April 28, 2015 (Ancaster, ON) – Overall it was a dry fast course. I did the warm up thing and noticed a fire ambulance-type vehicle parked at the apex of the first fast right corner about 500 meters into the race. I was thinking well that could be danger bay, but then was like “someone will tell him to move” so no worries. I lined up at the front and the gun went off – like a cross race you have to go hard at the start.
We hit the right turn and the fire truck had moved – but into the middle of the course. It was nuts, I had 1 sec to pick a side and went left. As I cleared the truck I had no choice but to eat a huge pothole that decided to nicely launch my only bottle out of my cage. It was at that point I knew it was going to be a long day.
The race got settled once on the rail trail and the speed was average .There were a few half-hearted attacks of the front but you could tell everyone was saving it for the first big selection point of the race. This comes about 15 mins into the race and you take a hard right straight up a loose gravel steep hill followed by three minutes of hard climbing.
I went into the turn in 3rd and rode it clean. After pushing hard to the top we had a group of four with two others close behind and we were all together as we hit the road section. In the group was Mike Garrigan (Van Dessell), Jeremy Martin (Rocky Mountain), Anthony Clark (Squid), Matt Surch (Tekne Cycle), Evan McNeely (Norco) and myself. We had a good gap on the next group so the pace stayed high with Garrigan taking huge pulls.
The next selection comes about 25 minutes in and this is may be the longest trail section of the race. The main issue here is that you have jump over a ditch get on your bike, sprint 200m then dive into some trail and hope for the best. In a small group fighting for spots this was not an issue. We hit the trail and almost at the start Evan M got a stick in his wheel and had to get off to deal with it.
In the PAST IT IS RARE that if you fall off the lead group here, you can get back on – I have lots of experience with this. I gutted myself and held tight. We were now five and had a good gap coming out on to the next long road section. I was hurting the most out of the five and Mike was looking to be the one to beat. I pulled through when I could and at 45 mins in we hit a new added section of trail that spelled the end for me. I let off the gas for a second and let a 3-meter gap open up. The second I did that I knew it was over because once we hit the road the other four hit the gas and I sat up to wait for the chasers who I could see at 45 secs behind.
I joined this group of 8 or so and we worked fairly well together and even started to see the leaders at 15k to go, but this was due to a trail issue that they had. Mike was at the side of the road with a flat and I felt pretty bad for him as it sucks to lose a race like that when the legs are good.
I knew I was going to hit the wall sooner or later due to dehydration so my only tactic was to bomb the last two technical shoots that start at about 10k from the finish and try to shed some riders for a few in the group were still riding really strong, like Gaelen Merritt, who was doing some damage with his attacks and strong pulls on the front.
I got into each of these first and rode them well, not Chick Norris level, but good enough to have a gap with one other rider Alec Donahue with 2k to go. Unfortunately his plan was the same as mine and we both really could not put much power into the pedals and at 1k to go Chris Prendergast passed us and I held on for like 20 meters.
On the last steep climb to the finish Chris had 10 secs on me, which is like a lot, and Geoffrey Dussaut passed me half way up the hill. I was in just-get-up-the-hill mode and rolled in for 6th. Jeremy M took the win with Anthony 2nd and Matt S 3rd.
Again the race lived up to its reputation of being a classic with top notch organization, atmosphere and the best race course you can fit in to 70K. Looking forward to next year, for me I pray for rain mud but it was nice to have a perfect day to race also.