Thursday, May 20, 2010

Velo Tout Terrain!

With the start of every new cycling season I say to myself, "I'm going to do some different races this year... maybe ease up on the old favourites for a while... it's always the same old same old." And then I find myself driving the 401 to the GTA going to the same old races. But I've realized "same old" doesn't mean bad or boring. Sure I've been to Albion Hills about a million times and lined up against the same gang each Spring, but that's the GOOD part. This is my peer group. My yardstick to measure my level in the obsessive weekend warrior social club. Each time I think, "next time..." and that's what keeps me coming back. Sure I've branched out a little with things like Crank the Shield and Battenkill but the tried and true Ontario Cup mountain bike series still gets me excited to train in minus 20 temperatures. This is where the fastest guys and girls are and it's good to see where you stack up if racing's your thing.

This season, as usual, started with a race at the Mansfield Outdoors Centre. I had a bit of a chaotic couple of weeks leading up to the event and didn't get a lot of time in on my mountain bike before the race. I ended up 4th in the Masters race but was only 45 seconds off the winner's pace. I was happy enough with that.

Round two, as usual, took place at Albion Hills two weeks later. I call this series my "yardstick" but what I really mean is Jon Barnes is my "yardstick." He wins our race practically every time. He's fast. Occasionally, like when he has pneumonia, I can get the better of him but usually he wins and I measure my fitness by how badly he beat me -- success or failure is measured by Minutes Behind Barnes. At Mansfield it was less than a minute. Success. I was hopeful for Albion but when he did not appear on the start line my hope turned to serious enthusiasm, "I can win this thing!" It's nothing personal Jon if you're reading -- I like having you there -- seriously! Then again, Barnes didn't win Round One of the battle royale anyway. He was bested by a most kindly transplanted Quebecois named Eric Jobin and he was standing to my right... No matter, "I can DO this!"

And as it turned out, I did do it. Eric wasn't quite himself and I took advantage of the situation. What's the saying? Preparation meets opportunity? Something like that. I found myself racing in a front group of three very evenly matched riders for 3.5 laps until I finally stuck an attack in the last 2km. Victory!

It's odd to lead a mountain bike race -- you get to determine the pace -- as oppossed to the usual time trial mode you can ease up, attack etc. You are in control. Cool.

I was a little concerned about my new 2x9 gearing on the steep Green Bastard climb but it proved to be unfounded. More on the new bike to come.

Sausage suit forever!


Madmountainmike said...

Awesome Rob !! 2 x ( eh...Ben Dawson swears by it.....why haul around all those extra gears !?

Nice work !

Andy said...

Congrats once again Rob, you earned it. You're racing damn fine out there. The looks on your face in the photos pretty much sum up the odd mix of sensations one experiences at these events!

I'm off to BC for the next two weeks, so good luck at Hardwood and Mountain View. I plan to come back out for o-cups 5, 6 and 7.