Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It's frickin Wednesday and I still haven't got anything posted on Mason number two and Tour de Dung number one. I'm lame, but I'm going to blame Boeing.

Pruitt's prediction of a cold and wet Mason Lake was a week early. We got the nasty weather this time around. The first excitement of the day came when Pruitt attacked the neutral rollout. I'm not certain if he was trying to stay warm, channeling the spirit of Johnny "but I was just following the lead car" Sundt or if the concept of neutral rollout just eludes him. Whatever the reason he distributes fine eyewear and he gave me a tee-shirt so I'm willing to forgive all wrongdoings, even Ronde-Ohop.

Not long into the race a break of nine formed with Tom Peterson (Team Argyle), Ross Spero (Hagens Berman), Ben Rhodes (Recycled), Michael Emde (Axley), I thought his name is Nick but I can't remember (# 25 from First Rate), and myself. We were cruising pretty well until about halfway through the race when I flatted my rear tire. Our gap at the time was about 2:30 and the wheel car was behind the pack. So I sat back, had a few sips of water, ate a cliff bar, had some more water, fiddled with my helmet, and after what seemed like a lot longer than two and a half minutes got the follow car to stop and give me a wheel. Then I had to chase back onto the pack which took a good little while as the wheel change while greatly appreciated was less than speedy. So I chased back on (with the help of my team who dropped back to help pace me up), was in the pack for a while, then bridged up to Galen (Recycled) and Shawn (Axley). Once I caught up with them we chased down the second half of the original break that I was in. Apparently not long after I flatted Peterson drilled it and shredded the break. Emde later told me that his HR never fell below 180 after Tom got on the front. The first half was waaaaaaay out in front of us. Long story short, after lots and lots of chasing all day long my group got caught. The leaders finished an eon in front of us, but a small group of three including Jason from my team got off the front with 3 or 4 miles to go. I was covering people that were trying to bridge up, and the three of them stayed away. When it came to the field sprint for 8th or 9th, I tried to go but my legs just laughed at me as Tubbs walked away. I had chased or been in the break almost the entire day and was pretty darn cooked.

Sequim

Heading out there was interesting. A touch windy would be a huge understatement. In fact Joe almost had quite the incident crossing the hood canal bridge. The crosswind was so strong that half his fork popped out of the tray. Fortunately it didn't fly off and they were able to pull over and fix it. Thankfully the course itself was substantially less windy and even had some sun peeking through at points. Three cheers for the rain shadow.

Shortly into the race Ben from Recycled and Mike Hone from HB formed a break. Ben is strong, and Mike will bury himself to make a move work, but Ben was in the break all day Saturday, and a two man break is very hard to make work over a course as flat and windy as Sequim. There were quite a few attempts to bridge up to the break, but the pack didn't seem very interested in letting anything go. I tried once early on but quickly realized that after chasing all day Saturday I was going to have to budget my efforts at Sequim. So for the first half of the race I mostly sat in. The pack would surge a lot sometimes getting very close to catching the break, and then slowing down enough for them to build up a good gap again. Halfway through the race there was an Axley rider that looked like he was going to make the bridge work, and I saw a decent opportunity to jump up to him and join the break. I got away from the pack but not without Nick Clayville from HB. I caught up to the Axley rider with Nick in tow (he had Mike up the road and no reason to pull through yet). Just before we caught Mike and Ben, Mike blew up fairly spectacularly. He had been in the break a good long time, probably saw Nick and sat up. Ben was with us for about a lap but eventually he dropped off as well. I was pretty happy with the break, The Axley guy (whose name I forgot because I suck) was plenty strong, and Nick is a horse. I remember a very impressive win that he had at Market Street last year. He was in a four man break for a long time, and then he was solo for (I think) the entire final lap. With two to go we had a solid minute and a half gap, but when Ben dropped back to the pack they started turning the screws. I hear that Peterson was rallying the troops and even got Zoka (who had all of two people in the race) to get up to the front and take pulls. They brought the gap down by a minute in one lap and caught us a little over half way through the last lap. Attacks started going as soon as they caught us, but none got very far that close to the finish. Michael Murdin had a move that was looking pretty dangerous with a mile or two to go, but he got reeled in somewhere in the final 1000 meters.
Sprinting for the line

I lined up behind Joe and Chad from my team more than a little worried that my legs would pull the same stunt they had at mason. Fortunately they didn't, I got a lead out that left me less than 100 meters to sprint (good given that I didn't have a lot of juice left) and I managed to cross the line first. I didn't realize that we had caught Murdin, so at first I didn't realize I had won.
Sprinting for the line
In another brilliant maneuver I didn't know that I had more than a bike length on second and busted out the wholly unnecessary bike throw for the line.

I get a nice round D- for situational awareness on that one.

Sunday was a great day for our entire team. One of our cat 5's, Mike Schwindeller (whose last name is almost as prone to getting mangled as my own), won the 4/5 race. Mark Hinman, who upgraded from 4 to 3 last year, won his first race as a three, and Amy Schmid picked up her first win as a cat 3 in the womens 123 race. Way to go Wines of Washington.

For more photos including Mark's win check out Fred Soo's photography.

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