I had a good race at Terra Cotta: 2nd place finish in the age 50-59 group and 9th overall.
As I did last year, I registered in the beginners' race again, which is only 26 km, consisting of three loops of a rectangular course on closed roads. I found the field was much stronger this year, with 10 riders from Kurzawinski and several from Morning Glory, Midweek , Novofit, etc. with a lot of matte black special order limited edition $10,000 bikes!
The road is mostly flat except for a big hill shortly after the first turn and a big downhill before the last turn and about 400 meters from the finish.
The wind was blowing strong from the west, which meant a tailwind finish and crosswinds on the longer north-south sections.
About 100 of us lined up at the start. Despite the commissaire's safety tips, the first climb up the hill was sketchy, requiring to zigzag riders to pass and stay with the peloton.
We had a big group on the first loop, maybe 50 riders and there was frequent breaking. There was also some guys at the head of the peloton swerving from left to right as you see sometimes in the Tour de France! It nearly caused a crash. Why would anyone do that?
There were a few lone attacks on the first and second loop, but they eventually gave up and waited for the peloton to swallow them back in.
The second climb was more intense and to my surprise I crested among the first riders. The second lap was better organized. I was able to move up to the front, but found no spot to enter the pack and found myself pulling just before the third climb. So I eased up a bit and rested while half the peloton passed me and I was fresh for the third and final installment of the climb, which this time was super intense. I managed to make it in a breakaway of 18 riders and we continued on to finish the final lap.
With six races (2 DNFs) behind my belt I have now a bit of experience and was able to play it well this time. In the final kilometers I stayed at the back of the pack, but at about 100 meters from the downhill section I took off up front and tucked in for the descent.
Several others worked hard to catch up and kept the intensity going after the hill and I used one guy as a lead out until his legs gave out and I had plenty of gas left to do a good sprint and pass a few guys.
It was nice to have a sprint with 18 people as opposed to the inevitable mayhem when there are 50+ riders.
This year I had a cheering section: my wife and two daughters. Photo credits go to my daughter Émilie.
I should mention Christina Meynell (former BCCer) finished first in the women's category.
Hope the others had a good day and looking forward to hear about your race.
Alex, sorry to hear about your accident. Get well very soon!