The Provincial Road Race Championships were held on Sunday July 28th, hosted by Spinsanity Cycles in the Holland Marsh area. The course was a challenging 12km circuit with a long climb that crested only a few hundred meters from the finish.
Greg and I headed down to Cambray on Saturday to spend the night at my folk's place, before heading to the race the next day. After a civilized Saturday BBQ dinner and a relaxed Sunday morning with lots of coffee and bagels, we headed off to the race for our 2pm start with plenty of good wishes for a good race.
Once we were close to the race, we stopped for another bathroom break, and grabbed a couple of espressos....double shots at that. In hindsight this extra dose of caffeine may have been a mistake, but at the time we thought it was a stroke of genius...mostly for the java deliciousness than the extra kick.
Signed in, kitted up and on the start line, off we went with 108km of racing ahead of us. Our Master A field was a relatively small one, but I expected that those who showed up to have some legs. And I was right. Greg and I went in with a two-pronged strategy, that I would seek out the breaks, and he would get my assistance in the sprint if it came down to a group gallop for the line.
Trying to set the tone of the race, I pushed the pace on the climb the first time up, and made a couple of attacks early on throughout the first 2 laps. This strategy worked, as it brought out the riders who wanted to get out front. On the 3rd lap, Peter Mogg of Team T1c London Honda-Village went off on a solo break. Given the strength he showed to hang out there on his own for a whole lap, I thought he would make a good partner in a break.
The next time up the climb, Greg set a hard tempo, making some legs hurt and stringing out the field. I got a sense that it was a good time to attempt to bridge to Peter, as he was still hanging tough out front. As we crested the climb I attacked out of the pack, and soloed across.
Once I made it across, I went to the front for a few km to establish the gap, and let Pete recover a bit from his solo efforts. Not long after we starting working together, doing equal work in the wind, and keeping the pace high. For the first couple laps of our break, the pack was organized in their chase, and kept our gap around 1 to 2 minutes. After that, our next time checks were 3, and then 5 minutes. It was clear that the battle for the Provincial Champions jersey would be between us.
Despite our large gap, we kept up our efforts all the way to the end. I was keen not to show much weakness, despite the feeling that my left hamstring was ready to cramp up. Little did I know, Greg was suffering from cramping too, and we attributed our cramping to our over-indulgence in our black gold.
Knowing I was a bit vulnerable, my strategy was to feign strength to avoid being attacked, and then bring the race down to a sprint, as the sprint was a bit downhill off of an overpass over the 400 hwy. Having made it to the bottom of the climb, Pete was expecting me to attack. I took the front position briefly to keep up appearances, but then let off to let Pete lead. He made some strong accelerations on the climb, and I had to ride carefully to stay close but not cramp my leg.
Over the top of the climb, we played some cat and mouse, as we jockeyed for position, coming almost to a standstill at times. But I was sure to keep the back position so I could get the jump in the sprint. Into the last 200 meters, and Peter opened up the sprint. Off the slight downhill of the overpass, I accelerated past for the win. It was just enough, as right after the finish my left hammy locked up in a cramp. Job done and a Provincial Championship won!
Thanks to Greg for a fun road trip! He kept his name on the finishers list with a 10th place. And kudos to Pete Mogg for a long breakaway and a good battle!