In one of the best actions films of all time, Armageddon there’s a scene with Owen Wilson asking what the “conditions” would be like on an Asteroid. After hearing these he said ok just say “scariest environment imaginable.” It was no surprise that I had the voice of Owen Wilson rattling around my head on Sunday when I was in the group at the Lake of Bays road race riding along a wide open highway with no shelter from the snow, rain, sleet.
Backing up a bit, I had been looking at the forecast with interest since registering for the 170km Road Race held at Deerhurst resort. After factoring in a margin of error it wasn't a surprise to arrive there with snow falling.
Combine a 75km lap around a lake, with no shortcuts back, and freezing temperatures rain, sleet, hail, snowsqualls, crosswinds, and we all knew on the start line it could become an epic day on a bike. We were a wave of our own since we were doing 2 laps around the lake for a total of 170km once you ride to the loop and back from the resort. The other categories were slated to do a single lap for 96km.
Rain started pretty early on our ride out to the loop, I felt heavy with my full winter kit on but with team orders to “not get sick” I was willing to stay warm at all costs. A few teams in attendance, JetFuel- Norco had strength in numbers, Real Deal-Gears had some firepower, and Stevens from Ottawa had a solid crew out as well.
Attacks started pretty early on with Travis Samuel of JetFuel-Norco going off the front with another rider. Being a lone wolf I was perfectly fine sitting in. As we hit hwy 35, I looked at my Garmin and saw and AVG speed of 33kph. So much for the planned 40. And it was a hard 33kph, with lots of attacks and counter attacks. Seemed to be coming from Ed Veal, but Jet Fuel always seemed to bring things back together. And the wind was downright nasty for the first half lap. I hit the front once, on a DH pedalling hard and barely broke 40kph. A rider after commented saying we were riding faster up hill than down.
When we rode into the third snowsquall, and after almost riding over a guys head narrowly missing a big pileup. I made the call to pull out of the race at about the 50km mark. But i was still 50km from my car which was parked on the other side of a lake. So I stayed with the group just keeping an eye on the distance until I could turn off. The pace really started to pick up as well after the feedzone, and by the time we finished the lap the speed was up to 35, but my hands were blocks of ice. With no dexterity shifting was hard with the Di2, and braking was pretty much out of the question. At the turn off I turned off with another rider, about 20 or so brave souls continued on for another 75km lap. The other riders who were dropped also turned for the resort behind us.
I rolled in for my 2nd (by choice) DNF in 18 years of racing bikes. Which I am ok with.
The hotel lobby was littered with bodies huddled in blankets, with lots of racers in the “my teammate has the car keys” boat.
We would occasionally get reports from the road and the group seemed to be dwindling. In the end 13 brave souls rolled into the finish after nearly 5 hours of racing.
I pushed the AWI board pretty hard to award Man ride points to the finishers, With Mike Mandel being awarded the most since he was out there the longest but my request was denied. Its under appeal right now.
hats off to Bruce Bird and WOB for a great race, I'm sure if I could have seen the course would have been beautiful.