Monday, May 21, 2007

tales from the wind

With promises of sun and fine weather, myself and several teammates decided to make the trek down south to the Niagara Classic, a Canadian National Calendar race. Waking up the morning we were to leave with an itch in my throat, I became very careful for the drive, drinking tea the whole way and trying to rest as much as possible as it would not be an easy day the next day. After arriving in Hamilton, we settled down and called it a night, Shawn was racing at 8:30 the next morning and I wanted to get as much rest as possible. The next day, after a good breakfast, and the same scratchy throat, we headed out the the race site. After a "detour" (we got on the highway in the wrong direction) we finally arrived at the race site, just as the rain was clearing into a cloudy and cool afternoon. After signing in, we discovered that the race start was at 1, not 1:30 as we had thought, so ran to the car and threw on our kits. Arriving at the start line just in the nick of time, we lined up and made small talk with other riders we haven't seen in some time. Right from the gun, 2 riders took off and the race went single file. I managed to slot myself in about 6th wheel and swore silently to myself as I began coughing up a lung. Taking the advice of a rider much wiser than myself, I went into the race with a game plan. Which helped a lot when the going got tough. I told myself that because of the sickness, I would sit in for the first half, make sure I was in any major splits and generally get a feel for my legs. The first time up Effingham, hurt, I won't lie. But as I looked around and began to pass riders, I realized that I seem to still be riding much stronger than many around me. I noticed this too in the flats and the windy gutter sections. This gave myself confidence a huge boost, I now new that I could still play a part in this race. With my teammate Steve up the road in the break (which would eventually win the race) I make the mental decision to save myself for the last 2 laps as I was still not breathing all that well with all the coughing and phloem. As I anxiously watched riders try to bridge up, I became more anxious, but stuck to my plan (top 15 paid out after all). After a brief talk with Mr. J Hall, I learned that I had somehow missed poor Steve getting dropped from the break and then from our pack. Shit. Finally the last lap came around, with several riders just off the front that had been dropped from the original break or where trying to bridge themselves, I made my first move by bridging up to a promising move with Magi and J Hall. Working well, we discovered that there where still enough of the usual Ontario wankers who where happy to chase but not race themselves to bring us back. As the pack began to close the gap, J Hall quickly told me "This is the time to go by yourself." So without thinking I took his advice and again launched myself. Caught again, just before the base of Effingham, and hurting I stayed top 5 and followed the first attack at the base of the hill leading to the line. With visions of another top 15 Ontario Cup finish dancing in my head, I dug deep and accelerated with it. Looking back we had gapped the field and where now pulling in the finish line. Happy my race, and with legs to spare (maybe I could have been with the break...) and happy with my form even while sick, I awaited the results to see if I had made my first Elite payday. After changing and gabbing some chow, I discovered that I was 17th. Two flippin spots from the money. Though according to I am now actually 16th, so to make matters worse, I am now 1 spot from the cash. Next time I'll be there, I now have some anger and unfinished business.
The plus side is the training is working. I felt strong throughout, had no problems riding in the gutter, the wind, the hills, or attacking. Even without being in the break where I wanted to be and know I could have been, I have taken many positives from this race. That means more to me right now considering I leave for Belgium in a less than 3 weeks. Only a few more races to go, and some more quality training. Next up, Tour of Somerville NRC race in New Jersey then Charlevoix, QC.

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