Monday, August 13, 2007
NOOKSACK OMNIUM ROAD RACE
This was my third road race of the year (third ever) and as usual, all I can say is that bike racing is unlike anything else I've done. You get dropped from the leaders in a 5K, a 50K, a triathlon, and you're never going to see them again. Well, maybe at the post-race buffet.
In a bike race though, you drop off the main pack (several times), you get passed by the follow car (several times), you pretty much figure it's not your day--and it's still possible to claw your way back to the front and find yourself in 4th place overall with a mile go, 5th with about 200 meters left. Such was my sitch in the Masters C/D race up in the Nooksack-Sumas corner of the world.
Truthfully, leading up to this race, I was scared. Reese Hill, which we'd climb twice, was a killer and South Pass Road could be brutal too. What I didn't antipate, or ride before the race, was North Pass Road which was on the first short loop of the 41-mile course. It about killed me. The hills were shorter but seemed steeper and more brutal. Or maybe it was just that I wasn't expecting it. For whatever reason, I quickly fell off the back and if it weren't for the fact that a couple others did also, I'd have been done for. Luckily we worked together and were able to hook back on with the main group in time to start the two longer loops.
The ride out to Reese Hill is through flat cornfields. Nobody talked to each other; it seemed we all knew what was coming and were silent. Like we were being led to our deaths. The race website says it's 1.5 miles long but I measured the really tough part as climbing 350 feet in 0.8 miles. After that, it's a free-for-all of rolling hill fun as the fractured pelaton attempts to get back together. (The whole thing climbs about 500 feet in 1.5 miles.)
Again, I fell out the back, but with some strong riders (more than just three this time) and we were able to fight back and latch back on to the main group somewhere on Frost Road. A most pleasant surprise to me was that we rejoined South Pass Road much farther west than I expected and thus two of the three step-like hills were eliminated. Back with the group it was mostly a fast descent back down to earth and the start of the final Reese Hill loop.
(Up ahead, John Kodin and Rob Cambell, a couple Fanatik guys, had gotten away and would go on to win by about five minutes.)
Folks seemed more relaxed on the way out the second time, we knew what was coming and that we had to do it only once more. Again, the pelaton broke up on Reese Hill but I wasn't as far back as on the previous climbs and while it was still painful as hell working my way back, there were a lot of other riders doing the same thing and we could help each other.
Once back with the main group, I pretty much figured my race complete. All I wanted to do was not get dropped and have a solo ride home (as happened a couple months ago at the Methow RR when I got caught between two groups). But with about three miles to go, there's some shifting the pelaton and I feel myself just kind of floating toward the front. I got behind some Zoka guy who was leading the whole thing, no way I was going to pull, and just sorta hung there figuring I'd watch how it played out.
(Crazy--I'd been passed by the follow car three times but here I was in 4th place with like a mile to go. At the time I thought I was in second place; I didn't realize the two Fanatiks were way ahead of us all.)
At the 200 meter sign, the sprint starts and I do what I can to try to keep wave upon wave of riders from passing me like I'm standing still. Suddenly, there's that sickening crunch and smack sound of a crash right behind me as Glenn Powell and two others crashed (Glenn's OK and is hoping to race again this coming weekend) and after that it's somewhat of a blur. A bunch (but not too many) riders passed me in the last 50 meters or so and we were done.
Results, as I say, were less than an inexact science. At the prerace chat, the official pretty much said, keep an eye on who you finish near then come tell us afterward. I finished near a couple guys riding bikes really fast. They had helmets on, sunglasses, and really tight shorts. One of 'em might've been wearing arm warmers. But I don't really care. I wasn't last and I had fun.
(I found out later that I finished in 14th place.)
The above pic is not from the race but from the countless laps we all did around Nooksack Elementary School while waiting for the race to start. There's Stacy Moon, who won the Mens 4/5 Time Trial, and Tom Fryer near the front.
Oh yes, and because I haven't shown one for a while, below is a photo of the lovely Jen in our newly painted and freshly floored bedroom. The lamination continues ...