This morning Jim Weir and I lined up for the M3 start of the Kitchener-Waterloo Classic road race as the BCC standard bearers. (A number of other BCC members are racing, but not under our club colours - boo, hiss). I was even rocking our brand new kit!
The KW Classic has been part of the O-Cup road series for 25 years, and features a fast, semi-closed loop that is a shade under 5 km. The finish is preceded by a 300-400m straight-away, so the race is often decided with a bunch sprint. (Although sprinters have to be patient - the straight section is long, so launch too early and you'll be swallowed up by trailing riders!) The M3 race is 13 laps long.
Neither Jim nor I are sprinters, so the game plan was to try and get into a small breakaway where we might have a chance to place on the podium (naturally, we'd prefer the top step.) Unfortunately, Team CHCH was well represented at the race - I counted at least six CHCH jerseys, but there may have been more - and used their numbers to dictate the pace by sitting up on the front of the peleton. I made two attempts to launch breakaways on laps 5 and 7, and Jim tried to stir things up on lap 10, but CHCH wasn't letting anyone get any significant gaps on the peleton. In the end, Jim and I finished in the main group, although we're not entirely certain of our placing (we left for home before official results were posted).
While we were disappointed not to be able to generate any real chances, we were both very glad simply to finish the race in one piece. This was one of the sketchiest races I have participated in - there was a lot of jostling within the peleton, with bumping of handlebars and riders leaning into others at frequent intervals. Given this, it's no surprise that there were a lot of crashes. I had a very soft crash on lap 2, but suffered no damage and was able to latch back onto the peleton by lap 3. Jim had several riders crash very spectacularly around him at one point, and literally rode through a sea of downed riders - scary, but no damage.
However, the ugliest moment was on the final lap when another rider literally cut across the pack on a descent (we`re travelling 50-60 km per hour at this point), and plowed into my front wheel, right at the hub. I have no idea how I managed to stay up, but eveyone behind me was extremely grateful (several riders even came up beside me to congratulate me and thank me for not going down), as the chances of riders avoiding a crash that happens in front of them are practically nil, and at that speed there is a very real possibility of sustaining serious injury.
Hopefully the other BCC riders participating in this race had a much better experience. Please share your stories and accomplishments.