Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Ridge TT and Circuit Race--Round and Round the Race Track

Today was something new! Shelton has a new Motorsports Park called The Ridge. It's a car racetrack, but today it was a bike racetrack! Today's female OOA representatives were myself, Jean, and Karen (TT only). Karen gave me a ride out, and Ron and Jean brought me home. I'm very greatful to them, because I really wanted to do these races.

The weather was mostly cloudy with a wind out of the West.

The Time Trial

The Masters 40+ Cat 4 Women were first up at 9:00. Karen was at 9:03:00, and Jean was right after her at 9:03:30. I was last, at 9:06:30. Funny thing though, when we doing loops in the "pit" area of the racetrack, keeping an eye on the official start clock, it kept changing. As in, going back in time. We looked at it, at one point, and it said 8:59. Next time we looked, it said 8:56! By the time the first gal went, it was well after (real time and official time) 9:00. Oh well, no big deal...I guess.

Finally, it was my turn. It was going to be 4 laps around the 2 1/2 mile course. It started with the end of a long straightaway, and a tailwind. Then the road turned and went up a hill...a rather steep hill. It was fairly short, but when we pre-rode it, we quickly realized we would need to drop to the small ring in the front, and get out of the saddle to pedal up it. My first time up, in the race, I got into my small ring, but did not shift up enough in the back. I was barely able to turn the pedals over in the last bit of the hill. Note to self...shift into an easier gear for the next lap!

Then, there was a slight downhill that went into, what many were calling, a false flat. Well, it didn't look like a false flat to me. In fact, it looked like a flat-out hill! Although I had shifted back up to the big ring, I found myself having to shift up in the back a couple of times. No big deal, except, since I do not have a TT bike with shifters on the aerobars, it meant I was out of aero position (at least with one arm). Also, that part of the course was going into the wind.

It flattened out a bit, swept around to the left (tailwind), then came down into a sweeping right hand turn (back into the wind). That was great as it gave a little momentum into the next hill. I could get about half way up before getting out of the saddle again. 

The course did two more sweeping turns, then I came to the hairpin into the steep steep downhill. I braked a tad into the left hairpin, but let it fly through the next right, left, and final left at the bottom and back onto the straightaway. I was not on my aero bars as it took all the stability I could get from the bike to make it down that hill and through those turns. Once I was back on the straightaway, it was a tailwind, and I was able to go pretty fast.

Laps 2, 3, and the final lap were pretty much the same, except I shifted better going into the first steep uphill. Since it was a loop course, and people went off every 30 seconds, there were times when there would be several people in the same part of the course. I passed a few people that I knew were in my category, and was passed by women from the other categories, and some men. In a TT, until the results are posted, you only know that you beat the ones you passed. When they posted the results, I managed to get 3rd place! I was 7 seconds out of 2nd. Karen got 4th, and Jean got 10th--top 10 finishes for all of us!!!

Podium shot (the 2nd place gal had already left)--Beth, did very well. She won by over a minute!

So, what does one do in between the two races? Well, eat, drink, chat, and in the case of today, play with these two little cuties!
This is Evie (4) and Rowan (7) from British Columbia (their brother, a Junior, was racing today). They were the sweetest little girls! I gave them each a dollar, and thanked them for wearing their helmets. I know they're Canadian, but they were headed onto Cannon Beach, and there's a great candy store there.

The Circuit Race

At 12:01, we started the circuit race. The wind had picked up a bit more which made it a little suckier on the headwind sections. We would be going around and around the racetrack for 60 minutes. We figured we would do 8 laps (I think we did 9). We went a minute behind the Cat 4/5 men. The first time up the steep hill wasn't too terrible as we didn't go quite as hard as in the TT. When we came to the downhill, I think we were all a little bit nervous about coming down the steep twisty-turny hill as a group. It was okay. I quickly learned that I couldn't do as Ron had recommended and stay to the outside on the right hand turn. I had more speed, but then the group cut into the apex of the left hand turn and I was almost pushed off the pavement (on the first lap, anyway). 

Round and round we went. After the second or third lap, the fast girls got away. There was a group of four of us that worked together, but we were only able to catch another two that had also been dropped. Round and round we went some more. Apparently, one of the gals (the Junior) had sat out a lap (according to Jean), and then got back in with the group of us dropped gals. I did not notice this, but I can rarely keep track of who's doing what, except the ones just in front of me. Anyway, she rode with us for a few laps. 

At one point, as we came by the Finish again, the clock said we had 3 laps to go. We all groaned as we really were hoping we had just one more. When we saw that, the pace slowed considerably for that next lap. Then it was two more. As we were nearing the top of the steep downhill, the main group of 4/5 men passed us for the second time. We slowed waaaaaay down so as to not get into the mix on the downhill. When we came to the Finish, the clock said, You Are Done. Well, the 4/5 men were done, but we still had to go around again! It was a little crazy as the men were cooling down, chatting, and whatnot, as we were still racing through them. They finally figured that out, and got out of the way. The last time up the steep hill, I fell off the back. Fortunately, I was able to catch back on after the "false flat". I stayed with them up the last real hill. All that was left after that was a few more turns, then the downhill, and onto the straightaway with a tailwind to the finish.

Coming down the steep hill, I followed my preferred line and managed to pass a couple of gals. There was a gap, and with a couple of pedal strokes before the next left (another Ron instruction), I was able to slip in in front of them, and not get pushed off the track. I was drafting behind two of the Bike Sale gals. At, I don't know how many meters from the finish, I got as low as I could in my drops, and hammered the pedals in my hardest gear. I passed both of them, but just before the line, one passed me. I ended up in 8th place. Whew! I was glad that was over!

Overall, I really enjoyed this course. There was never a dull moment, and even in the hardest parts, I knew a tailwind or a downhill was coming soon. 
My "prize" for my 3rd place finish (the Montana Hucklberry is my favorite).

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