Race Rambling - Provincial Time Trial and Duathlon Championships

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I haven’t had to attend any weddings this summer but I’ve had plenty experience being a bridesmaid.

After this summer, I expect I’ll be a hot commodity on the bridesmaid scene. I haven’t done much standing on the podium – but I’ve spent a lot of time standing beside it!

Provincial Time Trial Championships went better than expected, mostly due to the fact that Bruce Bird, Ed Veal and Derrek Ivey were not there. I finished 4th and didn’t get to stand on the podium – but I did get to stand beside it!

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I did learn a lesson though: never drink an extra-large Tim Horton’s tea right before a race. Although, it did add extra motivation to finish quickly…

Provincial Duathlon Championships, to be honest, was a little bit more of an exciting battle. Everyone who came out seemed to be at their peak.

It took no time at all for this motivated crew to drop me on the first 10km run. I kept telling myself, if I could only keep them in view, I would get them all back on the bike. My goal of keeping them in sight quickly changed to just trying to survive the damn 10km. I was able to catch most, but not all, on the bike but then was passed a bunch of times on the second 5km run.

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Sitting in 4th, with about 2km of running left in the race, I was pretty sure I was still in the lead for my age category. I could see Darren Cooney, in my age category, in his bright yellow kit behind me making up ground. As we approached the line I looked back again and he was almost right behind me. In what I imagined at the time looked like a heated sprint - but in reality I’m sure was a mess of flailing arms - I ran as hard as I could for the line. I only barely took it and then tried not to puke everywhere.

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When all was said and done, you guessed it, I finished 4th overall and got to serve as bridesmaid again.

There was another lesson learned at the duathlon: don’t take 2 months off running and then do a 15km running race. Walking is almost impossible the next day…

Congratulations to Scott Finch who’s strong run and strong ride made him Provincial Champion, Daryl Flacks who simply flew by me on the second run, Andrew Mcleod who also showed no mercy on the second run and Darren Cooney for letting me have the “sprint” at the end. This was the most competitive duathlon I’ve done all year and it was a great experience.

The duathlon community has been very welcoming to a pure cyclist like me and I just want to recognize the great job Jesse Bauer and Larry Bradley do in promoting the sport in Ontario.

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A big thank you to Mike Mandel for all the work he did for our team this year and for putting in the hard work to host some great races. He is the glue that held us together.

Also, thank you to the folks over at Multisport Canada, your races were well organized and always kept it interesting. Maybe a little shorter run courses next year?

Anyway, here’s a quick recap of all my bride’s maid appearances this year…

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Thanks to my team Real Deal Racing and sponsors GearsWASPcamFieldgate Homes,Toronto Sport and Social ClubMorning Glory Cycling ClubChampion SystemPowerBar,Balance PhysiotherapyRPM Total FitnessSpin KicksKenzington Burger Bar, Barnstormer Brewing and Iler Silva Law Offices for their help in getting me on (or at least near) the podium.

Race Rambling - Brunel TT and Lake of Bays Road Race

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Brunel and Lake of Bays were the last two O-Cups of this season. Both were extremely well organized and a refreshing change from our normal tightly looped courses.

Even better than the races was how our team came together as a bit of a family. We stayed at Mike Mandel’s cottage and were able to spend some time around the fire and in the lake.

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The TT had a few more hills than I would have liked, but I was able to hit my best 20 minute power all year – hope my power output continues on an upward trajectory as we approach the Provincial Time Trial Championships (you can register here).

Despite my best power numbers, I came in 5th place – and I thought I was good at TT!

It only gets worse, my RealDeal teammate Dave Frake hasn’t done any OCA racing in a couple years and had to race in the Senior 4 category. Anton Varabei had a bike that didn’t pass bike check and so he raced in the Sportif category. They both had significantly faster times than I did. So, in reality, I would have finished 7th!

It was still nice to stand next to the podium where my teammate Ed Veal had taken 3rd.

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Having done the TT the day before, the road race was tough! My plan was to try to finish in the top 10 to protect my overall standing in O-Cup points. I didn’t see the wind or the front of the race all day. Just sucked wheels.

A serious break got away during the first lap which included Sean Mackinnon, William Elliot, Benjamin Perry and Gaelen Merrit – the eventual race winner. My hat goes off to Ryan Roth, Anton, my teammates Ed and Tim Burton, who all worked like dogs to bring the break back.

In the last 30km I attempted a long solo attack – which was quickly pulled back. After that I just tried to hang on to what was left of the peloton; about 10 riders led by Roth. I was dropped on one of the last climbs leading into the finish. Roth’s group caught everyone in the breakaway, with the exception of Gaelen, before the finish line. Ed took 2nd place by out sprinting Roth who took 3rd.

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I finished in 11th place, just outside of my goal, but it was good enough to secure 8th place in the final O-Cup standings. Considering I missed one race and had a tire explode in another I think 8th isn’t too shabby for my first year racing elite.

A big thanks to my team Real Deal Racing and sponsors Gears, WASPcam, Fieldgate Homes, Toronto Sport and Social Club, Morning Glory Cycling Club, Champion System, PowerBar, Balance Physiotherapy, RPM Total Fitness, Spin Kicks, Kenzington Burger Bar, Barnstormer Brewing and Iler Silva Law Offices for everything they did to keep us racing this year!

Race Rambling - Tour de Terra Cotta

After a month of chest and sinus infections, which included three weeks off the bike, it was nice to actually feel somewhat competitive in a road race again.

With Ryan Roth of Silber Pro Cycling on the start line competitive is a subjective term. When Roth graces us mere mortals with his presence the real race is for second and third.

The Tour de Terra Cotta is always an amazing race with a challenging climb on fully open roads. The organization was top notch again this year.

There were a number of attempts to get groups away early but nothing was really sticking. Everyone was obviously watching Roth. Chris Firek, of Racer Sportif, was also being pretty closely marked.

At the halfway point Yuri Hrycaj, of Jet Fuel, went head over heels about ten riders in front of me, the pack slowed but I made it safely around. I missed the ensuing traffic jam and found myself at the pointy end of the pack with James Keezer, of the Midweek Cycling Club, just a little behind Roth, who was on the front, and who had a number of OCTTO-Cervelo riders marking his wheel. The pace was slow, I looked over at Keezer, who recently became the Master A Provincial Road Race Champion, smiled and then attacked.

I’ve had a pretty lame season this year and I think that helped my chances of getting away. The pack certainly wasn’t marking me like Roth and Firek. They let me go. Soon after Keezer came across, which made me very happy. He’s an awesome guy and doesn’t mind doing his work. And work we did. It seemed like forever before we were eventually joined by riders from OCTTO, Blacksmith and my RealDeal teammate Niles Vaivars.

I was amazed by how well everyone was working together. Nothing makes me more angry than someone in the breakaway who refuses to do their work – it screws up the rotation. It also screws up everyone mentally, leading to everyone to do less work, and usually leads to the break getting caught by the peloton.

Although we were working well, the pace was taking its toll on some of my fellow escapees. First we lost the Blacksmith rider up the climb. Then we lost the OCTTO rider in the headwind. Then we lost Vaivars in the crosswind. Keezer and I were back down to two. I looked over at him and said “we need to give everything. If we get caught by the peloton it’s over for us anyway.”

After a while we could see riders not too far back but we pushed on as hard as we could. I would only look back briefly for fear of seeing the group too close and mentally giving up. When the group was on top of us, I was surprised to see it was a small pack of about six riders including Roth, Firek, Osmond Bakker, of OCCTO, William Elliot, of NCCH, and Keezer’s teammate Bruce Krip.

I’ve got to give a shout out to my teammates Larbie Benhabib and Chris Bozek. These guys where in the peloton and, seeing that I was in the breakaway, did their best slow the chasing pack including hanging people out to dry on the front and coming to the front to slow the pack.

We were still away! But, as soon as Keezer and I were caught some games started. Roth wasn’t happy about this and jumped taking Keezer and Elliot with him. After they took off, the group I was left in starting working well together and soon we had Keezer back after he was dropped up the climb.

With two laps to go, it was clear that we were all suffering. And, on the last lap, there were some games starting to happen. I half asked and half pleaded with the guys that we wait until the second last turn, before the big decent into the sprint, to start looking around at each other. This seemed to work.

We had just about made it to the second last turn when I attacked. I didn’t want to come to the line with Firek or Keezer – both of whom have been regularly putting in great sprint finishes at the Midweek Citerium. It was no use. They caught me. We all looked around at each other as we rolled down the hill. There was no chance of the peloton catching us now.

I made one last attempt to get away with about 500 meters to go – but I wasn’t fooling anyone this time. The group rode my wheel to the line where Firek took the sprint for 3rd place.

It felt nice to be back in a race in a meaningful way. As I’ve said before, any race where I finish ahead of the peloton is a good day in my books – and 6th place isn’t that bad either!

A couple notes: I got to stand on a podium with Ryan Roth – a great honour – and something I’d gladly do any time!

Also, a shout out to the OCTTO-Cervelo team, they clearly came ready to race: two riders up the road early, a rider in almost every breakaway and doing their share of the work the entire time. It’s always great to ride with guys like that!

Thanks to my team Real Deal Racing and sponsors Gears, WASPcam, Fieldgate Homes, Toronto Sport and Social Club, Morning Glory Cycling Club, Champion System, PowerBar, Balance Physiotherapy, RPM Total Fitness, Spin Kicks, Kenzington Burger Bar, Barnstormer Brewing and Iler Silva Law Offices for their help in getting me on the podium.