Last weekend I headed down to Huntsville for the Lake of Bays Road Race, organized by Bruce Bird of the Wheels of Bloor club. I was looking forward to riding a new course, and one that on paper looked pretty epic, with the course being made up of a large loop on both open highways and more windy back roads.
Before making it to the race though, I stayed at my folk's place in Cambray so I would only have to travel a couple hours to the race on Sunday morning. After a smooth drive down highway 7, I made it to Cambray where my Dad was putting the finishing touches on a bike tune-up in the shop. After he finished up in the shop we headed out for a bit of a spin to work out the kinks after my long drive and his long day in the shop.
Sunday morning I woke to coolish temperatures. On my way to Huntsville the weather got worse and worse, with snow and hail coming down. And despite the sun showing itself here and there before my race started, the snow and hail were around all day, making for a very tough race.
The first lap of my race was ridden pretty aggressively, and with 170km on the menu, I was riding conservatively on the wheels, as my goal was just to finish to get lots of racing miles in the legs. After a lap however, I was sufficiently frozen and decided to call it a day to avoid any long term repercussions. However, with the large course loop, one circuit still made for 95k of racing, so I was happy to get some hard miles in my legs, and also to be part of a race that was ridden in such epic conditions.
Inside the resort, those that abandoned created what looked like a refugee camp, as they wrapped themselves in blankets trying to thaw out while sharing stories of their day.
For those that finished, regardless of place, kudos to them! And kudos to Bruce for organizing such a cool event. I'm looking forward to returning to Lake of Bays to race again, but hopefully in more reasonable conditions.
Newcomer to the team, Sam 0'Donnell rode in the Elite 4 race, and here's a report on how things went in his race:
"Lake of Bays Road Race E4.
Last Sunday was the inaugural Lake of Bays Road Race. I'd been looking forward to this one for awhile given that it features a longer than normal course and some nice changes in elevation. I left my house early on Sunday for the drive down to the race and went through many patches of rain and sun. About half way through the drive the weather was looking up, but once entering Huntsville it was clear that it would be wet for at least some of the race. At the start line it was about 3c with wet pavement, snow, rain, and strong wind. I was shivering just standing there, it was FREEZING. Pace was easy as we started out. I lined up right at the front. Knowing that the roads would be sketchy I didn't want to take any chances. The first 20km featured tight roads with some fairly big elevation changes. It was ridden at a fairly quick pace. Often the pack went single file as someone would drive it on, and everyone would be content to follow. There were a couple longer rolling climbs and some quick descents. I wanted to stay at the front for one descent in particular because there was a seriously messed up section of pavement on it right before a sweeping corner. I managed to enter that section 3rd, so that was nice. Still hit a big bump that sent my bike shaking, but no problems.
Middle part of the course was on rolling hwy with open sight lines. Roads were dry at this point, which was nice. A three man break went shortly after we hit this section, and one or two of the guys in it had a teammate back in the bunch. There was a very strong head/crosswind. It was kind of tense for a bit when a chase group of 4 or 5 broke off the front, and I was in the back group. I was pretty annoyed that I missed it. I helped do some work to bring it back together (not a ton though, by any means), and eventually it was groupo compacto at around 40km in or so. After that it got really slow. I guess most people figured there was no reason to work without a break up the road, and no one attacked. I feel that most were tired from the earlier efforts. It started snowing again at that point...
When we came to around 60km in or so it started hailing. At that point we turned onto some tighter roads and started making our way back North. Pace would get driven up on the short climbs, and then it would ease off on the descents and flats. Started to rain heavily around then too. We made another turn onto 'North Portage rd' which featured very tight, tree-lined road and lots of changes in elevation. The road was completely soaked, and it was raining. People kept attacking, and the pace was high. Made for some really awesome riding! I just kept following and took the odd pull, didn't do any attacking myself per my plan of waiting for the final climb at 6km to go or sprinting. My glasses started to fog up on the climbs, and I had a tough time getting them off my face and into a pocket. Finally, I was able to toss them into the front of my jacket going over the top of a hill.
Eventually we came back to the 8km finishing leg (it was the same piece of road that we used to get onto the main loop around the Lake of Bays) with about 10-12 guys left. Lost some valuable positions in the left hand corner onto the section, and I made some mistakes positioning on the climbs and kept getting caught behind a big guy who couldn't climb very well... I made it over the climbs near front each time though. After the last sizable climb I moved to the back of the group to mark a guy who I thought would be a good wheel to follow. That was a mistake. An attack went about 3-4km away from the finish right before a descent (last few kms were mostly downhill). A gap opened up in front of the guy I was following and I chased. I told the guy I thought he'd be good to follow between gasps as I went around him and we had a bit of a laugh (I know him from other races). Eventually the group that was in front slowed and I caught on the back. The last km was f-king hard. There was the original attacker up the road, a group of 4 behind him, and a very small gap from them to me and two other guys. I tried to close the gap for a bit, the other guys pulled through, and I went to the back. As we got over the last little ramp before 300m to go I came around one side, the second guy in the line in front of me went on the other. We passed the guy who was pulling but I didn't have enough to hold the other guy off.
Ended up 7th out of 27 starters. All in all a great race, though a little cold."