Many riders relished the chance to test early-season form, so the attacks began in earnest. Mike “my elbow doesn’t hurt” Woods kicked on some of the small rollers leaving town, but was quickly marked by his competitors. As the riders entered the gravel sections, there were some nervous glances exchanged, however many of the dirt roads had not been resurfaced with fresh gravel yet, so the tension eased and riders were able to focus on their tactics.
Nearing the midway point of the race, Ride with Rendall pair Keirnan “look dad I can ride fast!” and Rob “look Keirnan I can ride fast too!” Orange found themselves in a 5-man breakaway. Being seasoned Cyclocrossers, the break soon gained a promising advantage, but would be eventually caught.
Stiff crosswinds caused a rift in the peloton, and the riders who had chosen to stay near the front on the dirt road sections were being rewarded. With 30km to go, the lead group was down to around 30 riders and the pace continued to increase.
Entering one of the rougher gravel sections, Ride with Rendall young gun Mason Hanrahan chose to test his legs. Having forgotten to pack enough gels and starting to weaken, Mason did what he had to do and began to take large mouthfuls of the road as secondary nutrition. This caused a line of potholes to form behind him which slowed the chasers considerably. Coming back out onto the road however, Mason had trouble chewing the harder surface and could no longer maintain a sufficient caloric intake in order to stay away.
This was the moment that Aaron “time travel” Fillion had been waiting for. Counter-attacking once Mason had been reeled in, he quickly built a 30+ second lead with less than 15km to ride. The Stevens team were notably concerned that if Aaron was allowed out of sight, he would energize his time travel abilities and not be seen again until the 2014 Clarence-Rockland Classic. An arduous chase ensued, with Mike “my elbow still doesn’t hurt” Woods finally catching Aaron on a short climb 3km from the finish line.
At this point, the race was blown into small bits and riders were jockeying for position. Matteo “have to ride fast to keep warm” Dal-Cin decided that his core body temperature had fallen too much, and so put in a strong move off the front. He began to warm up so much that his body started glowing from under his 5 base layers, jersey and jacket. Riders in his wake were momentarily blinded by this effect; this allowed Matteo to open a small gap.
On the last downhill before the finish, the group went full-gas, but would be left sprinting for second. Dany Belley nipped Mike Woods for second place and the rest of the riders rolled home, muddy but happy with a great day on the roads!
Derek “I’m coming for all of you” Gee took the honors for the junior men and Véronique “ne me sous-estimez pas!” Fortin rode a very impressive race, taking the win for the ladies.
Thanks very much to Jason Cheney, Glen Rendall and all the volunteers who made this race possible! Also a big thank you to the City of Clarence-Rockland, Clarence Rockland By-Law Officers, Clarence Rockland Fire Department, Rockland Ford, and Club Powers, whose contributions to the race were top notch and we are truly grateful for their contributions.
Note: although this is not an entirely accurate account of the events, every rider who came out had a great story to tell after the race. Come out next year and tell yours, interesting things happen when bike riders get together!