I liked that my first race of the season involved a road trip and an overnight stay as the packing up of clothing and equipment helped me get more focused about the race, it made the event feel special, and having Leigh to share it with was fantastic. The last time I raced in Ontario I was independent, would travel to races alone, and as much as I like my own time, space, and solitude, it was a bit too lonely for me and lacked the excitement and fun that comes with being part of a team.
Race day morning was chilly, but the sun was out, a welcome sight after driving up in the rain. We did our warm-ups, took to the line with about 20 Master Women, a group of Cat 3s and Junior women, and cadet boys. Our group was about 35 to 40 riders, a pretty good size and I was excited to have lots of places to hide from the wind. Leigh and I the wind. Leigh and I did our "Hoo Ha" cheer to commemorate our sponsor Hoo Ha Ride Glide™ and off we went.
(PLEASE NOTE - If you are interested in ordering the Hoo Ha Ride Glide Chamois cream made for women, 15% of all orders made with the code: EATCLEAN1015 will go back to the team's fund.) Let us know if you do it and try it and what you think!
The women in the group were friendly, rode confidently, and I felt very comfortable in the pack.
There were several attacks by Junior Rider Florence Laplante-Lamarche who showed early on that she was the strongest in the group, but she wasn’t able to get away as the group worked well together. The course has 23 turns and it was easy to get disoriented as to where you were in relation to the finish line and which side you wanted to be on to get the best shelter from the wind.
One of the things I was most proud of was being able to move around in the pack, make my way to the top six before the “hill” where someone would attack almost every time around, and ride between riders to fill “holes”. In the past I have been a bit nervous riding between people when I didn’t know them, but I completely trusted this group, and it felt great to be back in the mix. This also allowed for maximum protection from the wind and save energy.
The other thing I was proud of was my gear choices. Bad habits are hard to break and riding in too heavy a gear is something that I have been known to do in the past, but I kept the gear easier than I would normally and cadence high, so I could “dance” up the rollers and keep my legs feeling fresh – which I think helped, but with only 2 weeks of riding leading in the race after being away for a month for work without a bike, my legs weren’t as strong as I would like. That said, I felt way better than I thought would.
There was confusion with 2 laps to go and for some reason our race was cut short. So with 2 km to go they announced that this would be our last lap and the pace quickened as riders tried to get in to a good position for the finish. I got caught near the back and just couldn’t make up enough ground, then we made the final turn in to the finishing straight and in to the headwind. My “sprinters” legs have yet to show themselves and I lost a lot of placings in the last few hundred meters, which was disappointing, but watching Leigh kick it in to high gear, pass riders, and continue to sprint forward was inspiring.
At the end of the day, Leigh came second in our category and I was 4th – not bad, but there is still a lot of room for improvement and I am looking forward to getting back in to a training routine.