Cyclemeisters Katy Curtis and Shawna Donaldson competed in the Cherry Blossom Cycling Classic last weekend, Katy’s report is an inspiring read to those of us who watched the snow fall instead..
The Organ Grinder registration opened April 1st, entries are capped, don’t miss it!
This was the day I’d been waiting for! I was excited from the time I woke up and pumped to get out there and sprint like crazy.
After yesterday’s performance my body felt beat up but I was more worried about the fact that I was now a marked man and as such I knew that no one was going to let me slip away today. The plaid kit was going to make it hard to hide!
I don’t exactly have much experience racing as a marked man, but I use to train with some top criterium racers in California who regularly rode as the expected winners so I knew, in theory, what I was supposed to do.
What was I supposed to do? Ride really hard right from the gun!
I tried to get front row and was once again once partially successful (I don’t know where I lost this skill but I used to be able to get myself on the front all the time. Now? Not so much).
As soon as the race started I put in an attack and, luckily, was followed by a lot of really strong guys. The pace stayed high up to the first sprint and I was able to get 2nd. The pace remained pretty high up to the next sprint and I was expecting an attempted break-away after the sprint, but nothing developed. At this point the race fell into a rhythm of speeding up for every sprint and then slowing down – exactly like a points race on the track and as such right up my alley.
Things were looking excellent until 10-laps to go when team CIBC started to play some pretty smart team tactics on me resulting in me pulling around the pack for about 5-laps. The CIBC tactics were working great and their sprinter won the final sprint by such a large margin that he had time to throw up his hands in celebration. Good work on their front.
On the cool down lap I was feeling dejected as I was almost certain that CIBC’s final display of power was enough to secure the win so I was just elated to find out that I eked out the win by a single point.
The Crit jersey was in my sights since January when I began working on intervals in my basement and I couldn’t be happier to have it in my house.
Did I deserve this win? Today I feel that I can say Yes.
Today was a shocking day for me as (a) I’m not a very good road racer and (b) I was flying solo in a race that, on paper, looked to be a classic strategic affair. Since my focus over the last 6-months has been squarely on the points race I figured I was entering the road race just for fun and I had no expectations.
- Paper View
The paper view of the course showed that there would be four distinct climbs on the course and all of them were medium in length and none with grade steeper than 4%. My wife and baby decided not to join me for the weekend so after waking up at 6am (No matter how hard I try I can never sleep in) I ate breakfast and decided to drive the course. I’m glad I did as it made me realize that the hills on the course had the potential to be selective, assuming someone decided to really push the pace up the entire climb. Driving the course also made me realize just how bad the wind would be.
- Handlebar View
As always I tried my best to start as close to the front row as possible. I waste a lot of energy doing this but I find that I waste just as much energy starting near the back and stressing out about my positioning that I might as well waste the energy on the front. There were a few attempted breaks, only one of which I was able to get into containing two CIBC/Quebec racers and two ERTC riders. I did not feel confident about the composition because without any Calgary Cycle guys present it was obvious to me that the break would never succeed so I played my role, albeit poorly, until the peloton caught us. The wind was pretty strong at this point so everyone seemed content to wait it out.
Once the course turned left onto the main Highway a few my guys tried there luck and looking back I found it funny (by funny I mean instructive not laughable) that the break did not form in some dramatic attack but rather by guys just rolling off the front, very casually, almost like they were just fooling around. Before I knew it 5 guys (2 Calgary Cycle, 2 ERTC and 1 CIBC/Novabrik) had pulled this intelligent move and were 30 seconds up the road.
At this point all of the guys left in the peloton knew that they had made a mistake and really wished that they too were in the break. When this happens it means that no-one is going anywhere because as soon as a move is made everyone jumps on the wheel in hopes of the free ride up to glory. Obviously I was one of those guys.
We rolled along pleasantly for some time until I made a fake move off the front right before the feedzone to ensure that I had enough space to get a feed. I’m glad I did because as soon as I got my bottle a CIBC guy put in a hard attack and I was lucky enough to have my new bottle in the cage and was ready to respond. A good portion of the peloton was not so lucky and as a result lost their feed opportunity. In the ensuing minutes the pack decided to sit up and shout insults at the CIBC guy all the while the break continued to work like clockwork and put in more time. I was starting to feel dejected about the missed opportunity so I put in some more attacks in the hopes of getting a small group organized to get up to the race, but with three teams represented in the break it was hard to find folks with the same agenda.
After the turnaround I continued to try and get a group going but I soon realized that each of my attacks were attracting less and less interested parties. A Manitoba guy went with me for awhile but we shut it down after gaining no more than 5 seconds. Finally I went and no one responded. I felt a little stupid sitting out in front of the Peloton as no-mans land in no place a sprinter like me wants to be.
What was going through my head? I was telling myself that I was throwing away any chance of success and that at any moment the pack was going to come screaming past me and I would get dropped and roll in 20 minutes down on the winner. My only comfort was that I truly didn’t care about the race and was really just looking forward to the crit the next day.
As time passed I realized that I was actually making time on the peloton and the lead group was becoming clearer and clearer in my view. At one point an official came by and said that I was 40 seconds behind, which meant that I had made it half way across the gap. I was starting to feel cocky at this point and thought that I’d make it to the group before the right turn back onto the main highway – I got close, probably 20 seconds, before they accelerated again and I nearly died inside. For another 20 km’s I chased – I went from feeling like a machine to feeling like dog crap. More than once I turned around to see the peloton in the distance thinking about how much time I would have to rest before they caught me.
Just before the drop into the River Valley I finally made it into the group. After a few missed turns I regained my composure and started to take pulls. There was no way I was going to put that much effort into making it into a break without trying to make it stick. To be honest I thought the peloton would be on us in no time so I was completely shocked when an official rolled up and said that we still had a 1:20. I rolled through with increased vigour. In the last feedzone I picked up a watered down coke and once the caffeine and sugar hit my bloodstream I knew that I was going to be able to finish with some gas in the tank (I don’t care what people say about Coke I personally think it’s the best energy drink in the world – maybe not the best “watching movies” or “Driving Truck Across the Country” drink but the best energy drink ever created.)
Everyone in the break realized that there was no way we were going to get caught and with this excitement in hand we all continued to roll towards the finish. Just for clarity but “all” I mean the ERTC and Calgary Cycle guys as the CIBC guy was doing a fantastic team job of sitting-in as he knew that his team sprinter was in the peloton and that a re-group was the best thing for his team – Kudos to him for putting up with all our insults and attempts to manipulate him. He was a good team player and I wish he was on my team!
Some cat-and-mouse ensued with 5km’s to go and Blain Ritcher of ERTC put in a VERY HARD effort right before the line but Lady Luck was on my side and I, with the tailwind in mind, I pulled out of the slipstream early, with probably 200 meters to go and drove for home.
Did I deserve the win? No. I just rolled the dice and it could have easily ended with me not making the break and finishing DFL. There were some fantastic sprinters in the field and to beat them I would have had to have all my energy at the end. It just goes to show you that results don’t always tell the entire story of a bicycle race as all those guys in the pack, and behind, may just have tried a crazy move that didn’t work out.
A quick report on last weekend’s MTB enduro – Deadgoat Racing’s Giver8er. Despite concerns about the trail conditions, a healthy turnout of racers was milling about Canada Olympic Park, ready to crank out 8 hours of suffering. Apparently the trail workers put in a long day because the course was mostly enjoyable, though it did claim a few rear derailleurs. After 2 hours, the course was mostly rideable and in the afternoon the sun peeked out for a bit.
Not many riders from Edmonton made it out for this race, so many podium spots were contested between Deadgoats and Cyclemeisters. Gabor continued his enduro winning streak by snatching up the #1 spot in the solo singlespeed category. David Gonda and his Team Yukon partner took the win in men’s pairs, and Luke and Katy won Two Person Mixed. Leanne and Bogi earned second place in the Two Person Women category.
Nice work! Who wants to team up for the Organ Grinder?
Full results are available on ABA’s site
Some pictures here
Kermesse Cycling Race
May 23, 2010
The race took place in Leefdaal, Belgium on a rolling course of just over 7 km. In total, we would complete 11 laps, with the total distance measuring just over 80 km. It incorporated a 500 m steep climb, which came after a sharp right turn shortly after the start. The climb opened up onto a false flat up hill section, which gave way to a right hand turn leading to narrower roads and a rolling, gently winding downhill. Next came an abrupt, nearly 180 degree left turn and a short downhill section. After another left turn, the course re-entered town, allowing a few turns and small hills before ending in a slightly downhill finish stretch. There were sixty five starters.
The race began with a bang, with the pack moving fast up the initial hill. The heat of the day did not help the intensity, as it was sunny with high temperatures. The packed stayed together reasonably well for the first half lap, until I launched a counter attack on a previous attack, and went off the front with one other rider. Two other riders bridged up shortly after, but one was dropped fairly quickly. This left three of us, which soon turned to two as another rider was dropped. The Belgian rider that was left and myself worked hard to stay away, and held off the pack for about 35 km. We were then caught by a group of about 8 riders. This break held for less than a lap before it was caught by the pack. By this time, the pack had been substantially reduced. The team then concentrated on covering attacks, until two team members got into a fairly large break. This was held for around 15 km and then swallowed by the pack. After this, attack after attack was attempted, but generally unsuccessful. With a lap and a half to go, a group of four riders got off the front. I didn’t think this break would hold, but they ended up holding off the pack and taking the win. With half a lap to go, I attacked, attempting to catch the break solo. I got within 50 m of the break just as they started their final sprint for the finish. I finished 5th, rolling over the finish line solo. The rest of the team concentrated on the pack sprint, forming a lead out train to get an 8th place finish.
Overall, the race was fast and very hot. I felt strong throughout the race, and was feeling good at the end. I think that I should have initiated my final attack slightly earlier to allow for a bit more time to catch the break. The race went well and Canada had a strong showing. Everyone did well and I am happy with my final placing. Out of the sixty five starters, fewer than forty finished.
Yet another strong showing for Cyclemeisters in the third race of the ABA XC circuit in Stony Plain. We arrived Sunday morning to find several teammates (Amy, Gabor, Alistair) had spent a chilly night on the farm. A short pre-ride confirmed that the winding leaf-littered singletrack was left damp and very grippy, with the exception of a few rooty uphills.
At 11am, the novices and sports were sent off uphill, then through a prologue lap including the first trip up the ‘Houffalize’ climb. Sport Men Cyclemeister Alistair Hill went for the aerodynamical advantage and rode to a respectable 14th place with his shirt tucked into his bib shorts. In Novice Men, Niels van Ommeren claimed 7th and Emanuel Lys grabbed 13th.
The youth categories rode a shortened lap, big props to the Cyclemeisters here as the young ladies and gents made up half of the starting field and captured a handful of podium spots.
The Elite men race ended similar to last week with Mr. Bain claiming riding to victory with a comfortable 2min+ margin. Gabor and David Gonda grabbed 4th and 5th.
Perhaps last week’s Perogy XC was a good learning experience for the Expert riders as there were far fewer mechanicals and wrong turns. Brian Robinson rode away from the pack early on for his first place, Rob Haine missed a turn but came zipping by shortly thereafter to claim a well-deserved 3rd place. Ryan Correy and yours truly were not far behind in 5th and 6th.
The ladies made us look good with Katy claiming “first place after Pepper” in Elite, and Amy Barnett taking the Expert Women win with a phenomenal gap.
For a report of the Trans Stony, read Gabor’s post here: http://blog.wiseracer.com/?p=759
Pictures are here: http://bikealberta.com/?p=1948
Results posted here: http://bikealberta.com/?p=1936
See you at the Giver8er!
Recently, club member Felix Wilberg was south of the border racing in Fontana, California. He had a moment to write a race report for us. Here is what he had to say.
Fontana National Race Report
Well on March 26th this year (2010) I departed Calgary for Fontana California to race three bike races. The night before I left, I woke up with a fever of 102 degrees. Anyway, the next day I took an airplane from Calgary to LAX, rented a van, and drove out to Fontana. I got into Fontana on the Thursday and pre-rode the cross-country (xc) and 4-cross (4x) courses on the Friday.
10:00 Saturday morning the gun went off to start my XC race. At this point, there were very powerful winds which gusted up to 120 km/h!!! I realized that I had to pull out my new goggles! The race started off well for me and after only a kilometre or so I found myself out front with another racer. Unfortunately, while ascending a “slickrock” type climb, the racer in front of me flatted, causing both of us to fall. This was too bad because I got passed by several people while getting back on the bike. For the rest of the first lap I played catch-up and passed back a few people.
The second lap was going better until me and a few other racers arrived at a fork in the road/trail and the 120 km/h winds had blown down all the signs and tape. None of us were from the area and knew the trail system at all. As luck would have it we ended up taking the wrong trail and getting lost. After we got back on track, we figured that we were at the very back of the pack and had a lot of work cut out ahead of us.
Finally it was the third and final lap for us Junior Cat 1’s. I got some rad Gatorade from the feed zone and was stoked to pin the last lap. At around the halfway point in this lap, I had a length of industrial cable blown into my front wheel which caused a fiery wreck. I tried to wrench the cable from my front wheel but it was wrapped around the spokes and disk too tightly. I had no choice but to finish the race with a metre of ¼ in steel cable lodged in my front wheel!
I finished the race in 11th place and spent the next little while (with my dad’s additional strength) removing the cable from my front wheel.
After eating lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant, I decided that I would have nothing to lose by signing up for the 4X. My first job was to find a 4X bike that someone would let me use to race on. I talked to the folks at the Giant Bicycles tent and they said that I could use the beater pit bike for the race. Anything would be better than my carbon XC bike or DH bike!
A few hours later, the dudes at the Giant tent had set me up a Giant STP with Fox suspension, 2010 Saint, Atherton stem and bars, new ODI ruffians, new Schwalbe’s, etc. I handed over a case of cold beer as a rental fee and proceeded to take a few practice runs. This was a great feeling because it had been about half a year since I had done any gate starts. My riding on this track was spot-on and the bike was awesome. It was also really cool to be part of the event because many pro teams attended. This included the World Champion Jared Graves!
We all listened to the most perplexing explanation of how the heats would be organized then we set off to race. I don’t remember each heat individually since there were so many and they go by in a flash. Anyway, I made it to the final. I had an awesome gate start, got out in front, and held my position on the berms, whoops, and doubles. I crossed the line winning the U19 race!
That was a good end to a long day.
So on the Sunday I did my first pre-ride of the DH course and had my front tyre roll partially off on the first turn. I lost enough air that I couldn’t ride so I walked down to the pits, got my tyre fixed by the guys at the Giant tent and went up to do a run.
By race time (later that day) I had done only one run of the track but the weather was rad and I was totally stoked to go pin it. In my race run I was riding smoothly but not very fast because I didn’t know the track at all and in DH that’s pretty key. About half-way down, something happened and I ended up crashing… even to this day I have no idea what caused that crash. I got up and hammered to the finish but there was no way I would make up the lost time for that crash.
Anyway to sum up, Fontana was awesome and did exactly what it was supposed to (get me back into racing at a top level). And it was great to be able to race in hot weather! So I would like to say thanks to Cyclemeisters for making that trip possible and I look forward to the upcoming race season!