Short version: This was a great example of a CX race, wet, muddy, turny, painful, fun, frigid-fingered. The course was much funner that anticipated. Lots of green bastards gritting their teeth to take this one on. Visages of relief upon its conclusion......Good times !
Long Version: I was initially rather apprehensive about the venue, as I had visions of another Brockville or Kanata type course (except with even less hillage). The reality could not have been further from my prognostication. After last week’s semi-debacle on a course that I should own (or at least like to think so), mainly due to really crappy sleep Friday and Saturday ....and an early race wipeout....this w/e I was better rested, and even had my bike cleaned and ready to go by early Saturday afternoon (as opposed to the usual late night shenanigans).
Even with all that I was still in some state of disarray as I realized halfway to Perth that I forgot: a) helmet, b) warmup jacket, c) rain jacket for spectating after....did I mention”helmet”...doh ! I did however remember the all-important cowbell.
Luckily enough I was able to borrow a spare from Ian A.....tho Rob had kindly offered use of his in case. Warmed up in the plastic rain jacket, and luckily a second raincoat was unnecessary for spectating race 2.
As per usual I got to the start line about 5 seconds before the bell, and while I did get two laps of the rather short course in, there was no intensity...so the start hurt...a lot...(but then it always does)!
The usual suspects were in the lead 10 or so riders and the pace was purple-line for most of the first lap. The course was a perfect mix of all things and not too much or one specific thing. There were straights that guys like me suffer on, but they were short enough that if I gave 105% I could hang on til the ensuring turn or barrier. The barriers were well-placed as was the sandpit in relation to the hill and it’s three climbs (one with the mandatory dismount). As per usual Gee and Olsen were long gone.....this time however the Jaybone powered up closer to them. Drew hammered the start but withered early. That left me, Bilenkey, Laird and all the tall RWR guys ( I can never tell between Peter Conn, Peter Schuck, and Greg Christie from behind) going back and forth like some perverse game of leapfrog.
I soon determined that my goal each lap was to get ahead of the RWR guys and Jim after the downhill hairpins, and before the tight treed hairpins....first lap I got behind them and was unable to ride my line. Of course one or two of them would pass by on the ensuring straights and I would have just enough to keep on the wheel before the next barriers. The far side of the course was a good place for me to gain a few meters in the wet turns there, but really had to hammer the prior straight just to sneak past them on a sweeping left beside (under) a spruce tree branch. The sand was killer and I felt like I was just about to blow 3-5 feet from the end each time, but managed to make it through, (though always with Dave zooming past me). Only one slide-out all race (which I attribute to really lowering tire pressure), funny it was not on the hairpin section but the right-hand down turn after the big hill run-up. This cost me a couple of spots at the time. My hill climbing still sucks and as a guy that used to fancy himself as a climber I’ve got to do something to get that form back....(I presume it may mean giving up late night ice cream and chips in addition to some strength training over winter). Final straightaway I got ahead of Jim and a tall Eurosport dude that seemed to come from nowhere. In the end both bested me by a wheel or so at the top of the climb. I was done, done done !
I’ve enjoyed spectating this year, especially getting to see the elite guys hammer, and seeing a young gun like Evan lay the boots to Osmond is (take your pick) amazing, inspiring, befuddling.
I could not believe how long the second race lasted - I’m sure easily one lap more than ours and watching some of the guys faces every time they came to the top - shaking their head in abject dismay that there was still X number of laps to go. Pascal was flying up the hill like spiderman, Matt was clearly suffering with a head full of snot, Jamie, Rob and Dave all together for the entire race was a treat to see...and I could tell that while the veneer of their faces proffered pain, that there were masochistic smiles underneath....especially Jamie - had a great race and every right to be happy with it. Rodd exuded tenacity, especially on the last lap - bud if you were 20 seconds slower your race would have ended one lap sooner! Neil was looking great but must have had a wipeout at some point as he got behind the guys he was battling. Todd was hanging in there, learning more every race and looking like a very strong guy who just needs a bit more experience. And Marty, he started out at the back but slowly and surely picked off the weaker links, having missed the start does that to you!
There is no hiding with age in this community of bike racers - it matters not whether you are 20+, 30+, 40+ or even 50+.....the top racers are ALL fast !
All in all it sounded from the comments that people loved the course so I imagine we can expect this on the regular sked in upcoming years. I still would like to see Kingston come back as well tho, that was always my fave !
A’ la prochaine !