BCC was well represented yesterday in the Calabogie O-Cup, with four of us in Mens E4 (Chris, Alex, Gordon, myself), Ivana in Womans M3, and JoLo in Mens E3. I can only comment on our race (and only from my viewpoint) so everyone else please chime in on your experiences.
The Calabogie race track is a great spot to race bikes at high speeds - it's wide open, has a couple small hills to kick over, and most turns are wide enough you can pedal through. The wide open nature of it and lack of big hills (or big wind) makes it difficult for any breaks to stick unless you have good coordination between a couple teams and some very strong legs. My guess going in was that it was going to end in a bunch sprint unless we got a bit lucky.
With this being the first O-Cup of the year after Good Friday was cancelled, we didn't really know much about the competition nor did us newbies have a chance to get our feet wet beforehand. The E4 crowd was a bit twitchy, but relatively well behaved. There was one crash in the early/mid laps on a straight portion that must have been due to inattention, but all BCC'ers avoided it - though I needed to do some off-roading and a bit of an effort to catch-up to the group.
The pace overall actually seemed a bit low key versus what I expected. Our race average said 40k/hr but it really didn't seem that for most of the race. My personal goals going in were to learn as much as possible - I didn't think I'd be comfortable committing to a bunch sprint at the end, so I planned to better learn pack skills, try a few attacks, counter a few attacks, and generally try to liven up the bunch. If nothing stuck then my end goal was to lead out someone else for the finish.
In general I accomplished my goals - I was far too active and burnt a lot of energy doing so - experimenting with moving up through the pack, up the side of the pack, attacking from 1/3rd down, attacking from 5th wheel, following attacks, even leading the pack for a while (never, ever, lead the pack...). I had a couple people willing to break with me, and I thought that there were two real opportunities that could have panned out with a bit more luck/help. Once, there were 2-3 Waterloo's up front so I took a run up one side while an independent flew up the other side and we passed them. My hope was that they would send 1-2 up and then kick back with the other one or two...but they sent no-one. I also got one of the Tekne guys to break with me another time but I pretty much let him down when he flew by me and I couldn't keep the wheel...oh well!
Chris, Alex, and Gordon had a much better race strategy for actual results and in general kept in the pack to conserve energy. Chris moved up near the end to near front of the pack, while Alex was about mid pack on the straight leading into the final turn. I was able to push through to get in front of him and give him a wheel to follow through the final turn and into the last straight. With my job done, he flew by me and hit a quality top 10 result - that's what fresh legs will do. Chris got to the podium all on his own skills - I didn't see his finish so he'll have to fill you in on that last straight.
After Alex passed me by I was just trying to hold on some form of effort to finish with the back of the bunch, but everyone was passing me pretty easily as I was gassed. Unfortunately someone clipped my handlebars pretty hard (despite having wide open space on all sides as i was well back from the front) and I went down. Gordon had a good view of that and he slowed down as he went by, costing him spots after a good race by him.
So a DNF for me, but a great race for everyone else. I'm not letting that result get me down as I had an awesome time racing with the BCC crew and accomplished most of what I set out to do. Looking forward to getting out with the team again!