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:

Kick Off Cross 2012 – Race #1 2012-2013

kick off cross roger hutchison profile

Kick Off Cross is the first cyclocross race of the season in our neck of the woods (Seattle and northward). It’s held down at Big Finn Hill Park in Kirkland, WA.

This was my first race of my first season of cyclocross in 2011.

It makes for an easy transition from other bike racing since it’s so early in the season and we have the nice weather transition from summer to fall. In the previous two years the course has been very dry, with quite a bit of dust kicked up from grass sections. The temperature has even reached into the 70’s on race day. Some call this “The AntiCross” because the weather is so pleasant.

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The down side is that you have to prepare a little differently from your typical CX race.

It’s important to hydrate well before the start. Since most racers don’t carry water with them, the mouth can get pretty parched when you’ve been sucking dust for 30 minutes.

If you plan ahead you can take advantage of knowing is probably going to be dry hardpack on the day of the race. This year I’m planning to go with a file tread rather than regular aggressive knobby tires. On paper this should get me going a little faster than I might otherwise.

When I raced this in 2012 I came in 70th out of 79 racers in the Cat 4 Master Men 35+. Since January of this year I’ve been working with a coach and I truly expect to place a little higher than that this year. If I can start placing in the top 50% of the race that will be a big improvement.

Also in 2012 I learned a couple of the bottleneck points and saw a couple of strategies on dealing with them. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to use that to my advantage.

This is also the first race my 2 year old (now 3) was able to do the kiddie race. In 2012 he did it on a scooter. For 2013 he’ll be on a two wheeler. Progress!

All in all, it’s a great way to start the season. A fast, dry course to test out the legs and see where you sort out in the local competition.