Whereas O-Cup Calabogie was a non-stop hammerfest at warp speed 10 from start to finish, and served merely  to pass the time until, John "Leg Day" Lobraico activated his overdeveloped quadriceps to sprint to victory, the Niagara Classic was a proper bicycle race. We had every element that one likes to see on the UCI World Tour races that you illegally stream onto your laptops.  Hills, sprints, breakaways, banter, bridging and blocking. Its just in Niagara, we get to play Sagan, Contador and Wiggins for the day (well, for an hour and a half at least). 

Here is my account of the E4 race, and once again I call upon my fellow teammates to embellish the tales of heroism and stupidity with more outlandish stories of foolishness and bravado, to make you want to feverishly read on despite knowing that none of us actually made the top 10 despite having a team 7 deep!

The Niagara classic is essentially a 12.5km rectangular loop with a steep hill at the start, which is roughly equivalent to the first half of Brimley, (but a bit steeper). In E4 we do the loop 5x.

We rolled out under a retro Corvette pace car and went straight up "The Wall". First time up was pretty tame , but my learned teammates has already pointed out that the hill in the latter stages of the race would  define the outcome, so I wasn't too concerned about the tepid nature of the first ascent. Following the climb is a most rewarding stretch of about 4-5km of balls-out (or female equivalent) downhill, and in our category a chance to catch your breath at >60kmh. Everyone in our field were busy catching the aforementioned breaths only to marvel upon Mr Jason Shuker taking the race by the scruff of the neck to burst into a solo breakaway right at the top of the climb. It was awesome! Off he went. Mark Middleton sat at the front talking trash and convincing the fast looking Bateman Boys not to chase him down. The first lap was truly pedestrian because of Mark's efforts, but again in the back of my noggin I was trying to remember all that I had been told about "the Wall" making the race, so just to chill. The race would light up all in good time.  Jason soon came back in to the fold, his sponsors having had adequate TV exposure with his rampant attack of the front.  

So came the start the 2nd lap and we put 3 BCCers on the front up the climb. It was really cool, Mark M, myself and Taylor (ToWheelsBCC), three abreast, across the width of the road, bossing the climb. Staying at the front was a priority to manage the accordion effect of the climb and to ensure we could climb it at our own pace, but mainly to ensure our travelling fan club of photographers and personal social media representatives (Dan Y, Jason S and Christophe, Alexx, Paul VD, (kudos to you all)) could get the appropriate shots for instagram to ensure the world knew of our lionhearted acts of daring. We immediately started looking more aero.

Then, then main event;  a bunch of 4 (non-BCC) guys sneaked away, crafty devils,  and built a handy gap of about 30 seconds. Most of the race was then spent trying to reel them in, but they were strong, and furthermore they had a team of fat-arse Bateman's blockers who sat on the front of  the peleton shutting down every attempt to get a bridging paceline going. It got to the point that Alex and I had to box them in to allow the pace line to continue, a tactic that I had not come across before, but which worked quite well. BCC worked the front hard with Taylor, myself, Alex, Chris and Steve on laps 3 and 4 trying to reel them in. We had little help from other teams, and sadly we made little progress, except to hold the gap at around 30 seconds. These pulls hurt my lame attempts at climbing in laps 4 and 5, and I could feel it to the extent that I put myself right on the front again on the last climb, not just for the photo op (honestly), but because I knew i would probably die on the climb and it gave me some room to fall back through the peleton and definitely not get dropped.

I got dropped.

According to my obsessive poring over Strava analytics I was 9 seconds too slow up the climb. But so were Steve J, Chris W and Mark M, who also missed the selection so once again we had to put together a BCC paceline to bridge and such was the pace now,  it took us 5km of gunning it to join back on (9 bloody seconds cost us 5km of chasing!!). The last 4km cooled a touch as everyone loaded their guns and prepared for the big boy sprint which was a long 1.5km straight shoot out over punchy rollers. In the last 500m the lead out started right. Brain-of-Britain here decided to go left, which was utterly idiotic thinking that I could go that far out uphill on my own, and so I unceremoniously died 250m before the line to roll in 20th (18th in cat). I saw my teammates whizz past which was great, and i leave them to tell you how their races unfolded. I am very disappointed with my placing but still happy in the fact that I was properly involved in the race. I just need to learn that racing is not like a club ride. It is the result that counts. And so I will now go away and get more cleverer about bike racing.

As usual the support from BCC was absolutely awesome. Having good friends watching the race and cheer (scream) your name when your legs are on fire and when you need to extract a few extra beats out of a periarrythmic heart muscle is incredible, and for me meant that 9 seconds wasn't 20! Another Classic BCC race day out. 

Paul and Mark vD. on the Pain Train - F-ingham!

Craig S., Paul M., Mark vD., Michael Jaffray:

The Monkeys:

Alexx and Paul - Supporting TEAM BCC!

So Proud of you Steve... First Race!

Steve J, Jason S, and Megan Post Race - As per Steve: "I didn't die".

Andrea and Megan Post Race:

Megan on the Podium:

Alex M.:

Mark M. and Steve J.

Views: 650

Comment by James Eaton on May 17, 2015 at 10:56pm

A brilliant read Simon - thank you!  Kudo's to everyone who raced today - sounds like a fun event and a great cheering section.

Comment by Paul McKeever on May 18, 2015 at 8:06am

Another exciting report, Simon! Nice work on the big effort off the front, Jason! Love that you guys were able to pull back the group while the pace was picking up by combining your forces in proper BCC style. Some truly great racing out there from all. Well done, team!

My race was a humbling experience right from the gun. I knew it would be a hard race with all the big names present and the heat certainly didn't assist my arctic aptitude. Struggled on every climb as the lead men smashed the hill both for KOM points and to butter up the legs for a strung out descent....  The elastic broke for me after losing contact on the 4th descent and I just didn't have any power for the chase. Solo'd at a very painful (barely) tempo until giving in before being lapped. Thankful to have some awesome cheers and friendly heckles from our peers as I puttered around the course and especially up the climb a couple more times. Big thanks to Peter Sutton for the 2-try bottle feed. For me, it's back to the drawing board since I'm still riding stronger in training than in the race!

Comment by Mike McInnis on May 18, 2015 at 8:17am

Great report!

Comment by DY on May 18, 2015 at 9:27am

Just posted the pics.  Great effort everyone!  Was a hard day.

Comment by qb on May 18, 2015 at 9:33am
Great race report Somin, it is great to read the exploits of the team. As Chris Carmichael remarked to me when I asked what level of sustained power was required to win on the pro tour - "as close to zero as possible!"
Looking forward to reading more exploits.
Comment by Alex Mulholland on May 18, 2015 at 10:39am

That was a great show of team work, seeing BCC with our ToWheels friend Taylor smashing a very fast rotating paceline at the front of the peloton trying to reel in that break.

Really happy to see the entire BCC team finish so strongly, within the main field.   Effingham took no victims!

For me I was pretty pissed off that I missed that break.  After preaching about being at the front to respond to attacks, on the second or third lap I lost track of my positioning and ended up about mid pack in the peloton on the hillclimb.  And Murpheys law, the guy in front of my blew up halfway up the climb.  Left me too far back to respond when those guys went off the front.

If we'd had a body in that break it would've been very different!

On all my other climbs I really felt strong on the hill and cleared the top near the front well in position to respond to attacks.   It's always the one time you're out of place..

On that final lap after the climb me and Taylor ended up in that 7 or 8 man break the rest of the BCC'ers were trying to chase onto.  I'd been struggling with an old quadriceps injury during the race and during our frantic attempt at a break it really blew up.

Last half a lap was on one leg only.  My confused power meter tells the story (stages power meter was on my left leg, which just couldn't deliver power).  Hurt the leg and the pride like heck to race so well and to limp into a 17th place finish at the end.

Comment by Simon Kelley on May 18, 2015 at 3:40pm

Alex, perhaps myself, Mark, Steve and Chris should not have chased back on to your 2nd breakaway group of 8 on the last lap in retrospect, although it seemed we were so close that it was the obvious thing to do at the time. We did bring the rest of the Peleton with us and as such may have diminished your and Taylor's chances of placing higher at the finish. Just a thought, that perhaps we should analyze what to do in this situation going forwards.

Comment by Alex Mulholland on May 18, 2015 at 7:59pm

Hmm, hard to say. In this case, bringing it back was the right move for sure, it allowed the entire BCC team to place quite well, and because of my quad/knee giving out I didn't have a chance of placing anywhere but at the back of that breakaway group.  I don't think much of a peloton came with you as well.  If my math is right a total of 10 of you came back, basically half of which was BCC.

If I hadn't been injured I would've asked for a leadout from you or Mark, and very well could've taken a good position.  I'm at least a even match for almost everyone that finished around us!

Hopefully we all keep finding chances to race together as a team, we're going to figure this thing out

Comment by Christopher Wu on May 18, 2015 at 9:48pm

Great write-up Simon. I don't have too much to add as you covered it pretty well. I thought the pace was comfortable and it allowed me to learn a lot about racing techniques and strategy.

Here's a nice visual review of how to E4 race went (highlighting Jason's breakaway !):



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