Bloody Steve Jones. His last lap breakaway was looking so promising to take the win with an 7km solo effort that watching from behind I was already excitedly planning on how I would tell his tale of derring-do on this blog. But sadly he didn't win and was caught agonizingly close with only 500m to go.

Post Race Debrief...

Me: "I assume you were going all out 100% to win on that last lap weren't you Steve?"

Steve "No, i thought i was going to get caught"

Me: "$#@%$%"

So having ruined the story, I will now attempt to make the race blog just as interesting as Niagara again without any of us on the podium, but in a significant advancement in results, 2 riders in the top 10! I also call upon my fellow team mates (Chris, Steve and Jody) and Andrea, Andrew M (E3), Paul McK(E2) Peter S(M2) to furnish us with their own tales of heroism in the form of contemporary bicycle racing.

The KW classic is a road race around an 11.5km loop over rolling roads with one significant climb of 1.45-2 minutes of hard effort right after the start of each lap. In E4 we do 6 laps. E4 was 30 strong and lots of familiar faces were present from past races. Our team today was Chris Wu, Steve Jones, Jody Nick Brown and myself. We also nominally team up with Taylor Ford from ToWheels due to the BCC relationship.

The first lap was really just a tester with nothing interesting happening. The roads were perfect and the weather stunning. This would prove to be awesome race conditions, and as races go this was an absolute cracker. The second lap was the start of the breakaways. The Bateman Boys were back (see Niagara blog) and trying their hand. Probably 3 or 4 attempts were made to break and I found myself right on the front marking each of them. They were not too difficult to bring back and it was quite fun, but I was aware that due to adrenaline i was probably working harder than my perceived effort at the time. Lap three saw a rider from London sit on the front the entire lap, trying to push the pace. He looked a little green so i made a point of sitting on his wheel the entire way round and when he frantically waved his elbow to encourage me to come through to lead the race I just dodged and weaved in a slightly comical fashion to ensure he stayed on the front. Good tactic I thought to wear him out. mwahhaaahaha.

Lap 4 saw "London Boy" go off on a solo breakaway and this time we let him go. The Gentlemen's club at the front of the peleton had a quick committee meeting, proposed, seconded and passed a motion that no one would chase due to the perceived futility of his break. We rode slowly. On lap 5 he was back! Let the minutes show that the correct decision was made.

Lap 5 was even slower as it became apparent that breakaways would be really hard to make stick and it was looking like it was going to be a group sprint for the line. I decided that on the last lap (6) due to my congenital absence of sprinting genes that I needed to go early and hit the climb at the start of the lap. I have felt very strong on punchy hills recently and knew that this hill was my best chance. I knew i could generate enough watts to haul my 84kg carcass over the top in front. I absolutely gunned it like a man possessed. Tongue out. I think i had my eyes closed. My heart rate hit 178. I have never seen that number on my heart rate trace before! It worked. I broke away and flew down the other side with three others that joined me. We had put 10-15 seconds on the pack. We immediately agreed to work together and made strides to make it stick. I actually thought we could do it, but 2-3km later, to my utter dismay the peleton caught us, I was gutted. I knew that i emptied the tank on the climb, and that was probably my race done. 

But then......like an angel from the heavens, and in textbook fashion, just as i was caught, the old one-two punch: Steve Jones just cycled nonchalantly off the front and they just let him go. On the last lap!!! Taylor sat on the front and tried to hold up the chase. I sat in 4th sort of doing the same but my mind was elsewhere, mainly constructing a grandiose account of the ride to describe Steve's epic win.  Seven km he managed off the front and was looking absolutely solid, as he normally does, only to be caught 500m from the line. Crushed!! The last 300m was an uphill sprint to the line and elbows were duly sharpened. I gave it my all but made little ground on the left, but scything through the field on the right were Chris and Jody to take 6th and 10th respectively! Great sprinting by the chaps! I came in 18th and Steve 22nd to round off the results. We were all given the same time as we finished in the pack. The average pace for the race was 37.6km/h.

Its a funny thing that we didn't really have a team plan, but actually assumed quite appropriate roles which gave the team a fair result. I  like being up front and playing a role in how the race unfolds. Steve is a strong and stealthy rider and was perfectly poised to take a solo breakaway and Chris and Jody have great sprints for the deciding moves. We all made a difference today and improved upon disappointing elements from the last race. If we can stick together next year and perhaps get a few more of you to join us, and we get lots fitter, and better at climbing, and breakaways and sprinting and....uh,  I think we could really do well as a team.

Huge thanks to Christophe and Phallon for coming along to support the team, take some pics and offer world of advice. It means a lot to us to have support at these races.

Views: 441

Comment by DY on June 7, 2015 at 10:08pm
Wow! Great report Simon, love reading the play by plays!
Comment by James Eaton on June 7, 2015 at 10:23pm
Another great read (and race)! Congratulations on two team top 10's.
Comment by Christopher Wu on June 8, 2015 at 9:02am

Great write-up again, Simon. Always an exciting read. Here's the E4 race from my perspective.

A few months ago, when I decided to try my hand at this O-cup thing, a cycling buddy of mine made a deal that if he lost enough weight this season, he would try racing and shave his legs. My end of the deal was that if I placed top ten at a race, I would shave mine. At the time, with under a year of real group riding experience under my belt and my goal being to simply finish a race, I was certain the hair on my legs would remain where they should be, on my legs. Whoops.

The final lap was where all the excitement happened, especially with Steve pulling away. There was no yellow line rule in the last 2 km but nobody had taken advantage of that in the first five laps. I was hopeful that nobody else was paying attention or had forgotten so I started positioning myself ready to use the left side for a sprint just as we caught up to Steve. Unfortunately, that was not the case as I quickly got pushed out too far and found myself spit out the back as everyone overcompensated and rode on the left.

I moved back over to the right and that's when I saw it. A clear view of the finish line 50 metres away, with nothing between it and myself except for a man in a familiar looking blue and black jersey. Hey, it's Jody! He won't mind if I catch his wheel for a couple seconds. And so I did (Thanks Jody!). Once Jody slowed just a tad, I went around him and dashed to the finish line. I had somehow managed to get ahead of even that cluster of riders on the left and saw the finish with 10 metres to go and all alone. Unfortunately, the lack of eyes on my legs was a detriment to my performance as they apparently thought the finish line had already passed and didn't want to work anymore. One. Two. Three. Four riders sprinted past me as I approached the line. Well, fifth is nothing to scoff at. Just as I look down to see my wheel go over the line, I see another wheel to my right also on the line. Too close to call, or so I thought.

I looked up to see it was Tony, a guy I met at the Niagara Classic. I asked if he just passed me at the very last possible moment. He answered with a very nonchalant and matter-of-factly "Yeah" to which I responded half-heartedly in the most sarcastic tone I could muster up while short of breath, "Nice work. Congrats."

Whatever. I'm sure if I put a couple psi more into my front tire it would have inflated it enough to appear to cross the line first.

Great race, Simon, Steve, and Jody. Like Simon said, even though we went in without a plan, we all played a significant role in how the race played out. Excellent job Andrea, finishing in the main pack again and without any BCC teammates. Also, thank you to Christophe and Phallon for cheering us on from the sidelines. It's an amazing feeling to have support like that.

And as much shame as I would feel for not following through on a deal with a friend, I just can't/won't work up the courage to shave these legs of mine.

Comment by Paul McKeever on June 8, 2015 at 1:18pm

Now there's a recap, Simon - I especially enjoyed the bit about the mobile committee meeting! Massive climb on the last lap, Simon - You were faster than most groups on the day! Great job all around and well done securing 2 top 10s on a tough course! Must say, Steve's commendable humility is one of his greatest strengths, but we have to convince him to go "no holds barred" out there!

My race was interesting indeed and another big lesson in reading a race! The early winning break saw some super strong men go off the front pretty much off the gun, including Bruce Bird, Larbi Benhabib, Yuri Hrycaj, Brendan Etzl, Jack Burke, Mark Brouwer, Peter Morse, and I think Benoit Boulay. This break had serious fire power and formed literally 30 seconds after the neutral start ended. Not expecting any early move to survive, and not being entirely aware of who made the break until it was too late, we watched the gap balloon out to 3 minutes within a couple of laps and then to an insurmountable 9 minutes nearing the end of the race. In all that time, several people in our chase group tried to attack the group and form a 2nd breakaway. With NCCH having 3 guys up the road (BE, YH, JB) and 5 guys still in our peloton, Wheels of Bloor having BB and 3 guys still in our peloton, the pace was religiously controlled, even when there was no chance for a chase group to catch the winning break. This became very frustrating, since multiple attempts from Mike Aston and Isaac Smith to get away were foiled by NCCH and WoB. Once caught, those two teams would bring the pace down back to 37-8km/h, allowing the breakaway at 40km/h to keep pulling away. Actually, the pace was so brutally controlled by these guys, that the M1 breakaway and peloton passed us on their last climb up the hill!

I played this race safe and stayed near the front of the peloton for the entire race hoping I could finish strong (well, maybe just finish :D), but being at or near the front meant that I was forced to cover almost every attack and move made to chase down my teammates and that definitely wore on me by the end stages of the race. With 2 laps to go, 3 riders from our pack managed to take off on the eastbound portion of the course just after I covered a big move and this left me without enough fuel to follow. Of course, it had 1 WoB and 1 NCCH rider in it, so we were stuck with 6 strong men willing to keep us at bay for the rest of the race. The 3 riders fluidly pulled away and gapped us by almost 2 minutes by the end! Several strong attacks by the likes of Andrew House, James Keezer, and Mike Aston were shut down again and again by NCCH (damnit!!!). On the last lap, I was able to stay with all of the moves hoping I could sprint my way to a decent placing, but was starting to cramp badly in my left hamstring in the last 5km.... off went the wheels and no ability to get out of the saddle to close the gap. I positioned myself to favour my quads and kept my effort at tempo with Alex Gibson from WoB in utter cramping agony and almost caught the group with 2km to go, but once they ramped it up for the sprint again, they pulled away and I barely made it up the little riser a number of seconds back. Lesson learned: Take down more electrolytes!!!!!

Anyway, I want to thank everyone for all the wonderful messages of support prior to the race. I gave it my best shot, and definitely learned some hard lessons - and at least I finished this one! Rode more confidently, but paid the tactical and nutritional price this time. Also, thanks to my family for making it out to every race to support me and to my wonderful girlfriend Keisha for providing a much needed feed. Upward and onward!

Comment by Simon Kelley on June 8, 2015 at 1:32pm

Love the recap Paul! You see all the timings and placings at the end of a race but it really doesn't tell the story of how it unfolded. You describe the play-by-play of a high calibre race beautifully.  If it isn't hard enough competing with Ontario's top racers on speed alone, then it must be incredibly hard when they are trying to disrupt your race to protect their team mates in addition.

Comment by Steve J on June 8, 2015 at 1:50pm

I may have misled Simon when I said I was going at less than 100% for my breakaway.  I was not holding anything back at the first, but after a while, I started to put in less effort, thinking that I was going to get caught well before the sprint and that I might want to save some energy for the sprint.

Anyway, as Simon mentioned, the first 5 laps were mostly uneventful and at times the pace was a little pedestrian.  The hill at the beginning was not sufficiently steep or long to really break up the peloton, and those at the front usually slowed down afterward, so the group stayed together each lap.

I decided after we caught Simon's breakaway that I would start to move to the front after being at the back for most of the time.  As I got closer to Simon, I was trying to decide what to do - tuck in behind the leaders, ride beside Simon, or go off the front.  I decided on the latter option because I know I am not a good sprinter (and figured I would finish at the back of the pack anyway), and thought I would try to do something with the intention of making the others work harder and hope that my teammates would be able to let the pack carry them so that they could save their energy for the sprint.

When I first went off, I thought for sure someone would come with me or that the peloton would pick up the pace since it was the last lap.  But I kept looking back and they were staying a consistent distance behind - I suspect realizing I would not be able to hold them off at the end.

During the last kilometer, I had lost most of energy and when the pack finally caught up, I was unable to put out anything for the sprint.

A good learning experience for sure and I think the more we race as a team, the better we will be at reading the race and putting our individual skills to the best use.

Thanks to Simon, Chris and Jody for all their hard work and to Christophe and Phallon for their moral support!

Comment by Jon Spira on June 8, 2015 at 9:20pm

Love reading Simon's race recaps.  It's like reliving that moment from Wide World of Sports with "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." (OK, now that I've dated myself we can move on.)  Steve's humility is his hallmark,  and his trump card.  He rides with a complete poker face.  Is he going at 50% or 150%.  Nobody can tell from his body language.  You guys get more experience racing together and you'll make your mark.  Bloody brilliant job, gents.  And kudos to Christophe and Phallon for waking up at a quarter-to-stupid-o'clock in the morning to cheer everyone on.

Comment by Jeff N on June 9, 2015 at 3:00pm

Awesome recounting of the day, and congratulations!

Comment by Mike McInnis on June 10, 2015 at 5:31am

Great recap as always Simon.

Any thoughts to doing a live podcast from the race?  Maybe with live gopro video?  ;)

Comment by Peter Sutton on June 10, 2015 at 10:17am
Congrats guys. Glad to hear you are having fun!

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