Back in 1989 I rolled my Schwinn up to the starting line at what was then known as the Seattle International Raceway (SIR). I’d come down to Kent with a bike racer co-worker who’d encouraged me to enter the one hour “citizen” race (there were no Cat 5’s back in them thar days). I raced twice at SIR, and up until 2011 those two starts were my only experience with bicycle racing.
Fast forward twenty one years and I’m back, only now everyone is riding carbon instead of steel, and the track has been redubbed Pacific Raceways (PR).
Ten Cucina Fresca (my team) riders rolled out for the Cat 4/5 start. I have to say that I’m a bit bummed that my first two starts as a Cat 4 have been in 4/5 races but I guess as the season progresses and Cat 5’s get more experience it makes sense to combine the two. We had some real powerhouses out there and it was nice riding with a strong team presence. Unfortunately we weren’t the only strong team.
Cycle U had definitely come to race. This was the first time I’d ridden against an organized team that was out to win, and I have to admit it was eye-opening. Honestly I was spending the majority of my time trying not to wipe anybody out, but I did notice that the Cycle U guys were continually pushing forward.
The race is an hour long, which kind of puts it somewhere between a road race and a criterium. The route varies from week to week and this time it was on what they call the flat course. The nice weather must have swelled the turnout as I think we had over sixty starters. Man that flat course is fast and furious. Without the hills you don’t have to worry about that sucking air oxygen debt thing and oftentimes I’d look down at my computer to see that we were going over thirty miles per hour. It was a screaming wild ride.
I’d eaten a diced up and boiled potato on the drive down and those carbs were fueling me just fine. In other words I was feeling great. At the two laps to go bell I decided to start moving up. Position is everything, and in my other races I’ve always just ended up stuck somewhere in the middle, unable to move up, and so this time I figured I’d get up in fifth or sixth place. As we approached the final lap I was moving up on the outside left when I noticed my teammate Chad up front. For no good reason I threw down and whipped in front.
I’m not sure what I was thinking, maybe I thought I could bring up a few teammates and then we could control the race from the front. I suppose I should have communicated those thoughts. In reality I was feeling good and just took the shot – what the heck.
I led for awhile and then pulled off, Chad was still in behind me, I was fairly well gassed but pulled in as soon as I had a chance. After the second turn things got a bit dicey as riders started to push forward on the slippery burn out strip (where dragsters heat up their tires), but we all made it through. I took a tight inside line on turns three and four but as I came out of the final turn the top ten guys were already out of their saddles heading for the finish line. The finish was a bit crazy as we ran smack into the back end of the Cat 1/2/3 group, combine that with poor visibility due to the setting sun and we had a real kerfungle.
All in all it was a great race, I can honestly say that it was the most fun I’ve ever had on two wheels.