So the perennial p2A is done....over for another year!! And another memorable event.
Started out with the crew (NewfieSteve, EnglishJim, and Fig) meeting at my house, as we were all going together in my vehicle (I had beat NewfieSteve in an arm wrestling match to be the transporter this time...actually Lois won, as she was doing the driving). Fig pulled up on time, loaded up his bike and gear...then we waited...and waited. Steve was to pick up Jim and together, get to my teepee. I was getting a little jittery, as at my advanced age I need a significant warm up (at least a half hour) for these races. Lois was getting very sketchy; although she is an incredible supporter, and loves being part of the team...she is by no means a morning person...and being the transporter means getting up early. We figured Jim forgot something...he often does (he is much older than me and forgetfulness is setting in), but no...it was just Steve living on Newfie time. Eventually they did show up...just as we were thinking we had to get going regardless. They loaded up and we were off.
The ride was relatively uneventful...other than EnglishJim chiding Fig and I about who would beat who. Fig and I have been in two races together so far this season, he has beat me on one, and I beat him in the other...so this was the tie breaker...so far. Then Jim promptly fell asleep (narcoleptic??)...obvious pre race jitters.
Anyways...45 minutes later we pulled into Paris, Lois found a parking spot, and we geared up.
Lois departed for Ancaster (where the finish was), and we each took off to do our individual warm-ups.
As I was warming up spinning by the paddocks I noticed that they were opening them up. Excellent, I thought...time to go take a whiz then get in at the front of the paddock. I really wanted to get in at the front of the paddock. The race starts with a couple of blocks on the streets of Paris, then several kms of narrowish rail trail (3 to 4 feet wide) so if you get stuck with 200-400 (or more...there were over 3000 participants entered in this event!) racers bunched in front of you it can be a significant disadvantage to try to get through them. Anyways, I get back from my much needed whiz (ain’t they all??), and the paddock was pretty much full!! W...T...F!!! In the three minutes it took me to whiz??? So here I was again...at the back of the paddock. I look over...and NewfieSteve is a couple of riders over...in the same boat as me. But I look ahead...and I can see the backs of egggman (a friendly rival), and Fig up near the front of the paddock...oh no! I will never catch those guys!!
Then one of my pet peeves occurred...people, stupid as me, who get in to the paddock late, but think that they are more important than everyone else and try to force their way past the mass of racers in the paddock. F-U a-holes...I’m aready ticked off and you ain’t makin’ it better!! I stood my ground...people like that need a significant kick to the groin (if only I could do so while racing a bike). Sorry for the angry bit, here...but I felt like this guy.
And I’m sure I looked as pissy as Shadow (she’s part of the Riot tribe) does here.
Anyways, eventually we got started. And my challenge was to pick my way through the mass of riders ahead of me. This is me in the red helmet attempting to do so, well into the start of the race
About a half hour into the race I spotted Fig ahead and caught him on a section of dirt road. He tucked in behind me and drafted me for about 5 minutes, until I jokingly said, “Hey, why don’t you be a man and you pull for a bit”. Fig took it to heart and pulled in front; however truth is I don’t like to ride right behind someone (even though strategically it is the better way to ride...a discipline I have to learn), so I pulled back in front and he drafted again. For about 5 more minutes...then he fell off and I didn’t see him again for the remainder of the race.
As far as route conditions, given the huge rains we had the week coming up to the race, the dirt roads and rail trail sections were excellent. The trail sections however, were another story. Thick goopy mud, energy draining, power stealing glue. The worst was through a farmer’s field trailing by the horse corrals. As I was grinding my way through this section, a horse ran over reared up and whistled at me...I said, “Relax, I’m going as hard as I can!” The farmer who was out taking pictures of our suffering laughed...however, he didn’t take up my offer to trade him my bike for one of his horses. I guess they were just for cowboys.
Then there were the mud chutes, steep descending troughs of mud hiding rocks and roots underneath. And of course this is where the photographers gathered..what better pic to catch than a racer going over the bars into the shite. Here is me approaching one of the mud chutes...trying to smile for the camera and hiding the fear in my eyes.
The only real incident that occurred for me in the race is that somehow, my clips in my shoes came loose, and I was unable to unclip. I found this out by attempting to unclip and tripod my way down the goop in one of the chutes and fell over unable to unclip; then struggled to get back upright and going while still clipped in (try that sometime!!).
Of course, a photographer had to be right there to catch me flopping like a fish on the poop deck.
Once uprighted, I continued on worried about what would happen if I had to stop.
So....the race was to be 70 km long. So, shortly after the 50 km point I sucked back an energy gel (Clif Vanilla Shots...the best tasting gel out there), thinking I’d give ‘er for the last 20 km (not like I was doggin’ it so far)...then before I knew it the trail opened up and we were on Mineral Springs Road. What the heck...I was within 5 km of the finish!! Apparently unbeknownst to many of us, the race organizers had taken out about 10 kms of trails that were unrideable due to the mud.
So it was a dash to the finish...as much as you can dash up Martin’s hill. Martin’s hill is not so bad on its own, but after 60 km of racing through the muck, it’s a killer. The P2A is known for this hill. A long muddy gradual trail climb for the first 1.5 kms or so, opening up to a very steep gravel road for the last 700-800 metres. Lungs bursting, legs cramping, is the norm for the finish. And my friend CptnSydor was cheering me up the hill (he is blazing fast and finished well ahead of me).
This is CptSydor...blazing through the dirt.
So finish I did...managing my best time ever in this race (although I was hoping to place better); 2hrs22mins55secs.
I crossed the finish at full effort, then eased off worried about how to stop as I couldn’t unclip, when egggman waved me over (yes he beat me...by 12+ minutes...dammit! I have more work to do)...and he held me up as I struggled to force a foot free. Then Martin (a friend from the BicycleWorks group) sauntered over...he had a great race and also beat me, by 7 minutes (dammit! I have more work to do).
Then I noticed Fig cross the finish and immediately collapse onto the grass. Accomplished one of my goals...beating Fig. Sorry Fig...Riot 2 – Fig 1...so far this season. Lois who was walking over from cheering us up the hill (with her Saskatchewan Roughrider cowbells), stopped to make sure Fig was OK...then she came up to congratulate us. Then she pointed out where the truck was where we could change and regroup.
As I walked the bike up to the truck though, this guy was waiting there.
Lois said he was just there to watch the truck. Hmmm...guess it’s good to be safe...
On a side note, Unglued who is a rival/racer/friend has made it his task to best me this season (I don’t know why he picked me...should I be honoured or afraid?? I pick...both). Anyways, he did not have the ideal race...and I managed to beat him by several minutes. This is him fighting his way up Martin’s hill to the finish...note the pain in his face.
Other pics to note:
Fig and Martin, recovery time
Steve and Jim, recovering
Alot of muddy bikes
Finally, EnglishJim always insists in changing out in the open (is that a British thing??)...and I am never ready with the camera phone...and this time I was just a little late (yes a couple of minutes earlier = buck naked)...
And the ride home was uneventful until Jim pulled out some chips and dip to snack on. Fig mentioned that he couldn’t eat that cuz gluten gives him a raging headache. NewfieSteve thought Fig said raging hard-on...Not really sure why Steve was thinking of Figs gluten enhanced erection but to each his own.
Anyways...another P2A in the books...and the official start to the racing season.
Next up, Tour do Buttertart...not a race; but a fun long ride.