There were 12 or 13 BCC members at the race including James, Gord Bogden, Andrew, Peter, Mark, Jordan, Gord Lemon, Emile, Marc and probably a couple of others I missed. Many thanks to Dan and Laurie for showing up to cheer us on, it certainly gave me a boost for the sprint to the finish to hear "GO QB"
Unlike previous races, and tuesday of this week, the day was setting up to be sunny and still cold but more than bearable. I brought about 14 different sets of clothing in anticipation of crazy weather, something I learned the hard way in Niagara last year when i was woefully underdressed (no layering). I picked Emile up at 6:45 and we ended up getting to the race site at 7:45. Unlike triathlon, it seems that setting up for a bike race takes forever. I think the OCA could learn something from the Subaru or HSBC series. Anyway, I got a small practice ride in for about 15 minutes and that convinced me to go full winter gear. The big mits, 2 layers on my legs, and 3 layers up top including a windproof jacket. I also wore a lycra cap on my head.
The race started at 9am as they corralled the senior 4 and masters 3 riders into the starting area. I believe there were about 110 riders registered for the start and it certainly felt like we were all there. There was 8 of us I believe representing Darkhorse Flyers colours although everybody rides regularly with BCC including James who was flying the BCC blue in the start corral. The race got going a 9am and the adrenaline started pumping. With 100+ riders going out it made the first 10kms a bit of a slow go (relatively speaking). It seems for each race there is a bunch of contact at the front of the group, which certainly tests your riding ability. Key is to remain loose, so that you can absorb the contact and largely maintain your line. If you can remember to smile during all of the tense situations (going into turns, jostling in the peloton etc) your body naturally loses the tension.
The race was 3 laps of 18.5k. During the first lap, there as a crash at about 4km as two riders fell, forcing a third rider into the ditch. For those of you who have watched tour de france videos, you will know when i say it reminded me of the guy who missed the turn right, moves to the right of the guardrail and goes butt over teakettle down the hill. Coming out of the second turn at 6km, you get your first climb, which was quite orderly. I stayed in the saddle as much as possible on all of these climbs, not wanting to waste energy and momentum by standing. Past the fourth turn and at about 9km, the second crash happened, this time a rider clipped gord bogden's rear wheel and started the speed wobble, crashing in front of me and forcing me wide left over the yellow line (ordinarily going over the yellow line is an infraction that gets you DQ'd - yellow line violations happened quite a bit but I saw nobody pulled out). Later I would find out from Dan, that this wreaked havoc on gord's bike although it only looked like he had lost his chain.
The fifth turn was a fantastic piece of road. From 10-11k it was a climb plateau, right turn climb sequence that really tested you. You then were heading east into the wind for about 5kms. The weird thing (in my view) about this race, is there were a number of solid hills on this stretch, which allowed you to achieve substantial momentum on the downhill. Unfortunately the guys at the head of the group, kept scrubbing speed and so I had keep a hand at the ready on the brake at all times. The sixth turn onto brock road brought us home and was 2.5km from the turn to the finish line. This was largely a straight run with no hills, and good road.
The second lap was uneventful, one more crash i avoided and about halfway through I linked up with Gord Lemon. Gord and I maintained position in the top 25 for the next 25-30kms. After the last big climb (140m over 1.3km) on the 3rd lap, we had about 5km to go, so I led out with Gord to see if we could get something going. Nobody would break away with us and it was still too early to really bust the gut to get to the finish line. By the time we came into the home stretch, Gord and I were in a group of about 15, with Peter Cahill, just behind us. With about 2km to go, a crash happened right in front of me (kitchener deja vu) this time I avoided right, Gord had to go more right and ended up cyclo-crossing through the ditch and getting back onto the road. At this point the lead group had gapped us and so I pushed hard to bridge to the group of 6 or 7 riders. Gord was on my wheel as we caught the group in front with just about 1km to the finish line. It then became survival for a km or about 1 min 30 secs of hard cycling. About 300m out from the finish line i was 6th, then one of the riders snapped out of his pedal getting me to 5th. Looking at the riders in front of me, there were 3 masters riders (200 series numbers on their backs) and 1 senior 4 rider (100 series number on his back). I wanted the podium and figured and I had to push past one guy to grab 4th overall and 3rd in the category. I did it! I learned an important lesson, dont trust the numbers!! The 100 series rider was misnumbered and he was actually a masters 3 rider, so I remained 4th overall and 4th in the masters 3 group - no podium. Gord finished 8th overall and Peter was 22nd I believe.
A very good race for me, my conditioning is very good and the legs are feeling strong. My race pace was quite good, i kept tension levels down and my bike handling was also tested with 3 or 4 front tire rubs, numerous bumps and pushes and at least 3 crash avoidance manouevers. My average heart rate was just 146, and max of 173, very respectable and suggests i had more in the tank. The average speed was 37km/h, again i think there is more in the tank if a group broke away and went hard for the full 56k.
A very successful day. I am looking forward to the rest of the season.