By Stefan, Lesley, Joe.
Sunday April 22nd was a beautiful day in the Cooking Lake countryside where the Northern Spring Series Road Race was contested, and Fiera Race Team was represented by Lesley, Jan, Keegan, Joe and Stefan.
Approximately 80 riders turned up for the event and had the choice between group A (76.8 km ), B (64 km), or C (51.2 km); most of them, about 60, chose to duke it out in the Category B race.
The racecourse was a square 13-km circuit and there was a decent wind blowing so that we had a tail wind, head wind and two cross wind sections; ideal conditions for some strategic moves.
Lesley opted for group C, here is her account:
It was my first road race. I may have been quoted as saying “That wasn’t even hard!” some time Sunday afternoon, but after a run Monday evening, I may have to eat those words – my legs were more than a wee bit tuckered out from all those kilometers. The race was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed racing with the few other ladies and the older gentleman crowd. Hooray for Cs! There were a few tough bits, but mostly it felt “comfortably fast”…no one really went crazy and there wasn’t too much drama. Perhaps a bit boring by other people’s standards, but a good first experience for me. I pulled into the front and tried to turn it on after we turned north on the last lap (because I knew I would never have a chance in a sprint and long-term low-level suffering is more my thing). Things got quiet and I allowed myself to entertain the fantasy that perhaps I was pulling away….is it really happening? a slow pulling away from the pack? This is awesome! Glory will be mine! Of course, that’s not what happened at all. Everyone was tucked right in behind and as soon as the sprint started I quickly slipped into 5th or 6th (ish? I think? who knows). There were two people who’d broken away late on the third lap who crossed shortly before the main pack and despite totally and completely losing the sprint, I was pretty happy with how it all turned out. I’m looking forward to next weekend! Shari had better come. She can bring a bit of drama too!and the rest of the Fieras to group B.
Keegan, Jan, Joe and Stefan opted for group B. For them, the strategy was made clear by the passionate instruction of Stefan: Jan and Joe were to put pressure on the field early and were instructed sternly by Stefan not to miss out on any breakaways. Meanwhile, Stefan’s job was to protect Keegan and bring him into the best possible position for the final sprint if Jan or Joe didn’t make it into a successful breakaway. Keegan’s job was to stay out of trouble, and save a burst of power for the final 100 m of the race.
It was a great strategy and it looked as if it was going to work. Joe and Jan were always in the mix and for most of the time a Fiera rider was involved in the action up front. Early in the race, both Jan and Joe were involved in a number of break-aways, that were not successful, but made the race more interesting, and hopefully put some pressure on the other teams. Then, on the third lap, Keegan flatted just as a hard surge came from the front. The whole group was strung out mostly single-file, Keegan, and our primary strategy, was out of the race, and Jan and Joe were caught near the back. It took them about a half lap to move up the field and find Stefan and tell him of Keegan’s Fate. By this time there was exactly 1. 75 laps remaining int the race.
We had to change the strategy, so Joe moved to the front and was working hard in the front to keep the speed high, while Jan hung back recovering from a recent long, but unsuccessful break-away. Then, at 1.5 laps to go, Stefan attacked on the back straight and managed to get a gap. He was maybe about 400 metres ahead for the rest of the race. On the last 6km however, Pedalhead managed to move a guy up to Stefan but the rest of the peleton couldn’t bridge. Stefan still pulling from the front, with a Pedalhead guy on his wheel, managed to keep the gap between them and the field in a safe distance.
In the last 50 metres Pedalhead swung out and sprinted for the win.
It was a great race, great weather, great people, and although Fiera’s initial strategy didn’t pan out it was a successful day, and we will all be a little faster when we try again next weekend.