Eh, I gotta give props to the Race Day Rush photographer. He did such a great job of capturing my race, so I’ll share it with you.
This one deserves a race report
Well, it’s been a while since my last O-Cup race. O-Cup #4 at Albion was my last appearance on the O-Cup circuit. I finished a spectacular 15th in that one. I knew I was faster coming into this one, but I was still pretty unsure of how I would stack up. Hence, it was not really possible to draft up too much of a race plan going into this one.
I lined up front row. Off the start, I was near the front. The climbing was tough, and I tried to keep my exertion level a little below instant explosion. Hence, riders 1 & 2 were gone. After the climbing, I was riding the singletrack in about 6th. A rider made a mistake,then dropped off, and that moved me into 5th, closely trailing a Racer Sportif rider. I was comfortably holding his wheel on the singletrack, but he’d really put the hammer down, and hurt me on the climbs and double track. We had opposite strengths.
So, starting lap two, he pulled away on the climb, and then I reeled him in again in the singletrack. However, I could not find a spot to actually make the pass.
Starting my third and final lap, I again got popped pretty bad on the climb. I felt like I was slowing right down. I did not know if I could catch the Racer Sportif rider, despite my advantage in the singletrack. Of course, thoughts of backing off, and giving up the chase crossed my mind, but I pedaled on.
I’ve got to say, I LOVED the course. It was perfect. There was so much good singletrack, with so much variety. There was a nice rock garden, there were tight twists and turns, there were bridges, there were plenty of exposed roots, and scattered rocks as well. There were optional technical challenges as well.
I took the advice from Keith and JC, and stuck to the easy lines, as I did not pre-ride, and the consensus was that there was little to no time to be gained by taking the extra risks. On the first lap, I went easy, while others went hard, and our positions relative to each other did not change at all.
I really had to giv’er in the singletrack to reel in my carrot. I took one little tumble that was more a result of fatigue than anything else. No significant time lost. Finally, by the 57 Chevy singletrack, I was back on the wheel of the Racer Sportif rider. I knew I needed to get by him before the Ridge singletrack, if I was going to beat him. So, on the doubletrack leading up to it, I attacked, and fortunately got by. I was then free to slay the downhill, and quickly build a gap big enough to get me up the finishing climb ahead. I was in 4th – which is my previous best O-Cup finish.
But, it got even better. Going into the very last corner, I came up behind a Reactivated Racing rider, who looked totally blown up. It seemed to good to be true, but exiting the corner, I hammered it, and came across the line for 3rd!
It was my first O-Cup podium. My first O-Cup was in 2006, and I’ve done a minimum of three races per year since then.
With my shiny bronze medal, I can now safely retire from O-Cup racing. I’ll take it one season at a time, but since the L!B Squeezer is cancelled this year, I’m officially in off season mode. It’s time to hit the books, try to have the slightest bit of a social life, ride to commute, and for fun, and do a CX race or two, just for kicks.
I hope you all had a fun O-Cup season.
I had been looking forward to this race for a long time, and it did not disappoint.
Game plan was to give’r full throttle at the start, to avoid getting slowed up by anyone else in the first singletrack, which comes up really fast in this race. Took the first left right up near the front. Too far in front actually. There is no point in being in front of riders faster than you. That quickly sorted itself out though, when I had a massive pedal strike on a rock which practically stopped me in my tracks. Once I got moving again, I was right where I felt I belonged. I grabbed onto a team mate’s wheel (K. Fleury) and he guided me through most of the first lap. I knew he was going at a pace I could not hold, but I was hoping he would settle down. Apparently he did, but after he popped me. I blew up, botched a gear change on a hill, later hit a tree, and had to settle down. I got caught from behind by a rider in black and white. That finished up the first lap.
I felt like I had nothing left for lap two. Uh oh. To my surprise though, riding at a slightly slower pace worked really well, and allowed me to start riding a little smoother again. Another SHCC rider caught us, (B. Anderson) and I found that pretty motivating. So, we were riding in a group of three, which was a huge motivator, going into the Mud Lake section. Bumpy, straight, and flat would have destroyed my morale and speed had I been solo.
Later on in the singletrack, Mr. Anderson and I got by the third rider when he crashed. After that, we rode the rest of the race together, occasionally changing places. I was happy with the pace. Just below my limit. I through together a sprint at the end, and rolled in for 6th place.
Even though some thunder storms rolled through the Niagara Region early in the morning, the trails were still in perfect shape. No dust. No mud. Lots of twisty and challenging singletrack.
And, in CDMBR fashion, the end of the race did not mark the end of the good times. Not too many races have a licensed patio within walking distance of the finish line, but the City Tavern did a great job of hosting a bunch of stinky bike riders on a hot day. Tasty food, with a variety of BEvERages available.
Good times. Good times.
Thanks to the SHCC for putting on another great race.
Oww. That one hurt.
But it was worth it.
I went out hard on the first lap, and effectively avoided any bottleneck problems. I was skeptical of the course, as the pre-ride reports here were fairly negative. The first few km were tough. And, I won’t lie, it was pretty impossible to enjoy some of the tractor-tire-stutter bumps on some of the doubletrack.
But, there were some rewarding sections of trail as well. I loved the rooty & twisty sections of fast singletrack.
But, by the end of the day, those fun downhills were destroying me. My back, it was tired, and sore. Never had that problem before, but since there were so few smooth sections on the course, it is not entirely surprising.
jmoote and I were pulling doubles all day long, and finished with a single each. My first two sets were good, but then I had to switch to survival mode. By my last laps, I was slowing way down.
None the less, jmoote and I were able to hold on to the silver spot in the U70 tag team category, behind a strong pair of Lapdogs.
The heat was tough, mentally, and physically. It was another day where you could not drink enough, and eating enough proved to be challenging for myself, and some others as well.
All in all, I enjoyed racing on a course that tested more than just your legs.
Little late, but I’ll give this race a quick recap anyway.
I had a fantastic start. I got right to the front behind Justin and Andrew. They are both elite racers, and they have power that I cannot match. But, I decided to stay in their draft until I no longer could. Naturally, that did not take long. JC, and Guy both flew by, and I also watched Keith and Steve go by. I rode with Dan and Scotty for the remainder of the gravel. I used the singletrack to recover a bit before the climbing hit us. We got by Dan when he pulled off, cursing at a bad chain.
On the next doubletrack, Wolfgang and Jeff L flew by me and Scotty, followed by Roger. I thought they were gone, but instead, it seemed they wanted to ensure I was riding the singletrack at a safe speed.
In time, I worked my way around them, and rode solo to the finish. Though it was not my fastest time, it was my best finish position wise. The crowd is slightly different each race.
Also, I decided to ride back home after the race. After a short stop, I rode on. I was feeling good, so I decided to keep the pace high. I got home, and my legs were totally crushed. Perfect, since I had a few rest days planned, to make room for a trip to Ottawa for Canada Day.
Well, this race went pretty much exactly as I expected.
Good start. I like the shorter run. I was on the tail end of the lead group at the end of the gravel path. However, a poor shift on the first turn jammed up my drivetrain. Somehow the lower pulley of my derailleur ended up stuck on top of my chainstay. I did not know that was possible, as it has never happened before. Whatever, it was a freak incident that cost me probably not more than 10-15 seconds.
I lost contact with the group, and mostly did my own thing after that. I got passed by Guy on the doubletrack leading to the fenceline. After that, I pretty much held my ground. I was being chased by Tom and a few others, so I could not slack off too much, but the carrots in front of me were long gone.
The end of the race seemed to come pretty quickly. I need to discover that next level of pain that is required to be successful in these short races. Balls to the wall for the whole race is how it needs to be done.
I had fun.
After missing O-Cup #3 due to some traveling, I returned to tackle O-Cup #4 at Albion Hills. Albion is always a fun course, with lots of doubletrack, and some really fast singletrack.
I got to the start area first. Nobody felt like moving ahead of me, so basically, I started front row centre. After fumbling with my pedal just a bit, I was givin’ ‘er hard in the lead group. I decided to remind myself what it takes to hang with the category leaders. So, I kept it pinned at 100% for as long as I could. That got me up the first climb, and into the first singletrack in very good position. Of course, I did not want to hold up the group, so I kept hammering out a pace I could not maintain. When we hit the next doubletrack, I let the group by, and slowed it down. I spent the rest of lap 1 recovering from my start effort. I was not riding super clean, due to the effort, and no pre-ride.
On lap two and three, I had a little more fun, riding at my pace. I found some company to ride with, and that made it feel a little bit more like racing, even if they were not in my category. So, I emptied the tank, and crossed the line, gasping for air.
Of course, I stuck around for the 1:30 races like usual, and snapped a few pictures. I updated my album on facebook here:
And finally, the day would not have been complete without some greasy food, so I enjoyed some Harvey’s with some other cool Niagara based riders.