Vance Creek Road Race

Race Report: I spent my Sunday morning in the shadow of the cooling
towers at the Satsop Nuclear Site. Well, if the sun were out there
would have been a shadow. Our group consisted of 68 category 4/5
riders, three of us (myself, Corey Nunlist, and Brian Forn) being
Valley Club riders. As we rolled out from the staging area, and within
the first mile or so of racing, there was a small pile-up of what
looked like about 5-10 bikes in the middle of the pack. There was more
than a little screaming and the smell of burnt rubber. I was roughly 5
bike lengths behind this and was able to maneuver around it to the
right without having to brake much. I was grateful for this, as we
were travelling quickly downhill. To the right of me, some riders were
being pinned to the guardrail, including Corey N. He appeared to fair
better than others, though who got caught in deep gravel.

I was able to stay in contact with the main group as it reassembled,
moving into a position near the first 1/3 of the pack. From here, I
caught my breath, as I must have been holding it through this crash
situation, but all was well for now. From here, as we rolled into the
valley floor below, things tightened up and the pace slowed
dramatically. I found myself in position to continue working myself up
in the pack. After a short time, I found myself in the front 15 or so
riders. I was able to see small breaks of one or two off the front,
but surges quickly dissolved this. Since it was so slow, I think that
some were trying to push the pace. There were some on the left side of
the road trying to make positions where it was clear, but they were
called down by other riders for this maneuver. My positioning was not
hard to defend until the hill rose before us. As we came up to the
top of the hill, I held my position, but perhaps a bit aggressively.
I held off my fatigue until the steep pitch at the end, where I
finallhy lost it. I was soon being passed, and so close to holding it
together… If I had recovered more quickly, I would have been able to
climb with Corey, but as it happened, he passed me with some
appreciated words of encouragement.

As I didn’t want to blow everything I had, I slowed down to recover.
As there was a downhill coming, I knew this would be accomplished. I
was disappointed to have lost the group, but I had plenty of company
around me and groups were forming quickly. I found a rider who was
willing to work together, and we did so for most of the rest of two
laps with others joining us as we went along. Somewhere near
approximately the last half of lap 3, this group broke up. I rode
along until I was met by Brain F. From here, we finished out our day
together on the climb.

Although I didn’t know what to expect during this race, I did set out
to accomplish a few specific things. One was to be in somewhere within
the front half of the group for part of the race, because I wanted to
challenge my tendancy to hang near the back. My second goal was to
focus on fueling/hydrating while racing. Unfortunately, this is
something that takes a lot of attention for me. Third, I wanted to
improve my average speed, which I did by about 2 mph over this 40 mile
ride. It was a good day of racing for me.

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