|Jaden Salama at the start line.|
Followed by race reports from Randy Word and Jaden Salama
Photo Credit: Mo Salama
Woodland, Washington was the location of the first pack race of the season. Featuring 6mile loops around the bottom land behind a high dike holding back the mighty Columbia River, narrrow roads kept the packs sewn up tighter than sardines in a can.
Racing in a pack is terrifying. Just racing alone on the open road in an Individual Time Trial is daunting work. Merely staying on a rural road with big cross winds is hard enough. But add other people, team dynamics, and more speed and you have the cumalitive challenge of road racing.
Sunday, three Cyclisme Racers took on the challenge of pack racing in three different divisions.
Randy Word raced in the Master's 3/4s with 50+, Cliff Theisen raced in the Master's 4/5s, and Jaden raced in the all younger age inclusive "Junior's Division."
Randy narrowly avoided a crash in the sprint and finished top 20. Cliff held on while boxed in the middle the whole race, but then got dropped by the pack sprint in the last 500meters to roll in about 25th. Jaden hid amongst the leaders doing little bits of work to keep the pace high, then sprinted for the win in the end.
Race Report from the Master's 3/4s and 50+
by Randy Word
I lost the race in the parking lot! Sounds crazy, but there were 78 riders in our field and the roads are very narrow. People lined up for the race well before the start while some of us were out warming up. I probably started around 40th or worse.
I spent the entire race (which was too short, in my opinion) just trying to move up. The only place I could move up was on the edge of the road, and only occasionally.
In the final sprint there was a big crash in front of me - I hit my brakes, hoping no one behind would run into me, but then saw an opening, let go of my brakes, and got through the crash unscathed.
The sprint was incredibly sketchy, it was slow and people spread all across the road banging handlebars. I was just starting to get wound up and could have blown by nearly all of them if there had been an opening, but I backed off when I saw people banging bars & shoulders. I ended up 19th, and was somewhat disappointed, but yet happy to have made it through my first road race in about 4 years without any incidents and still feeling strong thanks to a flat course. We did 50km (31 miles) in just under 1 hr 15 min. The weather was perfect, scenery was great, and the rush of 78 riders on a narrow country road was fun.
Cliff and Jaden raced earlier in the day. I actually saw Jaden, and the Junior's pack, on the road as I was driving in. I didn't get a chance to talk with Jaden, but he won 1st place! Congratulations Jaden. BTW Be sure to contact OBRA or the chief ref (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let her know Jaden is on the Word-RCB by Cyclisme team - the team affiliation is not showing in the results.
I did get a chance to talk with Cliff after his race, and before mine. It sounds like he did exceptionally well in his first road race. He rode smart and finished with the pack. He said he had a great time and it was a good experience. I think he's going to have a good season. I also noticed that Cliff did not have a team affiliation showing. Maybe we need a reminder sent out for everyone to include their team name on their license application and race sign-ups.
Inexperience at the Dirty Circles Road Race
By Jaden Salama
From the start line to the finish line, inexperience abounded.
In the very first lap, on the first bend, a very large rider came up on my right, and slowly rode up to the person in the from of the paceline. When he was next to the leader of the paceline (who had no idea he was there), he just sat there, not saying anything. The front rider swerved right a little bit to avoid a peice of debris, and the insurgent slammed on his brakes and skidded in the loose dirt he was in.
In the paceline, many riders pulled through, and then, worked hard to ride alongside their teammates at the front of the paceline. Some riders would attack hard in the middle of a lap, only to be caught, breathing heavily, by the rest of the team. Due to difficulties at the front of the paceline, some riders would randomly hit their brakes, almost crashing me and other riders out on multiple occasions. Not only were these riders inexperienced, it didn't seem like they had much of any training.
The one rider that seemed like he knew what he was doing was pretty burnt out when we reached the 500m mark, so I just decided to sprint for the finish. I didn't see anyone after that, however.
In the midst of all this inexperience, there was teamwork and companionship. One rider weaved in and out of the paceline to provide a young teammate with shelter from the wind. When someone attacked, there was a large cry of "Attack!".
When I was leading the pack, I took my pull and then drifted left and slowly slowed down to drift to the end of the pack. After a couple seconds, I didn't see anyone pull through, so I looked behind me and found that the entire pack had "pulled off" to the left with me, and was slowing down.
When the end came, I sprinted. I was amazed by how much ground I gained. I was a long way off the front as I crossed the line.
I am thankful for all my training with my team. It really made life easier today.