Breakthrough in the Breakaway
The (Kit) Anticipation!
It was a big week for kits. Not only did the local club (Railway City Cycling Club) get their custom Garneau kits delivered, so did the race team Southpoint Racing. While the club went the more traditional route, Southpoint took a more fashion forward approach. The lesson we learned with Southpoint was what looks good on paper may not always print perfectly on cloth. Undeniably “sexy, from a distance” is the comment that rival racer Sean Ryan from the Tower International squad used to describe us during the grand reveal minutes before the race. That’s ok, because the game plan is that you can only see us in the distance!
Typically, Marty and I alternate driving duties for the 90 minute trek down to the Ciociaro Race Series just outside of Windsor. Affectionately known as the Chooch, it’s Southpoint’s home turf, where every other Thursday night turns into a tussle between our six man squad and the massive Tower International team(s). Like the Rebel Alliance versus the Galactic Empire, on bikes.
This week though, Marty’s little guy and another local U13 racer with his dad wanted to get a good training race in so we headed down a bit earlier than usual. This throws a bit of a wrench into nutrition planning, but we managed to work it out. The two youngsters did a great job in their race (against adults!) coming in the top 10!
Just before our race starts, the rain starts to drop. Not much, but enough to make everything just a little bit slick. Enough to make you cold. Enough to kill your desire to go do a proper warmup. Huddled up, we go over our general strategy. Missing Brad, kit designer extraordinaire and series winner in 2018, puts us in a precarious position. We get our rider assignments, watch the end of the B Category Race and jump on for some warm up laps. The final wise words from Russ were “Have confidence in yourself,” something I was challenged with on this course in 2018. The legs are feeling good and thankfully we are able to get three laps in before we are lined up. I sit right behind Marty, knowing he rarely has a problem clipping in and he will be headed right to the front.
Off the bat, we pick up some speed. There is a rise at the back of the circuit and I use it to jump on the front as we hit a bit of a headwind. Already it is getting strung out a bit, could be an interesting night as maybe some of the guys are riding into their spring fitness. We roll into the second lap and Tower makes a move off the front. I hear Russ yell at me to cover it and off I go. I did not realize that it would pretty much be the last time I saw the pack.
The Breakaway #1
Three of us got away in the original move, Sean Ryan from the Tower “light” squad, Dylan Lanspeary from the Tower “dark” squad and myself. Shortly after we were joined by Charlie Bryer, a strong ass independent rider. We worked well together until the first prime, on Lap 7. Charlie took the sprint and the two Tower riders sat up. I chased up to Charlie’s wheel, assuming we were going to get caught at this point and reintegrated into the field. Instead, what happened was that two riders bridged up from the group.
The Breakaway #2
It was none other than Tower “light”’s Dan Doddy and our own Josh O’Neil. The six of us quickly got organized and rolled through. The gap was now up over 25 seconds and with representation from the major teams up the road, it was unlikely that the field would be chasing too hard. Marty, Russ and Dean were working to patrol and make sure Josh and I had a chance. On the back half of Lap 14, Dan had enough of our groupetto and struck out alone. I had just come off the front and Josh was still recovering from an effort, so Charlie put in the first move to chase. The Tower guys were obviously not going to help bring Dan back, so after Charlie and Josh were spent I took a shot at bridging up. 90 seconds of heart pounding effort later, I was on Dan’s wheel (and achieved a new max HR for 2019).
The Breakaway #3
After the first lap together, we had about a 10 second gap to the “chase” group, that wasn’t really chasing. That quickly started escalating lap after lap as we were cruising at about 42kph. The field was only moving at about 39-40kph and the chase was dangling out there at 40-41kph. It was cold (no Mosport cold) and it was rainy (not Mosport rainy) so the lack of motivation from the chase was predictable. Not to mention they had to worry about 30 guys around them and I only had to worry about following Dan’s wheel while making it look like I wasn’t hurting too bad when my turn to pull came.
“Let’s lap the field,” Dan says somewhere around Lap 20. He must have been getting bored. So we pick up the pace a bit, I’m checking the lap times and we are consistently under 1:50 now, which puts us above 42kph. The back of the field is in sight as we head around the course. “Keep your head down and cadence up,” Dan reminds me as I come off the front. 40 minutes into the break, an the efforts are starting to sap my legs. I try to focus, maybe 500m to the back of the field. Dan pulls ahead and I have trouble following. Thankfully, I’m able to make it to the back of the field somewhere near the end of lap 22.
Lapping the Field
Having never encountered this in my racing career so far, I wasn’t sure what to do next. Thankfully the team knew exactly how this needed to unfold. Russ told me to sit on his wheel as he towed me through the group towards the front. Somewhere that we could keep an eye on Dan while keeping the pace high enough to dissuade the second chase from rejoining and anyone taking an opportunity to attack. Dan did try to sneak off the front once, but everyone was on his wheel pretty quickly.
Recovery was the name of the game as the clock went off and the cards came out to show that there were three laps to go. I sat in wheels and kept close to teammates (even Dean), as we closed down the race. “Just don’t crash and screw this up,” I thought to myself. As long a we keep moving ahead of the chasers, I’ve guaranteed second.
Russ puts in a big effort with 1.5 laps to go and I jump onto his wheel to see if we can maybe trade a second place in for a first. Russ held it for almost a full lap, getting to the rise in the back where Dean was pushing with a pair of Tower guys. I shifted over to Dean without even considering a glance back. The pace ramped up in the final corner and I sat on Dean’s wheel, no one was around. In the last 50m I see Dan pull around me and ultimately take the win.
Tons of learning done on the night. I feel like I understand how I can better contribute going forward. Also reading riders a bit better, and most importantly being a bit more confident in my abilities. Overall, a great night and finally a real contribution made to the team! We will be back at the Chooch on May 2nd as prep for the OPC Crit O-Cup near Aylmer, Ontario.