The Good Friday Road Race in Ancaster is the season opener in the Ontario Cup series and this was my third time participating. This year, Mark Chappel joined me from Speed River Cycling Club and it was nice to have some company in M3 since Andy Mill upgraded. This will be my third year in M3 and I would really like to earn enough points to move up. I was eager to do well, but my chances in a bunch sprint were not very good and the only way I could foresee getting any points in this race would be from getting into a break or some major good luck.
It was a damp foggy morning, cooler than anticipated. At start time the road surface was wet and the temperature was about 5 Celsius. There was just over ninety riders on the line for M3 and I was about mid pack. I knew that it would be extremely difficult to move up once we were jammed in on the road, so I hammered it on the gravel section out of the fairgrounds and got pretty close to the front where I could keep an eye on what was happening. Within the first kilometre of hitting the pavement somebody popped off the front. A second rider took off and bridged without the peloton reacting. I hesitated for a minute but then decided to go for it. Mentally I had prepared myself to work my ass off if I had somebody to work with, but the effort just to bridge over had me doubting my abilities. I didn’t get much of a warm-up and my legs were burning by the time I was half-way across the gap. I decided to reintegrate with the peloton and wait to see how things would develop. The two guys stayed out front for less than a lap before being caught.
The pace was pretty steady except for the battle for position on the corners and through the fairgrounds. The guys on the front would turn the screws through the gravel section and make it really hard for anybody further back. Once we hit the pavement it would be all strung out for a while but with no coordinated effort the speed would soon drop off and everybody seemed to catch up. This happened for about the first two or three laps, before the field eventually split. I stayed near the front so I’m not sure exactly when that happened, but about forty of us got a gap. There were a few attacks and a duo or solo rider would pop off the front for a short period, but nobody got far. Overall there was just not enough cooperation. In my opinion it would have taken at least 6 guys working together to have a decent chance.
On the last lap we were all still together and the speed increased. With about 5 km to go everybody was battling for position and I had slipped back a bit. I was working my way forward along the right hand side of the road and feeling pretty good. We were about 1.5km from the finish when there was a crash in the middle of the pack. Some guys went down, a bike in front of me turned sideways and I braked hard and swerved right to avoid it. I ended up in the grass along the ditch. It was swampy and my wheels sank in. I somehow managed to stay upright but had almost come to a complete stop. The loss of momentum was enough to detach me from the group and I could not get back on. I rolled in in 36th place, disappointed, but happy to be intact.
Mark did very well for his first race, finishing with the leaders. Well done!