A Day in Holland

For a race that almost wasn’t, Saturday’s provincial road race in Holland, Manitoba was a resounding success. But it wasn’t without its challenges, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, I had misunderstood the specifics of the location and was unable to use my aero clogs. And my prayers for tectonic shifting were sadly ignored, so the hills were very much still there, accompanied by a merciless 60km North wind. Throw in a little rain action and you have a perfect day for a very hard bike race.

Nobody needs to tell Phil to HTFU.

But as far as excitement goes, this race was the highlight of my summer. Even more exciting than when my eight year-old son’s best friend Adam walked in on me while I was changing into my bathing suit in the guest cabin – something that will make for some interesting chit-chat on the school playground this year.

I managed to convince my riding buddies Scott, Ben and Chris to come and race. Ben’s last road race was 25 years ago – it didn’t go well. He crashed and came in last. This time he finished with the lead group, and was reminded that not only is he a great bike rider, but that bike racing kicks ass. Scott and I used a combination of flattery and berating to get John Daniels to come – a velvet hammer that proved very effective.

My race was three laps – 66km of roller coaster hills in the company of 30 other racers, comprised of the women aged 30+, under 15 boys, under 17 girls, and men 50+. We joked at the start line that ours was the “old men, women and children race”. We may get front row seats on a lifeboat, and doors held for us at the supermarket – but make no mistake, this is a tough crowd.

And then there’s Don, who is kind of in a category all by himself.

The young fellas had a race all to themselves and I was lucky enough to catch the tail end of their fourth lap as they attempted to rip each others’ legs off at the brutal uphill, headwind finish. Fantastic!

(Yes, I know they’re going downhill here. I was too busy not barfing to take a good picture of the finish.)

Speaking of dismemberment, Danny Morwood did a pretty good job of that in the #2 race as well. My friend Jamie spent some time glued to Danny’s wheel, admiring his freakishly well-muscled legs. We think he might be bionic.

As for me, I finally got to trade in my seafoam green bridesmaid’s dress for a pretty white one – which I wore, along with my medal, during several victory laps of St. Malo the day after the race. The fans could barely contain themselves.

But the real prize of the day was having other racers that I admire and respect come up and tell me that I raced well. That was worth its weight in gold.

Huge thanks to the MCA, the commissaires and the volunteers for pulling this one off, when it all seemed hopeless. And thanks once more to Stefan Isfeld (photos here) and Carolyn Campeau (photos here) for letting me use their pictures. Gary Sewell also took some wonderful shots (see them here). Race results are here.

That concludes our regular road season. Time to get dirty.