2015 Lake Sammamish GP Race Report

This was another day that had the potential to be a nice day out for the family, or to be the cyclocross version of trench warfare.

We left Bellingham at about 5:45 am to head south to Lake Sammamish. The kids were loaded in and they were already started on some “screen time”. Hey, you do what you need to do. Team gear filled the back of our Sienna.

The nice thing about being on the road that early in the morning is you get to see the sky lighten up. We didn’t really get to catch the sunrise since it was overcast.

Getting closer to Seattle we noticed the clouds get darker and some sprinkling rain start to come down. It seems this could have gone either way – clearing up or downpour.

For the sake of my kids, I’m glad it went towards the clearing up direction. Even though we have gone “all out” on having a team tent this season, it’s still nice to have the option of having the kids go out and use the play area without complaining about it too much.

My wife Dawn has started racing this season in the Beginner Women category and is having a good time with it. Her race went off in the first group of the morning. The kids and I got around to different parts of the course to cheer her on and take photos.

The youth racers went off just ahead of the women. This gave me the chance to cheer on the next generation of racers, both boys and girls, as they made their way around the course. One of the more inspirational moments was watching the smaller kids heave their bikes over the double set of barriers. Imagine having to heave your bike over a barrier that is 1/3 your height, then climbing over it yourself!

These kids were not about to give up and there was quite a crowd there to cheer them on. It really looks like these kids have caught the CX bug we’ll see them racing for years to come. There were some determined young ladies in that group I see as a continuing force to be reckoned with.

Just as Dawn’s race was finishing up my group was already staged at the start. This year I’m racing Clydesdales, which up until this race I was having mixed feelings about. I’m one for sticking to “officialness” in a lot of cases and it kind of felt like the Clyde’s was sort of “made up”.

I appreciate the effort to have something for us burlier guys, but it still felt like a patronizing effort.

That was until I actually raced in the category.

Clydesdale is no joke!

In other years, and in other events, I would race in the Cat 4 Master’s 45+. The winner’s time in the Clyde’s was 1:19 faster than the winner in that group! And while I managed to pull off 9th place (of 20 – barely top 50%), my time would have put me 30th of 69 in Cat 4 Master’s 45+.

So while my percent finish may not be as strong in the smaller field, there is something to be said for racing against a smaller field. Also, since these guys turn out to be really strong riders it might be even better preparation for me to go up through the “traditional” categories as I get more tuned to racing cyclocross.

Check out the video (above) for more detailed course description and experience.

Music in the video used under Creative Commons license:

2014 MFG#1 Lake Sammamish GP Race Report

Issaquah - Lake Sammamish

Temperature: 82 degrees F
Sunny and hot

It was a bit of a different experience getting to the venue just shortly before the first race of the day. Normally Shawn and I are in the first race of the day. Today we start at 11:10 am.

Since we arrived at the venue at about 8:30, this gave us plenty of time to scope out the course, take a recon lap and start getting warmed up.

On recon we found there were three sand sections. One that was short and ridable, the second that was a little longer and ridable, and the third that was longest and not ridable at all.

My strategy going in was to ride as much as I could and then run the remainder. I was thinking that riding would be faster than running, despite my previous experience that I can make time on the other racers when I’m running. That came back to haunt me a bit later in the day.

The remainder of the course was dry and fast with a mix of pavement, hard pack turf, and navigating a small grove of trees.

At the start they did call ups by last digit of your race number, which put me at the back of the start.

It was a pretty clean start with a bit of a bobble and contact between Shawn and another rider. Starts can be sketchy with all the nerves and guys trying to put out maximum power to make the hole shot. Shawn saved it and continued on without trouble.

I made my way through the first corner without trouble and managed to pick my way through the field, passing Shawn within the first few turns.

My focus for the first 2/3 of the race was going to be not to “blow up” like I’m known to do. I tend to start races feeling really good, but then have nothing left for later.

I rode through the first sand section according to plan with no trouble.

I also rode most of the way through the second sand section, but it cost me energy and race positions. This is where Shawn passed me back. He kept that lead for a couple more laps as I was still trying to conserve energy but also still making the mistake of trying to ride the 2nd sand sector rather than running.

The middle of the race was fairly uneventful, other than it was a fun course to race and navigate. Before too long I found myself in among the group that started a minute behind ours, so at least I was not racing alone, even though I may have been at the back of my own group.

With two laps to go I started expending a bit more energy to try and catch Shawn as well as try to get a little better overall result.

That paid off, as well as finally figuring out that I should run the 2nd and 3rd sand sectors. I caught Shawn just after the third sand sector with just over a lap to go.

I figured he would work to stay on my wheel until the finish and he would try to out sprint me.

I stepped on the gas a bit more and minimized my recovery on the last lap to make sure I put in some distance and to try for the best possible result.

There was a guy I caught on the final run through the final sand sector who seemed completely cooked as we exited the sand. He surprised me by coming around me after the remount. I figured I would be able to pass him, or least hold his wheel for the sprint at the end.

I had him in sight until the barrier section, but then just after that he was completely out of sight. I don’t know how he put ten seconds into me before the finish, but that’s what happened. Good move by him as I was at my limit by that point.

I crossed the line 53rd out of 58 and was lapped at some point by the winner, but it felt a lot closer than that. With the winner turning in a time that averages just over 7 minute 15 second laps, it was not hard to foresee getting lapped. In fact, only 37 of the 58 guys finished on the winner’s lap, with 5:08 separating first from 37th.