Now with photos! Thanks to Travis.
This was the final race of the Spring Series, and approximately 80 riders braved the marauding hail storms, for one last shot at early season glory. There were some fast faces in the A group, and though I don’t know much about how that unfolded, I do know that there was an early break that was ultimately unsuccessful, and that all fingers were crossed in an attempt to ward off getting caught by a chasing hailstorm; also unsuccessful. Despite getting pelted from the heavens with stinging balls of ice that filled up the air vents on their bicycle helmets so that the peloton experienced what I imagine amounted to a collective ice cream headache, they completed the 78 km race at a blistering pace.
Again, I don’t know much about how the C race went, but I did get a few details from our Embedded C Race Reporter, and all round Kick-Ass-Blaster, Lesley Baldwin. According to Lesley, the C field, after witnessing Duncan take third place in Saturday’s Race, had him marked as the favourite to win on Sunday. She overheard guys in the peloton conspiring to “stay close to him”, to “cover his attacks”, to “stay on his wheel”, to “not let him get away”– all to no avail. Duncan managed to break from the pack near the end of the race and sprinted to a glorious win. His first win with Fiera Race Team, his second podium, and only his second race as our newest Teammate.
The B race did not go as planned. Waiting for the race to begin, Jan, Keegan and I sat in the ditch at staging while we strategized, shivered, and let the intermittent drizzle wash away our will to race. We all agreed, that without Stefan to conduct us, the best course of action was to “sit-in”, that is, to remain un-noticed within the peloton, conserving our energy for the sprint finish, or to maybe try to get in to a late breakaway. With the best of intentions, we completely abandoned this plan roughly 2 minutes in to the race. A rider for Pedalhead attacked right from the start, and he was fast. We were all caught off guard, and before we knew it he had about a 700 m gap, and was gaining. No one was in a hurry to take charge and shut it down, and I overheard riders who knew the guy in the breakaway, saying that he would be very hard to catch. Oh well, not my problem, I’m just sitting-in today. Still, I couldn’t help moving to the front where I thought I might do a little work if the peloton got organized and started to try to catch him. Then there was an attack from two racers, Juventus, and Bulls eye, and before I really had time to think about it, I went with them. I looked over my shoulder and the peloton appeared oblivious—who could blame them we were less than 3 km in to a 65 km race. A few km later, Keegan managed to bridge, and came by me to take a pull on the front. “So much for sitting in” I said. “Yeeehawhh” he replied. “Cool beans” I thought to myself.
We, the chase group, were flying. Nearly 60 kph approaching the first corner, and 40 kph up the hill to the second corner. Still, it took us one and a quarter laps to catch the breakaway. Now we were the breakaway. A look over my shoulder revealed the sizable gap we had put on the main pack in the first 20 minutes of our effort, I had to squint to see them back there. Still, I did not like our odds. This is not what I intended. I had wanted to shut down a breakaway, and jumped into the chase group to prevent it from becoming dangerous. It was certainly not my intention to turn myself inside out in an all-race breakaway. I think the smart thing to do here would have been for one of Keegan or I to stop working, to just sit in the draft on the breakaway, ensuring that one of had an advantage in the event that the break actually succeeded. Still, what little chance the break had would be even less with one of us not pulling his weight, so, we turned ourselves inside out. For 48 km, we averaged 38km per hour with sections of up hill, headwind, and crosswind. Eventually Mark (Hardcore) bridged to us, and I knew our time at the front was limited. Still, we had stayed away for so long, and with only about 18 km to go. I was in denial. Our effort stayed high. But as we approached the 17 k to go mark, I looked over my shoulder and saw the roughly 40 riders on my wheel. I sat up, felt a few riders pat me on the back, congratulating me for the hard work. But I was still in denial. I moved back to the front as we rounded a corner, a break immediately formed, and I jumped on. I marvelled at the speed and strength I felt at that time, efficiency like I had never experienced, as if the fuel to oxygen ration in my race engine had suddenly been changed, and the rpm and horsepower that I could put out had suddenly doubled. My race-engine whined at an output, unprecedented, and as we came fully around that corner and hit the first gentle climb of that section, she blew up. I came sputtering down from an eight-cylinder muscle car to a poorly tuned single-stroke moped in less than a couple pedal revolutions. The breakaway sped away, the peloton ate me up, and I passed out the back like cheep cheese. I rode the last lap alone in the rain. Jan made a good effort in the sprint, and I think Keegan managed to ride the peloton right to the end—dead last he said, but since I rolled in roughly 10 minutes later, that’s not quite true. It was a good race for me. It did not end as I would have liked, but pretty much how I expected it to. Good work to Jan, who stuck to the plan, and did what he could to control the enthusiasm of the peloton as it became motivated to hunt us down.