So when I am not riding my fixie it seems I am out racing. Last Sunday I went and competed in the Provincial Championships, this year it was the Westside Classic. I could safely say I had no expectations going in since I was going to be racing against the local pros and top elite riders, but I ended surprising myself by how well I actually did.
First off let me tell you a bit about the course. Its frickin evil... with a capital E... Eeeeviiil... Like the fruuiit of the Deeviiil, eeevvvill (to quote Mike Myers from So I Married an Axe Murder). The course is divided into two sections, 8 long laps followed by 5 short laps for a total of 120 km (see below). Now the long laps are no joke. You gain somewhere around 500 ft each lap (the map is in meters) and there is this evil climb that basically sends you up a wall as you ride from Spanish Banks up to University Blvd.
The first 3 laps really hurt. And I mean really hurt. It was flying, and on the climbs I could see rider after rider fall off. There was absolutely no mercy shown the weaker riders. After the wall climb up Tomie road, you make a left then push up a long climb that is not too steep. As your heart is in your throat, the stronger riders grab a big ring and push it. This caused the pack to get strung out. As soon as this happens gaps appear and if you are in the back you fall out of the front group and your day is done.
I survived these attacks by consistently finding a stronger riders and gluing myself to his rear wheel. At this point it is not about drafting, just the carrot and the donkey mentality. Its funny, you stare at the rear wheel and do everything in your power to maintain a tight gap. You do NOT want to let space appear. Hopefully this keeps you close enough to the front that when you hit the decent you can take a couple chances and get yourself back into the game.
Well it was working for me. By the fifth lap a number of my teammates were gone, but I was still there. Its funny because they were making fun of me a bit prior, since they were the "team" I am on the "club." Yes, I am a lower category, but that should change shortly if I keep going the way I am at the moment.
Anyway, on the fifth lap the pack split in too. This is not good, since I was in the slower of the two, but that said I had a teammate in this group, so we went into time trial mode and fought our way back past the wheel car and back into the main pack. You gotta fight, fight, fight to survive.
By sixth lap I was starting to get dehydrated, as I didn't have anyone in the feed zone passing me anything. I had asked the feeder for the "team" (recall I am the "club") to pass me two water bottles before the start, she flatly told me she couldn't carry that extra weight down, and if I was willing to carry them down for her she would consider it.
As an aside, I found out afterwards that somewhere around the fifth lap my roommate was trying to feed me, she asked the captain of the "team" if I was still in (he had dropped out already due to a mechanical). He told her that I had dropped out on the fourth lap or something.
That is okay because as I was coming through the start/finished I heard a friend yell out that she was sending her boyfriend down to the feed zone to give me a bottle. I didn't nod. I wanted to, but I had to fight on. By this time I was off the back. Not by much. Just a few seconds. It was another teammate (John) and myself in this small chase group and we were trying to survive, its hard to think, talk or even respond. By this point there were only 3 of our team/club left in the race.
By the seventh time up the climb my luck was starting to run out. When you become dehydrated, it becomes harder to put out a maximal performance, and I was starting to slip out. By this time the pack was down to about 30. As the small chase group we were about 15 seconds off the back and John was starting to fail and he was gone. Now it was just a few of us chasing.
We did the decent, booted it along Northwest marine and as I came around to the feed zone (which is position prior to the climb), there was Steve, as promised with a bottle in hand and a power gel jammed in the cap. I grabbed the bottle at speed and drank the entire thing in one gulp.
THANK YOU STEVE!
My memory is a little fuzzy at this point. All I do remember is that me and a couple of Atomic riders where working together to get on the final 5 short laps for the finish. I look over and one was Axel, I remember him from our undergrad, we used to ride out to the British properties and laugh at the rich people for fun. Fucking small world, eh? Then Axel fell off and it was only me and this big Atomic rider. Apparently we were the next "group" after the 25 or so riders left in the front pack.
We rotated every few seconds, in classic time trial manner. We knew the main group only had a minute or so on us. If we worked we could get on for the final laps. As we were coming up the eight and final time up the wall climb the Atomic rider had more in his legs so I did everything I could to chase and hold on. As we climbed we kept picking up more riders that had fallen off. One looked in sever pain, off the bike and bent over using the bike to hold himself up. That is okay there were course marshals there to help... must not look... must keep riding.
As we peaked I could see the left turn for the final short finishing laps. Just as we approached they were pulling the barriers to prevent us. I was so out of it I didn't realize my day was now over and I almost ran into one of them.
All of a sudden I was going from doing everything I could to stay upright on the bike to now watching the race. Wow, that is a bit of a mind fuck. So I took a moment to cheer on the only teammate left in the race, Jay. Then a couple people I knew came up to me and told me I looked like shit. Yeah, well I ain't surprised!
In the end it was no surprise that the pro riders took the win (damn Semetrics!). I was really happy with hanging in so long. Afterwards everyone on my team congratulated me on the effort and el captain then phoned me out of the blue yesterday and offered me some extra team sunglasses (so I looked more like the rest of the team).
I guess the moral of the story is that people had better start taking the Wease seriously! Funny cause I sure as hell don't! Anyway, I gotta get my stuff together as I am off to do the Richmond Thursday Nighters tonight.