May's Racing Recap by Grey Burns

Hey, it's time for some race reports!! It's been a while and there's been alot of action locally. Heck , 3 weekends in a row in May we had races.

First race was the 3rd running of the Gatineau GP Cycliste. In true fashion, it was stinking hot. We had Warren, Charlie, Duncan, Hans, Greg, Ryan and Andrew on the start. The race was a few weeks ago, so I can't remember too much about it. It was 100k. Hans and Andrew finished in the bunch and it was fast and hard.
Next up was 2 races as part of Kemptville's Dandelion Festival. On the Saturday was an insanely hard crit (I hear) and you basically walked away with a win if you stayed upright. All the boys did, so we had about 5 wins on the night! Yay!
The next day was the fairly short 180km Dandelion GP. Pretty much all the team was there (forgive me if I miss anyone): Hans, Charlie, Greg, Andrew, Duncan, Jason, Gerald, Doug, Marc and Warren plus maybe a few others who snuck into our kit. Hans planted himself in the race long breakaway (chapeau!). Charlie played around in a little chase group for a while. Doug wrecked a wheel but thanks to Marc, Warren, uh wait, not Warren, Gerald and Charlie, he got back into the game. Once Doug was back in the game, Hans caught word of this and sat up from the breakaway, which resulted in the rest of the guys sitting on the front doing the chasing. The race was mondo fast. I think 44km/h. Yes, that's 180km in less than 4hrs. In an Ontario race. This speed is mainly thanks to the independent rider Ryan Roth. The breakaway was caught with 3km to go (PRO!) and a mass sprint ensued. Doug scored a top 10. Nice. Both of these races were thanks mainly in part to the huge efforts of Ryan Phelps, race director deluxe. Great job Ryan.
And the next weekend was the Mississippi Mills GP put on by Ride With Rendall and hosted in Pakenham, Clayton and Almonte. The elites raced 4 stages: an 88km wet and hard circuit race in Pakenham on Friday night, an 18km TT in Clayton on Saturday morning, a 30 lap crit in Almonte on Sat evening, and a 170km road race in Pakenham on Sunday afternoon. Doug and Andrew donned the rain jackets, wetsuits, umbrellas and sowesters on Friday night. Many cries for "PIANO" were heard in the first km's (mainly from Andrew), but these went unheeded likely because the wind and rain were deafening. By the end of the race, it was nigh time as in dark! Doug didn't contest the sprint and came 9th. Wish I could not contest a sprint and still come 9th.
Sat mornings TT did not come close to resembling the profile in the technical guide. The tech guide showed heading out for 9k on a slight rise all the way, turnaround, and slight downhill all the way back. Too bad for the early riders who didn't get word that it was actually slight downhill first! Oops. Nothing like thinking you're flying and climbing at 45km/h to turn around and suffer like a dog for 9 more km. Doug had a great TT getting a 5th place and jumping up to 4th.
The crit in downtown Almonte proved to all those who don't know Almonte that it's in desperate need of some paving. Yikes. From potholed/flooded/100 degrees corners, to gravel sections through a parking lot and over a driveway curb then up a hill, it was a technical but mildly amusing course. We'd seen a lot of riders crashing in the earlier races we all knew to be safe. Doug flatted. Sigh. He still finished in the bunch. Andrew, being wise and crafty as he is, did the bare minimum 50% of the race and got pulled and started the next day.
The weather on Sunday was calling for rain all week long. Leaving Ottawa, sure enough, it was raining. They got up there, and it was dry! The race included a sweet 5km stretch of gravel which you had to know was going to approached by the bunch like it was the Arenburg forest from the famed Paris-Roubaix. Aaron Fillion had a handful of eager-to-please teammates who set the tempo for the first 120k or so and kept the race at a moderate pace. A few breakaways were attempted but nothing really stuck thanks to the RWR henchmen. By the end of the 3rd lap, there were just 1 or 2 these helpers left and as they took the bell lap, the bunch sat up and lone rider saw his chance and bolted. Slick. The pack ignored it and just rolled along. The were some good hard accelerations on the dirt section but the pack remained intact and content while the break was 1.5minutes up the road.
As the bunch got to 10k to go, the roads became straighter and the solo leader was in site and the bunch was inching forward. During a slight hestitation with 6km to go, Andrew took off in chase of the leader knowing full well the pack wouldn't even bat an eye at this move. He was joined by a rider from Peterborough and as they rounded the bend switching from crosswind to headwind, they kept their heads down. The pack was looking smaller and smaller off in the distance while the leader was getting bigger and bigger and the lights from the cop cars getting brighter. Andrew got popped with 4k to go but kept at 'er. By now the pack was imploding into small groups riding up the road. The first 2 man group sailed past Andrew and they eventually caught his original companion at the line, but didn't catch the solo leader who scored a pretty sweet, cheeky win. Doug lost only a few seconds on the stage to some of his nearest rivals and came in 10th which translated in to 3rd for the weekend! Andrew rolled in 16th on the stage and well, to find his name on the GC, start at the bottom and work your way up, but not too far. If you ask him, he'll tell you "ahh, it's just training". And, Doug kept his rear wheel in 1 piece for a change.
Big big thanks to all of the local organizers of these and all the races in Ottawa/Gatineau this year. This includes OBCCyclelogik,Ride With Rendall, Erik Lyman, Ryan Phelps. We counted 12 days of racing this season and this doesn't include cyclocross. Amazing! In fact, Ride With Rendall is responsible for 6 of these days!!! Support all of these organizations if you can this year or next. Mark all of these races on your calendar is you can.
-Andrew

Marc's Almonte-Roubaix Report

roubaix-preview

I don’t know how many times I hear it, but every year on the start line it gets repeated 15 times “THIS IS NOT A RACE!”  Hmmm… It’s a strange thing to get really excited about a race which isn’t a race; a ride so-to-speak that has no cash winnings and no incentive other than bragging rights to one of the most difficult “rides” of the classics season.  Yet, every year local racers scrutinize the ever-changing course for the best places to attack or, the worst places to be caught in the back of the pack.  Every year the excitement mounts for this classic, and every year it is hard as hell.

This year, the season has been mostly dry with the early melt of the snowpack, so potholes and thick mud were less of an issue.  However, a last-minute change to the course had people nervous, and questioning if they even wanted to race such a section.  The Challenge: a new rocky 2 km long double-track trail 10 km into the race that could wreak havoc on bike and body with what was described as a “lake crossing with a solid non-muddy base” right in the middle.  Many people voiced their concern for the new section, and the reports back confirmed the worst.  Well, for those that like gore in a race, it didn’t disappoint.

 

So, here’s my account of the 2012 Almonte Paris-Roubaix:

The skies were clear, it was cold, but enough above freezing that we didn’t have to worry about ice – what a relief considering the purported lake we had to cross.  The usual mingling and change room conversations about how to do this challenge were part of the routine as Hans, Warren, Charlie, Jake, Richard, Gerald, Andrew, Doug and I met at various times to chat or say hello.  We all knew, Doug was the man today – his form and fitness were proven, and we would try our best to rally around him and give him the best chance.  Prior to the roll-out there were people mentioning the idea of being gentlemanly through the new section, which I wasn’t opposed to, but thought it best to be up front as much as possible when I hit that section.

As usual, the roll-out was a few minutes late.  We rolled out, stopped at the re-grouping point, and then…hold onto your hats!  The speed at the start was shocking (considering this was my first ‘race’ of the season).  It settled a little after about 10 minutes, but it was clear - this was not a leisurely “ride”.  I kept my nose out of the strengthening wind but near the front, keeping tabs on fellow nine2fiver’s and the would-be players in this ride.  Soon enough, we came to an unfamiliar section to me.  “Be smooth” is all I could focus on as the wheels I was following were ducking and dodging head-size potholes and rocks.  I was rolling well until we came to the Lake.  I slowed for the guys who were at a near stop in front of me, something I was trying to avoid by being near the front, then Whack!  I got hit by someone rolling into the back of me; off my line I scrambled to regroup, but that was the last time I would see the front of the group; the lake had done its damage.  By the time I rolled out of the section I had no idea what place I was racing for, but I chased as if the next guy was the leader.  Eventually, I settled into a swelling group of 20 or so.  This evidently, was the chase group.

Unfortunately, the work being done was not evenly distributed and frustration mounted in the group.  All attacks thrown at the group increased the pace until the attacker was consumed back into the fold, then it would slow.  At this point, I had a hard time deciding if this should be a ‘race’ or simply a ‘ride’, so I decided to ride my own pace and with a new plan; keep hurting, attack on Darling road to shed riders and if I had anything left in the tank, leave it for the last wooded section and final 3 km.  After Darling road and the switchback climb, we had a decent group of guys who were working well together – though it was friendly, it was somewhat hostile for attacking.

The group seemed to be sweeping up some strong riders and we seemed to gain as many as we lost along the way.  Some Nine2Fiver’s made appearances in the group – Jake, who showed his strength by sticking with such a topsy-turvey pack, Warren who’s legs fell off from chasing hard up front, and Hans who with Warren, worked himself to implosion up front.  Through Hans I heard that Doug was well placed, and the race was being decided without our help – fair enough.

We hit the last wooded section, and I let it out.  Trying to be smooth through the woods, I was the first one of the group out of the woods – then I hit the gas towards the finish…only to explode against the headwind in the final 2 km’s and get reeled back in.  Finally, I set up for the final run-in to the finish - DONE!  There I found Doug, happily chatting on the side of the road he was second overall!  I was elated – his strength was certainly showing, and his smile was from ear to ear.  Not bad for a new Father!

I didn’t care where I ended up.  I just had another great day at the Almonte Paris-Roubaix, and lots of fun stories to tell.