Turn and Burn - OPC Crit
I really don’t like this course. Flat, fast, technical. Last year, I was dropped on Lap 2. Thankfully, I didn’t have anyone there to really see my shameful ride. This year, my wife, kids and injured teammates were all in attendance. Oh, and I’m in better form. So I better not screw it up.
Too add to the pressure, there were a few races for the kids beforehand. Where my progeny managed to place first and second in their respective age groups. Jeez. Thanks for making it easy to live up to your standards!
So many turns. This race becomes about positioning really fast. If you’re on the tail you’re going to get snapped off. If you’re on the inside, you’ve gotta watch for the chop. If you’re on the outside, well, I guess you get first shot at the better line.
The Cat 1 Masters race had 36 starters. A decent field with many big teams present. Tower International, our rivals from the Chooch, brought 7, Faction from Waterloo, and Real Deal had 6 riders, the local London team from ToWheels had 5, Ascent from Toronto had 4, and we had three. Dean, Russ and myself. There was also Steve McKee, provincial track champion, riding solo with Wheels of Bloor. A tough field if everyone was smart.
A Few Attacks
From the start there were attacks flying. McKee and Doddy, who had just obliterated the field last year on this same course, were looking to get away again. Every time though, it was brought back. I was in my normal starting position near the back for the first few laps and didn’t do much other than close gaps as riders started to suffer.
Edging my way closer to the front with each chance I had, I was eventually in a position to try my luck. At one point there was a major disagreement between Doddy, McKee and a Faction rider that was in their move but not contributing. I took it as an opportunity to attack. Not enough of a jump on the field though as it came back together within half a lap. This was going to be a tough nut to crack.
I tried a few more times to get away, Dean and Russ were working hard to try to get something to stick as well. Prime laps seemed like an opportunity while everyone was watching Doddy. I tried my luck again with 5 to go or so and it’s some minor prime lap. I glance to the left as I’m coming towards the line and I see Doddy winding up an attack, I close to his wheel as we hit the 180 degree turn. He nails it like he’s on rails. I do not. I lose time, and try to jump back on. He’s gaining bike lengths on me as we hit the second 180. I am pushing hard and I actually touch a pedal on the ground. Other than an ugly noise, nothing happens and I get through the turn. He’s heading into the back stretch now with a tailwind. I check behind me to see who is following and there’s a gap back to McKee and the group. I consider my options.
Do I go and blow up now with 3 to go in hopes of maybe getting to Doddy’s wheel, or wait for help in hopes that someone else wants to bridge up? In hindsight, I made the wrong choice. I thought for sure, McKee or someone else would be motivated to chase. Tower had lost Sean Ryan to a solo crash earlier in the race and with Dan up the road there would be no motivation from them to put anything more than a sprint train together. Real Deal had Justin Rogers, another strong sprinter. The only ToWheels guy that I saw near the front was Pollet. Ascent? Faction? No idea. Wildcards. Dean and Russ were still in it, maybe we could make a go in a sprint. I decide against burying myself to get to Doddy’s wheel and go back to the pack.
As the next few laps progress, I continually look around, waiting for the next move to go and bridge up. A Faction rider jumps and I get on to his wheel but he only lasts about a half a lap before switching off and then drifts back. No one else comes to help. We watch Doddy ride off into the distance.
While the field tries to figure out what the heck we actually want to do, the gap grows insurmountable. The field decides that racing for second is good enough and just attacks itself to death.
The last lap slows WAAAAAAY down. We bunch up on the back stretch when Carlo, another Tower rider decides to go. I am unfortunately in the wrong position to get to him before most of the field moves. We take the first turn into the chicane and I look to my left and there is a big body there pushing for the inside line. I have two options, fight him hard, potentially crash out on the last lap or ride the grass and hope I can get back on terms.
Look, I’m no sprinter. If I had planned this better, I would have attacked immediately when we slowed and just ran up a quick gap on the field to get there before the sprinters could. With the exception of some sprinting catastrophe, I was not going to be on the podium. I opt for the grass. I give up 3-4 positions but still grab the last remaining point in 15th while Dean grabs fifth and Russ gets 8th. Not a bad day when everyone on your team scores series points.
This is the first M1 OCup where I have actually been at the front affecting the race and getting into moves. Still much to learn with respect to the other riders within the category and how to play with/against them. I made some bad decisions that I will learn from and make sure they’re not repeated. Next step - Provincial Championships at the Steve Bauer Classic.