Monday, 4 May
Black Monday, I think
I had to skip the first half of the Westside Omnium this weekend because of a work commitment. That seemed to work out pretty well, at least in terms of weather. I missed the dumping rain at the finish and sliding out in the corners that some folks seemed to have suffered at Glenwood. Sunday's weather was just about perfect; we were all able to work on moving our tan lines up our legs by shedding the knee warmers.
I thought my bike was set up perfectly for the Longbranch course, with compact gearing and 11 speeds. That, of course, presumes that I could use all 11 cogs on the cassette. Sadly, I discovered the first time up the 15% hill that I was not going to be using the 4 lowest gears on my bike. The chain would skip, eventually, every time I dropped the gear to something low enough to get up the hill. My speed would go from 5 to 2 mph and I'd have to hurriedly shift up and pedal in order not to tip over. For a while I was in denial, figuring maybe it was just one bad cog and if I shifted all the way to the bottom, I might spin ridiculously but at least I'd spin. Not so. So I clambered up that hill (the follow official asked me afterward what was up) 5 times with an rpm of about 30. I would get dropped every time, but I guess I saved time and energy by not having to shift up so much at the top and I managed to get back to the pack on every lap but the last. The feed zone climb was not so bad because the steep section at the bottom was shorter and the two pitches after that weren't so steep. Hard, yes. Shrieking pain in the quads like the 15%er, no. Needless to say, there will be some mechanic consultation happening before I take the bike up another 15% grade.
It was a curious race. Two hard road races in an omnium format with a huge prize on the line to the winner. There was less emphasis on winning Sunday's race outright than winning the omnium overall. It made for some very strange spells in the race where virtually nobody in the pack would work because of the few riders scattered up the road--either they were teammates or they had no omnium points and weren't worth the trouble of chasing down. The course at Longbranch is enough to make sure things never get very boring, and there were race dynamics going on for a good long time. Afterward, I realized it was the first Washington road race I've finished this year; at long last, we seem to have moved out of snow season!