My last two weekends of racing have been back-to-back WA state championship events. First was senior road race champs down in Elma, followed by this last weekend's mountain bike champs over in Wenatchee.
The state road race was held on the Vance Creek course, which I had never raced before. Admittedly, I wasn't expecting a very interesting route, but I was happy to realize the course was actually really fun. It started and finished at the old half-built nuclear power plant(cool to see up close) and featured some really fun narrow winding farm roads that made me feel like I was back in Europe. The race finished on a one-mile punchy climb. Not long enough for a pure climber to ride away on, but too long for a pure sprinter to win.
Lots of laps.
My Second Ascent teammates, Mike and Kevin, and I rode well, staying near the front and getting in a few moves. Second to last lap, friend/Bellinghamster Ian Crane and I were off the front up the climb, trying to bridge to a two-man break-away that included another friend/Bellinghamster Steve Fisher. Unfortunately the pack chased us down then proceeded to sit up and just put along, letting the break ride away with the win.
The last time up the climb and into the finish, the race for 3rd came down to an uphill finish. Logan Owen and Ian Crane finished just ahead of me as I rolled in for 3rd in the sprint and 5th in the race. A pretty decent road racing result for me. Mike and Kevin finished really strong as well, both in the top 20.
Last weekends mountain bike race was an event that was put on by Jake Maedke, the same promoter who runs the awesome Beezley Burn race weekend. If you have never met Jake, he is a super cool dude and his events are top notch. Check them out at his website.
The event, called the Chainsmoker, was held at Squilchuck State Park. Some of you may remember racing the old WIM Squilchucker race. I remembered, but it wasn't until I raced it again that I truly recalled how incredibly challenging the course was. My previous experience of Squilchuck was from age 16, when I battled(and came in second to) Tom Kutina in the junior sport category. I should also mention that it was nearly 100 degrees outside, if I remember correctly.
This time around, the weather was anything but 100 degrees. Alternating between rain, hail, and sunshine, the course had turned into a mud fest by about 30 minutes into our race. After a blazing fast start, I stayed on Spencer Paxson's(Kona) wheel for as long as I could until he got rid of me at the end of the first lap. Now in no-mans land, I stayed about 30 seconds behind Spencer and 30 seconds in front of Russell Stevenson(CyclingNorthwest) for the next hour. Starting the 4th lap, I felt my body starting to protest the hard effort and Russell caught me and quickly dropped me on the steep paved climb through the campground.
My 4th and 5th(final) laps had me remembering how hard the course was when I raced it as a junior. I really hit the wall and was nearly to the point of walking up some of the steep hills. I was relieved just to make it to the finish line. I was also happy that I held on for third place, finishing about 2.5 and 3 minutes behind Russ and Spencer, respectively.
Thank you for the photo Patrick!
Chainsmoker was a race that reminded me of some of my old mistakes: after a solid warm up, start a race hard to stay with the leaders, but not so hard that I blow up before the finish. Also, make sure I eat and drink enough. This was one of those races where I felt like I was turning myself inside out the entire time, without many chances to drink or recover.
All in all, it was an awesome weekend of racing and hanging out with good friends, which reminds me; Chris, Courtenay, Patrick, Whitney and I had a super fun time camping and barbecuing Friday night before the race. It was also great waking up only 100 feet from the race course!
Next race up is the Stottlemeyer 60 mile mountain bike race in Port Gamble. I'm really excited for this one, but not exactly sure how my body will handle such a long mountain bike race...