Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ryder Hesjedal Tour de Victoria

On Saturday, Jennifer and I (and Keith Ingstrup, for his 50th birthday...hope you weren't trying to keep that quiet Keith) took part in the inaugural Ryder Hesjedal Tour de Victoria. Over 1,200 cyclists of all levels and abilities took part in this event, riding the 50km route, the 90km route lead by Olympian Simon Whitfield or the 140km route, lead by Tour de France 7th place finisher Ryder Hesjedal and "Captain Canuck" Trevor Linden. We, of course, did the 140km route.

It was a “supported" mass participation cycling event, catering to all ages and fitness levels. However after the 10km neutralized start, the pace quickly ramped up and before we knew what had happened the group had thinned out, heart rates had climbed and the legs were starting to burn. A few teams seemed determined to show their stuff, or as it turned out lack thereof, as many of them were quickly put in their place when the Highland hills came at us fast and furious.

The day started out partly cloudy and cool and it remained that way until about 50km into the ride, just after the forested Highland area, when the skies opened up and it started to pour. I was in the front group with about 40 others, including a few folks who I recognized from Calgary (Dave Jetz, Cal Zaryski and Clay Paradis to name a few) and one women, Erinne Willock, who I discovered afterward was a pro (no wonder she was so fast). Jennifer and Keith were not far behind, chasing from one of the next packs. The front group was rolling along at a good clip. Despite the hard tempo, I was now very wet and starting to get cold so I made the dumb decision, in hindsight, to pull to the side to put on my rain jacket (I was shaking and too cold to try doing it on the fly), thinking I could stop, put on my jacket and hammer back to the group. Big, BIG mistake! It took me the next 25 minutes or so of solo racing - all out - to eventually close what had become a 30 second gap to the front group. I eventually caught up to them as the peloton converged onto the narrow gravel Lochside trail. I was spent but relieved that I had finally made the juncture. The front group had now dwindled in size to about 30 riders. I settled into a nice draft along the gravel pathway for the next couple of minutes. However, when we got back on the road, we quickly realized that the guys on the front had used the pathway as a tactical point in the race to further thin out the group...they had launched. I now know why teams are so keen to get toe front before the narrow pave sections in Paris-Roubaix. We were now split into three smaller packs - 15, 10 and 5 or thereabouts. We worked together for a short while but slowly guys fell off the pace. Before I knew it there were three of us trying to chase down Ryder Hesjedal and his lead group. Then it was down to two and then one (me). Dave Jetz, who had stopped for a pee, then came around me, encouraging me to hang with him as he dropped it into turbo. He was gone; out of sight in a matter of a few minutes. I found myself alone again for the last 15 km but I kept pushing all the way to the finish line, passing several guys who had imploded out the back of the Ryder led peloton. It was a great day of organized riding, and on an amazing route.

It wasn't long before Jennifer came across the line, followed a short while later by Keith who was met by his family with birthday balloons and all. We got to talk to Ryder for a brief while after the race. He seems like a super nice guy. And holy crap can he climb hills. To put it in perspective, he climbed a 3.6km timed tough climb a full one minute and fourteen seconds faster than the next best guy (28.7km/h versus 24.6km/h) and over two minutes quicker than me. I think I need to lose some weight!

Ryder, thanks again for organizing a fantastic ride, and good luck at your upcoming races. We'll be cheering you on.


1 comment:

kingstrup said...

For and old guy, Keith had a blast. Stuck with Jennifer and Matt for the first 50km and then settled in with a club based in Vancouver for the rest of the ride. Nice to work in a paceline with a group of 10-12 riders that new the drill. Lots of up, down, gravel and of course rain. Will mark it on my calander for next year. Matt and Jennifer email me: and I will forward you some pictures. Cheers, K

Full Calendar