Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Banff Bike Fest

I spent the last four days racing my Bike in Banff.  Five Stages over Four days.  This was my third time racing this event and the competition increases every year.  I raced with Team Saskatchewan which included Chris McGarity, Brad Clifford, James Winter, and Guy Biggar (we borrowed him from the Delta Fire Department).  Andrew Thomas was along as project manager, and he was fantastic in this role.  Thanks for taking care of us Andy.

Here is the stage by stage.

Stage 1, 1.5km Prologue (hill climb)
This was an individual timed effort up a 1.5km climb.  The climb starts out gradual and gets consistently steeper all the way to the top.  For me the effort was about 3 minutes, for the winner about 2.5 minutes.  Although I felt solid during the race I guess I was not going all that fast.  I slotted into about 60th place.  I seemed to be lacking some top end speed.  This became somewhat of a theme for my race.

Stage 2, 81km Road Race
This race was short and Fast, on road whose elevation profile resembled a saw blade.  In this race you are either going uphill or downhill, there was very little flat space.   Never the less we screamed along the course finishing the 81km in 1hr 45min with an average speed over 45km/hr.  Despite the best efforts of team Sask, the race was too fast to form a breakaway.  90 racers came into the finish line all together.  I could not get myself into sprinting position and so I finished safely in the pack and was therefore credited with the same finish time as the winner.

Stage 3, 21km Individual Time Trial
This is the most beautiful Time Trial ever.  From Banff we ride an individual effort up to Lake Minewanka across the damn and back into Banff.  The course favors a very strong climber with the ability to snap back to max speed after every steep section.  I rode a solid performance that got me a personal best time for this course.  However, as is very common with Time Trials I cannot help but feel there must have been some way i could have gone faster.  I finished about 3 minutes behind the winner.  This was good for 29th place in the stage, more importantly this moved me up on the General Classification. I jumped from about 60th place into 30th place.

Stage 4, 50km Criterium Downtown Banff
This Criterium was the same day as the Time Trial.  I rested all afternoon, and then raced the criterium at 8pm.  Each year The Banff Criterium seems to be the most dangerous race of the year. With a pack of more than 80 racers it is a race course that is notorious for crashes.  There is on average at least one crash per lap.  This year I can be included in the statistic.  Recently I have been racing well in criteriums, but this weekend I seemed to be lacking in snap as well as top end speed.  I was comfortable to sit in but was having trouble mixing it up and I was certainly positioned to far back in the bunch.  As we turned through the 180 degree turn my back wheel disappeared from under me, I fell down and skitter-bumped to a halt.  I didn't panic, in the next 5 seconds I assessed myself and my bike.  In a criterium if you crash and feel you can continue you are allowed to do so without penalty, if you can get to the wheel pit before the next lap is finished.  I got to the wheel pit with plenty of time, and jumped back into the pack as they whizzed by.  I finished in the bunch and was therefore allowed to continue racing the next day.
Andy and I made a stop at Safeway for some medical supplies.  The shelves were looking barren by the time we got there, and I was hearing the next day that all of Banff was sold out of gauze-bandages.

Stage 5 Tunnel Mountain Road Race 145km (Queen Stage)
This race was a long one, 11 laps up and down Tunnel Mountain.  This race always has a very high rate of attrition.  Out of about 80 starters only about half finished and the front group was less than 30.  It was an active race.  Many attacks, there was always a couple racers off the front of the group.  It was very likely that this race could end with the right breakaway and everyone knew it.  Ironically this ensured that no breakaway would from.  Everyone wanted to be in a group off the front and so any large break was aggressively squashed.  Team Saskatchewan raced well, and raced aggressive.  We were all over the attacks forming and diving into breakaways.  We communicated well and kept each other hydrated.  The race ended in a sprint with a group of about 30 shattered riders.  I finished in 20th place on the stage with the same time as the winner.
For this my General Classification once again jumped from 30th to 15th.   I was pleasantly surprised to have finished in 15th.  Upon examination of the results I finished 3min 37sec behind the race winner.  which is the sum of my deficits in the individual events.  If I can improve on my time trial then I can be a GC contender, If i improve on my snap and top end speed I can contend the stage victories.  I intend to do both.

?? Stage Six??? Epic Drive Home

After the race we took a quick shower and piled everything and everyone into the SCA Van.  The intention all along had been to drive home that night.  Mother nature had other plans.  Torrential rains in the prairies had flooded the arterial highways.  Detours were available but because we had a large trailer we were not allowed to  take the back roads at night.  We found a super 8 in Calgary, caught a couple hours of zzz's, woke up at 5 am rolled into the van and headed for home.  Big props to Andy for Driving.  I think he had about 8 cups of coffee that day. Epic.

Hooking up with Sask boys again on Thursday to travel to Nationals for more good times and good racing.

Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.

Cuylar Conly

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