This Sunday was the Vance Creek road race, my favorite local road race so far. The hills and scenic narrow sections make it the favorite; to get more elevation on a course you have to move on to some of the stage races like Walla Walla or the Wawawei grade hill climb in Pullman. Last year I snagged a podium place in the Cat 5 race so I wanted to try my luck again this year in the Cat 4 race.
To that end I dropped my chain immediately after the neutral roll out. Frustrating, but no big deal I thought- its only gonna take 15 or 20 seconds to get rolling again. The neutral support guy gave me a push and I was off- to chase hard for at least half a lap or 6 miles or so until I caught on. It felt like sprinting underwater. I would see the peloton 15 seconds ahead of me, put my head down and pedal really hard, look up and see them in the same place. Finally did get back on and had a chance to relax and let the taste of blood in my mouth dissipate a little. After that little drill I decided to just rest until the hills at the end of the last lap. I was able to move towards the front on the hills at the end of the second lap and decided to help keep the pace high downhill and string things out for the final lap. The final hills came soon enough; I was able to gradually move up and pass people on the hill and was not obstructed at the 200 meter mark. There were guys with 30 meters on me at that point so 12th was the best I could do. Still no upgrade points so far this year.
Overall it was a great race. Cat 4 races seem to be an object of derision for racer geeks but there was very little amateur shenanigans or spastic riding going on. A Farestart rider even made a bold solo attack with probably 4 km to go. My biggest complaint with the Cat 4 races so far - I'm thinking of Mason Lake here- is that no one attacks until the 200m sign. I wish the Farestart guy would have made it. In Sequim the Cat 4 peloton very nearly neutralized the Cat 3 race and my computer showed an average speed of 24.9 mph for the race- not bad!
To cap it all off I was able have a little mini staycation that night- rode downtown with the wife, enjoyed a bottle of Spaten Optimator, saw a movie.