Now, I am tired on top of tired. But the bike is clean and the recovery tights on. After running, of all things, with the kids on Friday, and killing my legs, I'm looking forward to a day off.
The race started at a farmhouse near Uxbridge. A quick sign-in, no numbers, just coffee, a photocopied map, and a mad panic to get changed and say hello to the usual suspects. A large contingent from Quebec gave it a nice feel.
Going into this I had checked out a quick online map of the route, and it indicated there were two rated climbs, and I knew there was at least one section of mud and some gravel road. I mentally planned on a long flat day sitting on a wheel.
I should have done a little more recon prior.
The race started with a neutral start, which I thought was a great idea, up a gravel road. A civilized start. Then, after the first rise, the horn went and and the watts went up.
I had illusions of getting on the back of the lead group at least initially. I think if I was warmed up, and better rested, I might have stood a remote chance. But the lead 30 or so riders slowly opened up the gap while my legs begged for mercy.
I think I was that guy who lost the wheel.
At the end of the first 5 km or so, my pre-race wish was granted and a group of 5 or 6 of us got into a group including a couple guys I've raced with in CX, and a strong female francophone who deserved to be farther ahead.
We hit the paved road, and got into a great paceline, and because we were all of similar ability, and moved along at a steady rate between 30 and 40 km/hr. Really a good bunch.
We picked up Mr Dermont, who'd been dropped, by the main group and picked up the pace.
The first section came up as a surprise to me and fortunately I was 3rd wheel at the time out of roughly 11. It was 3km of sandy single track, with a few twists and ruts and some downhill bits where apparently Dermont had a spectacular crash. I hope he's ok. We went through at just under 30km/hr.
A smaller group formed, of about 7 guys after slowing up a bit and got back into our rhythm, flew through Musslemans lake, and on and on.
First though a short downhill sand and rock section where I gave up braking and just crossed my fingers and let it run.
Then on to the Marsh.
The marsh bit was about a 2 km section of very wet trail with some large boggy puddles and deep mud. One gent from LFG - Spidertech? rode the whole thing. I did not, but I did get through fast enough to take a pee and jump onto the back of the group which had split up. We reformed and kept up a good pace, not quite as quick as before.
Riding riding. Still heading away from the start, me fucking with my brakes as I now had a bit of brake rub that was annoying me.
Through the somewhat undermanned aid station, where I HAD A COKE! It tasted amazing. First time in ages but I had zero hesitation in grabbing it.
We then made our way to the "Hell" section, having eaten some extra food and fuel on the advice of Mark M who informed us it would be hard to drink.
We turned up the section, but before doing so, I decided to lose my mind, misinterpret the signs, and crash into another rider and lose ground.
Nothing broken, and my brand new kit didn't seem to suffer any major damage.
I chased back on, sat in for a while, and made my way up 14 km, yes, 14 km, of loose gravel "rail trail". It was unrelenting. It went on and on.
In the last 3-4 km or so, the terrain switched to dirt, sand and rock, and I moved up a bit.
And then there were 3 or 4.
It gets a bit fuzzy at this point. There was still 40km to go, heading back to the finish. There were a lot of hills. 34-27 kind of hills.
We stuck together for quite some time, picked up a rider, making us 5, and were closing in on another, when we followed him through an intersection. I had lost the wheel, but I was pretty sure we should have turned. I yelled, chased and yelled and we turned back and checked the sign. Yup, I as right.
We yelled but the rider ahead didn't hear and kept riding. I'm guessing he made it back.
We picked up a rider we dropped, who had made the proper turn, now about 25km left, 5 of us rolling through, keeping it easy on the climbs.
At around 20 to go or so, Mr LFG kept the pace high up a hill, and I stayed on his wheel. We could see what was probably Mr Moote far ahead, and we rode together up a few hills until the elastic snapped and I was on my own.
Those last kilometers were quite tough. Three guys about 200m ahead and lots of rolling hills. My legs kept going but only under duress. I eventually lost visual contact but passed two guys who were absolutely shelled and looked like they had just ridden RAAM.
This post doesn't really convey how I feel about this race. There were some fairly boring road sections, but being in a good group was loads of fun. The tough sections were tough, and the hills were great. It was what I imagine a classic spring race to be given we don't have any cobble here. The length makes the 60km P2A seem easy although the pace is somewhat higher there.
My only disappointment was how only 2 other teammates showed up. Easter/Passover surely tied up quite a few with family obligations, but it's a race that should be supported and was by others as apparently it was a large number of entrants. Crazy road O-Cups with entire fields being DQ'd don't hold a candle to our local Hell of the North.