End of Summer Ontario Grand Prix – 2011

I had just raced the Encino velodrome the day before so my legs were really tired. I had signed up for two races today: 50+ and the Category III race. The first was pretty fast race for a bunch of old geezers. I didn’t have the legs to go for primes so I just stayed in the pack. A six-man break-away got away and with four laps to go I decided to try and bridge. I hammered as hard as I could and got about 30-40 meters away from the break, but unfortunately died. No more legs. Luckily I had stimulated the pack to chase and we caught the break with a lap and half to go. I just didn’t have the speed to contest the win but ended up 9th. We averaged 27.4 mph and my max speed was 37 mph.

Another horrific crash!

I normally don’t watch the sprint in the races before mine in case there is a crash. I don’t like seeing anyone crash, especially before I’m about to race. However, in this case, there were to guys, Mike Johnston and Chris Demarchi who were about two minutes ahead. With such a lead I didn’t think anyone was going to kill themselves for third. For some unknown reason, some racer who was about 40 places back decided to sprint. When he did, he clipped out of the pedal, lost control and banged into another racer causing that racer to crash right on his face! Again, he wasn’t moving…… Two days in a row this happened….. Again, we waited until the paramedics took him away. Was this a sign? Should I not do this race? Cat III races are normally very aggressive and since most of the racers are twenty and younger they ride erratically and often with no logic at all.

CAT 3 Race.

I almost didn’t start, but as the gun went off I found myself in the pack again. My legs were toast so I figured I would try for the primes and at least come away with something. Ontario is a six-corner crit and it was now windy. I didn’t have a good position for the first prime but got a really good jump on the backside of the course for the second prime. I’m turning the last corner when a buddy of mine (Bart) dragged a couple of other racers up to my wheel. He smiled as he passed me as if to say “that’s racing.” I’ll remember that next time he goes for a prime. Two laps later I repeat the same attack on the backside of the course and this time I get a huge gap. When I come across the finish line to win the prime you can barely see the pack. After that, I sit up, move to the back of the pack and decide to save it for the sprint.
About halfway through the race I’m on the outside in turn five and I hear a crash happening on the inside. I floor it– move to the gutter and by-pass the whole thing. As we come around the next lap I can see a rider in a fetal position on the ground. Since the crash was far from the start/finish no one knew someone was hurt. There he lay until finally an official arrived and basically guarded him for the rest of the race as we flew around him.
With two laps to go I move up. As we cross the line for the bell lap, I move up to the third line, right on Bart’s wheel. He’s pretty strong and had been resting at the back of the pack with me so I figured he’d be a good wheel to follow. We fly around on the inside of corner one at about 32 mph and all of sudden, the front line just sat up! Not good. Bart starts yelling “C’mon…..this is bulls!@#.” On the bell lap, it’s like sharks looking to feed. Any smell of blood and they attack. The outside section of the pack sensed the slowing of the inside and they gunned it. Within five seconds I went from the third line to about 20th…..argh! As we fly into corner two I can see and hear a melee of racers crashing. Bikes and racers were flying into the air! I jammed on the brakes and started to slide. Luckily, I navigated past a few guys and slid in between a few bikes lying on the road. Right behind me, a huge racer (probably 6’4) t-boned something in the road— was thrown from his bike and flew over my left shoulder! I was able to unclip from my pedals and not fall down. There I was, standing in the middle of six to eight riders all on the ground in pain and I was unscathed! I raised both of my arms in the air and yelled “YEAH!!!” The guy behind me did the same and we high-fived. I know it seems insensitive, but in the moment, it was such a relief, especially after the two horrific crashes I had witnessed in the last two days. I got back on my bike, rode slowly to the finish (passed the poor rider who was still on the ground; found out later he had broken his hip), collect a pair of nice tires from my prime and headed home. Whew…. Safe to fight another day.

2011 Ontario Grand Prix

Ontario Grand Prix – 2011

After 25 years of racing a bicycle I finally got something for free. My friend Mario Cortes has started a new team sponsored by a Columbian clothing company called Suarez and was kind enough to ask me to ride for it. I received two kits a skin suit, three pairs of socks, arm warmers, knee warmers, gloves, vest and a cool jacket! This would be my first race with the new kit. Unfortunately, it’s mostly white. If I had any brains, I would have stayed home. I woke up to pouring rain and wind gusts of 30-35 mph. Today was also the LA marathon. I figured if they could run in the cold, windy rain for hours then I could race too. I loaded up the van and Mufasa and drove 83 miles to the race. It took much longer than I anticipated and by the time I got my number on, I only had a few minutes to ride around to warm up. At 52 degrees, with those cold winds and raining, there was really no way to warm up.

Masters 45+

I did the 45+ race first. Small pack of about 35 guys. Luckily for us, it stopped raining. The course has six corners with a little chicane before the 200 meter sprint to the start/finish. I went for a prime but couldn’t get up to the first two guys. I went for the next one, but didn’t get that either. However, I turned around and there was no one there! Five of us were away. It turns out Steve Strickler who rides for Amgen was with us, so his other three teammates were blocking. It was hard for a few laps. With only five of us and no real pack, it was hard to stay out of the wind. Steve and one other rider turned the screws a little tighter and dropped the three of us. I was so pissed. The pack caught us with five laps to go. With three to go the called another prime for a pair of tires so I went hard for that one and won it. With two laps to go, it started to pour. Great…. I got in a decent position, but lost some ground in the chicane and got 10th in the field or 13th place overall. Steve and the other guy stayed away for first and second. If I could’ve only stayed with them………

I went back to the van, took Mufasa for a little run and then back to dry off. My legs didn’t feel that great. Maybe it was the cold or maybe it was the lack of warm-up. I had about 45 minutes before the Cat 3 race and it was getting windier and windier. Twenty minutes prior to the race I dragged my butt out of the van and spun on my trainer for ten minutes. It was cold and windy at the start but not raining.

Cat 3

This pack was even smaller. Maybe only 25 racers. On the second lap into the race it started to pour. The wind was bad. There was no real pack; everyone was in a straight line trying to avoid the win. I went for a prime and thought I had it, when at the last second, some guy came out of nowhere and beat me. Bummer… It kept raining but everyone was riding safe. I think sometimes it’s almost safer to ride in the rain. People are more cautious. I went for the next prime and the same guy got it. He was definitely stronger. As we went through the first corner and into the head wind, there was a surge. I had just finished going for that second prime and didn’t have it to go with the first eight guys. I figured I would jump on the rest of the pack except one problem….. There wasn’t any pack. The race had broken apart but I was in front and didn’t know it. Three guys went buy and I jumped on them. Two of them dropped me so I waited for the next three guys and got on them. That’s how it went for a while. We dropped two of them which left one small dude and me. He and I worked for the rest of the race. I could see the lead eight or nine guys a ways up and two other guys in between us. I beat him in the sprint for 12th. Only 13 of us finished. At least I wasn’t last. I had enough and just wanted to get home. The rain was so bad, the 101 freeway was shutdown. I had to take two other freeways which took miles out of the way. Now all I have to do is my macroeconomics final….. So much fun