Tour de Bowness has been one of my favourite races since I started racing: well-supported, local stage race, no pesky time trial, and the provincial criterium championship. Last year it was my first cat 1/2 race ever, and I ended up coming 4th last in the hill climb, and I DNF-ed (Did Not Finish, meaning I was lapped) the crit and DNF-ed the road race. Ouch! I was planning to do a lot bette this time around.
We started on Saturday with the road race. I nearly missed it, with my cat having a little fit and showing signs of UTI - I had a little panic, deciding whether I was totally neglectful to leave him for a couple of couple (couple? I'm so unrealistic!) Thankfully my neighbour is a cat-lover and gave me kitty drugs and some advice, and I left Sherman.
Since the RR was only 80km, it's generally a hammer-fest from the get-go - this year the attacks started before the first corner 500m into the race. Godfrey was again my super-star feeder with the rock-solid delivery - eternal gratitude, bro! The top of the one decent hill in the circuit was usually time for someone to attack, but it generally came back together in the following flats through the start-finish. By mid-race, a break of around 8 got away. In subsequent laps, a couple of guys got away to try to bridge. The chase group didn't work too badly together though, and we kept them within sight...with 3 laps to go, we had them just 20 seconds away. No need to bridge, right? Well, that was as close as we came...they hit it around then, and we basically never saw them again. Too bad, I felt pretty good at the end and took the field sprint for 11th.
That night I was at the vet until midnight, to find out my cat was just having a little attention-deficit. Great! But time for bed. The next morning I was up at three, to follow triathlon natural Trev as he did his swim leg of the half-ironman, in a kayak, videoing with a hero-cam (video looks great!). Back to bed for a nap, then time for the COP (Canada Olympic Park) hill climb. Pretty straight foward...hammer for a couple of minutes on the road, while the downhill kids were hooting and hollering on their way down through the trees. This hill climb is a three-up, so we started in groups of three. I had some great companions in Gideon, TT specialist of H&R, and Manuel the hill-climbing pocket rocket. They pulled away by the end, but I got an amazing PB for the hill, 3:38, 20 seconds faster than last year, when we had a hurricane tail-wind. Suhweet. Good enough to 16th.
Monday was the big one - the provincial criterium championship. Thankfully they did away with the ridiculous "neutral lap" of last year, which is often done at 50km/h..neutral? Pfff! It would be 45 laps of pure pain and tight-pack, nutso- cornering and awesome-sprinting craziness. I got in a break after a few laps in, and the next 20 laps were super intense. We managed to drop most of the pack, but a couple of guys bridged up, so there were about 10-12 of us in the group. Semi-pro teams Trek Red Truck and H&R had a few guys in the break, but Bailey, Jesse and I took our fair share of pulls. On one, I pulled around to take my pull, meaning the usual ramp up to max heart rate for a lap...and going through the start-finish, I hear Dallas (who, with Godfrey, were way up in the pimp Oakley commentators booth...think a tent on top of a Greyhound bus!) say "...and Lockie is going on a flyer!..." I look back and the group is 50 metres back. Oops, that wasn't the plan! haha I slowed up - no chance of holding them off solo for 15 laps!
With 6 laps to go, H&R Dustin attacked off the front, and every lap, put a couple of seconds on us. With 2 laps to go, Jesse and I got on the front and drilled it (read, I took a pull for 10 seconds, before Jesse the steam-train took over) and in that lap, we were back together. Out of province pro Jamie Sparling attacked with a lap to go, but he's a marked man...he wasn't able to get away. It was coming down to a sprint. An RMCC guy, who I had no idea was with us, I guess he was lurking at the back that whole time, came around me. After rounding the last corner, it was a drag race. RMCC guy blew everyone away, and I held off a couple of dudes to get 7th. Awesome, I'm stoked with that!