I realized it has been a while since my last nice road trip. So what better way to cure that than a road trip to Windsor and Michigan, while racing 3 crits to end the road cycling season?
Provincial Criterium Championships – Sportif
The race was hosted by Ciociaro Club of Windsor, which apparently has a private, purpose-built cycling track outside. The club house is is a really fancy looking banquet facility. We almost thought we were in the wrong place when we arrived.
After registration, I got on the track to do few laps. Of note, there was some weird man-made hill, which isn’t really a hill at all, but nonetheless should be the source of some action.
The wind was quite strong this day. There was crosswind on the final turn towards the finish, then head wind on the finish straight and around the next corner up the hill.
As it turned out, there were 9 pre-registered racers in the Sportif category, including myself. This could end really well or really poorly; there could be no middle result.
There was enough room for everyone to start line abreast, and then we were off.
I was mostly in 3rd or 4th, watching closely for any action. There was none until a prime lap. A few guys took off on the back stretch and I was caught out in the crosswind part of the course.
Maybe I didn’t eat enough for this late race start, maybe it’s the wind, I was feeling lousy even by my standards. Once they were gone, I could not catch them again.
There was no real point continuing, except being angry at myself and decided that I was going to finish this frigging race. So it was solo time trialling in shame, while only getting lapped once!
If there is a forgettable event, this has got to be number 1.
Tour di Via Italia – Elite 4 / Master 3
On to event #2, the Tour di Via Italia on downtown Windsor.
This race has just become one of my favourites. It is right in downtown, Little Italy, with large crowds of spectators even for our crappy Elite 4/Master 3 race. The atmosphere was fantastic for the Elite race, cheering on an absolute beast of a rider, Bobby Lea, who solo’d to victory by almost lapping the field. A strong chase group that included Jeff Schiller and Ed Veal had nothing on him.
After the forgettable thing the day before, I was determined not to be at the back and stay with the peloton, and that I did.
There was room to move up at many places along the 1.8km circuit, so when I did look back and see daylight behind on several occasions, I picked a fast line out of a corner and moved up from the sides.
This race developed as a typical E4/M3 race (ie: everyone stays together until a final sprint). There was a breakaway in the earlier part of the race, but that last no more than a few laps.
There was another group that got a gap on a prime lap, but they were brought back together without much effort required.
On the final lap, on a straight and smooth section before the last corner, I heard a loud pop up ahead. Someone got a flat, no big deal. But next thing I knew, I came to a complete stop and then landed on top of a clusterfuck of a pile up. There must have been 10-12 people in that pile. It was ugly. Fortunately for myself, my only problem was putting the chain back on, which took me forever in my state of panic.
At the end, over half the field did not finish. A few were pulled after getting dropped but most were involved in the crash. I wish them speedy recovery.
The race itself did not seem fast for me. If only I had the courage/confidence to move up further when the opportunities were available, I might have even avoided getting caught up in the carnage, and then a good chance at a top 10 prize.
Debaets-Devos Pro-Am Memorial Race – Cat 4
For the grand finale, I head NORTH of the border to the USA. Destination was Auburn Hills, Michigan, in suburban Detroit, for the 50th annual Debaets-Devos Pro-Am Memorial Race.
The Pro/Elite race was on just before my Cat 4 race. And who would have guessed, it’s the same Bobby Lea from yesterday, who actually did manage to lap the field this time! Doubly impressive!
Then it was my race. The local Team O2 was very well represented. Almost half the field was dominated by Team O2, a but ridiculous actually.
My strategy was to watch Team O2 and follow any moves they made.
It turned out O2 did not plan on making any moves, while everyone else seemed to have the same idea as me.
In the final few laps, gaps were starting to form here and there and no one was enthusiastic about chasing back on. I was the one who bridged back to the peloton on several occasions, dragging the rest of the bunch with me.
Last lap, I was still in the front half of the peloton, but lost position between corner 2 and corner 3. I was no longer in a good position heading to the last turn, then I was cutoff by someone who then sat up. I still ended up mid-pack, 21st to cross the line.
It was another one of those races where there were opportunities, especially since everyone was for Team O2 to do something, but I did not take advantage. O2 protected their sprinter and got what they wanted. In hindsight, it would have been fun to talk a couple other guys into taking turns attacking O2 and see how they would respond. It might not work but would at least make them work!
The 90% POP did not materialize for any of the races! I had almost whiteout conditions on the way to and from the race, but miraculous none during. The wind was stiff – it was a very strong headwind on the finishing straight, but this time I did not feel its effects nearly as much as in the crit provincials.
So that is a wrap for the 2014 road cycling season. I’m happy to get through it rubber side down, but definitely did not progress as much as I wanted. There are things to work on in the off-season.
I do have a final Centurion gran fondo ride coming up, but aside from that, onwards and upwards to cyclocross season!