Yesterday Evan, Jamie and I headed out for another Classic on an Ontario Cup’s Circuit schedule in Kitchener-Waterloo. It was really hot and sunny all day, so we knew hydrating and staying cool would be the key to success. Before the start we packed a large cooler full of ice and gazillion bottles, and then me and Evan proceeded to carry it together on our bikes to the feed zone while receiving expressions of owe from the spectators and other riders in this amazing spectacle of strength, skill and coordination! It was right at that moment our competition realized they did not stand a chance!
We lined up to the start line with relatively small field of 30 Elite ½ riders to take on a 4.5 km rolling course that featured short but steep little hill that we were to do 28 times. It’s common to see riders flying up that climb with fresh legs, underestimating the power demands on its steep parts, just to be found off the back straggling with cramps towards the end of the race. With this in mind I was torn between goals, to finally win a race again which logically would require sitting in for early parts of the race vs. racing hard and aggressive the way I like to and just leaving it all out on the course in prep for Nationals coming up soon.
Well, it so happened I got a little bit of both! Jamie took the first flyer of the race, officially announcing who’s going to lead with “white” pieces in this game. He went for a lap, with Ben Perry bridging to him. As soon as they were about to get caught by charging Bruce Bird, we countered again, first by me, then Evan. Bruce continued to surge in effort to keep it together, but as soon as he closed in to Evan’s four man break, I attacked on the hill to bridge with a perspective of making a break with a teammate. I looked back to see gaps forming in the chase behind, so I kept on the pressure. With no slowing in the pace this eventually shuffled into new large break that contained many of the strong men, somewhat disorganized we rolled thru once, but were about to get closed in by the chase again. The pack was under the stress of closing gaps for some time, and I had no desire to slow this jamfest down, so I surged out off the front again. This turned out into decisive move of the day… only 15km into the race! Chris Freeland and unfamiliar strong rider Darren Matthews that happened to be visiting from Barbados were the other two riders coming along.
Three of us kept on pushing hard for a couple of laps and my legs were slowly filling up with lactate and giving me thoughts of regret “You have no teams represented! You going to get caught with no legs left and loose the race!” But the gap of two minutes opened up quick, giving us the luxury of slowing down into tempo and just riding smooth. Gap surprisingly grew to 5 minutes but with half a race to go still and my companions fading, I pressed on doing the lion’s share, but still feeling very comfortable with the pace.
At one point I considered going alone, but felt guilty leaving behind one’s who helped me succeed. They deserved to be on the podium this race. So I made sure they did.
The highlight of the day was at 3 laps to go when I saw the main group ahead! With disbelieve that I was doing it all alone, I went by 6 riders that happened to be all that was left of the main field, and then the chase of three – my main contenders before the race, 9 minutes behind.
Never in my racing years had I thought I’d be able to do that one day! Training hard is paying its dividends! Also, support of the JetFuel Coffee and La Bicicletta this season has been fantastic and I can’t be more thankful!
Also credit goes to the teammates, racing hard unselfishly as always! …And those feeds! …I honestly would have rolled in under the shrub somewhere if I didn’t have those ice-cold bottles dumped over my head every lap!
Now it’s just rest and final touches till Nationals in two weeks. Fingers crossed.
All Photo are courtesy of Jon Safka – CyclingPhotos.ca