35k – 41.0 kph – 19/57 OA – 9/28 AG
In addition to cutting out triathlons this season, I also cut out bike races. Basically, apart from fun rides and duathlons, I didn’t do a lot of racing. So, Windsor at the end of the season was a perfect opportunity with my boys racing Saturday and an adult race on Sunday. What I had been doing though is Tuesday night LCW crit races, and over the period of a year have gone from getting dropped in B group to getting points in A group. So I knew my road cycling was in good form in spite of not racing. I went into this with some hopes of a podium in the M3 division (older, slower group). However, I also know that there are some factors you can’t control in a crit race.
Real scorcher of a day, which is just fine with me! It seems like Windsor is the tropics of southwestern Ontario, so it was something like 34 degrees for a high. With a mid-day start, I had a ton of time to get down to the venue and hang out with our Team Kallisto-FCV. Great group of people, adults and youth, and it was kind of cool knowing I was going to be racing with the U17s who I help coach. Legs felt good, bike was running well, and I was ready to rock!
The course is a pretty simple rectangle and we would be doing 20 laps of about 1.6 km. Only trick was a bit of a pinch in the first corner that squeezed down to a single lane, as well is a curb in the second corner that stuck out a bit further than you could see going into the corner. Wide open roads though, and not a lot of wind, so lots of chance for attacks to get away.
I started a bit far back in the group of 57 and it was clear that things were going to be slow through the first corner. I was almost at a dead stop to get through, so the first thing I decided was that I need to stay relatively close to the front to get through there more smoothly. I moved up, and lots of our Kallisto youth were up near the front as well, so I stayed in the front half the rest of the race.
A couple of the young guys put in some early digs, but it wasn’t until the 3rd lap that Jack Padega put in a real effort to go off the front. Knowing the power that Jack has, I decided not to waste my energy contributing to the chase. The rest of the group didn’t get too into a chase either, likely believing he had gone too early to be a threat (so the opposite reason from me). Anyway, that was the last we saw of Jack…
Relatively calm for the first half of the race, I chased down an attack from some U17s on another team, felt good to keep things together for our guys. Probably was out the front a bit too much but by trying to go through corner one out front and the pack sitting up a lot into the headwind on the next straight, I just found myself on the front a lot.
Then at about half-way, things went to crap. My teammate Craig got tangled in the fence on corner two, which caused a cascade in front of me across the road from the inside of the corner right across to the outside. Luckily someone yelled “crash” and I started braking and manoeuvring early, but ended up jumping up the curb, unclipping one foot, and riding the sidewalk. By the time I clipped back in and got going, about 20-25 guys were rolling up the road away from me. Knowing it was do or I, I put my head down and chased. I think I pretty much pulled the rest of the group back, but I wasn’t going to look back or risk rolling off the front, I was dead-set on riding my way back to the peloton. And, in about 3/4 of a lap, I reconnected with the bunch.
I then had to sit in for about 5 laps and catch my breath and get the heart rate back under control. I had talked about Scott Breen and Jack before the race about going long, so I tried a dig with 5 laps to go. Unfortunately, the bunch was savvy and only gave me about a 5 second gap before the started reeling me back in. Then, once caught, a Midweek rider countered and I found myself going from chased to chaser. I caught him recovered another lap, and then with 3 to go tried again. Again the pack gave me nothing, and I sadly rolled back into the bunch.
With 2 laps to go, Scott put in a huge move and I was too blown from my chase to go with/after him. Instead, I was just hanging onto the group for dear life. Before I knew it we were into the final lap and I found myself too far back to be a serious contender in the sprint (not that sprinting is my strength). So instead I just focused on holding steady, high power and clawing back as many positions as I could.
To be honest, 9th out of 28 in the M3 is pretty good for my only race this year. Overall, I was probably too active throughout, and the chase after the crash really hurt. Still not sure it’s worth sitting in for a sprint just to lose then, so I’ll have to put in some more time in the LCW A group to figure out my strategy. However, it’s into fall/winter training now and just some gravel rides before I’m confined to Zwift for the season.
Shout out to Chris Pollett and Joyce Spruyt for all the encouragement this year on the road riding front.