Saturday, May 10, 2008

Brockville Road Race for Habitat - Post-race thoughts

I'm back from the Brockville Road Race for Habitat. After learning that I'd be racing Senior 4 rather than Senior 3 (due to my lack of a UCI licence) my strategy changed somewhat from "try to stay alive" to "see if I can actually do well." Race time was 9:03am, so I was up early for a quick breakfast and headed off for the big town of Lyn. I arrived with plenty of time to get prepared, sign in and pick up my bib number (#115). It was a bit chilly early on, so I put on my arm warmers, short sleeve jersey, with a long sleeved jersey over top. However, it did warm up a bit by race time, and I was fine with just the arms and the short sleeve jersey. I kept leg warmers on the whole day though.

The race started with a laid back roll out of the park in a group with Senior 4 (my group), Master 3 and Cadet Men all together. We left 3 minutes after the group of Senior 1/2 women and Master 2 men. The course consisted of 8 counter-clockwise loops of this loop, for a total of just under 80kms. It was a very flat course, with only one slight hill just on the way back out of town. However, it was also quite open and windy for most of the course, which came into play often. The first lap was more or less uneventful, except for the turn from Howe Rd. to #27, where riders were jumping after the corner to maintain the pace, but then hitting a slight uphill grade and a headwind, and slowing down quickly. Riders behind were hammering on the brakes to stop from hitting the slower riders in front of them, and on the first lap, I got my wheel right up beside a riders chainstay and rubbed briefly before I got slowed down enough. This location was one to keep an eye on throughout the race!

On the second lap, nothing of note happened until the same corner, where one of the Cadet riders went down. I'm not sure what happened, but I think he must have overlapped wheels with a rider in front, then over-corrected and hit the gravel shoulder. No other riders went down, and I was well clear of the action at that point. All I saw was a rider on the left side of the group veer 90 degrees, cut across the group of riders on the right (no idea how they avoided him) and hit the shoulder/ditch and go down.

Laps 3-6 were pretty uneventful, and I just sat in the middle of the group as much as possible, trying to stay sheltered from the wind. It didn't feel like we were going too quickly, until one point when I went to click to a higher gear, and noticed I was already maxed out! On the Howe Rd. 'backstretch' on the 6th lap (I think?) we had two riders open up a small gap. A third rider joined them briefly, and the gap increased. The third rider didn't stick with them for too long, because the next time I noticed they were down to two again. I thought they would get caught easily, so was content to let them go (as was everyone else apparently.) By the seventh lap, we were getting reports that they were up by 30 seconds, yet still no one started the chase in earnest. By the start of the 8th (and final) lap, riders were talking about starting to chase, and on the backstretch we got a double paceline working fairly well. I think we put some time into the two leaders, but shortly afterwards the paceline fell apart, and they were still 30 seconds up. Coming around the 'crash corner' on the final lap, I was sitting on the left side of the road, about half way back in the group when I saw/heard riders going down in front of me (you know the sickening crash sound, and smell of burning rubber....) I went far left and managed to avoid everything, but we lost at least 8 riders from the group at this point. However, since it was so close to the end, we carried on.

At this point we were about 3 or 4 kms from the finish, and the two-man break was well clear. I found myself at the front, and tried to get a paceline going again, but nothing doing! I was sitting on front for a while, trying to get someone to come up and take a pull, but again, no one responded. Once we hit the town (approx. 800m or so to go to the line) I figured that if I was going to sit on the front, I might as well make them work for it behind me (I knew there was no way I would win an actual sprint!), so I jumped. I opened up a fairly sizable gap, and looked back once to see the group about 60m or so back. At this point it was do or die, so I put the hammer down. My legs were burning at this point, but I could picture the finish just a couple of hundred meters ahead. When the line was (finally!) in sight, I took one more look back to see the group about 10 meters behind me and closing fast! All I could do was put my head down and sprint for the line! I'm 99.9% sure that I took the sprint at the line, but if so it was by less than a wheel length! We'll wait for the photo finish results to see the real story! I think that if I had waited about 20 or 30 more seconds before I jumped, I could have taken it uncontested, but then again they may have responded quicker if I had I won't complain about the results!

So, overall, I was 3rd in the group (the two in the breakaway stayed away and won by 35") and took the bunch sprint with the late jump! I'm pretty pleased with that! One of the riders in the break was a Senior 4, so I ended up second in the category, and third in our little group.

Official results will eventually be posted here. Hopefully they'll also post some photos or videos of the finish if at all possible! Unfortunately, Shawn and Keli didn't make it down, otherwise I would have stayed to watch them...but as it was I was pretty tired, and after the BBQ and podium, I headed home for a well deserved nap and some more food!

And, as a side note, an American is in Pink at the Giro d'Italia today. Cheers to Christian Vandevelde and the Slipstream "Argyle Army" (best team nickname ever!)

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