Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tom Jehlicka Memorial Criterium 2012

I was uncertain about driving all the way to Cobourg for a 45 min Crit, especially with the weather forcasting an 80% pop, but thinking the race would be a good "leg opener" for my big race, Tour De Terra Cotta, the following day, I elected to make the journey.

Though the weather looked a little sketchy at times during the 1.5 hour drive to Cobourg, by the time we arrived, the skies had cleared and the Sun actually came out. I registered, changed the tube in my front racing wheel, and did my warmup while Wes and Marek did the early race. They did quite well, actually, with Marek taking the final podium spot for 3rd place.

Marek took 3rd place in the early race.

My race started at 10:15. About 20 riders lined up for the start of the race. My plan for the race was to sit in the main peleton for the duration of the race and do what I could at the final sprint. I would watch for any breaks but, though I wanted a good workout to prepare my legs for the following day's race, I didn't want to overdo it. Looking around at the start line, I noticed quite a few cyclists from the Peterborough Cycling Club (PCC).  I guessed that they would some riders to watch.

The race started on time and, sure enough, from my vantage point at the back of the peleton I could see that two PCC riders had attacked right away and quickly established a gap. I went to the front and closed the gap to the attacking PCC riders. No sooner had I closed the gap than an independent rider in a white cycling jersey attacked along with a Beaches Cycling Club (BCC) rider. I jumped on their wheel right away this time but once we had established a gap, it became clear that the other two riders weren't committed enough to maintain the gap and our break was shut down. It wasn't long again before another attack was made from the PCC team. I looked around to see who else was willing to close down the gap but, again, nobody seemed willing or able. I wasn't sure which so, again, I closed the gap myself. This became the pattern for the duration of the race. The net effect of the continuous attacks was that the main pack was split fairly early on leaving only about 10 of us in the front group, four of which were of the PCC team.

Keeping a close eye on the pack. Four of the five riders to my right are PCC team members.

As it turned out, both the independent and the BCC guy were part of the PCC team; they just had different jerseys. In other words, of the 10 guys in the front group, six were from the PCC team and working together against the remaining four, including me. You can imagine how that went. After a time, I figured out that the independent was of the same team but it wasn't until the winning break was made, which included the BCC guy, that I figured out that the BCC guy was also of the same team.

The front group. The first 2 and last 2 in the photo are PCC members. Another 2 PCC guys are up the road.
The net effect of the PCC-dominated break was that I pretty much wore myself out trying to close gaps. But the two PCC guys wearing the different jerseys was even more of a factor . If they had been wearing the proper team colours then I would have matched their attacks the same as I matched any PCC attacks. But the fact that I thought they were on different teams affected my decision making such that I let those attacks go unchallenged. Ultimately, the "independent" and the BCC guy were part of the winning break along with one other PCC member. What made this all the more frustrating was that, of the other 3 non-PCC guys in the break, only one was willing to work with me and, unfortunately, he was not as strong as he would have liked to be as he admitted to me after the race.

For the last 4 laps of the race, I pretty much shut it down. I had worked hard enough already and had no interest in pulling the rest of the way for the non-PCC guys who were not willing to work. The race had gone nothing like according to plan and it left a bad taste in my mouth learning of the two PCC decoys.

I sat at the back of the pack for the last few laps.
On the drive home, I tried to think if there was anything I could have done differently, what mistakes had I made. But I could think of nothing. I was foiled by a team that basically cheated by having two guys "undercover" [edit: I should add here that I don't think the team intentionally "cheated". They were executing a team strategy very well. But having 2 guys "undercover" took away any chance I might have had and that's what I was bitter about.]. In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter and my beef is quite trivial. But at the time it didn't seem so. After the race, a few of the PCC guys came up to me with "good race" and "sorry to do that to you out there" so I can't be too bitter about it. It's just in my nature to be bitter :)

Having some fun after the race and trying not to take myself too seriously.

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