Banff Bikefest 2011 Cat 5 Race ReportWe had a good turnout this year at Banff. The Cat 5 team consisted of 12 riders, Ian Watts, Matt Joss, Darcy, Brad Wolff, Peter Regier, Rob Woolley, Reinier, Stephen Pickett, Mike Healy, Mark Shand, Andres and myself. The prologue was a pain, you had to take at least half day off work and drive 250+ km for a 1.5 km race Thursday afternoon. I guess only those hoping to finish in the top-8 bothered to register since we had no GC either. Neither had we a road race. On the rainy, 11 C prologue Ian finished 4th and took home 10 upgrade points but the rest of us went home empty handed. Honourable mention goes to Matt for finishing 9th just missing out on the points. An interesting tidbit that the best Cat 5 rode the same time as Trev, i.e. could have earned a position in the first half of the invited field.
On Saturday we were in for an early rise as the 21-km time trial started at 8:00 for Cat 5's. The course is anything but easy except the first and last 3 km’s that are fairly flat. For the rest of the course you either use a single speed bike or you keep shifting like crazy every 300 m while the grade keeps changing almost arbitrarily ranging from 15% hillclimb to 9% downhill on the Minnewanka loop. It was a bit chilly 8 C at the start but at least it wasn’t raining. I started just 30 seconds after a guy who turned out to be the winner of the TT, so the last time I saw him was the start line. Too bad. Fortunately, Ian saved the day again finishing 2nd (worth 15 upgrade points), while I and Matt still managed to pick up some points (8 and 6, respectively, for the 5th and 6th place). With this performance, TT remains a strength of the club.After the impressive TT from Ian we laid out a basic plan for the crit. I’m going to try to lead up the sprint for him, if we all remain upfront that long. It started to rain lightly by the start time of 5 p.m. The course included a U-turn and four 90 degree turns in 1 km, and it was all wet. Unfortunately, Ian was just too fast this day and slipped out in his fifth turn. As he later told, he slammed into the fence head first and other riders and bikes showered at him within a fraction of a second. The race was over for him, and even worse, he was limping after the race, and also his bike frame got damaged. We wish him (and his bike) a speedy recovery.
I was actually riding behind the crash and a gap opened between the lead group and us. It took its toll on the field but I managed to bridge the gap in a few jumps over the next few laps. We had a varying number of riders (about 3 to 9) up front, including 6 Rundle Mtn CC riders and only 3 others. I had no support at this point and we had to deal with 6 yellow guys. By the time the last lap bell sounded all that remained was 4 RMCC riders and myself. I managed to hang on and even to pull off an acceptable sprint to finish second by about 20 cm. I was happy with it. Many thanks for Speed Theory team mates at our tent and Trev on the next corner for cheering for me, it did help! The other top finishers from the club were Matt and Reinier who placed 11th and 13th , respectively.