Sep 22 2012

Centurion Canada 2012 – Race Report

Centurion Cycling returned to Blue Mountain for the 3rd year in a row. With over 4000 participants, Graham Fraser has found something that sticks. Centurion Canada is now the 2nd largest cycle race in Canada, next to Gran Fondo Whistler, and attracting all the top amateur racers and clubs from Ontario.

I raced the 50-mile course last year in unseasonably cool weather. This year I competed in the 25-mile race, hill climb challenge, and 100-mile race. Aside from a little rain on Saturday, the weather was not bad.


Centurion Canada race kits all readyI booked myself into Blue Mountain Inn early Friday evening, and ended up getting upgraded to the Grand Georgian, right in the middle of the village. Plus.
Trying to make me pay for wireless internet, major minus. Even Starbucks was not allowed to offer wi-fi. Oh well.

After getting the race kit, I finally scored a pair of pink socks to match my pink jersey. I was all set!

C25 Race

Near the startThe sky was overcast and temperature was cool at the start. Almost immediately after the start, rain started to sprinkle, but ended as soon as it started.

I spent most of the time jumping from group to group, trying find someone to work together, with not much success.

At around the halfway mark, the rain started again, and this time it poured. Rain and standing water on fresh ashphalt meant lots of spray from riders ahead.

Of course, the spray landed right in my face. I thought I tasted rubber, and possibly motor oil and roadkill…

Focusing on the wheelWhen I’ve had enough of this, I moved to the front to help pull the group, which was a bit slower than I preferred anyway. I then increased the pace to bridge to a guy ahead.

I ended up riding with him to the finish. He pulled most of the way through the headwind section and then crosswinds. I did take over for a few turns on the run up to the village.

I shook his hand as we crossed the line. By the time, I was all dry except for the socks. The next step was to head back to the hotel for a warm shower, then check out the expo.


There was a Kids’ Ride just before lunch, and it was a riot. The kids at the front all rode mini-road bikes and were very competitive. So much so that Graham Fraser had to keep reminding them to stay safe.

“Hold your line!” he said as well, but good luck with that! I doubt any kid knows what that meant.

Open Hill Climb

The hill climb competition was 3.5km up Scenic Caves Road, with total elevation gain of 224m. Average grade is 12%, with maximum of 20%. Or, to put it succinctly, it was 12’06” of hating my life. Despite that, it was strangely fun and satisfying.

Oh, the pain! This was only halfway up.As I lined up at the start with the other guys in my age group, the TSN cameraman slowly panned each of our faces. This is serious stuff!

During the 1km rollout, I stayed at the back to conserve as much energy as possible. The pain was coming as I looked straight up at the Scenic Caves Road.

Everyone stayed together in the first section of the climb, but as we turned the corner to a steeper section, the guys ahead upped the tempo and I found myself not able to follow.

My riding wasn't pretty at this point, but at least I was pretty in pink!Halfway up, the road flattened to an “easy” 5-6%, but the pain was really coming now. I could still see the guys ahead, but there was no way I could catch them now.

As I rounded the last corner, one of the guys seemed to be struggling and I was quickly gaining on him. With this correct in front, I found another gear to kick it to the finish line, though I missed beating him by 0.8 seconds.

A few minutes later, a guy on an old steel frame came screaming and yelling to the finish, then he managed to shear his left pedal off completely just after crossing the line! That was funny and impressive.

Everyone was required to stay at the finish line until all the heats were completed, so I had a chance to see how the elite amateurs ride. It’s clear there is lot to learn and even more training to do for me.

At the end, Ryan Roth, the reigning Canadian road champion, who rode as a celebrity rider, easily won the Timex Vertical Challenge and the $6000 prize purse. Not sure if he actually took the prize though.

Looking down the >10% grade of Scenic Caves Rd. Photo does not do it justice No idea what this is... Canadian national champ, Ryan Roth, showed everyone how to win.

C100 Race

As I woke up to the sound of announcer Steve Fleck sending off the C50 riders, the sun was shining, and temperature warmer. It was shaping up to be a great day.

Centurion Canada 2012 Course Profile

The C100 course was actually 169.4km, with an elevation gain of 1770m. There were three long climbs: one at the beginning and end, the other was the King of the Mountain climb at 120km, and the rest of the course consisted of rolling hills.
I made sure to head into the corral 30 minutes before official start time, so I wouldn’t be stuck behind the 1500 other riders.

Massive crowding during neutral start. Look out for skeleton boy on the left!And so with Titanium by David Guetta playing in the background, the horn sounded at 8:30am, and the race started with a 5km neutral rollout. With this many riders, the start was hectic, and any change of pace in front were dramatically magnified with the accordion effect.

This lasted until the first long climb up Grey Road 19. The crowd started to string out, as I climbed at my own pace, while looked around to gauge who I should work with.

For the next 20km, the route was mostly flat, and the group I was working with was keeping a fast pace (well fast for me anyway). I hoped I was not overextending myself at this point.

During the first long descent, while it was fun, I lost contact with everyone in the group. It took a lot of hard chasing to get back with them.

Rounding the corner at CreemoreRounding the corner at CreemoreThere was a smaller climb and descent into Creemore, where I grabbed a Gatorade at the first feed zone.

It was not very eventful in the next stretch after leaving Creemore. There was a good climb out of the town, and then mostly rolling terrain thereafter. My strategy was to hang in and not expend too much energy pulling at the front.

At the second feed zone, the banana was too good to pass up. Instant energy boost!

I was gapped again before the feed zone, but after a few km, managed to bridge back to about 10 riders ahead. This group was dysfunctional. The pace was slow, and nobody seemed willing to do any work. I thought about riding to the front to up the pace, but decided I need to save myself for the upcomning KOM climb. Perhaps everybody was thinking the same…

On the descent down Grey Road 13 to Kimberley, I made sure to pick someone to tuck behind and stay focussed, so I would not be gapped again.


A few km after the descent, KOM climb up Grey Road 7 to Epping loomed ahead. At 120km into the race, no one in my little group was particularly motivated to fight for the segment time, myself included.

So, once the climbing began in earnest, everyone went to the granny gear and spun his/her way up. The effort was easy enough to chat! As a result, I was a whole 3 minutes slower than last year’s C50 race on the same climb.

Hacking the final miles awayAt the top the climb, I wanted to grab a Gatorade, but they ran out, so water it was. I went alone for a little bit, until the guys I left behind in the KOM caught up, and we rode together until the rapid descent on Grey Road 40. This was where I hit 78km/h, which other more substantial riders could get up to almost 90km/h!

After the descent, I immediately faced the dreaded Tenth Line false flat. I hung on to back of the small grupetto for a bit, but couldn’t keep up for long. Another group went by, and I had to let them go too.

At the final feed zone, I finally got the Gatorade that I wanted at the last one. This feed zone also featured grapes! I had a good chuckle at the guy holding out an entire bunch of grapes. I should have grabbed that.

Approaching the intersection with Grey Road 2, I was relieved the route turned right, instead of heading straight up the wall where everyone suffered last year.

At this time I started having a little trouble shifting between big and small chainrings. I seemed to be stuck with the small chainring, which was ok for the moment with a bit of climbing remaining.

When the road finally flattened out, I was frustrated with not having access to the big ring, which made me do a lot of coasting.

Sprinting for the line, just because...When the final long descent began, I gave the shifters another try and that time it worked. With that, I burned my last matches to make up some lost time.


After the descent, there were 3km of slight incline to the finish. I joined up with a group of about 10 riders, where they pulled me to the finish.

Once again, I finished in just over 5.5 hours, and once again I cracked on the last climb. More endurance would be needed for next year if I want to race to the finish, rather than just survive.

While the burger and salad were good, I needed a Maple Butter Beavertail, McDonald’s soft serve cone, and Harvey’s combo to completely replenish myself.


This wrapped up a great season for Centurion Cycling.

I had a chance to speak with series founder and former Ironman Canada organizer, Graham Fraser. I didn’t get a chance to ask questions about the circumstances surrounding Ironman Canada, but did gain some insights about the current and future status of the series.

The Blue Mountain event was the first Canadian race in the series started three years ago, with minimal advertising. The event was almost entirely spread by word-of-mouth, and registration is expected to be capped to the max next year.

The brand being well known in Ontario allowed the new Horseshoe Valley event to be well attended this year, and is expected to mature quickly.

The story was the opposite for Lake George, New York. Graham mentioned that his team spent the most effort getting the word out, including even TV commercials, but only netted 200 participants. The market exists, especially with the location’s proximity to major US eastern seaboard cities, but attracting their attention seemed to be a challenge.

Ellicottville also did not attract many local participants. Most the riders there were Ontario riders who drove across the border. However, the village and the nearby Holiday Valley Resort are completely supportive, and are willing to help make the event work. Apparently the resort CEO rode the C100 route and was completely sold! The challenge here again is to start the ball rolling among the local cycling clubs.

There is a desire for an event in the Niagara region, but it is unfortunately a long shot, mostly due to political red tape.


2 pings

  1. Cherry

    Judging from final results, tough competition in your age group once again. Pretty hilarious with the kids & the guy with sheared off pedal. Did you have the banana/grape on the go or did you stop?

  2. Henry Lo

    I ate the banana while riding through the feed zone, but passed on the grapes though.

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    […] Square One Running Room friends at the finish. I got a larger and louder cowbell from last week’s Centurion Canada, and made sure it was put to good use […]

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    […] merely surviving the 100 mile race last year, I went back to the 50-mile race where I could actually race it, and the hill climb challenge up Scenic Caves […]

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