Sunday, March 31, 2013

Good Friday Road Race - 2013

Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential - Winston Churchill

I was confident of my fitness coming into the Good Friday Road Race, even though my Winter training had focused on running as opposed to cycling. I had been maintaining my bike fitness throughout the Winter, I'd put in a big block of bike training heading into the race and I'd scheduled the week ahead of the race as a recovery week to be "fresh" for the start of the first race of the season. My fitness was good!

On the other side of the coin, my mental preparation for the race was lacking. Having crashed out of this race the previous year, I approached this race with trepidation. Driving to the race site felt more like driving to a job interview. And when my 3 team mates advanced towards the front of the start line, I lingered near the back for awhile, not keen on jumping into the fray too early.

Mark (left) and Phill (right) lined up for the start.

Camilo up near the front.

Me lingering near the back.

Start and Finish for the race was in Ancaster Fair Grounds. The race started and we turned the first corner onto gravel. Oh boy! I managed to more or less hold my position through the gravel section. Then we made the turn onto Trinity Road South and all hell broke loose!

I hung on for dear life as the peleton accelerated violently over the first flat section. We hit the rollers just past Book Road and riders passed me left and right. I dug deep, burying myself to try and hang on but it was a losing battle. "This wasn't supposed to happen, what was going on?" I'd worked hard over the Winter to get my weight down. "I should be dropping these guys on the rollers," I thought, "not the other way around". Not for the first time in my short cycling career, I wondered whether, at 57 years old, I'd gotten in over my head. Glancing ahead of the pack, I could see the source of the peleton's urgency. Two riders had shot off the front. The rest of the peleton was chasing them down. I cursed and hung on, barely, at the back of the peleton.

By the time we angled onto Sawmill Road, the paced eased considerably. A small break of 3 riders established itself a gap of about half a minute and the peleton seemed content to let them stay there. I moved to the right to hide from the wind and attempted to move up as best I could. But with over 70 riders vying for position along the narrow country lane, moving up was hopeless. Coach's advice echoed in my head: "Be patient and wait for the space. Don't be fighting always!" So I held my position on the leeward side of the pack and inched my way forward whenever I could. It took 2 more laps of the 15.9 km course for me to work my way forward to where Phill and Mark were at the head of the peleton.

"Camilo's in the break," Phill told me as I finally made contact for the first time in the race. "Nice," I thought, "we won't have to do any work." With a rider in the break, we wouldn't be expected to do any work in closing the gap to the break-away 
riders. In fact, the peleton were just starting to get a chase organized as I arrived at the front with a rotation taking effect among the front 7-10 riders or so. Being at the front with Phill and Mark, we took our place in the rotation but instead of pulling through when our turn came, we would slip in behind the first or second wheel, relinquishing our turn at the front. This served two purposes: it saved us from doing any real work and it also disrupted the organization somewhat because the guys behind us now had to accelerate past us to take their turn at the front. Needless to say, our actions were not too popular among those doing their share of the work. 

"Pull through!" one rider yelled at me. 

"I have a team mate in the break, " I informed him. 

"You don't have a team mate in the break! He shot back disdainfully. We argued back and forth for a bit until, uncertain, I asked Mark, as I passed him, whether Camilo was in the break. Mark nodded his head affirmatively. I continued my disruptive behaviour.

Riding at the front of the peleton was easier for me than fighting for position further back. Yes, I was exposed more to the wind but there was a lot more space at the front. Moreover, the pace was a more steady compared with the accordion effect experienced further back in the peleton and I felt much more at ease. Riding at the front did require a more aggressive riding style but the increased workload was worth it to escape the stop and go surges experienced further back in the pack.

We caught Camilo at the start of lap 4. I gave him a pat on the back as I rode by, hoping the donkey with the mouth behind me took note of my team mate from the break. Camilo looked exhausted. With a break of 2 riders down the road and our team mate no longer part of the break, we were now obligated to do our share of the work up front. Mark rode up beside me. "I guess it's our turn to work now, " he quipped. I smiled back, happy to play the domestique role, and together we established a rotation of two, lifting the pace of the peleton. Seeing our commitment to the chase, riders from other teams began to participate more actively and the break was absorbed before we reached the bend onto Sawmill Road.

Along Sawmill and again along Carluke, there were several attacks and counter attacks as a few riders, including Phill, tried to get away. But these attacks were quickly marked. The peleton wasn't taking any chances this close to the finish. Once we turned into the headwind on Shaver Road, the attacks ceased and nothing much happened for the remained of the lap.

Predictably, the pace picked up again at the start of lap 5, the last lap. I hung on, fairly close to the front at this point, protecting my spot along the yellow line on the side away from the wind. Such was my mentality, I became so insistent my place away from the wind that rider after rider passed me on the right and by the time we angled onto Sawmill Road for the last time, I found myself at the very back of the peleton. "How did that happen?" I wondered. "No matter," I thought, "I'll conserve and work my way back up on the windy side when we turn North". We turned North but I didn't actually start to work my way forward until we reached Butter Road, halfway along Shaver. By this time, the pace of the peleton was already beginning to pickup, in anticipation of the sprint to the finish, but I was able to makeup a lot of places by sticking to the yellow line which was now on the windy side of the peleton.

We made the final turn onto Book Road and I was close enough now to the front to see Phill make a break for it. But moving up any further was no longer an option. Riders jammed the full width of the lane and attempting to move up was futile. In fact, even maintaining my position in the pack became difficult as riders more aggressive than I began to squeeze in ahead of me. A couple of riders tried crossing the yellow line to move forward but the commissaires soon put a stop to that, disqualifying at least three offenders.

The pack slowed to a crawl as we made the turn North onto Trinity, accelerated violently, and then slowed again as, I guess, the front of the pack weren't quite ready to make the final mad dash to the finish. A couple of hundred meters later and it was on like donkey kong as all hell broke loose. I started to sprint as riders ahead of me were up out of the saddle, weaving side to side. But visions of last year's crash filled my head and I sat up, having no desire to risk a trip to the hospital for the reward of a sprint for 30 or 40th place. I crossed the line dead last out of the pack.


It was with a bitter taste in my mouth that I made my way to the team bus following the race. Sharing war stories with the guys helped somewhat but finishing at the very back of the pack did not sit well with me. Whether the caliber of racing M2 is that much higher or a lack of race-specific training on my part or perhaps a bit of both, it seems I still have some making up to do. And with an extremely front-loaded race season, there's not much time to lose.

Yes, we had a team bus for this race.

Coming into the race, I had a number of fall-back goals. Reaching the podium wasn't a realistic goal for me as the fast and flat course didn't really suit my strengths. I was 95% certain the race would finish in a bunch sprint. That the race was won with a solo break away surprised me as I hadn't even known there was a rider off the front, such was my lot on being relegated to the back of the pack. I had hoped to earn some O-Cup points by coming in the top 15 but that didn't happen either. Failing that, I had intended to help my team mates but as a team we came up short there as well, not really having a plan going into the race. My final two goals were to not crash and try and get in a good workout and those, I did achieve. I didn't crash and I got in a good workout, with an Intensity Factor of 97% of FTP for the duration of the race.

All in all, it wasn't a brilliant day for the Kurzawinski team so we may have some work to do as a team as well. 

It looks like a couple of young guys I don't know did fairly well in the Elite 4 category. I don't know what happened with Brandon.
Elite 4 Men Results - 63.6 km - Average Speed 38.4 km/h
7 MARSHALL, Travis KURZAWINSKI COACH/PBNJ.CA 1h 41' 58" 02' 42"
13 SREBLOWSKI, James KURZAWINSKI 1h 42' 02" 02' 46"

A couple of the young guys.

In the Elite 3 Women's race, Jen just narrowly missed the podium, garnering 4th place.
Elite 3 Women Results - 63.6 km - Average Speed 33.1 km/h
4 FAWCETTE, Jennifer KURZAWINSKI COACH/PBNJ.CA 1h 55' 27" 00' 00"

Jen lined up for the start.

In our M2 race, Phill wasn't quite able to make his solo break away stick as he cramped up within sight of the finish line. Mark also had to pull out due to cramping while Camilo succumbed to his efforts in the early break of the day.
Master 2 Men Results - 79.5 km - Average Speed 38.7 km/h
44 WESTWOOD, Richard KURZAWINSKI COACH/PBNJ.CA 2h 04' 15" 01' 00"

In the M1 race, Stan had to stop on the last lap to remove a broken spoke from his rear derrailleur and finished behind the pack. I'm not sure what happened to Andy.
Master 1 Men Results - 95.4 km - Average Speed 40.2 km/h
49 BLAZEK, Stanislav KURZAWINSKI COACH/PBNJ.CA 2h 27' 30" 05' 08"
52 D'ANGELO, Andy KURZAWINSKI COACH/PBNJ.CA 2h 29' 53" 07' 31"

Andy (left) and Stan (right).

Marek held his own in the Sportif race. 
Sportif Men Results - 31.8 km - Average Speed 34.8 km/h
9 KRZTON, Marek KURZAWINSKI COACH/PBNJ.CA 0h 54' 46" 00' 00"

Our bus driver, Marek (second from right).

Shanta won her very first road race, albeit against a small field but well done nevertheless. Congratulations, Shanta!
Sportif Women Results - 31.8 km - Average Speed 28.2 km/h

Shanta on the podium for her first race.

full results here: