The Centurion at Horseshoe Valley was my second experience at racing. Although this was a shorter race than the Tour de Waterloo at 100 km, there were a lot more hills. It was also a much bigger field with over 600 riders.
There was a steep hill climb before the racing officially began at the top. Then it was downhill overall for about 20 km until the next climb, which was the KOM, so there was a huge bunch packed together for quite a while. This proved to be quite a problem as the rolling hills caused an accordion effect that resulted in several crashes that took out a number of riders.
Finally, after a white knuckle ride in a pack of about 200 riders, the field finally strung out on the first climb and about 30 or 40 guys got away. I was hanging on with the second group, and there was more room to breathe. We rode along steadily until the next big climb came. I spotted a jersey from a local bike shop in Guelph and introduced myself to its wearer, Corey Rogerson. Corey turned out to be a strong rider that I would find myself struggling to keep up with in every Centurion event to come. Today I managed to finish ahead of him, but only because he got a flat tire… otherwise he always kicks my ass!
The next hill came around 55 km and was the toughest for me. The field really strung out here and another bunch got a gap on me. I started cramping up badly on a downhill section about 75 km along and lost contact with the group I was in. By the time I recovered there were two main groups ahead of me. I tried to bridge up to them with another rider but I couldn’t hold his wheel and had no choice but to wait for help. Eventually a group of 15 or so would join me and we ended up reeling in the second group on the road. There were now two groups of 40 – 45 riders with about 4 or 5 minutes between us. I came in with the second group finishing 55th overall, 4:25 behind the winner Bruce Bird of Wheels of Bloor.
The pace of this race was my quickest yet, and I averaged 39.1 km/hr due to a lot of drafting, but considering the hills I was very pleased with my effort.