Mike and I took off after work Friday for the drive up to beautiful Edmonton, for our first ever GC stage race!
Not gonna lie to you, our expections were pretty high!
After a beer or three too many in the sketchy hotel pub-turned-nightclub the night before, we awoke Saturday, a bit groggy and disjointed, but ready to kick it off!
A short drive up to Josephburg, and although we didn`t experience the snowfall they saw in Calgary, we had a constant drizzle and cold wind gusts.
10km Individual Time TrialMike was off first, and warmed up on the trainer, then scooted about on the road adjacent to the start. Met him when he finished and he gave me some last minute tips about the road surface and told me his time, 14:07, then off I went.
Goal was to hold 300 even for the entire race. As I pushed off, rain was dripping down a bit.
Course contained 3 right turns to complete a square, on narrow wet roads, and some gnarly sections of pavement.
Managed to maintain my goal wattage for the first 7km, but felt I`d spent a bit too much in keeping my bike rolling fluidly over the rough terrain.
Finished pretty strong, official time, 14:27.
I felt pretty good about the time, knowing last year that would`ve been good enough for 6th. Only 20 seconds behind Mike, former Provincial ITT silver medalist...
Then I saw Mike and he told me dejectedly that he`d come in 16th in cat 4. I knew then the times this year were going to incude some really fast ones.
1st and 2nd from Prairie Roubaix (Evan Bayer and Rob Leishman - Aerobic Powerhaus) were on the start list, and they didn`t dissappoint, the former blasting a 13:34, Mercx style no less!
A few other speedy guys like Brody Loster (Niklas) and 18 year old Evan Burtnik (Juventus) on the list, and I knew my top 10 dream was fading.
Indeed, I too came in 16th, out of 62.
I can only imagine how far back I would have been had I had the same winter training effort this year as in 2010! I did get some consolation in the fact that I did beat a large number of pretty fast guys, in categories 5, 4 and even 3!
And although I was 57 seconds off the lead for General Classification (GC), there were a number of guys within striking distance in spots 3-15 ahead of me.
68km Road RaceAfter a quick lunch, nap, and bike swap, we went back to Josephburg for the road race.
Didn`t really have much time for a warm up, but the race featured a 1km neutral start and I figured a big pack like this would probably be pretty easy to, t stick with on this pancake flat course.
Came to a sudden realization, however, that my front derailleur was NOT letting me shift up and down! I`d just picked it up from the shop and had no chance to really test ride it :-(
Luckily I wouldn`t need it for this race.
Power meter also seemed not to work. This would be more bothersome, if I got into a break or spent time pulling at the front...
We rolled South and I managed to team up with fellow Speed Theorists Stephen Pickett, Alan Oickle, and newcomer Corran Hockey.
The wind was quite subdued the whole race, which meant any attempt to break away was met with a 70-man angry mob.
At one point, the Powerhaus boys broke free, and from my perch in around 20th position, I began t he war cry to reel them back in. If any 2 guys in this group were capable of getting away for the last 30km, it was them!
I made my way to the front and did a massive pull to close the gap, then Brody Loster took over and we eventually reeled them in.
Pace then settled again, until the final 5km, when all the youngsters started getting frisky, crossing over the centre-line median, and surging to the front.
Sure enough, guy in a ditch. Moments later, carbon smashing sound to my left. Broken collarbone, I found out later.
Final bend and the centre line was a figment of my imagination.
Boxed in, I could do nothing but follow Steve`s line through the remainder of the crowd and attempt a final push. Too late.
Came in around 11th (ABA has Tom Kenny in 6th - which was pretty incredible since he had not made it out to Edmonton for this race!)
Banged my handlebars with frustration. Pigeon Lake all over again! :-(
Although the majority of the peloton all finished with the same time, I`d find out later that 5 guys ahead of me in GC had fallen off, and I was now in 10th place, 1 second behind 9th.
Not a single disqualification!
Mike finished with a very good 7th!
That night, we reduced our barley consumption and retired early.
Good call, it would seem... http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/edmonton/6574902/story.html
A bad day on the bike is better than getting shot in the face, I always say!
Criterium - SundayBlue skies, but increasing winds made this race far more interesting!
Crit for cat 5 was 25 mins + 3 laps. There was one intermediate sprint (prime) worth 3,2,and 1 second respectively. I made up my mind to go for it, try to sneak up one spot on GC, and get myself an extra upgrade point.
Well, the pace set by Aerobic Power Haus, Brody Loster, and a couple others was insane.
There was a wicked cross wind followed by headwind on the south end of the course, and a couple laps in gaps started to form.
I found myself having to maneuver around guys that couldn`t hang on, causing me to go anaerobic far too often.
The corners were not terribly technical, but I was having difficultly on a few of them, getting the optimal line.
Instead, I kept having to play the anaerobic cards...
Prime lap came about, and I went all out. Managed to outsprint the pack but unfortunately there were 2 guys that had broken away about 20m ahead.
Good enough for 3rd, and a 1 second bonus! LOL. Oh well, better than nothing, but I knew a time would go to the time trial winner, so I really needed 2 seconds.
Then I looked behind me and saw our pack was only 12 deep, and thought, maybe a guy or two from the GC were off the back, even lapped.
Spent the remainder of the race either hanging on for dear life, or sitting in and recovering, working my way up, only to miss a few turns and slip to the back again.
Final corner and I went to make my killer move, from 10th to... doh... cutoff by a guy (who later apologized profusely) such that I had to slam on my brakes, then attempt a sprint from the back.
Unsucessful, and slipped back to 12th.
Same time as the lead, however, and initial postings had me tied for 6th in GC.
It would later be re-sorted, and I ended up 8th overall in GC.
Not at all how I envisioned this weekend, taking no points in any of the stages, and yet I do pickup 4pts for the overall.
All in all, still had a great time racing again, and met some great guys and even scratched and clawed out a few upgrade points.