconds and one minute ahead of me), and I was closing on my 1:30 man, but he crossed the finish line about 15 seconds before me. My goal was to get in the top ten. I knew that it was an aggressive goal, I also thought that it was a reachable one. When the results were posted I was 11th out of 82. It left me with a mixture of feelings, excitement that I am in the neighborhood of where I want to be, but disappointment that I haven’t made it there yet.

Time trials are all about maintaining the highest possible power output while reducing the amount of drag you receive from wind resistance. The first part of that (power) is training and to a certain extent genetics, no quick fix available there. The second part, (reducing wind resistance) is mostly equipment, and a little bit of technique. I’m part way there, I have a pretty sweet time trial bike and a skin suit (as tight as you think that bike clothes are to start with, these are tighter), what I lack and the ten people who placed above me all have is aero wheels, aero helmet, and maybe even time spent in a wind tunnel fine tuning their position to get the least possible drag. Conventional wisdom says that a top notch set of aero wheels can yield as much as 40 seconds over 10 miles. This course was 5 miles which would chop that down to 20 seconds. Just to be conservative I’ll say it would only be worth 10 seconds. If I had been 10 seconds faster I would have made the top ten easily, and I think it would have been good enough for me to get into the top five. I’m not complaining here, I’m excited. This means that I’m already competitive in the power department, and I know that I’ve got plenty of room for improvement in both training and equipment.

After the time trial it was ‘hang out in the parking lot until the road race starts’ time. A few hours later 1:30 rolls around and we started the road race. Eastern Washington is quite beautiful in that stark rolling hills of yellows and green as far as the eye can see sort of way. With so few trees and buildings to break up the landscape it just seems larger than life. Of course I don’t have much time to take it in because I’m staring at the spandex clad bootie in front of me making sure that I don’t run into it. The race starts off easy enough with some small rolling hills and one or two riders attacking to test the waters, but nothing that stays away for more than a few minutes. As we were riding up one of the slight inclines one rider in front of me starts gesturing for everyone on the right side of the road behind him to move left while his teammate beside him starts pushing him up the hill. In my experience such a gesture has indicated a car, pothole, or other obstacle approaching on the side of the road indicated. I was already on the left side of the road but was momentarily confused when I noticed that the rider signaling for everyone to move over wasn’t moving over himself. It all became clear a second later when a steady stream of liquid and a very contented groaning started emanating from the rider in question. I recall a tear coming to my eye and thinking
“Wow…I’ve made it to the big time, people are peeing off their bikes…wait, that was a tear in my eye, right?”
Just kidding about the tear thing. Back to the road race. A few small to midsize climbs later we were heading through the town of Waitsburg. My teammates had told me to move to the front going through this town because the big climb of the course was just after, so that is what I tried to do. I managed to get into the top twenty five or so when we made a right turn onto what I correctly assumed to be “the climb.”

The day wasn’t particularly hot for eastern Washington, but it had been warm and largely sunny all day long. After making the turn we were slammed with a wall of wind and the temperature dropped by five or ten degrees instantly. More imposing than that though was the top of the climb. It was black. How a giant thunderhead like that sneaks up on you I may never fully understand, but none-the-less, there it was. At this point the effort has picked up on the climb and I’m thing to myself that this could really be getting interesting when lighting strikes start going off on either side of the hill we’re climbing. The effect was a very strange one, almost a sense of vertigo as it felt like we were ascending into the abyss…contradictions aside it was very cool. Halfway up the hill (~2 miles total) I had moved up to the top 15 or so and was working hard, but feeling comfortable and ready to pick up the pace if the need called for it. I was focusing on the front of the race but I found out later that on that climb we were shedding riders off the back of the pack at a steady rate leaving them to suffer up the hill in the wind by themselves. Half a mile from the crest of the hill the skies opened up dumping pea sized rain onto us that developed into hail as we approached the crest of the climb. The lightning flashes had picked up and the crashing of thunder could be felt in the cavity of your chest. At the top of the climb was the feed zone which is typically a chaotic mess of racers trying to grab bottles on the go, with the addition of hail and an electrical storm it was pretty much pandemonium. I finished off one of my bottles threw it into the feed zone and started the descent with the feeling that this was going to be a truly epic ride. Half a mile later the lead car pulled us over declaring the race cancelled due to the lightning.

I won’t say that they made the wrong decision or that I don’t understand it, but I was disappointed. The day seemed tailor made for me to do well. The climb was long and grueling and just steep enough (5%) to be cause trouble without penalizing my size too much. The head wind made it very difficult for the really light true climbers to get away off the front and it would have been impossible for them to stay away once the descent started. The weather was bad but I firmly believe that it was worse for everyone else. After commuting on bike to work all winter long in the Pacific Northwest there is very little weather that can phase me.

The race was officially cancelled so I figured that I would ride back to the start line, but they wouldn’t let us do that and sent us back to the top of the hill (probably the worst place to send us in a thunderstorm) so that we could catch rides from the feed zone back to the start line.

My teammates on the cat 4/5 squad were in the race behind us that had been stopped in the town at the bottom of the hill. Most teams sought shelter in the fire station, but my team (Whines of Washington, soon to be nicknamed Winos of Washington) found shelter in a liquor store, and one of them was carrying cash (unusual for a race) so they bought a bottle of Jaeger and went to town. It’s the first time that I’ve really regretted upgrading.

Sunday brought the crit which represented the final stage. Seeing as how there were no road race results I remained in 11th place overall. Crits very nearly always end in a pack finish unless there is some sort of hill on the course in order to break up the tempo. This course was six corners and dead flat. My race was the last one of the day and by the time I showed up and put my bike on the trainer to warm up there had already been three big crashes with three people sent to the hospital, not a good omen. After the women’s pro-1-2-3 race was over it was time for the men’s pro-1-2. I took my bike off the trainer and headed towards the start line when I noticed that the tire I had pumped up just over an hour ago was 80% flat. I didn’t have time to do anything but pump up the tire and get to the start line where I was already in the very back. Not a good thing as this is a course that gets very strung out and is notoriously difficult to move up on. Despite being in the back I manage to start better than most of the field and get to the midpoint of the pack before the first corner. The first few laps are brutal averaging well over 30 mph, but I maintain my position and settle into a rhythm of sorts. About 10 minutes into the hour long race there is a big crash that takes out five riders, I get hit but don’t go down though it’s enough to mess up my front derailer. My chain is now grinding incessantly against my derailer. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a malfunction that qualifies one for a pit stop, but the referees have neutralized the race so I figure that I can pull over for a lap and have the mechanic take a look at it. I do and he does, but he can’t do anything and I’m back in the race with the chain problem a slow leak in my rear tire and (unbeknownst to me at the time) a rear wheel that has been knocked out of true and is rubbing on the breakpad every revolution. The race progresses with me growing more and more anxious about the wheel below me but there is nothing I can do short of dropping out of the race which I am unwilling to do. I move forward and backward in the pack from lap to lap but the general trend is forward. Coming across the start/finish line I hear that there are eight laps to go and no more pit stops will be allowed. I haven’t crashed yet and I’m feeling relatively strong so I figure I should try and get myself to the front to see if I can place. Over the next four laps I work myself up to the top ten riders—both a very good place to be with four laps to go and a far easier thing said than done. With two and a half laps to go I feel my rear tire starting to slide underneath me on the turns and looking down I can see that it is soft. If I want to try and place I’m going to have to take the corners sharper and faster than I have all race, and it just doesn’t sound like a good idea on such a sketchy tire. All I need to do to guarantee an 11th place finish is finish the race so I sit up, start taking the corners easy and finish the race in the pack with a bike that needs some TLC, but remains, like my body, in one piece.

I’m bummed that my equipment crapped out on me to a certain extent, but once again I’m excited that the power looks like it is there to start getting some top ten finishes and the technique is progressing though it definitely still needs work. I don’t think that I will be racing next weekend, but I should be the following.


P.S. Special thanks go out to Debi and Jim (the 69th and 70th members of the distribution list) for hosting my teammate and I over the weekend. You ROCK!