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.

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