Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good Friday and The Damned Ontario Wind

Last Friday I raced the Good Friday Road Race in Hamilton, Ontario. Last Sunday I wrote a whole race report about it here, but it is so windy up there this time of year that just as I was about to click "publish" the damned thing blew away. True story. So here is a somewhat abbreviated version.

I love April, I love racing in Canada, and I love it when you have the first race of the season where your legs feel like they have some depth in them. I didn't win, and I didn't even place in the money, but I raced the hell out of my bike for the first time this year, and considering I am only 3 weeks into riding bikes for the year, that feels like a lot.

The race was hard, there was a lot of wind, and those short Ontario hills (glacial drumlins to the cognoscenti ) really sting. It's funny but long climbs tend to be ridden at a steadier pace, whereas 300-500 meter rollers, no matter how steep tend to get raced full gas, bottom to top. With 5 of them per lap, I got a pretty solid high-end workout, and it definitely highlighted what I haven't been doing so far this year.

With most of Ontario's best amateurs on hand (DSJ notably absent) and Spidertech p/b Planet Energy's Andrew Randell making a solo appearance, it was mostly clear who to watch. The bizarre x-factor of Canadian racing is always hard to figure, though. And you can be sure that in every race up there you will encounter some completely innocuous looking guy in generic kit on a 10-year-old bike, and that guy will shred. This race did not disappoint.

The crosswinds were a notable factor, except on the parts of the course where the headwinds were a factor, and that took a little remembering on my part. The JetFuel team was aggressive, as were Garneau and others, and everyone sat on Randell, predictably. One break went, stayed out for a lap, started to look threatening and therefore inspired serious bridge attempts. I jumped across to one (ouch! first time this year) and we motivated a large group behind us, so by the end of the 3rd of 5 laps we were 15 chasing 7, with the rest of the field more or less put pf contention. I took a fair share of pulls to bring us back in contact with the front, covered a bunch of counters after we were all together, started to feel the efforts, and found myself lacking, out of position, or both when the attacks that counted went.

In the end a final 6 got away with one tt'ing dude in between and my group racing for 8th. JetFuel won, Randell got 2nd after a monster solo bridge, and me, I burnt my last match closing a gap with 500 meters to go and sat up in the sprint.

This was actually a motivating result for me, because considering that I am 3 weeks into my season, I don't have any reason to expect race-winning legs. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was able to do at the pointy end of the race, and the uphill accelerations are not at all bad for early April. Go figure.

So now comes the much-ballyhooed Battenkill, which sadly I will miss the first, Pro-Am round of. Life calls, this time in the form of a conference in Montreal where Charmaine is presenting. And considering that I don't have any teammates in the race and my form is iffy, I am making the surprisingly mature decision to bag the race in favor of grown-up responsibilities, relationship time, and training. The part of the season I am choosing to care about this year starts in late May, so for now I am biding my time, and keeping things in balance.

Next up will be the Tour Of The Battenkill Pro Men's Invitational (UCI 1.2) on 4/18, which I am really looking forward to. If you aren't getting excited about races like that, you shouldn't be racing. I am definitely getting excited, though I have no idea what to expect from myself. Not a bad place to be in; it makes enjoying the moment easier.