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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Paris to Ancaster...

Since I had heard that the ideal bike for the PtoA was a cross bike, I scrambled to find one for the race. Im not adverse to riding an MTB, but for the best possible result a cross bike is necessary.

Fortunately, my friend came through with a 50cm Ridley with cro-mo fork, that was a little too small for me, and the rear wheel was pretty much toasted. So the next part was to find a wheelset. I borrowed some Aksiums from another generous friend.

Lastly the drivetrain was toast. The chain was stretched and skipped under load. So I picked up a cheap 11-28 cassette, and a cheap chain. To compensate for the undersized frame, I threw on a 120mm stem to replace the 80mm stem. At 10:00pm before race day, my ride was ready. I did 4-5 km outside doing some full out sprints to try and force a skip and to iron out any wrinkles. Everything seemed ok, but I was a little worried about the rear derailleur that was super worn, and had severe bushing play. Itd have to do.

The weather was perfect at teh start line, a little chilly when standing around, but perfect for racing. I was in the first wave, somewhere in the middle of the 350person start.

My primary objective was to get to the front 25 very early in the race. I moved up quickly on the initial road stretch which was wide enough to allow some selection. The next part was a 2-3km stretch of standard issue fireroad flat as a pancake. Passing was very difficult here, but I managed to pick off 5-8 positions. The pace was very relaxed. I was itching to get up to the front, I knew the faster guys would probably be driving up the pace fairly soon, and the group i was riding with seemed content to allow the formation of gaps.

There was a sharp right hand turn that went up a very loose ascent that had most people dismounting. I tried to power up the climb, but then my chain skipped on the ring and hopped off. Fuck. I pulled off to the side readjusted my chain, but by that time almost the entire group had passed me. I was almost last and would have to pick off a ton of riders to have a chance of finishing well.

After riding maybe 500m, i realized I had lost my main bottle. Fuck. I had pretty much concluded that I would cramp up or bonk with 10k to go. With hopes of an ideal finish long gone, and some new chain skipping issues (which was attributed to a twisted link probably from the loose climb) I decided Id just go for broke, and see how far a full out race pace effort on half a water bottle would take me.

Most of the race course was wide road that was either gravel or even paved. I would quicker define this race as a road race rather than an MTB race. There is maybe 50m of trail where an MTB would have an advantage. Drafting and peloton technique is in full effect on the roads.

By this point the entire group had fragmented into groups of 4 or 5 100-300m apart. I attacked group after group, bridging gap after gap. I could really feel the interval workouts paying off. A couple times I would try to get a group chase effort going, but most were reluctant, or perhaps unfamiliar with the advantages of a good group effort. One fellow from Pieriks cycle whose name I never caught looked as if he got caught in some early misfortune like I did and as such, was far back from where he wanted to be. He also had road experience, so we effectively worked together sharing the load pulling into the mild headwind. I was starting to have alot of fun.

Together we picked off maybe 30-40 riders before he decided to drop off. By now I had worked my way up to groups that were a little more experienced and quicker. Bridging gaps required some serious work, but I was still managing to make time. Now alot of the groups would try and hang when I got to the front and got ready to bridge the next gap. I pushed my redline and managed to drop a few groups. I felt great. My legs were fresh, I had spent an ungodly amount of time anaerobically attacking and trying to shell other riders.

I got up to Jeff who was having a good race and looking strong during the late segments of the race. I rode with his group for awhile before launching on to the next.

At the very end, after the greasiest descent ever, I managed to make a wrong turn before the final climb. In my defence, the cops who were directing the traffic, had chose that moment in time to go off the course and do something. So I took the natural road route instead of the finishing climb. Fuck.

I continued on for about 3-4 km until a car passed me. Then I realized I must have gone the wrong way. I backtracked... the cops apologized. I mumbled 'no problem' and climbed the final hill. I forgot about my warped chain and proceeded to drop it again. pfft.

I arrived to the top to see everyone I had passed ready and waiting for me.

I was pretty happy though, It was a fun fun race, I felt great, I attacked hard, I didnt bonk. I think im ready for the Mansfield OCup next week.

When life hands you lemons, bring out the salt and tequila.

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