The KW Classic was O-Cup #6 for 2013. The M3 race featured 13 laps of the rolling 4.6 km course for a total of 60 km and 780 m of elevation gain. In a change from previous years, the course was run in a clockwise direction and finished with a 1 km climb averaging about 4% a few hundred meters before the finish line. I figured the hill would string the field out a bit which would suit me better than flatter races like Calabogie or Good Friday. However this course seemed too short and fast for me to hold on to the lead group until the end. I would have to try and figure out a way to survive… especially when the final surges and attacks came.
Kitchener is only 30 minutes from here and I was looking forward to not having to get up so early, but my plan of having an early night and getting a good sleep was kiboshed by a mechanical issue with my bike. I noticed that it wasn’t shifting well, and after failing to resolve the problem myself, I ended up scrambling on Saturday night to get it to my mechanic for a diagnosis and fix. Turns out the derailleur was bent and all the cable tension adjustment in the world would not compensate for it. Big thanks to Jay from Paramount Sports for bailing me out!
Finally made it to bed around 11:30pm but did not sleep well. I woke up tired. After getting ready quickly, I loaded up and then grabbed a coffee at Tims on the way to pick up Andy Mill. The weather forecast was promising rain but things were looking pretty pleasant for now. I was optimistically hoping that the rain might hold off until after the race. We arrived in good time, parked the truck and headed to the OCA tent to sign in and pick up our numbers. For the first time there was a timing chip to attach to our seat posts for this race. Although the sun was making an appearance, there were clouds moving in, so I changed to amber lenses in my glasses. After getting ready we went for a ride to warm up until 15 minutes before the race.
65 riders were participating in the M3 race, including Andrew Krucker, another team mate from Speed River Cycling Club. Nathan Poultan was here too for the E4 race. M3 was first to go at 9:15, followed by the E4 and then the Women at two minute intervals. I ate my customary candy bar while we waited for the start. The sun was shining but there was an ominous grey sky and a cross wind from our left side. I decided to line up on the right in order to stay out of the wind and to take the inside line on the first corner. After receiving some instructions from the Commissaire, the whistle blew and we were off.
This was my first time on the course and I rode mid pack for the first lap, checking out the road. After a flat straight there was a right hand turn into a chicane, then a fast downhill section on a long, sweeping arc for about 2km. Next came the hill for about another kilometre before the final 90 degree right hand turn onto the flat straightaway. The finish line was only about 100 m from the last corner, so with very little road for a final sprint, I assumed that the first rider through the corner would have the best chance of success at the end. I also figured that it might be a pretty hairy situation going into this corner in a bunch, so if there was any chance that I was up there, I decided I would go wide on the left to try and avoid getting squeezed out on the rail.
The first lap felt like a pretty quick pace but I was holding my position well. My legs were feeling good on the climb too. The riders in front were actually slowing me down. I moved up a bit closer to the front and stayed with the bunch for five more laps. I was climbing well but working pretty hard overall. Andy was up front as usual, doing his part to keep the pace fairly high. Occasionally he would establish a small gap, but the peloton never let him get away. The pace was close to 40 km/hr and some of the guys were getting dropped on the hill. We passed the women’s group for the first time after only a few laps.
It was looking like everyone might stay together until the end. In similar races this situation had not gone well for me so I decided that I should at least try something, especially since this was the last M3 road race of the O-Cup series this year. (The final event is a Time Trial next week) On lap 7 I moved up and launched an attack on the downhill section. Andy and one other guy were just barely off the front and I passed them before the start of the hill. I rode as hard as I could, hoping to get away with a couple of guys. I looked back and could see that the field was all strung out, but there was no real gap. I decided to hang on for a while longer and flogged myself to see if some of the guys would give up the chase. After burning all of my matches I had only succeeded in being the first guy up the hill. Everybody else was catching up and now I was tired and needed to recover. I got absorbed by the group again and resumed my task of hanging on.
Then the rain started. It was coming down in bucket loads too. The road was covered with a layer of water and the visibility was really poor. At first, everybody eased up for a bit, taking care in the corners. Then it felt like the guys up front attacked, taking advantage of the wet, dangerous conditions for the bunch in order to get away. We raced on for a few more laps, the rain coming down heavy at times. I was getting tired and the climbing was getting tougher with each lap. I was afraid of getting dropped so I started riding to the front each time we reached the hill, trying to get a headstart so that I wouldn’t get left behind. On the penultimate lap I was starting to fade. We caught the women for the second time as we reached the hill. This was their final lap and they were about to sprint for the line, so we had to keep left and not interfere with their race. I was starting to go backwards now and I think I might have been dropped if it wasn’t for a slight lull in the pace here in order to give the women some room. It took everything I had to keep contact with the bunch but I managed to stay on for the final lap.
Now the pace got pretty furious and the field was stretching out. Many riders were getting shed along the way. I was barely hanging on. The final climb was a familiar experience for me. My legs were burning and my lungs were aching. I gave it everything I had but once again it was not enough. By the time I reeled to the top of the last hill for the lat time, the leaders were already making the last turn for home and there was no time or hope left for me to catch them. I ended up finishing in 24th place, 30 seconds behind the winner. Andy came in 4th, earning enough points to move him into second place overall in the O-Cup standings, and securing his upgrade to M2. Well done Andy!