Monday, March 20, 2006

Mason Lake #3

Number of obligatory March Madness references .....1
St. Patties day pre-race rituals not to be repeated .....1
Crashes (that I am aware of) .....1
Final (meaningless) ranking in Mason Lake Series .....1st
Current (meaningless) ranking in WSBA results .....1st
Number of times I totally imploded .....1

The third and final Mason Lake race was on Saturday. St. Patrick's day was Friday. One of the .83 people (see link on right if curious) is putting on a series of underground uphill sprint races. Friday night was the first of five. I went out and sprinted up a small hill in Discovery park six times followed by drinking a couple of Guinesses at a party and then ice cream and naked hot tubbing with some friends. Fun, yes. Good pre-race plan--not so much.

Low and behold it was nice weather for three Mason Lake races. That's nice and all but I'm pretty sure that it is the third sign of the apocalypse (MJ being the first, and The Red Sox winning the world series being the second). With nice weather we started to race. We had a few of the big boys that we hadn't seen yet this season including Russell Stevenson (leader for local team, BRI, but he just moved down to Portland so probably won't be up here as much), Dave Richter who is riding for Monex this year (domestic pro team), and Tom Peterson who jumped up to the domestic pro ranks this year on TIAA Cref. Lots of attacks were flying off early, but everyone was still pretty peppy so nothing got much of a lead without being chased down. I was in a couple of the attempts, but nothing was really getting away. Early on the third lap (I think) as we were heading up the slight riser after turn one there was a crash just in front of and to the right of me involving Kenny Williams (First Rate), Joe Baratto (Wines--that's my team in case you don't know), and Robert Valez (Valley). There may have been more, but I didn't take the time to look because
a.) I can't stand rubberneckers, and
b.) Dudes started attacking.
Attacking during/just after a crash is bad form and all, but I'm not convinced that the people up front knew that there was a crash and there had been attacks at that spot every lap prior.

At some point Ian Tubbs (Broadmark) and Derik Archibald (The Valley) went off the front, but I don't actually remember when. There is a fast downhill followed by a fairly sharp right turn a little over halfway through the course. After we went through that on the third lap they were maybe 150-200 meters up the road. The pack slowed way down after the turn and I was at the front, but most of the big guns from the other teams weren't. Fortunately for me I must have caught them off guard, I made a good jump, and only Rob Campbell (Valley) chased. The Valley already had Derik Archibald in the break and I didn't particularly want to tow Rob up there for three reasons.

1.) He has a certain reputation for not working in the break
2.) He is a better sprinter than me
3.) He was the only guy out there that could overtake me in the Mason Lake Series points standings...they don't mean anything--but I'd rather take 1st place in something than second.

So Rob was chasing me as I was bridging and he actually got into my draft just as we hit a slight increase in the grade of the hill. I gave it a little extra and next time I looked back Rob had his head down, I had a five meter gap on him, and it was growing. Whew, dodged a bullet there. I caught up with Derik and Ian and we started rotating through. At first Derik was sitting hoping that Rob would get a second wind and compleat the bridge up to us, but it didn't happen.
One of these is not like the other.

Ian and I are comparatively large cyclists while Derik is substantially smaller. Note that this image is of a three man break. I know, I know you can only see two guys, but trust me Derik is back there. He's just a lot smaller. He's plenty strong though, he beat me soundly at the Ice Breaker time trial, and anything he lacks in size is made up for definitively by his sweet stache. It may even be superior to the 70's porn facial hair sported by Gonzaga's Adam Morrison (March Madness baby).
Call me Ron.

For all you haters out there, I'm not even being facetious, that thing is awesome.

Stature and facial hair aside Derik was sitting on for most of the last lap and a half cause he was gassed. He would pull through every now and again, but he was hurting. As you can tell from the picture Ian and I weren't feeling particularly strong either. As we approached the 1k to go sign on the final lap with a two minute lead everyone started sitting up and the cat and mouse games were about to begin. Just after the 1k sign there is a steep little downhill--generally not the best place to attack, but we were all going slow so I did. I got a 30 meter gap and it was a perfect move for 700 meters to go. Unfortunately I had 950 meters to go and blew sky high 250 meters from the finish line (oops). The legs just stopped functioning. It was nasty. Ian reeled me in and passed me for first place and I rolled in for second. Derik had been truthful when he said he was blown earlier because he didn't pass me on that last little bit, though I think that saw a couple of banana slugs that did. Can't be certain though, things were a bit fuzzy.

My consolations are that I lost being aggressive instead of defensive, Ian was hurting too, and lastly if I'm going to lose to someone, I'm glad it's to a guy that does his smack talking with his legs and not his lips.

Yay...I'm done.
He got the hands up for the victory salute, but getting the head up may have been too much to ask.

Booo...I'm DONE.
As for me, I'm blowing..blowing..BLOWN!

Final standings for the Mason Lake series were as follows
1 James Stangeland Wines of Washington .....39
2 Robert Campbell Valley Athletic Club .....23
3 Ian Tubbs Broadmark Capital/Hagens Berman LLC .....21
4 Michael Murdin Garage Racing .....15
5 Derik Archibald Valley Athletic Club .....14
6 Michael Emde & Sprocket .....12
7 Steven Holland Emerald Velo Cycling Team Inc .....10
9 Andrew Martin Wines of Washington .....8
10 Douglas Beardsley Unattached .....6

I'll get the Market Street (Sunday) race report up when I get a chance.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Last week by the numbers is back, and it's badder than ever (said in Governator voice)

Number of races.......................................................2
Number of miles raced........................................................156
The sum total of my final placings (all of which were odd).......4
Percentage of my friends who can figure out what that means..10%
Money won...............................................................$75
Take home after fees, gas, ferry, and treating team to dinner.$-13.00

Two races this past weekend, Saturday was 72 miles for the second of three in the Mason Lake Series, and Sunday was 84 miles out in Sequim which is the first "real" (not training) race of the season. In other words, that one actually counts.

Mason Lake was another lovely day for racing in the Pacific Northwest. It was cold, but sunny and dry which is A-OK by me. In other good news our team kits finally arrived (for the most part, 9 of 11 boxes showed up). This meant I finally got to wear a clean kit without any holes in it. There were more than a couple of comments made by my friends about how they couldn't recognize me in a clean outfit.

The race started with a flurry of little attacks that would either go nowhere or just dangle out in front for a while. The Garage (that's one of the local teams) was being pretty darn aggressive and doing a good job of getting in or starting all the breaks. One of their riders and Ian Tubbs (strong man on Broadmark) were off the front for a few laps. I tried bridging up to them a few times, but the pack was having none of it. I would accelerate and build up a gap and would instantly have the whole field, especially The Garage, chasing me down. I tried three times but with no success. We caught Ian and the Garage rider (I thought that it was Jason Bethel, but was later told that was wrong so I'm not certain who it was). We eventually reeled them back in and there were some other attacks that didn't stick. A couple of miles before the last lap Michael Murden from the Garage was off the front by 100 meters give or take so I started to bridge up to him and miracle of all miracles, nobody chased me. Probably because it was a stupid move to chase. There was very little chance of Michael and I getting enough of a gap to stay away with only a bit over one lap to go.

Michael and I trying to get away
I bridged up and immediately pulled through with Michael hopping on my wheel. I wanted to expand the gap quickly because we were in the twisty part of the course where it's possible to get out of sight without too much difficulty. Just after the start finish the course turns onto a small highway and you can see for a good distance there. I wanted to be out of sight by the highway. As I was pulling Michael along one of my teammates radioed me "dude, don't kill yourself, let Michael pull through." We started trading pulls and by the time we got to the highway I couldn't see the pack anymore. On the highway section it was wide enough for the follow car to come up beside us and give gaps. At first we were sitting at 30 seconds up for quite a while, but by turn two the gap was a minute to the peloton and 30 seconds to a chase group of six. Throughout I was also getting updates from my buddy Andrew who was radioing me from the chase group telling me the same information. He and Wes were covering the chase group so there were only actually four riders chasing while Andrew and Wes sat on. I don't really know how good a sprinter Michael is so I resolved to myself to try and drop him just before the 1k to go marker. We came up on the spot that I thought was just around the corner from 1K to go and I gunned it up one of the small rollers just as he pulled off. I got a gap and managed to keep opening that gap up. Unfortunately I had misjudged our location on the course, I was closer to two miles from the finish than I was to 1000 meters...oops. It was a painful last couple miles, but I just kept pushing and finally after what seemed waaaaaay too long saw the 1000 meter mark. One nice aspect of that last couple miles was my friend Martha Walsh was driving the lead car and waving her arm out the window. Of course I couldn't tell if she was saying "come on you're almost there" or "hurry up dumb-ass, they're right behind you!" Probably both.

WOO-HOO, I won!
I kept gunning it until 200 meters to go and then just rolled in with a big stupid grin on my face. Good times, my first win as a cat 2. It was a great set of results for my team as we also took 4th and 7th place Granted it's in a training race that doesn't count for points or prizes or much of anything really...despite that, it felt really good. Really REAllY good.

That last effort on Saturday definitely took it's toll as my legs were cramping up pretty good on the ride home. I had cooled down after the race and gave them a 30 minute easy spin when I got home but still, that evening and the next morning they felt mighty gooey. Sunday was another gorgeous but chilly day which increases my nervousness about the bad weather to come. I'm telling you, it's never this nice consistently, we will get the weather smack down visited upon us soon.

Sunday was an 84 mile road race in Sequim. Last year my first race as a cat three was here and I was in a ~70 mile breakaway to win. Thus year I was in an 80 mile breakaway (for 79 of those I had to pee really badly) The break started with 6 or 7 guys in it including Wes Pierce from my team who had placed 7th on Saturday at Mason Lake. I was still in the main group as they were starting to pull away. A group of five started to bridge up to the leaders when a sixth jumped up to get in on the party. I hopped on his wheel and he pulled me up to the chase group that had kind of stalled out. My ride tucked into the chase pack as it was stalling out but I kept my momentum and jumped the extra 50 meters or so up to the leaders. This brought the total to eight two Broadmark riders (Anton Jackson, and Mike Hone), Myself and Wes, and four other guys that I don't really know. We worked for a lap pushing the pace pretty well at around 30 mph at first when we were opening up the gap, and then eventually settling down a bit once the gap had opened up. A bit into the second lap three riders including Ian Tubbs and Johnny Sundt bridged up to us. Ian won this race last year in a long breakaway with Johnny Sundt and looked to be hoping to repeat. We were all working and pulling through except for Johnny which I didn't understand in the least. The entire time he was there he didn't pull through once, and then suddenly I looked back and he wasn't there anymore. Last year he was a domestic pro with Jittery Joe's and is a strong rider. I don't know why he dropped off, but he did.

I digress. Long story short, the break eventually shrunk to just five riders by the last lap, Ian Tubs and Anton Jackson from Broadmark, Andrew from the Valley, and another guy I don't know. In the last 400 meters Anton and Ian attacked and counter attacked very well putting me on the defensive. Defense may win championships, but it doesn't win bike races. I was simply outnumbered, and Anton and Ian are talented racers that worked me over to take 1st and 2nd place leaving me in 3rd. All told though I'm happy with the weekend and it's good miles in on the legs.

A last couple of notes/amusing anecdotes.

Martha (the person that was waving me on from the lead car) has for whatever reason made it her goal to set me up with a cycling chick-a-dee, and to promote that cause after the race on Saturday she slipped me a note with the names and WSBA (Washington State Bicycle Association) racing numbers of all the women born between '78 and '82. This of course cracks me up, but I must say after she compiled the list, cross referenced it for and eliminated riders who listed the same address as male WSBA members (unavailable), and eliminated anyone in Eastern Washington (I don't wanna ride my bike over the Cascades right now) it was a really short list. I'm thinking I may need to cast my line in other waters, but many thanks to Martha for the thought and effort.

This year the WSBA (Washington State Bicycle Association) is tracking all USCF races in Washington and assigning a point system to them. So far I'm in first place for the state. Bear in mind that there is no award for this, monetary, honorary or otherwise, and it is almost certainly a temporary situation. Between that and Mason Lake I guess I could claim to be the reigning champion of things that don't matter.

Or perhaps the Undisputed Champion of Nothing...I like that.

Next week is the third and final race in the Mason Lake series (if I get a top six finish I clench the series), and a new twist on a road race from last year out in Ravensdale. Until then

-Jamie (Undisputed Champion of Nothing) Stangeland

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's racing season again. For you that means I subject you to overly verbose descriptions of a bunch of idiots that can't seem to figure out that they would get where they are going a lot quicker and with a lot less pain if they stood still ...such are the sad tragedies of racing in circles.

For me it means spending more time looking forward to the next race than learning from the last, a predictable feeling of ugggg (medical term for this guy on the left) in my Monday legs, and the bladder of a pregnant octogenarian. I'm sure that you didn't need to know that, but seriously, WTF? My only thoughts are that I am a both copious and salty sweater (that's a person that produces a lot of sweat and leaves behind deposits of salt on my body and clothes when I race--not to be confused with an oversized, and over seasoned winter garment). Sorry bad humor. Back to my line of thought--after ditching all that salt I think it might be some kind of osmosis gone wild until my body equalizes thus making me run to the bathroom every 15 minutes. If anyone has an educated explanation that would be appreciated. Nonsensical opinions will be accepted too.

The racing this weekend started with the first in the Mason Lake series which had uncharacteristically nice weather. This doesn't really come as any surprise because the weather gods in the Northwest like to taunt us with some nice days before bringing the clouds in for another six to eight weeks. Dirty Bastards (note that the capitalization is not a typo; around here Dirty Bastards is the proper name for the springtime weather gods).

The course is a lightly rolling 12 mile loop around Mason Lake. There are no appreciable climbs, but after months of not racing and 6 laps, the dinky little rollers that do exist start to wear you down. Actually, to be fair, they started to wear me down after about four laps, but we'll get to that. The race started with a fairly mild first lap that had some people testing the field with some attacks, but nothing that stuck or got more than a 20 second lead. Sometime in lap two a move started to go off the front with two riders (Ian Tubbs, and Chad Nikolz) that are really strong. I saw it start to go and was able to hop onto Chad's wheel. There were roughly 13 of us initially and while it lacked organization at first we started working well together. Well, most of us did. There were two riders from The Valley team that were just sitting on the back. I couldn't understand why, and a bunch of riders in the break were discussing it with The Valley guys. I don't know if the peer pressure worked or if the Valley guys changed their minds, but once we built up a two minute gap one of them (Derik Archibald) started working with us fairly consistently, but the other (Rob Campbell) never did much for the break. At some point early on when we were still going strong, we lost a couple riders. One from the Garage (Michael Murden) and another guy I never saw. Most of the race really wasn't very interesting, just rotating through and building up the gap. There was one point maybe five laps in where we were convinced that we were pissing away our lead, but when we got the time check from the follow car we were sitting five minutes up. So much for pissing away our lead. After four laps I was starting to feel kind of tired. Not in danger of getting dropped, but the rollers--slight as they were, started to burn more than a little. Fortunately once we got to the last lap I got an adrenaline boost. Adrenaline is one hell of a drug. Suddenly I didn't feel tired at all, I had a big ol' smile on my face and everything was peachy keen.

In the last lap attacks started coming consistently, but since there were two teams in the break that had two people (Valley and Broadmark), and one team that had three people (Recycled Cycles), I didn't really have to chase any of them down. I just waited for one of the teams that wasn't represented in the attack to chase it down and hopped on their wheel. Now if an attack had gone off with a member from each of those three I would have been worried, and would have had to chase. Fortunately for me, that didn't happen. As we were approaching the finish Ian Tubbs put in an attack that didn't last long. Everyone knows that Ian can lay down a very aggressive pace if he gets a decent gap, so we all jumped on him immediately. Ian Tubbs, Derik Archibald, and Ian Mckissick provided the leadout from around 1000 meters to go. I got on Ian Mcissick's wheel and he started to die at about 250 to go and was really toast by 225 when I started to come around him. I had Chad and Rob on my wheel and knew that if I really started my sprint that far out I would just be giving them the perfect leadout. With that in mind I came around Ian relatively slowly and both Rob and Chad came around me at full speed 20 meters later. I ducked in behind them as best I could, and tried to come around them in the last hundred meters. Rob started to celebrate a little early (hands in the air) but then saw me coming up behind him and got his hands back down on the bars to put in a few extra strokes and hold me off. I managed to just barely beat Chad to the line for second (I heard someone say there were ~65 racers total, but I don't know how accurate that is).

My mistake in that sprint was getting on Ian's wheel instead of Rob's. Ian had been off the front of the group for half of the final lap and was pretty fatigued, Rob on the other hand had sat for most of the day and is one heck of a sprinter. Oh well, second is my best finish in a 1-2 race so far and I am not disappointed. Just eager to do better (statistically, not likely to happen this coming weekend, but I'll try). That being said Mason Lake is just a training race and you are racing for nothing but experience and pride. No prizes, no points, nada. Well that isn't entirely true. In my carpool shotgun for the return trip went to the top finisher in the car. I cherished that ride home in shotgun.

Sunday was the Ice Breaker Time Trial.

I sucked.

A lot.

9th place

Every time that I think I have myself figured out, I'm wrong. I thought that I was a good time trialist and couldn't put together a sprint to save my life. Then I go and put together a decent (albeit far from great) sprint and a terrible TT. I'm done trying to figure myself out.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

It's T-minus three days until my first race of the year and I'm excited. It's been a while since my last race report. I raced more after the last report but I was burned out on writing reports, so I stopped. I finished up last season with some pretty good results, but a win as a cat 2 rider has eluded me so far. In addition to being winless I also failed to achieve the cat 1 upgrade I was trying for. I had results that would have been sufficient, but they were either in races that were divided into pro/1 and 2/3 events (you need to race against cat 1's to get your cat 1 upgrade), or in races where we didn't quite meet the field limit (you need 60 riders in the race for it to count). That shouldn't be the case this year.
I don't mean to sound like I am disappointed with my last season, I'm plenty happy with it--it's just good to have goals. In the off season I started working with a coach. Last year my training plan consisted of my commute. I would bike to work and bike home which was great for my base miles (I live a pretty long way from work, ~21 miles each way), but it didn't do a lot for specific training. One disappointment was that at the end of last season I did the Gear Push time trial which is the same distance (10 miles) on the same course as the Ice Breaker TT that I did at the beginning of the season. Despite upgrading twice and making substantial improvements to my racing ability in the months between the two TT's my time at the second one was identical to the first down to the second. The fear of being stagnant is part of what drove me to work with a coach and start some specific training. I feel like I'm faster now than I was last year but I really don't know until I start racing. Hopefully it will pay off, we'll find out soon enough.
Note: Despite a total lack of humor in this, my first entry, I will try to work it back in future entries. Cut me some slack, I've been working 12 hours a day (not counting commute) and I'm tired.