A Round O’ Hop

26 08 2011

Recyclers Matt and Josh report from the Ronde Ohop (Aug. 21, 2011).

Matt, Josh, and Erik went on down to Eatonville WA for the 1/2/3 race in the Ronde Ohop, whose parcours consists of an outer road loop followed by numerous laps of a short unpaved circuit. Only about 20 guys started with the 1/2/3 group, and the pack would thin out quickly from there…

Josh suffered a flat a mere 4 miles into the race, and was on his own for the remaining 22 miles of the road loop. Matt and Erik rolled along in the pack for an uneventful ten or so miles, until a little dog’s curiosity propelled him out of a driveway, with the result that a few riders (including Matt) wound up in the ditch.

All of a sudden, there’s Matt lying on the ground, looking up at the blue sky, and wondering Whiskey Tango Foxtrot just happened! Matt recalls: “Damn little dog… the beast never even made it into our lane but it was close enough to make a bunch of guys grab their brakes and swerve into ME… dammit.”

At this point in the race, things looked grim for the Blue-and-Gold. Josh was still chasing solo after his flat; Erik busted his rear derailleur in the wreck; but Matt’s only damage was to his elbow/shoulder, so he kept rolling.
Matt: “The chase was a tall order, duh, but no way I was driving that far for a 10mile race!!”

So Matt did like RCR always does, and kept on fighting. It didn’t help his chase that he was pulling thorns from his hands as he rode along… he picked off a few guys along the way but never made it back into ‘the pack’.

Once the road portion was over, it was time for the dirty dirt loop! The surface was really just a bunch of huge rocks surrounded by dirt.. and Matt concluded that it really is true that the faster you go over those rocks, the smoother it feels.. he found the little climb on the dirt loop wasn’t bad, but if you hit it too slowly, the rocks rapidly eroded your speed and handling ability, so it was best to power up the incline. In fact, the continuous application of power provided the best solution to the whole ‘dirt’ loop problem!
Matt sez: “I had a lot of fun bouncing off those rocks, and my awesome SRAM S30/S40 wheels were bomb-proof!!” He did flat on the dirt/rocks loop, but that was bound to happen, everyone was flatting…

In the meanwhile, Josh was still slogging on his own, making his way through the riders scattered along the dirt loop. It was a mixed blessing that with a two-lap gap by the time Josh made it to the unpaved section, he “only” had eight laps to complete.

But after it was all said ‘n’ done, Matt finished in 6th place: now that’s making attrition your friend!

Matt comments that he ran the same setup he uses for crits.. the only thing he might do differently for next year would be to wear gloves!! The bouncing of the handlebars on the rocks yielded him two new blisters between index and thumb on each hand..

Of the Ronde Ohop, Josh concludes: “If you choose to take the challenge next year, it is hands down one of the hardest races of the year yet the most rewarding once finished.”


T-Town Hot and Skagit Flat

2 08 2011

Recyclers Josh & Andrew report from the weekend’s races
(photos used by permission, courtesy of www.wheelsinfocus.com ).

Nick A, Matt, and Josh went down to Tacoma to show the RCR colors in the Cat. 3 Men’s event of the Twilight Crit this last Saturday evening of July.  It was a great racing venue, the weather was outstanding, and the racing was fun.  The Plan was to set up Josh for a shot at the ‘W’.  Matt did a phenomenal job at the front, chasing primes, riding super hard, and looking out for Josh during the whole race.  Nick, ever patient, sat in the pack until a good break formed; he then shot across the gap so RCR could have some representation. Great move, Nick!

  Josh quickly moved to the front on patrol for any attackers who harbored hopes of bridging to the break; one guy did: he towed Josh around for a while, until Josh could drop him and bridge to the escape.

Josh on the attack!

But the pack got restless and chased the break of 10+ riders down.
From that point on, the Recyclers fought for position in the first 10+, Matt doing his thing riding the front!

Matt does his thing!

Josh was sitting on Nick’s wheel with 2 laps remaining, but when Nick absolutely drilled it up the hill on the backside, Josh could not hold the speed through corner 3; he notes: “it was either lock up the brakes or go over the curb.  Nick is a hell of a bike handler!”  With Josh regretfully unable to hold the corner, RCR unfortunately finished well out of the money, though Matt’s 8th place may have scored him some upgrade points.
Josh says: “Thanks Nick and Matt for the support!”

The next day, Andrew M joined Josh in Silvana WA as the Cat 3 men lined up for the short and fast Skagit Flats Circuit Race through the coastal farmlands north of Seattle.  After the previous day’s sunshine, the return of gray skies and drizzle hovering over Seattle thinned out the non-believers, making for a small field, but the roads remained dry in Silvana. The course followed narrow country lanes among corn fields and sheep pasture, with some sharp corners and a couple of tight passages beneath the railroad trestles.

After a moderately-paced start, the race hit its stride in lap 2 of 7. Josh bridged to a break that was soon caught, but as he settled back into the field, about 10 people rolled off the front.  Josh could only muster an UGH! of discontent as he was pinned behind wheels on the narrow roads.  He managed to bully his way to the front and sprinted to get onto some chasers, joining another rider; they then chased like hell to bridge a gap larger than they expected.  Josh recalls: “this effort hurt, I dropped and waited for the dude 3 times.”
Meanwhile back in the pack, Andrew was rolling along towards the front, taking up space. But when the Bike Sale trio finally jumped in pursuit of Josh, he was boxed on the wrong side of the road and had to chase back on. At the >90 degree turn, some guy decided to take his own funny line that threatened to intersect with Andrew as he followed the last wheel through the corner. The gap opened when Andrew was forced to slow just as the guys in yellow mashed the accelerator on the flat straight road. Andrew recalls: “at one point in my chase I looked down at my computer and saw 31mph and 189bpm; unfortunately, the speed and the heart rate were travelling in opposite directions.” He managed to close within a couple of bike lengths, after chasing for half a kilometer. Then someone saw Josh up ahead and stepped on the gas again… no revista baby…
When the pack finally caught Josh, he recovered for a few minutes then went back to work trying to bring back the break or at least keep them close.  The Bike Sale had one guy in the break, who flatted which caused them to take up the chase effort as well!  And it was once again gruppo compatto!  The peloton rolled easy for the next two laps, but things got interesting again with about 2K remaining.  Josh fought for position, and he was 10 or so wheels back coming through the last corner. He still had a pretty good kick in his legs, since he managed to sprint into second place, just missing the win by barely a foot.

Good throw, Josh!

All in all, a great race weekend.  There is limited racing remaining this year, so get out there and soak up the sun and the racing!