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Bird Report – Ontario Provincial Championships Masters B Road Race

by Bruce Bird

July 25, 2011 (Heidelberg Ontario) – After an 8-year hiatus the Ontario Provincial Road Race Championships returned to Waterloo on Sunday July 24. Previous Ontario provincials were held on this course in 1995 and 2003. The 14.5 kilometer course was sheltered from the mild wind in many spots by trees. The race was organized by extremeroad.com and sanctioned by the Ontario Cycling Association. The weather which had been mild in the morning with overcast skies and temperatures in the lower 20’s (Celsius) rose to 30C by race time with the cloud layer burning off. Most of the riders who had participated in the 2011 Road Nationals three weeks earlier in 35C heat were well prepared with water bottles and helpers in the bottle exchange area.

The Masters B (men 40-49) race once again had the biggest turnout of any of the races with 86 participants. The race began on-time at 1:13 pm three minutes behind the Senior 1-2’s and three minutes ahead of the Masters A (30-39) category. The organizers spread the three groups out in the right order and with enough space between them so there was no overlap during the race. There were no accidents during the competition and very few riders disqualified due to the failure to observe the yellow line rule as some riders are not completely used to obeying the rule. In Ontario skill based categories were established several years ago for most races except for the provincial championships which meant a different composition of riders for this race.

We began on a dirt road 100 meters off the course in what was a somewhat frantic start as riders struggled to get their feet clipped into the pedals while the lead riders got up to speed quickly. With eight riders from Wheels of Bloor in the race I had the luxury of being able to start at the back and save some energy until later in the race. Rob D’Amico (Z-team Wheels of Oakville), the National Criterium Champion, had a problem with his bike and had to dismount to fix it before catching back up to the group. The most difficult part of the course was near the start where there were a few rollers to climb, but nothing with any significant gradient or length.

The pack stayed together comfortably except for Brent Aquino (Z-team Wheels of Oakville) who launched a solo attack off of the front. Due to the nature of the course, Brent was never out of sight which contributed to only being able to build a 30-40 second lead. From my vantage point at the back of the peloton I was not able to see who was controlling the front but I did get an update from James Bongard (Sound Solutions) during the second lap after he spent the first lap near the front… the word was that it was hot at the front.

The lack off cross wind or difficult terrain made it relatively easy to ride at the back and be sucked along by the efforts of the riders at the front. Brent was caught after two glorious laps on his own in what would end up being the longest break of the day. After three of seven laps not a single rider had been detached from the back of the peloton.

A group of four riders including Ed Maset (Z-team Wheels of Oakville), Pat Shea (Team London) and two other riders got into a break that gained almost 30 seconds on the pack. I started to work my way up to the front which took almost 8km due to the yellow line rule, the width of the road, as well as the size and behaviour of the riders in the peloton.

In a Masters level 1 race it typically does not take as long to move up through the peloton as there is more fluidity within the group. Once at the front, I joined teammates Wieslaw Matuszczak and Ian Scott and began to launch attacks designed at breaking one or several of us free. The composition of the front group of the peloton changed rapidly as many familiar riders moved forward and fought to keep us from succeeding in our efforts.

After 7km of furious attacks, Ed Makarchuk (Sound Solutions) was allowed a free pass off the front and gained 70 meters on us with 200 meters remaining to bridge up to the lead four riders. I put in a hard effort to close down the gap to Ed and got fairly close but ran out of steam. Wieslaw countered my move and quickly caught and passed Ed as he worked his way up to the lead 4 riders. Radek Lukasik, Ian Scott and myself came to the front and slowed the pace as Wieslaw caught the break.
Along with Z-Team and SUL we were able to control the pace for the next few kilometres as most of the bigger teams were represented in the break, which allowed the leaders to push their gap back out to 20 seconds.

Mid-way through lap 4, Chris Firek (Gears) launched a formidable attack on the back straight of the course and was quickly joined by Steve Baker (Team Cross) who made the next ascent look like a flat pancake as he climbed it with ease. Seeing this as a danger to the lead group I bridged up to Chris and Steve, bringing the rest of peloton with me. Baker, Firek and Steve McKee (Nacsworld) continued to push the pace in order to join up with the lead break.

During lap 5 after Baker had pushed up a climb and McKee had taken over at the top I heard Ian’s voice behind me yelling GO! Ian had seen a break in the peloton which he hoped we could exploit as the break was losing momentum ahead of us. I switched from the role of anchor to helper and took over from McKee to drive the pace. Chris Firek was the fourth rider in the chase and we were quickly able to bridge up to the leaders. Unfortunately due to some hard work behind us the rest of the peloton was able to bridge up as well.

All together again the pace slowed and Ed Maset (Z-team Wheels of Oakville) attacked again and was permitted to ride off quickly gaining 15 seconds. I tried a couple of more times to break free including a hard effort at the bottle of the exchange area but the other riders were mindful and stayed close and thirsty. We caught Ed Maset at the start of the final lap.

I stayed at the front for the final lap pushing the pace each time the terrain became a little challenging in order to keep the group together. During one of my efforts as Ian sat up behind me to encourage the chance of a gap forming, ten riders came by him including Paolo Eugeni who said, “Ian you’re killing me”. In the final 5km Greg Cushing (Z-team) came forward and we worked together for a bit to keep the pace high. Teammate Mike Peshko then took a flyer with 2km remaining and stayed out front for 500 meters before Ed Makarchak chased him down with me on Ed’s wheel. A team IFG rider then led us for the next 500 meters.

Anthony Simpson (Gears) launched a move about 100meters from the final corner which I watched from second wheel waiting for someone else to take chase. David Bogue (Team London) and Ed Makarchuk moved by me as we rounding the corner, I was sitting 4th at this time.

he finish line is 400 meters from the corner and features a descent and then a climb of 150-200 meters. We passed by Simpson and I stayed tucked into third place behind Ed and Bogue as we glided down the hill not wanting to waste our efforts too early in the sprint. On the left side of the road we saw Eugeni in full sprint move ahead of us. This move keyed everything as we all started to sprint.

Bogue moved to the right of Makarchuck with me on his wheel. Bogue was out of his saddle and digging hard but had a mechanical failure as his back wheel came loose as it locked up and he was suddenly skidding and going sideways. Somehow he kept his balance and righted his bike, thankfully, because I was right behind him and was bound to suffer his fate should he  crash. I braked hard as riders came by us on both sides. Radek Lukasik and Stand Blazek (Kurzawinski) were also impacted by Bogue as they were forced off the road to the right losing significant momentum.

Bogue started to pedal again and skidded for a second time with me still unable to get out from behind him with riders streaming by, but by now we were going much slower so it was easier for Bogue to control his bike. I moved passed him and tried to get up to speed but I was too far back to see how the finish unfolded.

Bogue’s mishap eliminated three off the top sprinters from the finish, taking himself out of contention as well as Blazek and Lukasic. Rob D’Amico suffered a mechanical during the race and was unable to finish.

David Fry (SUL) won the sprint with Ilija Petrovski (Nacsworld) taking silver and Ian Scott claiming bronze.

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