Posted by: John
The bike racing season officially kicked off yesterday for the Ottawa Chapter of the Fiera Race Team with the running of the 2nd Annual Clarence-Rockland Classic, a “85km Cyclosportive ‘race’ held over a mix of gravel and paved roads” that was organized by the Ride with Rendall bike club.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been trying my best to get a fellow Fiera Race Teammate to join me in the race… but to no avail. The best I could do was convince a bunch of them to join me on a bit of a training ride last Friday evening… and I am sure most of them only showed up due to the promise of lots of wine after the ride.
Anyway, Sunday morning arrived without teammates, but also without the forecast rain… and shortly after 10 am I found myself peddling along the gravel roads of Clarence-Rockland Township. I will summarize the first 80km of the ride so that I can get to the good part (for me at least).
- The pace off the start was fast as two of only three hills of consequence came in the first 8 km. I settled into a comfortable pace for me, determined not to repeat past mistakes and blow-up all over the countryside.
- Lots of people got flats in the first 10 km or so. Sucks for them.
- I found myself riding most of the day with a very pleasant group of about 8 or so riders, each sharing the work as we cruised along… occasionally sweeping up some, and dropping others. This was the first time I have ever really raced within a group. It was cool.
- It was also on. These were the people I was racing…
- I need some tear-away kind of deal on my sunglasses if I keep doing these muddy races. Seriously, I could hardly see a thing.
Anyway, to the good part, where I find glory. With maybe about 7 km to go, my little group approached the 3rd and final hill of the day. I had long ago decided that this was where I would launch my attack… where I would surge ahead, climbing gracefully away from my adversaries… to demonstrate true bon courage… or flame out trying.
The hill arrived, and I attacked. Half way up, I sat down and stole a glance behind… I had a gap! Utterly flabbergasted, I stood back up and surged again, mashing the pedals to the top. As I crested the hill, I ignored the scream in my legs, geared down and peddled off, the church steeple close to the finish line now visible in the distance. I was certain I would be swept up by the chasing group any minute, that my attack was too little, and that the finish line wouldn’t come soon enough. Instead, I caught another rider who had been up the road alone, and he latched onto my wheel. I surged to try and drop him… but he stuck like glue. I tried again, and again, before sitting up a bit, spent and resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going anywhere. It was at that point he called out and told me not to worry, that he wouldn’t contest the sprint and was happy just to have a wheel to follow.
And then, the finish line appeared… I looked back at the poursuivants whom I had left on the hill, and realized they weren’t going to catch me. Glory, and 65th place, was mine! Which, just goes to show I guess, that you don’t have to be racing for first, to have fun racing.