Monday, May 9, 2011

Wildcat Roubaix - Race Report

Saturday morning greeted the racers of the first (and hopefully annual) Wildcat Roubaix to crisp air and sunny skies. 11 STC racers toed the line in what would turn out to be a beautiful and difficult day of racing.

The race started at 10:00am with the A group rolling out into what seemed like a blistering pace for my cold legs. The first 4km of the course is a gentle rolling and slightly uphill ride. Not 2 km into the race and brakes are locked up as I see someone rolling into the ditch. Not sure what happened but the carnage was to begin early at this WC Roubaix (and we haven't even hit the gravel portion yet).

The solid pace continued up the road to the first corner and what starts the KOM climb of the Wildcat pass. Unfortunately the front of the peloton got misdirected and accidentally passed the turn off leaving everyone scrambling to get back to the gravel road. I was able to make the corner and found myself with Harley and Graham Torrie leading up the climb. I knew this wasn't going to last long as the fast guys came blazing up on the left. All Harley and I could do was settle into our pace and grind it out to the top. About 2/3rds of the way up Trev came hammering through. He caught and passed me and then Harley and was the first STC racer to summit, followed by Harley and then myself some 20 or 30 seconds later.

I knew I had a chance to catch them on the descent down the other side so I let'r rip and found myself topping out at 80kph. What a rush. I was able to roll up on Trev and Harley about 500m before we hit the left turn onto Grand Valley Rd.

At this point I am absolutely gassed, chasing back on put some serious burn into my legs and I could barely hold on to the monster tempo Harley and Trev were setting down. We could see some stragglers from the lead group up ahead and we TTT'd to catch up to them. The gap eventually closed and the 3 of us now joined Brian Robinson(CMC) and Matt Hadley(Xprezo Bikes - Matt won the KOM over Wildcat Pass). Brian got us all organized into quick efficient pulls and we were off to chase down the lead group.

The road gently started to increase in grade and it seemed the paceline couldn't handle the change and started to falter. Fortunately at the foot of the north bound roller we caught up to the next group that consisting of Top Gear racers Craig Fraser and Jevon Almond. At this point Trev had decided enough was enough and went to the front and lit up the hill, taking everyone but me, Harley and Matt.

As I crested the hill I could see the east bound turn onto the "oatmeal climb from hell". I tucked down and was able to reach the foot of this climb not long after Trev's group. But the evening rains and soft ground made this climb very slow. So I put it in 25 and ground my way to the top with Matt and Harley in tow.

Harley methodically pedalled away from me over the course of the hill. Coming down the other side I had to swing a bit wide as to not spook a horse drawn carriage (only in AB). I could see Harley not too far up ahead so I did what I could to catch up to him. As Matt and I headed south again on to the pavement of Horse creek Rd. we traded pulls all the way up to Harley where the 3 of us would end up riding for most of the rest of the race together.

I would subsequently get dropped by Matt and Harley on the Oatmeal climb of the second lap. At which point Harley the gentleman and excellent tactician that he is sat on Matt's wheel for the first portion of Horse Creek Road to wait for me to get back on. Eventually I did and we proceeded to get into a rhythm and began the journey back towards the Wildcat Pass.

Heading south on Grand Valley Rd. we picked up Brian Robinson just before we turned west to reascend the pass. I took a quick look back and could see a small group making ground on us. I later found out this was Matt Joss' group. At this point Matt Hadley turned his Pro MTB experience on and made short work of the steep grades Wildcat threw at us. Brian ended up falling back and it was just Harley and I...again. We got to the top together and did our best to chase down Matt on the descent. But he was just too fast and was but a speck in the distance.

In the last 4km paved section Harley and I caught up to another CMC racer. The 3 of us took turns in eager anticipation of the finish. The final 100m is little roller to a false flat then the finish line. Harley hands down being a better sprinter than myself, I tried to time the rotation so he would be on the CMC guys wheel coming into the finishing hill. As fate would have it the CMC guy ended up pulling off way earlier than I expected and Harley was leading me into the roller at this point. Harley must be working on his TT cause he turned on the juice and I got gapped. Now I'm leading the CMC guy into the bottom of the hill. Not the plan at all. Harley eased up as he came to the bottom of the hill at which point I had no choice but to come around him and start my sprint. I went, and I stayed ahead for a 12th place finish. Harley rolled in right after for 14th.

We had some great results this weekend:

Cat A Under 40 Men: Trev Williams 7th
Cat A 40+ Men: Matt Joss 2nd, Jason Wall 3rd
Cat A Under 40 Women: Jennifer Joss 2nd
Cat A 40+ Women: Marilyn Taylor 1st

Great work to all the STC racers who braved the Wildcat!

Results and more photos

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