MGCC Ride & Race - Coffee is for winners!
We’ve talked about this ride before. One neutral lap followed by two race laps. This time on the Greater London Flat which meant a long lead-in followed by a pretty long lap (16k pre-race). I like this course more than the flat Watopia one we have been using for the past few weeks. Maybe it is just that change is good.
Well, I certainly wasn’t going to miss this one. My dog, who is unfortunately entering the twilight years of his life, was up at 3:30AM to get outside and drain his bladder. I returned to bed only to now think about whether there were AirBnB’s in Bowmanville that could house the team for for the Mosport Classic. Out comes the phone, by 4:15AM I just give up and get out of bed to have breakfast.
I’m definitely not a coffee snob. If you are, I suggest you don’t read this next part. I checked the pot and there was at least a cup left. I poured the cold coffee out into a cup and nuked it. Yeah, I used day old coffee and it’s not the first time. Mornings are hard some times. I call this coffee bootstrapping. It works wonders. I don’t usually have time for this shot of caffeine before a morning race as I am literally jumping on as the timer hits zero or with a late join. Today I was thankful for the injection and for Discord.
Unfortunately for Hans Winter, our fearless leader, there was no coffee to be had. Much complaining was done about this fact. The Discord channel, which I don’t usually join as it makes me sound like a crazy person in the basement, was quite lively with coffee based discussion. Where can you get the best grind in Toronto? How many cats do you need to employ to get civet coffee? Is this even good for the cats? With mention of cats, everyone noticed that the group had broken up and needed to be re-herded before the start of lap 2. Fortunately, all but 6 of the 61 made the cut to start the race.
This one got hot right off the start. This was odd, but it became explainable why by the end of the race. We had a stronger than usual group and I heard the sounds of suffering over Discord that confirmed it. Team Endurance brought their squad of Pat, Tim and Don; the usual Canadians were there, including PJ, Chris Harris, Andriy Andin and Michael Hunziker (Andriy and Michael have improved quite a bit this year); the other strong solo-artists Lucas, Lauren, Ian and everyone’s favourite Greek George; and last but not least Russel Crowder, the Ginger Citizen himself. This pack pushed me to about 370w over the first 4 minutes just hold wheels. Quality riders means quality race!
We were encouraged to keep the pace up, but given we were running double draft, we weren’t slimming down the group too much. Coming towards the underpass that marks the only sustained climb on the course, there were still 30 or so hanging on.
“What are you saying, Andrew?”, PJ asks on Discord. I relay my plan to attack through the underpass.
“On this lap?”, I get back as a response. “Yup, we need to shell about half this group”
So we did. Amazing what coffee can do for you. It was a spirited minute long climb which completed it’s goal of getting the group down to what we thought was a more known quantity. About 12 riders plus some that we picked up as we blew through the group who decided not to listen to Hans. Everything was going to plan, until it wasn’t.
The first sign of trouble was when both PJ and I were sitting at the back during the start of the last lap.
“Who’s that off the front?”, PJ asked. I had no idea. Some Danish guy. My response was something along the lines of good luck. You’re not going to out-pace a DD blob at 50kph solo. He had a 2 second gap, not a chance. By the time we go to the river, he had a 7 second gap and a previously unknown Norweigan rider was bridging up. They were both pushing 6w/kg.
Well, we misjudged that. When they hit 15 seconds, PJ and I tried to rally the blob, but a 5w/kg pace couldn’t be sustained. I felt like GvA on Saturday at Omloop. Do I risk it all to bridge up and then get crushed in the final sprint? Do I roll the dice with the field? I picked the later, allowing Stybar to roll into victory while I look at other tactical options to remain on the podium.
I’ve got to believe that everyone knew what was coming by this point. Our velocity out of the underpass was significant, but we did not sustain the power all the way up the rise. People were conserving for the sprint and a 2km solo break was probably not happening. We dropped a few of our Japanese friends but still had a group of 11 heading into the sprint.
Slightly downhill but otherwise just a long straightaway, this sprint really supports the use of an aero powerup, which I fortunately had. You can literally pop it before you hit the red road and it won’t expire until you hit the banner.
Rounding the corner, B.Bee (aka Ben Beger) jumps. I am in a position to follow, so I do accelerating from 46 to 56kph in his draft, then I punch my aero as he lets off the gas. I’m a lot farther out from the finish than I anticipated, about 400m. I see the field behind me light up in orange numbers and I push hard! 900 watts average over the last 15 seconds to close the door on the third step. Crossing the line at 68kph. I held on, barely, to salvage the best result out of the situation.
Looking at the results on ZP afterwards it became abundantly clear why the best position was going to be third. Both our Scandinavian friends were Cat A+, meaning they can hold a mean FTP and one was a well decorated outdoor cyclist. I’m not sure we ever had a chance, however that won’t stop us from trying again next time.
It’s important to note things that you notice while watching Tim’s video. He tried to close that gap to the front two and nearly succeeded. Had I been more alert to the situation we probably could have got it done. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. That’s racing.