2013 Tour of Walla Walla - Race Report

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Hot sunny weather at last year's Tour of Walla Walla attracted a large number of Glotman-Simpson racers to this year’s running. In total, 17 racers made the 650 km journey from Vancouver meaning that Glotman-Simpson had representation in all but one racing category.

Friday – Waitsburg Road Race

However, this year, racers were greeted on day 1 with heavy rain and high winds. As luck would have it, the skies cleared up 15 minutes before race time on Stage 1 and the rain stayed away just long enough to finish the Waitsburg Road Race. This event was limited to Cat 1/2, Cat 3, and Masters Men.

For the 1/2 Men’s team, Mark, David and Travis held their own in a strong field over the hilly and very windy 100 km course. In the end, our GC man, Mark Rainer managed a strong finish and was in contention at only 48 seconds back of the leaders at the end of the day. Travis suffered a puncture in the last five km and lost time, while David finished 90 seconds back.

Saturday – Time Trial and Downtown Walla Walla Crit

The following day saw much more action with all categories of racers participating in one of the most scenic time trial courses on the race calendar. The day was capped off with furious criterium action on the streets of downtown Walla Walla. Thankfully, the rain stayed away, but wind and cool temperatures made for a tough day on the time trial course.

On the 1/2 Women’s side, a recent injury limited Morgan to only competing in the time trial. After winning the same time trial last year, she put on an impressive show with a top 10 finish, despite her injury.

The big victories for Glotman-Simpson in the time trial came from the Cat 3 and Cat 4 women. Justine blew away the field in the time trial by nearly half a minute and pulled on the yellow leader’s jersey. Jenn and Jozina both raced strategic time trials finishing strong but also conserving some energy for the next two stages where they would need to help their new GC leader Justine.

In the Women’s Cat 4 field, Alysia pulled off an impressive 6th place and put herself into contention for the GC. Meanwhile, in the Men’s Cat 4 time trial, Joost picked up a top 5 finish in a strong field while Corey and Kurt both rode not just strong but strategic races knowing that Joost would need their help to do well in the GC.

Mark continued to lead the Glotman-Simpson Men’s 1/2 team with a smart TT, finishing only 2 minutes back of a winning time that was impossibly fast. David and Travis rounded out the field hoping to conserve some energy for the next two stages.

In the afternoon / evening Criteriums, more success would be found by Team Glotman-Simpson.

Justine held on to her leader’s jersey by racing smart and staying out of trouble while Jenn and Jozina rode incredibly well and finished with the main field in the hotly-contest race.

Joost and the Men’s Cat 4 team put on a similar show, keeping Joost in contention for the GC and being sure to stay out of trouble.

The big story of the afternoon came from Alysia, who turned herself inside out and picked up 3rd place in the Women’s Cat 4 race ---- a very impressive race from Alysia who picked up some great merchandise to go along with her podium placing.

In the Men’s 1/2 field, Mark continued to put on a strong showing and finished the 60-minute drag race well inside the top of the field. David and Travis held in as long as they could at an average speed of nearly 45kph.

 

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Sunday – Kellogg Hollow Road Race

Sunday is always the hardest day in Walla Walla for Glotman-Simpson. A long and extremely hilly road race greeted the team coupled with the looming 650km drive post-race and 1am arrival back in Vancouver. Despite this, the team had an excellent day out on the race course.

Alysia capped off her strong weekend with a 6th place finish in the road race, giving her 6th overall in the GC. This was Alysia’s first official Stage race which only adds to the impressive performance.

In the Men’s Cat 4 race, Dean, Kurt and Corey rode very well for their GC man Joost, and managed to put Joost on the podium on the final day over a grueling 100km course. This was also Joost and Dean's first official Stage race, which makes the result even better. Expect big things from this Cat 4 team in the coming months.

Justine continued her winning ways in the Women’s Cat 3 race as well by racing smart and finishing well within the top 10. This placing locked up the GC for Justine and she walked away with the overall victory for Glotman-Simpson! This was Glotman-Simpson’s first every GC win at Walla Walla! Justine was extremely well-supported by Jenn and Jozina who also rode strong races. Jozina finished the day in 15th place.

The Men’s 1/2 race saw the boys pour it out over 150km and 1,500 metres of climbing with winds approaching 70 km/h from all directions. The field stayed together through the first 100km, but David, still recovering from an illness, was forced to retire early in the race. Mark and Travis got caught on the wrong side of a crosswind and ended up finishing with the chase group, 5 minutes behind the winner. It was a great test of fitness and will for the team in a race where only two thirds of the starters made it across the finish line.

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Things we learned in Walla Walla

72 hours spent in Walla Walla with between 4 and 7.5hours of racing leaves athletes with a lot of time on their hands. Of course there’s the all-important recovery and preparation time, but what goes on between all of this is where the real learning happens. Here’s a few highlights from the weekend:

  1. Coconut water is so 2012. Beets are in. Preferably raw, unpeeled, with roots still attached. Carry one in your jersey pocket and devour it mid-race for a boost of unparalleled energy. Just make sure you bring some wet wipes with you so you don’t look like a raging psychopath when you cross the finish line. Mark Rainer swears by it, but was unable to convince anyone else to follow suit. **Mark says Viagra has the same effect, but the combined effect remains untested.
  2. 14 people can fit into a 4 bedroom house in Walla Walla. All you have to do is lay down a thin piece of foam in the laundry room, build a Belgian hostel in the upstairs TV room and squeeze five big, sweaty Glotman-Simpson racers onto foldable cots designed for small children.
  3. It is entirely possible, and perhaps even a sign of true grit, to throw up during a bike race. Just make sure you thoroughly clean your bartape after the race.
  4. Best post-race recovery routine: Squeeze into a tiny Jacuzzi with your closest teammate and have a glass of red wine. Works like a charm.
  5. Team Glotman-Simpson is tight. Despite all the stress of travel, racing, and living in extremely close quarters with 13 other people and their 20 bikes, the only epic blow ups that happened in Walla Walla were on the race course!

Cat3/Masters

Representing Glotman Simpson Cycling at this year’s edition of the Tour of Walla Walla Stage race in the Cat 3 and Masters 40+ races were Michael Goodman, Wai-Ben Wong, Ted Matson and Emil Marceta. Michael and Wai-Ben lined up with the uber-competitive young guns in the Cat 3 race while Ted and Emil lined up with the cagey and not-slow-yet geezers. Both categories raced four stages with a 70km road race on Friday, a 14km TT on Sat morning, a 45min Crit on Sat afternoon, and a 110km road race on Sunday. There were 91 competitors in the Cat 3 race and 59 in the Masters race.

Friday morning started out with a major rainstorm, from which ensued a very lengthy debate about carbon aero wheels vs. aluminum clinchers. Naturally we turned to the more experienced racers on the team for their opinion. Travis Streb advised aluminum wheels for braking performance, David Gillam advised aero carbon wheels for speed performance – so we ended up just randomly changing back and forth to pass the time. Finally by about 3:00pm, and just before the race started, the skies cleared up and we all switched back to our carbon race wheels. Unfortunately, with the clear skies a gusty 35km/hr wind kicked up. A wind that did not stop for the entire weekend!

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After a very slow neutralized uphill start, the race began with a downhill stretch directly into the 35km/hr wind. There was a huge penalty for being out on the front so everyone stayed gruppo compacto trying to avoid the front as much as they could. With the wind and the yellow-line rule, moving up required a bit of elbowing, or riding up the right hand shoulder which at times would suddenly turn to mud, gravel or dirt. This made the race a bit twitchy and a bit frustrating. On the back half of the course the race turned North and went uphill with a beautiful tailwind, this allowed things to open up a bit. A few attacks went off at this point and some of the pack was shed, but with the strong tailwind the main group remained largely intact.

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In the Masters race a crash occurred about ¾ of the way through the first lap. The wind was a crosswind at that point and several riders touched wheels causing one rider to over-correct and he went down heavily. His fall in the middle of the road caused a few others to pile into him and several racers were unable to continue from that point. Everyone behind the crash had to work hard for about 2km to reattach with the lead group and on the next climb 6 riders from that lead group were able to escape. They managed to stay away for the rest of the race eventually gaining over 3min on the rest. The finish of the race was uphill into the wind and that made it extremely hard to gain position.

In the Cat3 race Wai-Ben was about 5th wheel going into the last km and did a great job of maintaining his position into the wind but ended up getting boxed out of a podium spot at the very end. At the end of Stage 1 for the Cat 3s Wai-Ben finished with the lead pack time of 2:05:52 and Michael - despite working so hard that the contents of his stomach ended up on his handlebars - finished about 5:00min off the pace. In the Masters race Ted and Emil both received the same time as the main pack, finishing 3:24 behind the top 6.

Saturday featured two races with the Time Trial in the morning and the Crit in the afternoon. The time trial was hard for everyone with the strong winds continuing and with a significant climb into that wind. There was some great cheering along the course courtesy of GS club members and Mark-Rainer-fan-club president, Rebecca Sherlock. She had situated herself at the top of the climb, which was pretty much the perfect place to hear your name and some encouragement, even though we were all so cross-eyed at the time that it took a good minute or two down the road to figure out who that was!

Uphill into the wind by yourself is NEVER fun, and especially when the clock is running. Emil did very well in the TT finishing 19th in the Masters with a time of 22:03.75. Ted was 3 places and 14 seconds behind him. In the Cat 3s Michael worked very hard to redeem himself from Fridays race and finished with a very solid 23:37.45. Wai-Ben isn’t a huge TT fan and was overheard speaking with the organizer asking if they would consider making the TT a hill climb race for next year!

The Crit race later Saturday afternoon was the only event of the weekend where the wind was not a huge factor. For both the Cat3 and Masters races it was fairly uneventful with no successful breaks. Both races featured a few attacks but nothing was able to get away. As usual, the crit came down to positioning on the last corner and for that Wai-Ben was the most successful GS rider with a 10th place finish in the Cat 3 field sprint. GC positioning remained unchanged after stage 3.

Sunday was the second Road Race and the fourth and final stage of the race. Although sunny, it was a bit chilly at 14 degrees and the 35km/hr SW winds continued. Everyone’s legs were tired from the previous two days and the pace started off decidedly slower and less aggressive than Friday’s road race. In the masters race two riders went off the front almost immediately and the rest of the field was so un-inclined to chase into the wind that at a couple of points we almost came to a complete standstill. The GC leader was riding without a team and the entire peloton decided to mark him. The poor guy did a ton of work at the front, trying to reel in the breakaway and at the same time trying to save himself out for the inevitable attacks. He was wearing one of those Air Attack helmets so, never mind the yellow jersey, he kind of deserved to be off the front by himself - fashion criminal!

The breakaway was nearly 2 minutes ahead of the pack at one point, but they were slowly reeled in and about 1/3 of the way through the second lap, they were finally caught. On the final climb the group separated with about 30 riders staying together and the rest shattering off the back. Emil did a great job of staying with the lead group and finished the stage in 11th place. Ted fell off the lead pack on the last climb and was back 1:47 in 31st place. For the Cat3s, the race was much more aggressive with several attacks going off early in the race. Wai-Ben struggled to find his legs on the first climb and ended up settling in with a group of 6-7 guys working together to survive the day and the winds. Michael found himself in much better form than Friday and managed to stay with the lead group until the last climb and finishing 34th overall. Everyone was happy to have at least finished the race with a ton of DNFs in both categories.

At the end of 4 stages: For the Cat3s, Michael finished 39th in the GC with a time of 6:13.42 and Wai-Ben was 51st at 6:24.29. For the Masters, Emil finished 16th in the GC at 6:01.44 and Ted was 23rd with a time of 6:03.45.

All in all a fabulous weekend of racing, and we can’t wait for next year!

“The race was a highlight of my GS career. I look forward to racing and hanging out with the gang again soon.” - Michael Goodman, verified quote