Monday, May 26, 2008

Ski to Sea

The Ski to Sea race this year was quite different. With all the snow we had this winter and a recent heat wave, the river was flowing high and fast and as of late Saturday night the full race was planned to be run. After an early morning evaluation, the race director decided to cancel the canoe leg of the event. While there were lots of disappointed racers this was the best decision due to the high water there were no beaches to allow for self rescue. The exit beach (at the mountain bike leg start) was 6 feet under fast moving water, there was no place for them to exit the river.

So onto my leg the mountain bike... How to keep the race on schedule and allow for proper spacing and finishing in Fairhaven. They gave each canoe leg the same 2 hour time and tried to have the mountain bikers leave 2 hours after their road biker finished 18 miles away in Everson. it was quite hectic, but at least it wasn't raining. Actually it was hot and we heard at least 4 bike tires explode!

They did pretty good with the 2 hour window with the front runners, but then moved to about 5 riders at time about 3-4 minutes apart, then about 10 at a time, finally they gave up and just started calling numbers.

I rode my bike out to Hovander for the pre race meeting and then to wait... and wait... about 3-4 hours after arriving I finally got underway during the call out of numbers. I started out quick and kept passing riders that went out ahead of me, it was nice to have all these riders up ahead to give me targets to chase and catch.

This is a flat and fast course, only one small actual section of mud and more than half is on the road, so road with my slick tires pumped way up and tried to ride low and aerodynamic as possible. I caught more on the road and was only passed by one person, but I was able to catch his wheel and draft for a bit and then passed him back to have him pass me again, this time he got away but not too far and I finally caught back just as we got to the beach section, where you don't ride, but run with your bike and I just ran past him and never saw him again.

After the beach it is more road and into the park to Zuanich park at the finish to hand off to the kayaker. I needed to pass two more to get an even count and I had them in my sights and made the final pass after the final turn in the last 150 yards of the ride. Passed the line and passed the timing chip onto Jim.

I had a great ride, passed 40 riders and was 59th fastest overall (out of about 420 teams) and 11th fastest in the rec open category. Debbie and kids came to the finish and got some great pics. After a shower we went to Jims for a post race party and the whole team made it and exchanged food, drinks and stories of the day. All in all a great day.

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