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Is This A Logo??

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Paris to Ancaster - The Race Review

The always iconic Paris to Ancaster...one of the biggest, well known races of the year.  This year, apparently the biggest ever, likely due to the weather and conditions.  Historically, the weather and conditions have typically been a shite-show for this race.  However, this year it looked like it could be as dry as I can remember it ever being (I have done this race every year since 2009)...although it didn’t seem so warm at 8am Sunday raceday morning.  I had driven up with Lois and EnglishJim (yes he still lives and came out of the woodwork and is back for the season!!!)...shivering my nuggets off as I got ready...them laughing at me...(yes, that is how Lois looks when she laughs...)

me nuggetless...them laughing...cue the foreshadow music...


Anyways...my  goals for this years race:  Number 1 was not to get injured.  The last two years of this race I have crashed (both times turning left under the bridge on gravel pit road after coming out of the last mud chute), and ended up with a concussion that took weeks to work through.  Although I have never crashed at the start, the Wave 1 start scares the heck out of me...a mass of 400 competetive racers, bunched tightly together, vying for position on that usually potholed road (littered with lost water bottles) that narrows into the doubletrack path, then shoehorns into the railtrail with a steel post in the middle of it.  Such potential for disaster.  As it turns out the potholed road had been graded, but was covered in deep, loose gravel that made it impossible to hold your line...just as bad.  There is an entire season ahead after this race...getting injured is a crappy way to start the season...

Anyways, as such, I upgraded my entry from Wave 1 to VIP...expecting that the start would be safer...and reduce my chance of crashing by a huge factor.  (To be fully honest, Lois upgraded me...she has seen and heard about that start from previous years.  She says she feared for my safety, but I think she just wanted the VIP parking spot...whatever, I appreciated it...that start has always distressed the shite out of me.)  It also gave me an opportunity to pre-ride a portion of the course with Aaron Schooler...CX/MTB racer with-the-pros...a great experience.

Plus I didn't want the ApexRacePhotography folks to get a pic of me crashing....they try to do that you know...

Goal Number 2 was to better last years time of 2hrs 37min...in fact I fully expected to come in well under 2h30m...especially given this years conditions.


At least my bike was ready...



So...I set out to warm up.  I need a huge warm up...it takes me forever...almost a full hour at near race pace to properly warm up...I don't know if its an age thing...or heart cold-as-ice thing...but it's a problem i haz.  I pushed it, extended my warmup to the last minute before getting to the start paddock...HUGE blunder.  It was packed!!!  It was so packed, I couldn't get in...I was lined up outside the gate to the paddock...400+ racers jammed in front of me...200+ VIPers, many of whom were there for the experience...not to race.

BOOM...at the gun shot, we were off...sort of.  After what seemed like several hours after the gunshot, we, at the back of the paddock, started to move...sort of.  I could have walked faster...seriously.  After a few dozen metres, we actually started to go...sort of.  It was not near race start pace...but we were moving...and it was seriously safe.  Right turn off the pavement onto the loose gravel road...I was desperate to move up, but there was no way without creating havoc through a pack of mostly recreational riders...which was exactly what I wanted to avoid.  Right turn off the gravel onto the road...I managed to move up somewhat before the road narrowed to double track...then it bunched up tight into the railtrail.  Gradually....gradually....riders started making their way lining up on the right side of the rail trail...giving room for faster riders to pass on the left...

Finally, after over 12 minutes at a casual pace...the trail opened up on the left side in front of me...I gunned it!!  More than red lining for an extended time...long line of riders on the right (hey there was ChrisB...another BycycleWorks rider!!...there's not that many of us...) hoping no one would pull out in front of me.  My max heart rate is supposed to be 163...I had now been running at over 170 for several minutes...I was dying, seriously, my vision was turning red...I had so much lost time to try to make up, I had dug such a deep hole to work out of.  I pulled up along a long gap in the line on the right...I pulled in to try to bridge to the next line ahead.  A couple of fast guys had tucked in behind me, and passed...I latched onto them and we raced up and worked to pass the next long line of racers.  
I was hoping to get passed this line for the hard right off the rail trail onto the sharp, loose gravelly climb...but it didn't happen.  We turned right...and of course there were racers walking the climb...I tried to ride around but there was no room.  Off my bike, shoulder it...run around the group through the tall grass off the trail...back on and go.  More riders to get by...but at least it was on a wide doubletrack path through a field.  My heart rate still way too high though...I was burning so many matches too quickly.  

Finally out onto a road...much room to pass...I eventually made my way to a small group I could work with.  However, almost a half hour in...and not even at 15 kms...I was now so burnt, I knew the hole I dug was too much to make up for.  I settled in, try to make up as much time as possible while still survive and enjoy the remainder of the race...I let my heart rate settle down to the low 160s (still more than enough for me) and worked with the group I caught for a topped out but manageable race pace.  If nothing else, this ruined start was a challenging test of my fitness level.

And this is where J.P. became my new best friend for the day.  A racer from Barrie...we worked together for the remainder of the race...pushing each other when we needed it...dragging each other back when we needed it.

A few highlights along the way:

The doubletrack through the bush that led to Highway 5, with several deep softer muddy spots...can't imagine how much worse that became as the day wore on and riders softened it up more...

Most of the race course that led through farmers' fields is normally soft, deep mud.  Not so this year...all dry and fast.

I was so burnt, I had nourishment in my bottles but it wasn't enough...needed more.  So, I was glad to see a volunteer handing out packs of Cliff Bloks at the ball field in Harrisburg...but he didn't have time to reload as he handed off to a rider in front of me as I went by...ah well...

The rail trail between Harrisburg and Weir Road...where some nimrod decided to damage the environment to cut down and drag trees across the trail in an effort to sabotage the race.  Guess he/she didn't realize we were all CX and MTBers...slowed us down but didn't stop anything.  However, someone needs a serious attitude realignment...

That ditch from that rail trail onto Weir road is still a challenge...

On Weir road caught Paul 'Turbo' Trebilcock...star of the TV show Boundless...got to ride and chat with him for a while till he dropped off when we turned left onto Governor's Road.  Very cool!!




Driest conditions I've seen....the Mineral Springs mudslide was not even a mudslide...dry, flatt-ish...easily rideable.  Powerline Mudslide didn't get the memo....it was still ankle deep goopy mud that it is always known for...it didn't disappoint...






There are so many pics like this....




This isn't Oggie...but Oggie did strike this pose...and yes, he still beat me...(but then, eveybody did ...this day).

Many people elected to dismount and run at that point...me included, this year..
I didn't want ApexTed to get this pic of me...






On Powerline Road, between the two mudslides, girls were handing out Timbits...I so needed nutrition...I gratefully accepted two...and shoved them in my mouth.  Not so smart...dry Timbits in a dry mouth with deep breathing lungs.  I just about choked myself to death...I was still choking going down Powerline Mudslide...

Off of the mudslide, down the steep descent onto Gravel Pit Road...the left curve under the bridge...was where I crashed both times in the previous two years, and rung my noggin greatly.  I elected to slow down and play it safe, but still took it dangerously close to the edge.  It is deceiving how sharp and loose that turn is, at the speed you come down the hill at.

Then, onto Mineral Spring road toward the final daunting climb of the day.  I caught J.P. who had dropped me at the mudslide (with less than 5 km to go it was now every man for himself to the finish)...he was cramping up, but still urged me on.  Up Martin's road and that hill.

Up the beginning technical bit...then that steep short wall of a climb...I was hoping it was muddy and unrideable....but no...it was perfectly dry.  Dammit!!  Eat stem to power up it...my heart rate once again jumping over 170...more technical bits...then the final full road climb.  Many riders off the side cramping up along the way...many walking their bikes.  My legs and lungs both screaming to let go...heart rate holding at 173...

There's DundasJim cheering me on!!  There's Lois, cowbelling!!

Actually there was a crowd cheering racer on....but with the blood churning through the ears, it all blended together like this...







Finally, crest the hill, to the finish....done.  Time 2hrs36 minutes.

I was done...I had survived without crashing...without injury.

While I beat my time from last year (by a mere minute), I should have done much better given the conditions.  The start, destroyed my chance.  It challenged my fitness trying to make it up...and I'm happy with the fitness level.  Just have to be smarter.  While I am bitterly disappointed with my placement (everybody crushed me!!), some of my friends had the race of their lives.  Fig, Unglued (he may become Glued again!!), Jaimie...all had personal bests!  Well done!!!  





You knew there had to be one eventually...



And what can I say...smarter next time...hopefully.  But I have to say, one great thing about this sport...so many good people involved!!!  Nothing but encouragement!!  I have so many colleagues and friends that I have so much respect for, and push me to be better.

Other notes...

MarkR rode through a severe bonk (doesn't even remember grabbing my arse as he passed me).  JennR, Blaze, JeffS...podiums all.

JennR crushing the women


JeffS crushing the Fatbike


Blaze crushing the 40k

Watch out for Blaze this year!  He has been secret training all winter, coming back from a multiple bone fracture of the wrist.  He is faster than he will admit...sandbagger...





Oh yeah...Gunnar Holmgren...won it all!!  Yes, the whole thing!!  Someone I know won (he is CoachRob's son)!!  I didn't think anyone really won the P2A...I thought it was all a myth...like a unicorn...   Well done!!!  Unlimited kudos!!!

Gunnar...should be smiling!!


And as said...so many good people!!

The Danger crew at the start


JennKenn driving the Fatbike up that killer final climb



Jaimie and PowerPaul....getting too fast for me...


JeffS and Hal



JennR and VVagabond 
(Yes the LandHams came from NewBrunswick to visit and attend this race!)


Blaze trying to ignore Fig...CptSydor in the background ignoring them both...


Me watching in awe as Fig shoves three wieners and a bun in his mouth...
Like a typical day at the gym for Fig...   :)


Anyways...as I have said, so many good people...so many pics...
Too many to post...if I missed you I apologize...I could go on forever...

And I already have...

What's up next??

I'll tell ya Thursday...

Stay posted!!


Okay...two...


1 comment:

  1. Nice Blog. I made the same mistake by taking a TimBit! check out my blog... www.ridecyclespin.com Thanks Mike!

    ReplyDelete