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Oct 10 2012

Tour de Hans 2012 – Race Report

This little metric century race on the last weekend of September would be the last timed ride of 2012. I came back to the Tour de Hans partly as a redemption from the disaster last year, but I also couldn’t resist the Oktoberfest schnitzel and German lager after the race.

At least the weather was better than last year. No precipitation, no 40km/h wind, no almost freezing temperatures. Instead it was sunshine, no wind, and high in the mid-teens. Redemption was looking good already.

The profile was pancake flat, without even the “Hurtin’ Hans” climb segment from last year, so everyone was expected to be able to stay together in large packs.

In any case, without any hills the string out the crowd as in other races, most of the action happened at the beginning.

The Race

Not long after completing the neutral rollout and crossing the start line, the guys in front were frantically pointing at something on the road, and then getting off their lines. Then I saw someone sitting on the ground in some pain. Ouch.

I was near the back of a group of 30-40 riders, and was really feeling the effect of some overzealous brake users somewhere up front.

Then the girl in front suddenly stopped. I couldn’t react in time before making contact – that dreaded high pitch rubber on rubber sound. The guy behind had even less time to react, which meant slamming hard into my left dropout area. Somehow everyone stayed up. So all we had to do was gather ourselves and close the gap back to the group in front.

After turning a corner, another two riders went down. They probably touched wheels but were not as lucky as we were. This was starting to feel like the last one standing would win the race…

The accordion effect was frustratingly still in full force at the quarter mark of the race. This combined with the close calls earlier made me very jittery. I could not follow the wheel as closely as I normally would, and certainly not enjoying the ride thus far.

That situation improved as the race went on, but the pace was slow for such a large group. I tried to move up with a few others to up the pace at the front on several occasions, but every time another train would overtake me shortly afterwards, and I ended up more or less back in square one.

I might as well settle in and be comfortable, which is what I did until the end.

The last half of the course was mostly downhill, so we were able to cruise at close to 40km/h. Aside from hazards caused by horse manure, fallen apples, and Amish buggies, it was, dare I say, a bit boring.

Entering the last 5km, there was more movement from the pack as some people wanted to get into good positions to sprint. I didn’t want any trouble (there is really not much point sprinting for 110th place) so I stayed away from the front, but did manage to nip two guys at the finish. One of whom, as I found out later, was Jim Balsillie of (former) Blackberry fame. I beat him by 0.7 seconds.

A proper ride should end with proper après sustinence. Since this is Oktoberfest in Kitchener, German lager and schnitzel on a bun were in order.

Of course, then came the keg tap:
Eins, Zwei, Drei, spank that spigot!

That resulted in another round of beer for everyone in attendance. Good times!

Epilogue

This is the kind of race that , unlike Centurion, survival is a certainty except for mechanical or crash. This made for a good opportunity to practice some strategies. If I would race this again, I would try to be more aggressive within the pack, initiate moves and see if anyone would react or follow. There will be opportunities to try next year.

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