Last weekend I had races at the Korean International Circuit or F1 race track in the South Wester part of Korea. I knew the courses suited me because they were pretty flat and had a lot of corners, so I was confident going into the races.
Saturdays race was a called an Enurance race. The rules were pretty simple who every finished the most laps of the 5.4 km race course in under 2 hours was the winner. I had signed up for the mountain bike division but everyone in the race started together. Pretty quickly I was in the lead pack of road racers and all of the other mtb riders had been dropped. I knew I just needed to stay in my position to win my group. However, I had a teammate who was doing the road bike division in my group so I thought I might try to help him win. However, some of the Korean riders were confused about the rules of the race.
The laps were taking us about 8.5 minutes so I knew that if we finished a lap and hte clock read anything past about 1:44 that meant it was our last lap since we wouldn't be able to finish 2 more in under 2 hours. But no one in my group believed me and we let some people get up the road thinking we could catch them on the next lap. We finished our lap at 1:55 and then the officials said the race was over. I was the only mtb rider in my group but my teammate didn't sprint because he didn't understand the rules correctly and he ended up 11th. Despite the counfusion with the road riders, I was happy to get my first win of the season!
The next day was a more straight forward race. It was just 6 laps of the circuit for about 33km. This race had more strong riders in my group than the previous day but I was still feeling good and thinking I could do well. I was hoping it would come down to a sprint but knew there would be several attacks. My race had two age groups racing together but the prizes were given out based on age groups only.
The race was pretty fast with lots of teams trying to set the pace on the front. I sat in the top 1/3 of the field just to make sure I didn't miss any breaks. With 2 laps to go the race got more interesting with Hyung Mo Lee (probably the strongest racer in Korea) attacking. However he wasn't in my age group so I wasn't too concerned about him. Soon enough riders started to bridge up to him and I did so as well with my teammate Yeon Deok.
Once we caught up though the pack was quick to catch back up again too. At this point there was about 4km left and Hyung Mo attacked again. This time though he was able to stay off the front alone until the finish of the race. I thought about going with him but I decided to stay in and just focus on winning the field sprint (and win my age group as well). At this point we were about to lap a group of riders who had been dropped from our pack. We ended up catching their group on the finishing straight and luckily they moved over to the side and we were able to pass with out many problems. However this meant the finishing straight was narrowed from about 4 lanes to just two. I started the sprint with about 300m to go and was able to hold everyone off to the finish with my teammate Yeon Deok finishing second in our age group as well.
Overall it was a really successful weekend of racing for me! It was also a lot of fun because we traveled to the race with the Von Hart's Team. Its a team of masters racers that is also sponsored by my teams shop RX Bike. We got to eat a lot of really nice food at the race including korean style ribs, 3 kinds of crab, and meat pancakes. All of which were extremely delicious!
I don't have any races this week but I have a school teachers trip on Friday and Saturday and I'm going mountain biking on Sunday. The next race (and last one until August) is going to be Saturday, July 14th in Tae An, which is the same place I won the 2011 Tour de Korea pre test race 2 years ago. I'm really looking forward to racing on the course and hopefully repeating my win.
Podium Ceremony for Sunday's Race.
Starting the last lap with my teammate Yeon Deok and I trying to bridge up to the breakaway. The field came all back together once we caught it.
The finish. We were passing a pack of riders who were lapped during our field sprint. I'm smiling because I won my age group.
I met a new rider over the weekend Dejan Glavnik from Slovenia. He just spent the last 5 years biking around the world and now he is living in Korea. Thanks to Dejan for taking these pictures.