After some poor showings at Niagara and the Grey County Road Race, I decided to take a week off the bike altogether. Partly to rest and rejuvenate, partly because I had to pack an entire house and get ready to move back to Ottawa from London (ON). Unfortunately, the packing and moving proved to be a strenuous endeavour itself–moving a fridge out of the basement and onto the uHaul by myself was no small feat. By the end of the week I was still feeling exhausted and worn out. It took a few days of the following week, which was supposed to be the first week of a build period, to get some real recovery. The following weekend was the KW Classic. The time off meant that I would be going into KW refreshed and recovered but lacking some fitness.
The race begins in the small town of Hawkesville just outside Kitchener in the heart of Mennonite country. The tech guide for the event warned riders to give space to buggies and not to make ‘obscene gestures’ to the Mennonites. I assume that this had been a problem in the past. On this day there seemed to be no problems at all. Aside from the heat, it was a great day for racing. Things started out a little sketchy before the race even began when I realized that I had left my water bottles in the fridge at home. The benefit about racing with a team is that there is always someone willing to help out a teammate in need. I borrowed one bottle from the team van and another from one of the junior girls whose race had just finished. Once that was sorted out, I rolled to the line with my teammates and the race began. The course features one real hill climb that ascends quickly, levels off to a very brief false flat, and then kicks up hard for one final ascent. There is a small rise just before the finish line but it caused no trouble (until the final stretch). I felt good up the climbs, much better than I had only a few weeks before. My climbing legs were evidently starting to come back to me after almost a month of poor climbing.
The first few laps were constant attacks, nothing too serious, but enough to put some stress on the legs early on in the race. I felt strong and stayed near the front of the group but not too close, there is almost never any good reason to work hard on the front at the beginning of a race. In the 5th lap, a breakaway that had gone up the road a little earlier, the first real threat to the race, was slowly being reeled in by the front chasers despite NCCH’s best attempts to block the front of the group. When they were about 50m from being caught, a teammate rolled up beside me and warned to watch for counter attacks when we finally caught the break group. We were shut in near the front on the right side of the pack. We tried to worm our way to front but before that happened a counter attack launched from the left with some of the strongest riders in the race going up the road. I made it to the front just a few seconds late and launched my chase effort. I tried to jump hard enough that no one else would want to follow, I wanted to get into this break and make it work. Because of my hard jump, I lost my teammate and I had to chase alone. When it comes to TT pacing, I know what I need to do, but when it comes to setting a good pace for a chase effort, I tend to go to hard to close the gap as quickly as possible. Instead of catching over a longer duration and saving some energy, I went as hard as I could for as long as I could to catch the group. My second mistake was to begin rotating through immediately when I did catch the group. I should have waved some riders over and given myself some time to recover on the back. After my first rotation I was blown and the group went up the road without me. My third and final mistake, the one that cost me any hope of placing well, was to try and chase once again. I still had a considerable lead over the pack and was only 50m or so off the back of the breakaway. I kept pushing trying to either catch the breakaway or stay off the front. Both were hopeless endeavours. I should have eased off, recovered, and let the pack catch me. When the pack reconnected, it had picked up the pace a little so I was having a hard time recovering. The hills on the final two laps nearly broke me but I managed to hang on until the final stretch. In the last 500m or so, I made one last attempt to move up into a good sprint position but I couldn’t maintain that pace riding alone into the wind. I was cooked going up the final rise to the finish line. I crossed the line almost 10 seconds after the pack and nearly last place.
I was a little disappointed with my finish but I didn’t expect too much having been off the bike so much in the prior two weeks. I earned a few points for the overall standings and gained some much needed experience, which itself made the race worth it.