Rich's Calabogie Race Report: First Top-10 Finish!


[caption id="attachment_175" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="A little help from my friends the night before"][/caption] My first Top 10 finish. Yahoo!

I’m new to bike racing. After a couple of years of dipping my toe in the water, this year I decided to take the plunge and delve deep into the world of bike racing. I got a great head start this year with a trip to South Carolina, and a good performance at Clarence-Rockland until I flatted.  I was feeling pretty good, yet despite all the positive energy, I still get horrendously nervous before events and this morning was no exception.

I drove down with Jake and at the turnoff to the 511, I was getting serious second thoughts about the whole thing. The scotch club meeting the night before didn’t help matters. But after getting registered and dressed up in the new nine2five kit, (the new tights are awesome) I came back to earth.

This was my first Calabogie Race. I was in the M3 race. I wanted to race M2 with Jake but because this is my first year with a UCI licence, I had to race solo in M3. On the bright side, there was a bigger field with 60 riders.

Aside from the long registration line up, this event is well organized and a real joy to take part in. Our race started at 9:00 am with some cloud cover and a light wind. It was a bit chilly (2C) but after the first lap the chill disappeared. I was a little apprehensive about the course thinking that it would be pretty boring. But after the first couple of laps I began to really like it. There were 4 or 5 areas with a little dip-hill combo that was perfect for someone my size to attack. I was able to carry my momentum from the dips and slingshot through the field on the mini-climbs.

For the first 6 laps I experimented with some attacking to get a sense of what the field was like and where I could get the best launch.  I identified a great spot on lap 7 and made my move. I liked lap seven because the pack was becoming a little docile.  I calculated that at approximately 8 minutes per lap I would have to defend my attack for about 28 minutes. That was maybe a little ambitious. After the perfect launch I managed to get about 150 to 200 metres on the field. I was feeling pretty good, but one quick left hander and a small climb straight into the wind wiped me out. The attack lasted all of about 4 minutes. Uggg. I think that I might have been more successful if I figured out how to conserve some energy during the break. Ah, who knows?

So I fell back into the field and continued to look for opportunities. On lap 9, the duo from Tall Tree made a brilliant break on the first straightaway. It was perfect because we were heading directly into the wind and if they could hold it to the turn they would have a couple of minutes of recovery time in the tail wind and continue to build on their lead. In the end, they couldn’t make it stick and were reeled back after about 4 k. In hindsight, I should have been paying closer attention to them. I was feeling strong and if I had joined them, it might have been different. Lessons learned.

So the final lap (lap 11) was approaching and I had a decision to make. A.) attack from where I attacked on lap 7 or B.) save myself for the finish and hope for the best. I liked plan A but I was caught out of position and got boxed in. Plan B it is.

The pace was picking up half way though the last lap. Riders were beginning to get a little reckless. A rider next to me clipped the grass on the inside of a corner and took out about a half-dozen riders. There’s a great video of the crash at I kept going with a focus on improving my position. By the last corner, I was only a few bike lengths behind the leader. I put down the power and mashed on the pedals but couldn’t make up the difference. I ended up 6th.

Overall a fun race and one that I think I could have one if I was a bit smarter. A team effort would definitely been welcome. Next year.

- Big Richie J