It's hard to believe it's August already and that the 2010 mountain bike racing season is coming to an end. But for me it's ending with a great big bunch of races! A good one every weekend this month and a couple of Sunset Series mid week events thrown in as well. The Bromont Canada Cup awaits this Sunday, Ontario Provincial Championships the weekend after that and then the Quebec City to Mont Ste. Anne Marathon will finish off the month. The racing block started last weekend though with the Ontario Cup race in Milton Ontario.
This series has been my main focus for quite a few years now. The level of competition is high in the Old Man Expert category, the courses are great, the atmosphere welcoming and the organization is always impeccable. And this year it's been going quite well for me. I won one of the events and have worn the series leader jersey all year. That win was a goal for me and it was nice to accomplish it early in the season.
Heading into this past weekend's event in Milton I figured my chances for another win were pretty much over. There are two guys in the series who are undeniably stronger than me -- Eric Jobin and (of course...) Jon Barnes. Jon seems to win every race he enters and Eric is right on his heels. Quite often I find myself in the mix with them but eventually settling for 3rd place.
However, I was hopeful that the Buckwallow stop in the series would be my chance for glory. It is an awesome "power" course with flowy, rock strewn singletrack from start to finish. Perfect for me and maybe not so much for my Southern Ontario competitors. I have won here twice before so I knew how to do it: take the lead right away, let the tech bits create gaps and ride as hard as possible for 2hrs. Simple enough. And that's what I did. But I didn't win. The demands of the course sent Eric off the back and left me with Jon Barnes to contend with. On the last lap I put in an all out attack that cracked him. Unfortunately there was still 15 minutes to race and it cracked me too. Barnes worked his way back up and eventually crushed me in the last 2km. 2nd place.
I was happy to have thrown everything I had at him but dissapointed not to win. Good ride on his part though --he had crashed really hard at about the mid point of the race. I was about an inch off his rear wheel at the time so I got a front row seat for the destruction of his carbon fiber Trek. His top tube made contact with a rock and created the kind of crack that would keep me from riding it again...
A month later we were on the start line again for round 6. I was less confident about my suitability to this course. It has a long, steep, loose climb on every lap that the skinny little guys generally gap me on. My plan was to try and hang on for third. Not a very good attitude, I know, but it seemed realistic. All the fast guys were on the start line -- including Jon Barnes with a nice gob of epoxy on his top tube. He gets his bikes for free so he's not too concerned about a long term fix.
I took the lead from the start and never really looked back. The pace on the climb was manageable and the fast singletracks were a joy. We had a fast little group of five for a lap but I fully expected Eric and Jon to pull away. I hoped to stay with them. Instead I ended up doing a lot of pace setting until it was only Eric and me left. The others had fallen off (surprisingly including Jon.) We worked very well together riding close and sharing pacing duties in an effort to further gap Jon then fight it out at the finish. In the last KM I put in an attack on a steep but short climb. Eric made it back moments later though and it took one last surge on a bumpy doubletrack to finally distance him by 9 seconds. Victory!