Crossing the finish line at the end of GFRR.

The Good Friday Road Race is *normally* the kick-off of the Ontario road race season.  A little different this year, as the Calabogie race near Ottawa actually started off the season, but that's a closed course - technically, it's not even a road (it's a speedway).

So once again I kicked off my "road" race season at GFRR - complete with oncoming traffic, parked vehicles, street furniture (although mostly temporary fencing in this case), and "yellow line" rules (must stay on the right side of the road - makes moving up in the peloton very, very challenging!)

A total of 12 riders from Beaches Cycling Club and our affiliated trade team (To Wheels / Epic Sports Performance / BCC - or TWESPBCC for short) lined up for GFRR this year:

Sportif Men (32 km):

  • Michael Stroud (BCC)

Senior 4 (64 km)

  • Alex Mulholland (TWESPBCC)

Master 3 (64 km)

  • Craig Saari (M3 - TWESPBCC)
  • Tom Chapman (BCC)

Senior 3 (80 km)

  • Michael  Jaffray (S3 - TWESPCC)
  • Andrew Mouck (S3 - TWESPCC)
  • Paul McKeever (S3 - TWESPBCC)

Masters 2 (80 km)

  • Peter Sutton (TWESPBCC)
  • Peter Cahill (BCC)

Senior 1 (127 km)

  • Marco Li (TWESPBCC)
  • Jeff Schiller (TWESPBCC)
  • Isaac Smith (TWESPBCC)

This year's GFRR was a return to the "new" Ancaster Fairgrounds course we first saw last year - each lap of the course featured a short ride through the Ancaster Fairgrounds, about 75% of which was gravel surfaced (whoa - did I mention this is supposed to be a ROAD race!?!)  It sounds a bit sketchy - and it is; Peter Cahill (BCC) was taken out of the M2 race by a rider losing it in a turn - but I found this area to be the best for gaining a decent position in the field, and used it to great effect each lap

My own race was a decent result - 44th place, same time as the winner (i.e., I finished in the bunch sprint at the end) that masks a disappointing race.  I was the only TWESPBCC rider in the M2 race, and while I did have Peter Cahill (from BCC) in the race as well, with only two of us we could not be an effective "team".  Moreover, Peter C. was unfortunately caught up in a crash on the fourth lap, and did not finish the race.  Nonetheless, I was in great position on the start of the last lap - sitting in 7th wheel out of the Ancaster Fairgrounds, we turned onto Trinity road (southbound) into a series of short rollers with a slight crosswind.  However, the combination of the tight exit corner and minor cross-wind meant that the peloton was strung out at this point - a line of riders, single file, down the road.  All it would take to shatter the field was a surge at the front - 2-3 minutes as most - and somewhere down the line of riders someone would be unable to close a gap, resulting in everyone behind getting dropped from the lead group.

I was generally feeling strong, but being alone I was very worried about the lack of any support should a "flyer" prove to be a futile plan - plus, I had unfortunately had a slight mishap trying to retrieve my power bars from my jersey pockets on the third lap (I was wearing gloves - a rarity, as I detest gloves - and dropped all my food).  Thus, I was alone, without any additional nutrition, and it all combined to make me pause and look for others to take up the hard work. 

Naturally, everyone else at the front of the race was also looking for someone else to do the work and no one did.  The opportunity to split the field and get into the lead group passed us by.  Disappointed, I drifted back, as I am not a sprint and contesting a sprint finish is more dangerous for me (and for other racers).

Lesson learned - "carpe diem" should have been my race motto for GRFF.  Nonetheless, I finished strong and avoided the myriad of crashes throughout the day.

Congratulations to Marco Li for this 4th place finish in the S1 race, hanging onto an early breakaway.  Jeff Schiller managed to take the bunch sprint for 7th place in the same race.  While Isaac, both Michaels and Craig managed to finish in the main or lead packs in each of their races Paul, Andrew, and Peter Cahill were all forced to withdraw - oh well, no one as seriously hurt, and crashes are a part of bike racing. 

Finally, a big congratulations to BCC's Jamie Gilgen who, riding for Real Deal/Gears took first place in the Women's Elite 1/2 race!

Well done, everyone!

Results for the GFRR races can be found here

Pictures and videos via Dan's Instagram account can be viewed here

Want to see what a M2 road race looks like from a heart rate and speed perspective?  Click here

Jeff in the Peleton:

Marco in the Lead Group:

Issac on the Peloton with Jeff:


Views: 421

Comment by DY on April 19, 2014 at 7:03am

Great Report Peter!  Thanks for taking the time to post. Great to see so many racing!


Comment by Paul McKeever on April 19, 2014 at 9:42am

Congratulations to all of those that road GFRR yesterday. Our combined teams put on a great showing and we saw some strong results from all the races.

Great work out there, Peter! As much as I understand your frustration for getting stuck in the bunch sprint, finishing with the same time as the winner this early in the season is a great result and means you're in great shape for the upcoming season.

Unfortunately, the Elite 3 race was very short for Andrew and I leaving our teammate Michael to fend for himself in a field of 70+ E3s and Juniors. He did a great job to stay with the main peloton and put a strong sprint in to finish in the top end of that pack and finishing 19th overall. Nice work, Michael!

As for the first 1.5 km: On our way south on Trinity Rd., a break was starting to form right away up the road (this turned out being the winning break). I think this break made some already tense nerves even more wound up and caused a big crash in the middle of the pack involving ~10-12 different riders. This was likely due to too many riders simultaneously trying to respond to the attack in an already narrow road.... I was at the tail end of the crash and saw carbon bikes careening through the air without riders on them. Tumbling in front of my was Real Deal's Chris Bozek's beautiful new Cervelo S5 bike without Mr. Bozek on it... I looked to my left to find a rider coming through along the yellow line and the right side of me was blocked by riders and bikes flying in every direction. I had already locked my brakes but it wasn't enough to prevent hitting Chris' bike... I didn't want to destroy it, so I ended up bailing onto my right side and smacked the pavement at probably 30km/h... not very pleasant. I got up pretty quickly and checked to see if Chris was okay. He said he was all right and collected his bike. The others involved were being attended to by the race officials, OPP, and medics. I gave myself a quick once over and was still riding high on adrenaline so decided I wanted to carry on. Aside from my front wheel being out of true, my bike seemed okay so off I went up the road in pursuit of the main group (about 0.5km up the road now). As I turned the corner onto Sawmill, I noticed Andrew at the side of the road with his wheel off caused by a sidewall blowout which was also due to the crash and took some time to reveal itself.... At that point, I noticed my wheel had gone from a little out of true to 2-3cm and full brake rub. I had a broken spoke and the wheel needed servicing. :( Sadly, I didn't bring an extra wheel and was unable to make a swap at the wheel truck. Andrew was also unable to get his spare wheel so we were both forced to abandon over pretty minor mechanicals. After the Elite 1-2 Women went by with Jamie Gilgen on the front already pacing the entire peloton, we were able to jump in the back of a very friendly OPP officer who brought as back to the Ancaster Fairgrounds.
TL;DR: Road E3/Junior race, got mixed up in crash 1.5km from the line, smacked my butt super hard on the pavement, broke my wheel, happy to avoid serious injury, looking positively toward the next race.

Comment by Alexx Hooper on April 19, 2014 at 10:02am

Good work, all of you. Marco Li - great result! Jamie, you're amazing! Peter Sutton - looks like all those early mornings at Watts Up are going to pay off for this season. Paul and Andrew - so sorry about your crappy luck - I know you two are going to have great success in this coming season.

This race gives me the heebeejeebies ever since I saw Patryk snap his elbow four years ago in one of the massive crashes that happened at EVERY SINGLE SPRINT FINISH that day. It was awful. 11 ambulances carted badly-injured riders off to the hospital. As a spectator, I felt shaky and ill by the end of the day. BCC riders seem to be good pack riders - you guys are aware of your surroundings and are level-headed in such close proximities... the GFRR is notoriously dangerous due to the massive number of early spring hot-headed riders. I'm so glad that you are all (basically) OK. I hope the rest of the race season is much safer and more enjoyable. Well done, all who raced!

Comment by qb on April 19, 2014 at 6:05pm
Nice work all, thus is a great race but also a tough one given the limited amount of outdoor riding everyone has at this point, particularly this winter. Good to hear that everyone survived, and that the towheels team had a near podium in the S1. Peter, you certainly have the fitness to have gone off the front, but I know the feeling of trying to save it in the hopes someone breaks first.
Comment by Alex Mulholland on April 19, 2014 at 6:53pm

Great day and lots of fun.  All things considered I was happy to finish the E4 race in 19th place out of 50, as part of the bunch sprint.  Felt strong on the sprint and move up a number of places through the last corner.  Wish I'd had some room to move though!  

There were a couple breaks during the race but the peloton reeled them all in quickly.  The first lap was at a pretty pedestrian pace.  The last lap was a leg burner and dropped about 15 or so riders by the looks of the results.  

No crashes in E4, despite the all the shoulders and elbows!

That was my first time racing the GFRR, and I didn't appreciate how hard moving up the peloton would be.  The narrow lane and yellow line rule really hem you in!  Wish I'd been more aggressive at the start line.

Funny enough, on the first lap the lead car got too far ahead and left the front of the peloton in charge of navigating the course.. which ended up with us making a wrong turn (believe it or not).  The trailing car didnt notify us until we were a few kilometers off course.


The race had to be neutralized, and we were brought back to the course and restarted.  about half way around the first lap.

Do all E4 races come with a 10 minute coffee break during the first lap?  I'm OK with that, I'll bring more snacks next time..

Comment by Peter Sutton on April 20, 2014 at 2:53pm

Thanks for the kind words, everyone - but the fact remains that I kinda blew that race. 

At the start of the last lap I had a perfect opportunity to shake things up, big time.  I certainly had the fitness to splinter the group by jumping out.  It may not have been a winning move, and there was a real chance that I could have wound up putting myself so far into the red zone that I'd get dropped.  It happens.

However,  I don't enter races to finish in the bunch sprint; I enter them to make a difference .  That generally means winning (or trying to win), or at least helping a teammate win/try to win.  Instead, I did nothing, and that's a disappointment, because what did I really have to lose?  Finishing 44th in a bunch sprint is hardly the sort of palmares one dreams of, and even if didn't finish the race, that one move would have shaken things up and made everyone take notice our team.

Next time....

Comment by DY on April 21, 2014 at 11:26am

Just posted some pics from Mike Jaffray.

Comment by Peter Sutton on April 21, 2014 at 3:59pm

Thanks Dan - for some reason I couldn't publish photos, except as the start of the blog post. 

Comment by Paul McKeever on April 21, 2014 at 9:38pm

haha, are we bringing tents for the start line at Springbank?!


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