Week 3 of road racing for me. Today was the first dose of the Tour de Dung in Sequim. For the first time, Debbie and I drove up this morning instead of going the night before. She picked me up at 6:15. We arrived at 8:30, which was perfect. The weather report had been predicting 80% chance of rain all week. In fact, three of our teammates opted not to go because of the bad weather. When I looked at the forecast this morning, it had changed. Now it was 0% chance of rain during our race. However, the wind was supposed to pick up. When we arrived at the start it looked like this.
You can even see the Olympics!
Indeed, as we got closer to our race time of 10:00, the wind had started to pick up. Because the course is a loop, we would have headwinds, tailwinds, and crosswinds. Still, it wasn't too bad--we've raced in worse wind. Best of all, there was no rain, and the roads were bone dry!
There were 26 of us who lined up at the start. This week, Starbucks was the team with the most members at 8. Bike Sale had 4, and Group Health only had 3. Hagens Berman also fielded 3 gals. We had 3 of us (Jean, Debbie, and I). The rest were singles representing their teams. Curiously, there were no unattached riders in this race (racers who are not on a team). Jasmine from RAD was also racing as the sole junior.
As we started our race, I noticed the wind was coming more from the north. That means we would be dealing with longer periods of crosswinds than anything else. The only headwinds were from Corner 1 to Corner 2, and the section on Kitchen-Dick Rd (yes, that is the name of that road!). I also noticed a rather funky smell. At first, I thought it was something from the fields. But, as we continued, the smell did too, and we realized it was coming from our Lead Car. What the heck? It smelled like a deep fryer, or stale cooking oil. It was like riding in a McDonalds! Everyone who was on the front noticed it. It was not pleasant (especially since there seemed to be no French fries forthcoming)!
Going down the hill after Corner 1, I just coasted up on the right. A short while after making Corner 2, I found myself on the front with Emily from Starbucks. She did well last week at Mason Lake, getting 2nd. I figured I would try to stay near her. We were really taking it easy on the front. But, I didn't want to be on the front too long. So, when some gals came up the side, I moved in behind a wheel. I drifted back a bit.
The race continued at a fairly slow pace (much like Mason Lake last week). I noticed Debbie was actually staying in the pack! You might think that was because the pace was slow, but no. We've had slow pace races before and she has still been nervous about being in the pack.
So, around we came, and into Lap 2. There were no attacks of any merit. One gal might go off, but as is typical of us Cat 4 Women, no one would go with that person, and we would eventually catch them. It wasn't really even very much work to catch them. There was even a Hagens Berman gal riding her rain bike, fenders and all! Oh, and one gal had a pump in her jersey pocket (it almost fell out at one point)! Then again, I was not much better as I had forgotten to take my phone out of my pocket.
On the flat backside, I was back on the front. Pretty soon, here comes Debbie up the side, and she gets in front of me! YES, she was still hanging in the peloton! I drafted behind her for awhile, then traded places with her. We did this a few times. From a race "tactic", as we were not off the front, it was not worth much, but for me, it was a great help. It saved my energy. In fact, Debbie did a ton of work on both the second and third laps. As we were going along on the second lap, I had a moment to tell her how proud I was of her that she was truly racing. She has shed her Dangler persona!!!
In the third lap, there still seemed to be no great attempts at getting away. I realized we would likely be a bunch at the final sprint. Emily spent almost the entire third lap on the front. I thought that was amazing, but I began to think there was no way she would have anything left for the sprint. But, she was still working hard, so I stayed close to her. At the 1km sign, we had the whole road. Jean told everyone to spread out. I was on the far right. There didn't seem to be much spreading happening. Oh well, I stayed in the draft. However, they really picked up the pace. I was glad I was still on a wheel. In fact, it was Emily's wheel until she faded (like I said, she did a ton of work), then I went by her and was on the next wheel. I stayed on that wheel until about 50m from the finish. I was going as hard as I could. Then, that gal began to fade just enough that I was able to go around her. I couldn't get out of the saddle (legs just refused), so I put my head down and gutted it out. I ended up 5th. Another top 10 finish--YAY!
Last week the Starbucks gals had been working for Emily. This week they were working for Courtney. Courtney got 7th. Jasmine got 3rd!!! Yay, Jasmine!!!
Afterward, on the way back to the cars, Debbie and I turned and rode out to the Dungeness County Park and Wildlife Refuge. In my quest to see some of these places that we have raced at for 4 years now (example, Flaming Geyser at the Icebreaker TT), I wanted to check it out. The road led to a nice view of the water.
Looking toward Port Angeles.
When we got back to the cars, I had Ron take a photo of the three of us.
Jean, Debbie, and I
This was a fun race, and a big part of why is because there were 3 of us racing the whole time! Oh, and it was also nice that it didn't rain. Might have been even nicer without the fast food fryer smell!