Sunday afternoon I was once again an armchair participant at a championship race. I say participant because I really got into it. This was absolutely one of the most exciting bike races I have ever watched. I hardley know where to begin.
The Contest was the Saskatchewan provincial Criterium championships, and was raced at Innovation place at the North end of the University of Saskatchewan. The race course is unique and technical. One lap of 1200m contains several chicanes, a traffic circle, and subtle changes in elevation. To really round the race out it is organized as a points criterium. In this format the winner is not necessarily the first to cross the finish line, rather it is the rider who collects the most points at intermediate sprints as well as at the finish. This format demands that riders are not only strong and fast, but also smart, consistent and enduring.
The race opened with several suspicious laps. As riders eyes shifted, checking each other out, feeling, testing. The action that was, remained together. As if unbound by the laws of thermodynamics, the perpetual motion of the peloton became ever faster. Then with the clanging of that first bell everything kicked into overdrive. The race was on. It was full on and it wouldn't let up.
After several points laps the top five began to materialize, yet none was clearly dominant. The points spread thin as each reckless bunch sprint reshuffled the top five. Out of this chaos rose one gleaming beacon of consistency, daring, passion and cardio. "The little Asian that could." After every single points sprint, Lincoln Lu (Cycledelia) attacked without fear, without looking back and not caring weather he lived or died. Like a cobra, he struck every time the beast was tired.
With each new attack the 130lb ferocious pushed further and further. Finally hanging on by his nose to collect top points. Having been caught it's not over, the pendulum swings. As if his bike had only one gear Lincoln was gone once again. Fighting, fighting , fighting. With one second he holds them off once again. With four laps to go Lincoln captures the lead. Clinging to a scant 3 second gap.
The cavalry arrives. Cycledelia team mate Blair Chapman has his wits about him and jumps across to Lincoln. Blair acts like a booster rocket to re-open the gap. The two team mates wind it up to nearly thirty seconds as the finish line approaches. With double point values waiting at the finish and one lap to go, the duo has 25 seconds.
All along I had been watching this race. Some may have missed it, but at least one other person had also been paying particular attention to the score. Chris McGarity (Garneau Evolution) knew exactly how many points that every racer accumulated. It seems that Chris learned a new trick, inspired by Svein Tuft. While some racers pack a six shooter Chris was packing a cannon.
With one lap to go Lincoln and Blair lead 25seconds, and McGarity punches the NOS. Ripping off the front of the hard charging bunch, many try but none can follow. In a blurr of pink, Chris stomps across the gap closing 25 seconds in 600m. They didn't know what hit them. With the speed of a cheetah and precision of missile guidance McGarity whipped around the final corner to claim the sprint, the points and the championship.
1. Chris McGarity (Garneau Evolution) 22pts
2. Lincoln Lu (Cycldelia) 15pts
3. Christian Jensen (Bike Doctor Saskatoon) 11pts
You had to be there. I can't do it Justice. Believe when I say Lincoln and Chris are both great champions this day. They are not men, they are bike racers.
Congratulations Chris McGarity, provincial Criterium Champion!
Training shall be based solely on feel,
while racing shall be guided by sensations and instinct.