Three Races in Five Days
Not to say they were all full efforts but clipping in for two high intensity type workouts and then the Provincial Road Race Championships made for a great week on the bike. Instead of the super in-depth look at each race, I’ll just go with the highlights, and maybe a bit more for Provincials. Overall, another valuable week of learning with feedback from coaches, teammates and adversaries alike. Hopefully, I will crack this nut soon and be on an O-Cup podium.
Race #1 - LCW @ Sovereign Road
Standard four corner crit. LCW races are run as individual events without team tactics. There are quite a few individuals in these races who have enough power to basically dictate the race. Want a breakaway? They need to be in it. Going for a sprint? You better be on their wheel, or make sure they’re boxed in. On the plus side, this usually results in very limited amount of negative racing. There are club points up for grab for the top 5 in each race, so some incentive to win. I’m not sure what those points get you. I’ll have to ask someone who wins more often.
I’m not likely to win a field sprint. I mean, it has happened (there might be an asterisk involved) but it is unlikely. My best bet is to either get into a break, or simply exhaust the field over the hour so no one can sprint. The former is easier than the later.
In this race, I tried to make it into as many breaks as possible. When I missed one, I worked to bring it back. It was a lot more work than I anticipated. I basically ended up leading out everyone into the final lap, pulling them around until they jumped me at the end. It was a pretty fast race at about 43kph and 320w+ normalized power for an hour.
Received a great piece of advice along the way: Go harder on attacks. I am not moving fast enough to prevent someone from jumping on my wheel and creating that initial gap.
Race #2 - Ciocario Race Series Race #3
Having scored 37 of a possible 40 points in the last two races in the series and with the return of Dan Doddy, this was going to become a different race. I no longer had the shield of being generally unknown to the field. I was marked and all my movements were called out by the Tower team. I also had a wheel buddy that was tough to lose.
As a team, we didn’t respond well. At one point we had a Tower/Southpoint break of 8 guys that we sat up on. I went a lap too early at the end and wasn’t able to put enough space between myself and a fast moving sprint field. I didn’t want to burn too many matches ahead of Provincials which was less than 48 hours away. Lots of excuses, but generally a poor showing. Lots of discussion post race with the boss. We will get it right next time. Still managed to get two on the podium in the field sprint but Doddy had already lapped the field.
Race #3 - Steve Bauer Classic - Ontario Provincial Road Race Championships
The big one! Well, probably the ugliest climb in this year’s Ontario Cup series. Since this was a Provincial Championship, we were also organized by age group because, you know, bike racers get slower with age, right?
Effingham Road contains the big climb in the race. We hit it 7 times in a 15km loop through Pelham, Ontario. The roads were good and the weather was perfect but the racing was not great until the third time up that hill.
Up until that point, it was a game of cat and mouse between Dan Doddy from Tower and the three member Ascent team. A bit of inside baseball - Ascent is the race team sponsored by Morning Glory Cycling Club. It appears that for the purposes of this race, the two teams were working together, bringing their combined number to seven and making them the biggest team on the road. Between the Ascent/MGCC alliance and Faction, they made up about half the field. It didn’t look like Dan was going to get away and the field was happy to soft pedal on the flats at 30kph. That is, with the exception of Adam Myers from Faction and Mark Gilligan from Real Deal who each took fliers up the road on the first lap.
Thankfully, one of the riders from a smaller team (I believe it was Alex Ritza) attacked on the hill on lap three and caused a schism in the field. Dan, the three Ascent guys, Caners from MGCC, Kaj, Alex and I got away. Immediately the hammer dropped and we accelerated up the road. It is of note that ZERO Faction guys followed. A giant WTF moment for a team with so many riders in the field. After some coaching from Dan on how to work together in the break, we created a fairly large gap and rolled on. We caught Myers within a lap, dropping him a lap later. Soon after dropping Myers, we caught Gilligan who hung on until the second last lap where he disconnected on the penultimate climb.
Let’s be honest, this race was the perfect parcour for Dan Doddy. Had it not been for the Ascent team sticking to his wheel the entire time, I am certain that he would have just time trailed the entire 100km solo. We received a time check before the second last climb - we had something like 1:25 on the field. Enough to keep us motivated to continue working on the last lap. It didn’t prevent a bit of tom-foolery, including some test attacks along with a lot of free wheeling. Thankfully, when we got our last time check going into the second last corner, we had maintained the gap. Now things were going to get serious.
With three Ascent and a Morning Glory guy in the break, the attacks started to come after the last turn. Dan put out a few kicks to see who still had legs before we started a curvy descent. On the other side, a few rollers started the climb back up to Effingham and Ascent started playing their cards.
Ascent attack! Chase! Morning Glory attack! Chase! Gasp for air. End up sitting on the front for a few minutes just to let things settle down. They didn’t. I’m curious if there was ever a race where you hit the bottom of Effingham with any actual momentum? It seems like every time it comes down to this bizarre track-like sprint where we are all at the base with the least momentum possible trying to see who is going to go first. In the final climb it was Alex from Bateman’s who fired first. He went off hard, which made Dan jump and two Ascent riders followed. Alex was caught quickly about half way up the hill and about 2/3 of the way one of the Ascent riders also fell off. This left Dan and the remaining Ascent rider to fight it out for the win. It was close but Dan scooped it. It was great to watch… from about 100m back, in sixth.
It was a tough week of a lot of not winning. However, more experience brings more hope for future victories. There’s probably another year of training before I can scale Effingham like Doddy (and perhaps a few kilos lighter), however making the break and contributing to the gap building was a lesson in itself. More learned about tactics and reading your field as I missed that MGCC rider that was in effect working for Ascent. I’ll be taking this, and hopefully some better form, into the next major road race on June 2nd in Hawkesville where the climb isn’t the most important part but the potential for a breakaway is still very high.