Ravensdale Road Race – Round and Round We Go

12 05 2013

Some of my thoughts today at the Ravensdale Road Race put on by BuDu Racing, LLC:

I’ll skip my usual banter of soup to nuts race notes that I usually write about in my blog and get right to the gist. Our master’s 4/5 pack started (even though I don’t remember hearing the lead car honk) and away we went. Initially, I thought I was in trouble because about half the pack was in front of me after the start. Then I reminded myself that this course was 40 or so miles long and that there would be plenty of time to move up. I usually like to position myself somewhere in the 10th to 15th position; so I can keep watch for any serious breakaway attempts. Today there were plenty of surges (26 @ 6-8 W/kg, 9 @ 8-10 W/kg, 4 @ 10+ W/kg) but I didn’t get the impression that a serious breakaway was in the making. I kept thinking that Cucina Fresca would make an attempt but their first half appearance at the front did not sustain. More than a few Bikesale racers took their pull at the front, and some of us more than a couple of times.

“Watch for the selection,” was a thought bouncing inside my head more than the number of rocks ejected from tires and rims throughout our race

There was a mild, quartering breeze that developed, enough to occasionally skew the pack across the lane, but it wasn’t too bad. Not like the winds at Sequim (as described to me) and certainly not like the seeming hurricane (~29 mph) winds at Ronde von Palouse in Spokane some weeks ago. Nah, this was pleasant. I still didn’t want to be caught out of a draft though–always looking to conserve what I have left, I say. Nonetheless, the fun downhill grades had me popping out of the draft just to prevent me from coasting past the rider ahead (this happened quite a bit).

At any rate, having not done this course before, and having been pragmatic enough to download the course plot to my Joule for reference…I always knew where I was on the course. This was important to me because this course has a couple of lower-scale grades, and I always like to be near the front when the pack approaches a climb—I dislike climbing.

Laps 1, 2, and 3 were pretty much the same—about survival, although Lap 3 was a bit different in that the race intensities were markedly lower than laps 1 or 2. I think the pack was resting or holding back for lap 4, and without going into data analysis (I like statistics and analysis), I’m certain that the data file will bear this out. The beginning of lap 4 had some good surges, but it wasn’t until we turned the corner into the east-bound leg to the finish that the behavior of the pack got really interesting.

It started at the northwest corner, a typical outside-inside-outside line to carry the speed (~35 mph) into the approaching grade. I was running maybe 13th and got gapped through the corner so I stomped on it to close it. That was worth about 6 seconds at ~ 620 W. We were on to the first grade; soon after that the lead slowed, downshifting, getting out of the saddle trying to keep the pace high, and the pack strung out. This didn’t turn out, though; the mid-range power climb only lasted about a minute and the little kicker climb was coming up. Our overall speed kept increasing with the little climb consuming ~580 W for about 18 seconds. Then the funny thing happened: Our speed was just over 28 mph when the pack lead just kind of sat up, or slowed, or rather heaved a collective sigh. Maybe it was the rebound from the corner and double-climbs—I’m not sure, but it felt like we rode into molasses. Anyway, we were approaching the orange diamond, 200 M marker and I remember thinking: “OK, here it comes,” “Shit, don’t get boxed in,” then, “What are we waiting for?”

Nothing happened, time has shifted into slow motion. No one made a move, no one attacked.

“Huh?” A 4-foot-wide path opens in front of me. The guys are spreading out across the double yellow. My finger hits the shifter and drops another gear, I was off the saddle feeling my hands move to the drops. Pull, pull, pull. I started passing guys.

“Ahhg, I want this to be over.” I’ve accelerated to the front but the finish line feels like it’s a mile away. “Don’t look back.” I didn’t want to look back. I didn’t want to see who was sitting on my wheel waiting to snipe me just meters away from the line.

It got really quiet. No one on the left. No one on the right. I don’t remember hearing anything at all. I remember seeing my bars rock a bit back and forth. I threw my bike at the line at just over 31 mph; pushing a bit past 900 W. I was done.

Picture of Ravensdale Road Race Master Men's Cat 4-5 Finish


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