I'm Only Happy When It Rains...
I’m only happy when it’s complicated.
To race the Chooch or not? Do I roll the dice and hope for the forecast of <1mm to be accurate? How about the temperature, 18C with humidity pumping it to feel like 21C? Is it worth the risk of doing damage to me or my bike before Sunday’s Ontario Cup race?
The decision was complicated by the fact that Marty was hurt in a crash in the last 5 minutes of Paris to Ancaster last week. We typically carpool down together because it’s a long lonely drive otherwise. Serendipitously, I received a text from another local racer, Craig, who enjoyed last week’s edition of the Chooch so much that he wanted to give it another go and was willing drive down. How could I say no?
The Course and “Warmup”
You know I love it when the news is bad…
I’ve talked about the Chooch previously. A great well maintained course that can get pretty fast with a motivated group.
As it turns out, the forecast was wrong. Less than 1mm turned into a pretty steady rain as we got to the course and it continued through the C and B races. It became bad enough that a major crash occurred in the B race and they called it 15 minutes early. However, at least it wasn’t windy and cold, that would have just made life miserable.
Speaking of miserable, that was the warm up. The whole team (minus Marty) was there so we headed out to Old Castle Rd for a bit of a warm up. Basically, it was a chance to get ourselves solidly soaked so that any heat we generated from racing would simply keep out now wet-suits warm. It was brilliant. As usual, the boss handed out race assignments. Without Tower’s Dan Doddy there, there would be some opportunities to be aggressive.
Initial Volley of Attacks
Why it feels so good to feel so sad?
Despite the continued rain, the race started off pretty aggressively. Russ threw down an attack on the first lap to get everything strung out. Brad followed to continue to make people uncomfortable. I adopted the wait near the back approach which worked out for me so well last year.
I feel good when things are goin’ wrong…
Russ and Dean ended up the road a bit, maybe 4-5 seconds out with a small group of Tower and other riders. Brad was sitting on the front of the main split as we tried to just hold out there and give them some space. Josh pulled up to my left as we tried to keep it steady and not allow any more up the road. The first attempt came from Josh’s side and he followed the wheel right up to Dean and Russ. The next came and I jumped on it for a ride to the split. Suddenly, we had 4 of 8 riders on the front of the race.
Coming into the home stretch, we opened up a lane and Dean attacked, going clear with Sean Ryan. Another rider attempted to bridge and I jumped on his wheel. Dylan from Tower took mine and Josh and Russ slid back to control the field.
I only listen to the sad, sad songs…
We worked a little bit to keep Dean and Sean in sight. However it became apparent to our unnamed rider friend that neither Dylan nor I was going to contribute to chasing our own guys back. After a verbal exchange about collusion and bike racing, he then made the decision that he would attempt to bridge up on his own. This provided Dylan and myself a chance to take a free ride up the road. Thank you, unnamed rider.
In fact, so show my gratitude, as soon as we reached Dean and Sean, I immediately attacked to drop our friend who was already close to his limit. We picked up the pace for a lap or two to make sure we had a solid gap over the field.
Dean and I started trading attacks on the two Tower riders. As soon as we had Sean counter, I went over the top hard and up the road. I anticipated taking at least one of the two Tower riders with me, but no one jumped. I stole a glance back to see nothing but very damp road then put my head down to bury myself.
I’m only happy when it rains…
On the next lap, I looked at the clock. Oh just 35 minutes to go. Just need to protect the gap long enough that Dean will force the other guys to work and then he can jump them in the sprint. Sounded fine in my head, legs were decent, and quite frankly being solo in the wet conditions was perfectly fine with me.
Pour your misery down on me…
However, lap after lap the gap kept on increasing. Suddenly I was over 30 seconds from the chasers and a minute over the field. Knowing the course is about 1:50 in a nice steady 41kph, I figured it may be possible to catch an un-motivated field and get some rest before the chasers got there. Motivation is key.
I caught the field with about 10 minutes to go and moved up to the front to let Russ and Brad know I had arrived back solo. I got to sit in as they put in a few hard laps to make sure there wasn’t enough time for the chasers to make a catch. When the lap cards came out, I just tried to stay safe and keep the rubber side down.
I let the guys ride up to sprint it out for the final spot on the podium. Unfortunately we weren’t able to clinch it. I cruised into the finish with my first ever victory on the road happy that my teammates were able to secure it for me with heads up action.
Despite being an ugly day I’m happy for this tune up ahead of Sunday’s Ontario Cup race in Aylmer. I was dropped at the end of the first lap there last year and I’m not aiming to repeat that feat. The real heroes of this race were Russ, Josh and Brad though, who controlled the pack with Dean and I up the road. Russ just sat at the front and Brad pushed for those last laps to keep the chase from catching while trying to set up Josh for 5th. Without their help, I probably would have blown up with 5 to go. A good start to the year though with lots of points for the team standings at Ciociaro!