Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Classics 2013 Part 1: CRC

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Mmmm, Saturday night's forecast was grim. My plan involved the 'bag-approach' in the event of cold rain.
Ottawa's spring classics are underway. When I say 'spring classics,' I mean two races. That allows for pluralization, we're good. On Sunday morning, a bunch of us bike weirdos gathered for the first match of the season, to be contested over rough pitch.

In case you are not on the up and up, the Clarence-Rockland Classic is put on by Ride with Rendall, a local race team/club. The roads out East of Ottawa are mostly flat, but there is some elevation change that derives from the old south bank of the grand Ottawa River, aka, the Rivière des Outaouais, Grand River, Great River, Kichesippi/Kitchissippi, or Grand River of the Algonquins. Where the race transpires, the bank is not steep, but further West its pretty much a wall.

So, flat, some relatively small climbs, and one more element prevails: wind. Obviously. The wind and relative flatness of the route makes the race more tactical than technical. I.e., its difficult for the strongest riders to separate themselves from the pack. Stronger teams can use their size to their advantage, sending off riders on breaks, and generally attacking often. 

Two aspects of today's race had everyone's palms sweating last night, and perhaps over the last few days: tire selection, and clothing. 

Tires: our online discussion on this topic was epic. Why? The unknown. Would the normal route be in use? If so, would be it be as rough, rougher, or less rough? Where? What would be the worst of the worst? I.e., what tires would be required to manage the risk of flatting effectively, while also being fast enough to hang with the guys who run 25s, and manage not to flat? Jim recon'd the route on Thursday, reported back, and we made  up our minds. Until we heard there was an alternative route in play in case of snow. Now what? I landed relegated my tubeless Clement LAS and Stan's Raven in favour of latex tubes and Vittoria Randonneur Hypers in 32mm. 

Clothing: WIth a forecast of snow/rain at about +3, we were looking at what is essentially the worst cycling weather possible. Below zero its not wet, therefore generally not hard to dress for. +15 and raining is likewise not hard to manage. Drop to and below +10 and rain, and you're in for suffering. +3? Horror show. 

My plan for that weather: the 'bag-approach.' Here's the description I sent out to our team on Saturday night, in case anyone was still looking for a horror show plan:

1) gore-tex socks over skin, then wool sock, then winter shoe. No bootie, cutting down on wind drag an sponge effect.

2) Roubaix knickers with Sugoi firewall tights over top, hot embro. Tights over top of gore-tex sock cuff.

3) waffle base layer, then wool base layer, then waterproof Sugoi jacket THEN long sleeve jersey. I will trap the heat in with the jacket, and eliminate flapping with the jersey over top. Numbers on jersey. 

4) defeet wool liner gloves under Glacier Gloves, which are waterproof neoprene. Wind blocking is not an issue with them. These are essentially bags over hands. Sugoi cuffs over glove cuffs to keep water out.

5) merino liner hat, cycling cap, helmet, glasses. Merino balaclava if its heinous.

Alternative equipment: plastic bags for feet; garbage bag for core; dish washing gloves for hands. Ideally, a thin liner would go under each, then insulation. Works for the Itidabike guys....

Evidently, my horror show preparation interacted with the Fourth Law of Thermodynamics, tweaked the troposphere, and yielded mild and virtually no rain at start time, and most of the rest of the time (depending on whether you flatted, and rode slower than the pack). You are welcome, fellow racers. Dressing for not-rain still involved some agonizing, due to uncertainty about how the weather might change, but the bag-approach was cast aside, and wool prevailed.

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Preparing in the Knights of Columbus Hall was a treat, especially since it involved seeing Dave in his skin suit.
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It was an epicmerinowool hat kind of morning. Not really, but it could have been, had I not intervened.
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Oh, that's weird, I didn't think I packed ladies underwear this morning....Hmm, this is a bit of a quandry: are they my wife's, having clung to my clothes in the dryer, OR, was it a wild night at the Hall? Uh, ok, I'm going to put these in this here envelope and see how this goes when I get home....
So, short story shorter, there were attacks, Aaron Fillion eventually separated himself, and the chase didn't happen until inside the last 10k or 82. We had a decent number of guys in the mix up to the final climb - Alex, Iain, Neil, and myself - but it didn't work out so well. I gassed myself leading into it, trying to get the pack to work with me to close on 3 guys up the road; this was a tactical error. I couldn't climb fast, then had to almost literally turn myself inside-out to leapfrog back up to the leaders, with the kind help of RwR's Martin Zollinger (who happens to take care of my back quite well at RE:FORM, fyi). 

Matt (me) followed by Alex. Photo by Zara: 
Instagram Photo by @zara_vj_ina_ottawavelovogue
Maxed out but thinking: 'Hey who knows...', I did what I could to position well for the final sprint among essentially the who's-who of Ottawa's road scene. As was the case for all but Matteo Dal Cin, the victor, things didn't quite go well, and I did more of a 'sprunt' than a 'sprint.' That means I went up, then down, and pretty much stayed seated, you know, 'kicking it old school,' really 'planing' my steel bicycle. Good enough for 8th 10th, which was a heck of a lot better than I'd have placed if I'd accepted what seemed to be utter failure as I 'climbed.' Here is Martin riding to the line before me: photo by Zara. He's almost smiling....

Iain, Alex, and Neil all landed in the top 20, with Todd, Jim, Dave, Andy and Martin (who crashed, but shook it off) scattered throughout the field of 112 finishers. 

Full results.

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Once again, my trusty Steelwool Secteur 18 came through for me, flawless. 
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Also, somehow less muddy than others....
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Not like my legs and feet. Blame it on all the jerks without fenders! Wait....
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The race: 

Lots of action! shots by Robert Roaldi here:

and Zara:

Thanks to Ride with Rendall and all the volunteers for a great race! Your efforts are most appreciated.

Next up, Paris-Roubaix, Almonte! Let the tire agonizing continue!


Rodd Heino said...

more here

Victoria said...

This is cool!