So far this year I’ve only raced two O-Cups as I was in Belfast for the start of the Giro d’Italia and missed the GCRR and the Niagara Classic. I was eager to get my 3rd race in and looking forward to the KW Classic on the new course at Hawkesville. On Saturday morning I was getting my bike ready when I realized that I had forgotten to register before the Thursday night deadline! I was so bummed. Thankfully somebody at Cycle Waterloo saw my tweet on Twitter and advised me to contact the race director about late registration. After sending an email, Blake Ellis replied that I could sign up on site and race. (Thank you!)
I arrived in Hawkesville for 7:15 on Sunday morning and got registered and pinned on my numbers. The course was just over 11 km and featured a steady uphill grind out of Hawkesville before descending on a rolling route over the river and back to town. I had ridden the course a week or so before and decided that it was the kind of course where things were likely to stay together but there was a chance to split it up if somebody wanted to. The only question was whether or not anybody would try. I’ve learned that I don’t stand much chance in a sprint with most of the riders in M3 and obviously a solo mission would be doomed to fail. I’m not even sure if I could survive in a breakaway, but the break seemed like my only viable option for any success and I was determined to try and go if the opportunity arose.
I started the race near the front and rode hard for the first lap hoping that some guys would work with me to pull it apart early. I pulled long and hard but nobody was coming around. After a few minutes Chris Pippy from Waterloo CC took a turn and I quickly took another pull to try and show that I was eager to work. I tried to get the guys at the front to rotate but I guess it was too early in the race for most of them and everyone seemed content to just sit in and wait for a sprint. There were a few guys setting tempo including a couple from Morning Glory CC, however they didn’t have as much presence as they did at Good Friday (which was my last race) I followed for a while and tried to formulate a strategy. I was feeling pretty good but I didn’t want to blow up and get dropped on Hawkesville hill so decided to ride another lap and see what happened. Chris was on the front again as we went through town and I was on his wheel. It felt like the pace was higher the second time up the hill and I lost some ground. I was going hard to stay with the front and the effort cast some doubt on my ability to go the distance. I recovered on the descent and went back to the front though. I was still feeling good. Near the end of lap 2 Chris attacked before the turn onto Hemlock Hill. He got a few hundred metres and the bunch seemed content to let him go so I decided to go for it and try to bridge over. I hammered away from the peloton and closed the gap. As I caught Chris I looked around and we were still clear but I had burned a couple of matches in the effort and didn’t have enough left to contribute. As I tried to catch my breath we got reeled in almost immediately.
From this point I mostly just stayed at the front and jumped on anyone who tried to go. There were a few more attacks including what seemed like a team effort by Chain Reaction but nobody else got away. Every lap I would ride hard up the last kicker of a hill towards Geddes, trying to prepare myself for the final sprint. I would usually turn onto Hawkesville Road at the front of the field but get passed on the grind up the hill. Thankfully I didn’t get dropped though and made it up six times with the group. I took my share of turns on the front too.
On the last lap the pace was high and everyone was fighting for position on the last few kilometres. It was pretty strung out as we reached Broadway. I was second wheel approaching the bridge when everybody suddenly started passing. Then I was 15 back as we hit the base of the last hill. It was a short kicker up to the final straight. I stuck to the right side not wanting to get boxed in, however a few guys were taking the shoulder. The group compressed on the grade and I was getting ready to drill it and launch at the crest of the hill when somebody went down right in front of me. I jammed on the brakes and narrowly avoided running into the rider in front of me by swerving onto the gravel. I could hear that awful sound of bikes and riders going down behind me and could tell that it was a pretty nasty crash. I was fortunate to still be upright but had lost all my momentum. I was in too big a big gear to recover the speed I lost and I was officially out of the sprint. There was no chance of points so I just rolled in. 32nd place…. 14 seconds down.
Things hadn’t gone as I had hoped, but I was thankful to finish in one piece. It was a great race where I learned a few more things about myself and took a few more chances than usual. In hindsight, I should have been more vocal and communicated with the other guys to try and get something going. It’s so hard to finish a race like this in the top ten by yourself unless you are a strong sprinter, but with some cooperation it would be possible to work together and shake things up. Maybe next time…
The 2014 KW Classic was an amazing experience. I really liked the new course and would like to thank Cycle Waterloo for another great event!
Here’s a 5 minute video of my race…
And here’s a better view of the crash… nasty!