Devin, Mckee and Shawn all showed up for the joyride up north of Red Deer, and depsite a little panic attack, it turns out I didn't forget my contact lenses. Clouds looked onimous on the way up, and Dallas had emailed me night before saying the course was hilly and the weather didn't look good. Thermometer was showing 8.5C the whole way up.
Although my TransRockies endurance was looking forward to a 147km race, the weather inspired the comissaires to shorten us down to same length as the Cat 3 and 4 race at 113km.
I was in the front few riders at the roll out, sort of by fluke, but decided I liked it better up there than back in the pack. We weren't privy to much drafting at TransRockies, and I didn't feel the need to suck wheel right away. It felt good to warm up and get moving, and somewhere between waking up and driving here, I decided I wasn't "racing" the race, I was going to ride it. I kind of pulled a "Dallas", although a much lower horsepower version - just rode in a way that made me feel good rather than a results maximizing way. I found myself at the font a bunch, not riding hero pulls or anything, just riding the same pace I'd do if I were riding on a cold day on my own to stay warm. Little less road grit sprayed up in my face that way, and an enjoyable, uncluttered view around. Lot's of "attacks" were happening, some were 30 seconds that served no strategic use other than wasting one's energy, and some had some plausibility of getting away. I wasn't "chasing" them down by any means, but I would ride up to them to take a few minutes draft on occasion. Trev Williams had some sweet deep dish carbon wheels, and a workhorse TransRockies attitude to go with them, so we shared quite. Abit of time up front and a few little chats together too.
Pace wasn't too bad (seriously, if I was on the front that should say enough). I'd pedal or tuck the downhills outside the main line or peloton if I wasn't near the front, I find it funny that people brake even if they're second or third in line just to stay in the draft rather than heading up front for a while. In an organized pace line that definitely has it's place... but not everyone should be that shy of the wind...
The hills were relatively fast for me, I kind of thought ahead of time that my short power for rollers would be sub par, and that was definitely accurate. Most were flat or short enough that it didn't matter, and of course I could have been trying to conserve better too.
Eventually a break went that looked like it had a few workable characters. As we descended a hill, I was on front, but I didn't try to chase, I just did the usual pedal dow the hill, then try to hold a little momentum on the flat. I shoulder checked and I surprised myself that I was about half way between the pack and the group. I didn't really remember name for name who was up there, and I wasn't convinced I needed to bridge, so I rode a tempo that wouldn't fry me if I was hung in the middle for a while. I got fairly close to the front group, but they climbed a hill fast, and I wasn't climbing fast. I have to admit I wasn't even thinking tactics much, it was completely quiet and lightly sprinkling - I was enjoying the moment alone. TransRockies seemed to have helped modify my mind set a bit this year in terms of just enjoying the moment rather than fixating ahead, or on the end result.
As it turns out, that was the big error on my part (other than riding with zero tactics or energy preservation smarts up to that point). Relative to where my effort was on the powermeter, I knew I could have burned a match or two to catch up, but the racing instinct seemed to have slept in while the body left the house this morning.
So after a few more minutes, it was back to the group, not very eventful, and certainly not organized in terms of chasing down the attack. There were a lot of seriously impressive 30 second accelerations, if you consider uncoordinated 30 second attacks impressive (ok, pardon the bad attitude, but my read was that all they were displaying was a) lack of knowledge of their own sustainable mid race ITT pace, and b) lack of overall tactical thought... however I fully admit my tactics were also garbage on the day, but at least I wasn't confused on my abilities, and the tactics was a decision, I just haven't figured out if it was a conscious decision yet or not).
I will note that around this time I saw Heemskerk tap a young ERTC rider on the hip and scold him for riding erratic. Tim's riding pedigree and peloton etiquette, in my opinion, authorizes him to police in this fashion. More later...
There was a "big hill" approaching, and Tim was pulling on the front. I thought I'd help out, not very often I get to ride "with" the true big boys. No discredit to Tim, but I think he was tired today, and I think his Euro tuned road tactics knew the break would stick, and despite his cyclocross prowess, I don't think he's a fan of cruddy weather.
The "big hill" on the way back hurt me, I started near the front and ended off the back. As I was near the back, seeing the top not too far away, I was at a high level of effort, but not "busting at the seams". It seemed logical that I'd turn it up a notch and stay in, but my internal regulator wasn't having any of it. I suspect that might be some post TR "Erik you should rest more" circuit, but who knows (my week did consist mostly of rest, and only a few minutes of any sort of "opener" intensity).
I was off the back with 2 other guys, one fell away and a Pedalhead guy and I chased back on. He seemed a bit concerned, it didn't really bother me too much as my flat and downhill riding was fine (is that another way of saying I'm fat? Or my power to weight sucks?). Last I saw, Devin had blasted up next to Tim on the climb, then the hoardes passed me and I lost sight of information, but apparently Jamie Sparling and Phil Abbott used the climb as a springboard to bridge up to the leaders.
We caught back on, he grabbed the back, and I thought it'd be fun to go right back up front. Not cheeky, and certainly not of superior legs, but I just wasn't in the caboose mood.
Not much happened until the next turnaround point, then a more rapid paceline formed. Maybe the thought was to shake out our group, that's my best guess. I didn't see any way the lead was within reach as the flashing RCMP lights seemed pretty distant.
Then... symbolic end of the race for me. The earlier mentioned ERTC rider was drafting Bob Veroba, half wheel, and went down. I think 6 went down in total, on straight, gently uphill so not to fast road, no crosswind, no excuse. It doesn't pay to ride behind young, hyperactive guys who can't calmly ride a paceline. I've had the experience of mountain bike racing as well with said rider, and I can't say that experience was any more positive. If you're a junior, and you've got the legs and lungs of a horse, coach needs to pass along how to ride in a group. There's no reason to be skittish, if you can turn on the jets on the count of three and react to any break forming. Superior horsepower should allow one to ride with superior poise in a group, as you're not always on edge. Uggh!
Anyway, a few broken bike parts and a few riders that didn't make it past that point. I was second back and rode right over him, and had to make a very concerted effort not to step on his face as my left foot unclipped and looked to plant itself.
My wheel wouldn't rotate, but it was just that it jarred it in the dropout so I just had to losen the skewer and reseat it.
After that it was more of a march to the finish than anything else. Rode a bunch of it with Shawn, the coasted across the line with Tim. Anticlimactic. I would have rather hammered it out and finished 15th by trying rather than an "external" event that essentially stopped the event early. I think I was 17th, which really doesn't mean anything, other than that I got back on my bike after the crash and didn't break anything. Devin made it in the group that was able to get back on the bikes more promptly, I think he was 11th.
Dallas placed well enough to move up to Cat 2, Jon earned at least a few road points by finishing 4th. Mckee experienced a little comedy on his finish, and finished well enough to upgrade to Cat 3, but a little less than his legs might have allowed.
Non-Alberta rider Jamie Sparling won the day, with Steenbergen in second, so Anthony is the provincial champ for the year. He's certainly worked hard enough for it, great job on his part.
I had dinner at Shawn's and talked biking for 2 hours. At home I read a montain bike mag, and wished with every turn of the page I could ride each trail they spoke of.
All bike, all the time is the dream.