Posted by Editoress on 05/24/11
Race winner Bruce Bird (Wheels of Bloor) has provided a well-written thoughtful report of his race last weekend:
On Sunday, May 22nd, in Wellesley, Ontario, in the fouth O-Cup road race, Wheels of Bloor placed two riders on the podium, with Wieslaw Matuczszak placing third, Kevin Davis (Nacsworld) in second and Bruce Bird in first.
For the first time in the 2011 season the weather cooperated on race day with clearing skies, temperatures reaching 24 Celcius and moderate winds up to 25 kph. Heavy rain fell throughout the region in the morning but, fortunately, stopped an hour prior to the race; which began at 1:35 pm. The Masters 1 field once again was the dominant race of the day in terms of numbers of participants, with 78 riders showing up for this pre registration only event. Wheels of Bloor and Nacsworld had the largest number of entrants, bringing seven riders each.
The race was staged out of the Wellesley community center and began with a neutral roll out up the race circuit, which featured six laps around a 16.5 kilometre circuit of rolling hills, made all the more challenging from the wind. The main break of the day formed within the first five kilometres with three riders getting away. A few more riders tried to escape off the front but the peloton would not let them go.
I started to move up from my sweet spot at the back of the peloton. While rounding the second corner I heard what sounded like a wheel breaking right behind me and then the sound of a cleat skidding across the ground. I dared only a slight look back and did not see any riders down. I found out later that Brent Aquino (Z Team Wheels of Oakville) had snapped his chain and somehow kept his balance and avoided injury.
On the way up to the front I found out from my teammate Ian Scott that we in fact had two riders in the break; Tony Abramavicius and Matuszczak. The thirds rider was Krzysztof Kurzawinski (Kurzawinski Coach). I also noted that Ian was fiddling with his seat because it had been jarred loose. A loose seat is a mechanical problem that typically cannot be solved during an amateur race as it requires the proper wrench and having the time to stop your bike to make the adjustment. Given the brisk pace of the peloton it would be impossible to catch back on. Ian kept on riding despite the wiggly seat but was limited in his performance by the issue.
It is a great feeling to be in the peloton when you have two strong teammates up ahead in the break. You get a front row seat to all of the team strategy that plays out in the peloton. My job was now ensuring that no group of riders made their way up to the lead group that included sprinters capable of besting our two guys in the break. Fortunately for our team, the peloton had no organization over the next two laps. Heading into the start of the second lap the break had a 20 second lead. During the next two laps rider after rider came to the front and launched attacks; some solo and other multi-rider.
Working with Ian, we mostly watched solo riders race away with a burst of speed only to end up being reeled back into the pack when no one joined them. When two riders from one team or a known sprinter in a small group tried to get away we would ride up to their rear wheel with what seemed like the entire peloton behind one or the other of us. The result of these disjointed continual attacks was that my teammates in the break increased their lead up to 75 seconds. Two riders did manage to make their way off the front and stayed in no man's land for about a half hour before bridging up to the lead three riders.
It was not until the end of lap three that the peloton started to make any gains on the break. Team London and Team Nacsworld brought riders to the front and started to work together in a cohesive manner with about ten riders rotating through in a pace line. With the break now back within view of the peloton, cooperation faltered and the pace line splintered as riders began attacking again.
Spencer Rhys (Team IFG) rode up beside me and we talked about triathlons for a bit. Spencer had a teammate in the five man break and he was watching the attacks as well. Three riders from the Mattamy Homes team got organized and succeeded in further reducing the lead of the break group. During all of the attacks and attempts at organization tempers flare and sometimes one rider will yell at another or a group. Typically the only result of the yelling is that the person doing it invariably launches an angry and futile attack leveraging the added adrenalin coursing through their veins. These anger attacks are never well timed and the rider always ends up being swallowed up by the peloton and rarely seen again at the front of the group. Note to self: don't yell at other riders.
Nearing the end of lap four Spencer's teammate was dropped from the break, leaving just four riders with a less than 20 second advantage on the peloton. Spencer quickly shifted from passenger to worker and integrated into the pace line. The lead riders survived for a few more kilometres before being caught just after the finish line with two laps remaining. It was at this time that Ed Makarchuk (Sound Solutions) launched his attack. I watched as no one joined Ed, which ultimately doomed his efforts. This was a nervous time at the front of the peloton as riders positioned themselves for the counter attacks. Ian and I were both in a good spot within the first ten riders.
Ian made a move on the right side of the road but ultimately slowed up. A brief period of indecisiveness amongst the lead riders ensued as I moved up the left side and then increased my effort. I put in a solid one minute burst and then peeked behind me to see the net result of my effort. I saw that riders were now strung out into small groups. Steve McKee (Nacsworld) was right behind me and his teammate Kevin Davis was behind him. I yelled out to Steve that they (the riders behind us fighting to reach us) were all hurting, to which he replied that he was hurting too. I then yelled "C'mon" to encourage him to pull through. Naturally my yelling had no effect other than to annoy Steve who replied with "Don't yell at me". I resisted the temptation to sprint ahead and instead pushed on with a slightly reduced effort so that our lead group could recover a bit and start to work together.
Five of us had made the break including McKee, Davis, Carlo Capaldi (Team 1FC London Honda) and, amazingly, my teammate Matuszczak. Wiesalw had put in an extraordinary effort and had somehow made the break after being part of the original three-man break. Wieslaw later joked with me that he knew that this would be the winning break and he had to breathe through his eye lids in order to stay with us. I looked back to see a few more riders trying to bridge the gap and another slightly larger group further back. I drove the pace in the break and did not look back again for a while. I later found out that the two riders caught in between were Steven Baker (Team Cross) and my teammate Ian.
Four of us took turns in the break while Matuszczak hung on at the back recovering. I felt obliged to take longer turns so that the rest of the break did not get to angry about having a passenger. I began to assess the strength of the other riders in the break and it was not hard to tell that Kevin Davis was the rider that worried me the most. Not only did Kevin have more strength then the others but he is an accomplished sprinter and multi-time National Champion cyclist and O-Cup winner. I was sure that I did not want to take Kevin up to the finish line with me.
Carlo, who is a diabetic, has the added challenge of balancing his blood sugar levels during the race. As he rotated through the group I could hear his monitor beeping. Just after the end of lap five, Carlo sat up a bit and said something like "Damn". I later found out that his blood sugar had bottomed out and that he basically dragged his way through the final lap in order to finish the race. Hats off to Carlo for his effort, he is an inspiration.
With Carlo gone there were now just four of us remaining; two from Wheels of Bloor and two from Nacsworld. I was trying to devise a strategy for beating Kevin but found it hard to think given the effort that I was putting out. My next turn at the front on a hill I pushed hard for about 30 seconds then looked back to see that I had dropped no one. I pulled over to let Kevin and Steve rotate through, which they did in quick succession. Wieslaw then started to move forwards and I moved up on the right side and hit them with all I had. A brief look under my arm let me know that no one had followed. I was fortunate to have Wieslaw in the group behind as he would clearly not be chasing. I later found out from Kevin that there was no response to my attack and the three riders agreed to work together so that they did not get caught by the group behind them.
I continued on alone for the final 8-10 kilometres, stealing the occasional glance behind me. I finished up 1:13 ahead of the three riders who were 47 seconds ahead of Ian's group.
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