June 3, 2011 (Vancouver, BC) – Anything can happen, even in a Gran Fondo that is officially not a timed event. That being said most of us are old enough to realize that life itself is a timed event. The day started out well enough, cool with nearly sunny skies. Victoria is darn near a desert, or so its locals would have you believe.
Around a thousand+ racers rolled out exactly on time at a relaxed pace behind the “not riding fast yet” vehicle. Ryder Hesjedal, Trevor Linden and Alison Sydor were at the front leading the way.
This is when I got my flat tire. Snakebite! That’s rider error. I guess I’ll have to practice my weight shift when rolling over metal street construction plates. I shouted to fellow VO2 Min teammate Jamie Cathcart that I had a flat. I didn’t want the team to be left wondering where I was over the next 135km….
There are a few reasons I’ve been friends with Jamie for close to 30 years – the darn guy turned around to help me. He’s one of our team’s very best riders and I’m not. I urged him to go on. He stayed. It took close to five minutes to get the tire change done and then he said those dreaded words… “Let’s catch the leaders!”
Jamie did, eventually. I didn’t. But, man, did I clock some ridiculously high heart rates over the next 40km while trying to hold his wheel. He left me – a dead weight – at around the 45km mark and bridged the final gap to the leaders. I sat up as soon as his wheel was irrevocably out of reach. I ate and drank like a crocodile. I gasped chocolate sugar goo and wondered how I’d ever ride another 95km with what was left in my aerobic tank.
I pedaled and digested my thoughts and PowerBar gels. Then I saw Jamie again, fixing a flat of his own. I hid my face with my hand and tried to ride by on the far side of the road.
Not really, I stopped to help him. He then went on to catch the lead pack a second time.
Then there was the rain. WTF… (stands for Where The Fondo). WTF did that rain come from? The groups were creating their own micro climates with a wheel-whipped froth of grit and grime. I’m still removing the dirt from all over my bike – and all over me.
What about the Fondo itself? It really was grand (those Italians shouldn’t have dropped the “d” when they named these things). Volunteers were EVERYWHERE! Great aid stations. Great traffic control. Great post race food. The best part of all, which is really what the organizers were hoping to achieve, was the course! It was simply beautiful riding through the greater Victoria area with limited traffic, gorgeous scenery and rolling hills.
I would highly recommend this event as a fast-paced training ride, that includes with two timed sections (the biggest hill climb and the final 12K) which allows for people to gauge themselves against other competitors and also one of the best riders in the world.
See you all there next year. No flats.
Team VO2 Min is comprised of nine riders from Orange Sports Supply Inc. who love riding and are Very Old, 2 Kids Minimum.
More photos and info on the TdV here.