Sunday, July 03, 2011

Nationals and beyond

Canada's biggest one-day race of the year, the National Road Cycling Championship, was held this past weekend just outside Toronto. My team placed particular emphasis on it, shipping the whole team from west and east coasts (and Montreal), and setting us up for the week in beautiful Oakville (actually, just north of there, in sketchy Oakville...but beautiful Oakville was but a short ride away).
Winning break, which stayed away for 160km: Rob Britton vs Team Spidertech
Photo: Nigel Wallis
I was brimming with confidence after my surprise 38th-place finish last year, confidence that was only tempered by my role as team water-boy/sacraficial lamb. I knew the course would be selective...a gradual climb, leading to 600 meters of torturous 13% climbing, capped by another 1-2 kilometers of more false-flat climbing, gave the strong men of Spidertech (Canada's only pro team) et al, every tool they needed to separate the wheat (them) from the chaff (me and 170 others like me).
Painface by teammate Aaron, photo by Nigel Wallis
I survived the opening kilometers, and I mean this both figuratively and literally: someone crashed on the 100+km/h descent and was taken away in a ambulance in rough shape. I found myself on the wrong side of a separation after the first time up the hill, and the following 5km of drilling it in a 4 man paceline to catch back on was the first nail in my coffin (my coffin only needs two nails). A couple of laps later, I exploded at the top of the hill like a watermelon having a drug overdose. Nige and Dave showed up (thanks, guys!!) unfortunately just in time to see me quite obviously out of contention and being showered in pity-cheering. Teammate Seb had a great race and finished 7th - way to go, Sebber!
Teammate Seb and various other superstars in the front chase group, one hill repeat closer to finishing
Photo: Nigel Wallis

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