Actif Epica 2014

by CycleChick on February 23, 2014

Actif-Epica-race-day-KTPHOTO-February-15-2014-060I was not feeling confident going into Actif Epica this year. I was plagued with equipment problems, and then there was the added factor of this being the harshest winter we have experienced in these parts since the Depression. But I am not the sort to allow silly little things like that stand in my way. Two weeks before the event, I decided I would participate no matter what. No excuses.

So yeah, the race was hard. Much of the course was unrideable due to the ungodly amount of snow we’ve had this year, and a strong and bitter north wind made some of the riding sections very slow going indeed. But if you live in Manitoba, this is nothing new. I finished the 130 kilometre race in 11 hours and 55 minutes. Of the 77 people who registered, twenty did not start. Of the 57 runners and cyclists that started, 16 did not finish. Of the ones that did finish, I came in seventh. And first woman. The women’s field was small, as usual, but an experienced female racer had come from out-of-town, making for an exciting and challenging race for me. We both worked very hard, and I was impressed by her talent, toughness and ability.

The day after the race, as I lay flat on my back wondering what model of truck had hit me, I surfed Facebook for photos of the race that other people had posted. I saw a link to images the visiting female racer had posted and happily flipped through them, interested in seeing her view of the race.

In her photo gallery, I found a picture of me riding with fellow racers Pete and Paul, who I had met up with somewhere before the third checkpoint in Niverville. Under the photo was this caption:
“leader – cheater on the wheel all (the) way.”

I was stunned. Cheater? How could she say that? Riding in groups is not illegal in this race. It is a draft legal race. Riding together is not only allowed, but encouraged in the race bible. Almost every other racer rode with others during the course of the race, why single me out? And how could she say I was on someone’s wheel the whole time when I spent almost half the race completely on my own? During much of the time I was with others, we weren’t even riding. I’m no scientist, but there did not seem to be any aerodynamic advantage to being in a group while dragging our bikes through 3 feet of snow. As for those sections when I did work with others to battle the North wind, we worked together, taking equal turns on the front.

I felt sick to my stomach. Here was a well-known racer publicly calling me out for cheating – in front of my friends, the race organizers, strangers, and other members of the cycling community. Her accusations affected not only my reputation, but the reputation of every other racer in the field, not to mention the very race itself.

I notified the race organizers and they assured me that my standing is officially secure, legitimate and well warranted, both technically and morally. They contacted her explaining their perspective, reaffirming the results, the rules and the spirit of our event. They asked her to reconsider her choice of language, but the photo is still there, along with the caption.

I am pleased this was taken seriously and dealt with promptly, but I would be lying if I said this hasn’t seriously affected how I feel about the race, which is perhaps the greatest injustice of all. Perhaps even worse is how it makes me feel about being a woman racer. Is this how we encourage each other? Is this how we make our few fellow racers feel welcome and bring new women into the sport?

I’ve tried to brush this off and come up with a positive spin on it, but I’m afraid I’m coming up short. Maybe you can help. Try to understand that women are still relatively new to this table, and still finding our way. In spite of being competitive, hard, and fiercely motivated, we can be easily swayed. Small gestures of encouragement can go a long way to make us feel welcome, just as a thoughtless and vindictive accusation can turn us away.

This was not the post I had hoped to write. I tried to write a positive one that talked about my experiences throughout the race, and it was way more funny and nice. It talked about what a great race this was, and how proud I was to be part of it. It also talked about the incredible volunteers that helped make it happen, and the amazing job that was done by the organizers. All of that is still absolutely true in spite of this crappy ending. Thank you to those people who worked so hard to make Actif Epica the wonderful success it was.

photo: Kyle Thomas

21 comments

Let it go . It’s not worth the effort of beating up on your self

You did the right thing in every way and you know in your heart you played by the rules and chapeau to you and your fellow competitors for engaging in this event

As an Australian who lives in the tropics I am very impressed that you guys can go out in the snow and freezing temps ride a bike and enjoy yourself well done

by Ian on February 24, 2014 at 12:58 am. Reply #

Good lord. This is very unfortunate. I can vouch for the fact that raw speed and drafting were minimal parts of this race. It was about endurance, and persistence, courage, and the drive to keep going. You HAD all of these and were a MONSTER out there! If not, the first 1.5 mile walk would have left you far, far from a “draft” position at any rate. No…. you KILLED it out there and don’t let anyone take that away.

by JP on February 24, 2014 at 12:59 am. Reply #

I heard something the other day that says in effect: “Girls tear each other down. Women build each other up.” Sounds like she needs to grow up. We all fight with it, but don’t let ONE negative comment outweigh all the good: the work you put in, the respect you have from other competitors, the positive comments you’ve received from this.

by Stephanie on February 24, 2014 at 2:58 am. Reply #

I say sour grapes to our visitor from afar. Our race our rules that by the way place safety for all above anything else. Not to mention suggesting there was cheating by yourself is ridiculous ! You are the most honest, honorable, modest racer I have had the good fortune to spend time with. You deserve your place as the 1st women to finish…..Winner I say. Perhaps a bit more training and a little less whining by our visitor. Come back next year and try your luck again. Oh and by the way our ladies beat the world at hockey too !

by Phil on February 24, 2014 at 3:03 am. Reply #

Being called out falsely is hurtful and worst of all is irrevocable for the most part. Even if the jealous mean spirited women were to recant now, the damage is done and can hardly be removed. Fortunately those of us who “know” you…. and that is ALOT of people, know the truth in an instant. She is a bitch and deserves a thousand flats over the next ten years!

Ride on!

by michael Lewallen on February 24, 2014 at 3:32 pm. Reply #

Here, here Michael. C u next tuesday, jealous mean spirited woman. What a shame, Andrea. Sad, sorry people do stupid things. You were her target (this time). Because you are awesome I guess and she feels ugly inside. Poor thing.
Do ride on Andrea!
;-)

by Karin McSherry on February 25, 2014 at 2:08 pm. Reply #

That comment is ridiculous. How could someone make that kind of judgement based on a few observations where you happened to be taking a break from your last pull? Obviously other photos of yourself cycling alone or in front pulling were not selected to post and comment on. This was only an attempt to save face in front of this riders friends while dishing the competition who happen to be better. If there was a prize for immaturity that rider wins that!

Well done Andrea on what is a brutal race in my mind.

Cheers!

by Drew on February 24, 2014 at 3:43 pm. Reply #

I don’t believe AEpica is a 130 km individual time trial. So riding with others and drafting is allowed. Sore loser she is. Too bad she couldn’t find someone her speed to ride with. Maybe next year. A new standard has been set Andrea. And you set it. Well done. Too bad some like to diminish others accomplishments. 1 picture doesn’t tell the whole story. Hope she comes back next year. Maybe you 2 can ride together and see how that goes. If she can keep up…..

by rick on February 24, 2014 at 6:18 pm. Reply #

Congratulations Andrea for conquering the toughest Actif Epica yet. I rode in it in 2012 and 2013, and I can assure you that in pairs or in larger groups we worked together where possible—–just look at the number of “ties” on the results list. BTW, in both of the previous races we had a tail wind.

by Jim on February 25, 2014 at 5:27 pm. Reply #

Get used to it. You should be riding Pro. you have found what you were meant to do. Ride a bike really fast. You love it and are great at it. And your Blog kicks butt as well.

hashers might be coming to your house in the next few weeks. I will be setting trail. mwahahaha.

by Edward on February 25, 2014 at 8:42 pm. Reply #

Andrea is the real deal. I know from personal experience that she pulls like mad into headwinds, never complains, and has the power of a Porsche 911. I’ve never heard her be the first to say, “Lets turn back and head home, I’m done.” Keep killing it Andrea. What’s her face won’t return next year, it sounds like she can’t stand defeat, and she’d be sure to have her ass handed to her again by you next year.

by Terry on February 26, 2014 at 1:42 am. Reply #

Never fear about friends, fellow competetors, even your enemies thinking your a cheater, we all take the time to learn the rules, and morality of what we do. Everyone knows your competition is either , A) ignorant of proper race edicate, Or B) is a tri girl in which case refer to scenario A again.

by Brent Brentnall on February 26, 2014 at 12:25 pm. Reply #

WCC, I read your blog on occasion when I need a chuckle. This post made me mad. You won fair and square. I saw her comment on FB too. Sore loser. Keep up the good work and don’t let her get under your skin.

by Mark S on February 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm. Reply #

She sounds like a real c-u-next-Tuesday. And it also sounds like you embodied the true spirit of this event; you bent the cranks and proved your mettle. Hold your head high! You darn-well earned it. You’re a true inspiration, and I mean that.

by Gord Mounce on February 28, 2014 at 5:35 am. Reply #

You did nothing wrong and I think (as I knew you would and could) you just wrote a very tactful, not defensive account of your version of the story. You need to be able to go back to feeling good about what you accomplished that day. It is a shame when the journey gets overshadowed by what, as someone rightly pointed out above, is about gender insecurity. She came up here expecting to win again and in her mind you came out of no where as a nobody and prevented her from doing that. Her ego was blown and what better way to boost it up again but to cut down the person who beat her. Don’t let her diminish the day for you because if you do, she won anyway. Carry on kicking ass now.

by Kim on February 28, 2014 at 8:58 pm. Reply #

Very proud of you Andrea – not just for your accomplishments (all well earned) but also for what you do for the sport for ALL participants, women or men. Don’t let the useless chatter get to you – let karma take over and enjoy your successes.

by Evan Kuz on February 28, 2014 at 10:30 pm. Reply #

You beat me. This time. Good job.

by Dave on February 28, 2014 at 10:57 pm. Reply #

This person knows better…her comment was wrong and she knows this. Says a lot about the moral fabric of the person. I wonder about the veracity of her other «accomplishments».

by amonymous on March 1, 2014 at 12:05 am. Reply #

Take heart, Andrea. I wander over to your blog to read about your exploits, and was saddened to see your usually potty-mouthed, padded-butt, awesome spirit dampened by a dope. All I can say is that I hope that as more women get into the sport, voices like hers won’t ring in the arena quite so loudly. We need some goddamn camaraderie out there.

Keep being awesome. Your fan, Maria.

by Maria Simpson on March 1, 2014 at 1:50 am. Reply #

If you analyze the time duration between each checkpoint, you’ll see that A. actually gained the most time on the other competitors in the sections with the longest pushing/hiking segments. No drafting there, that’s for sure; rather, effective race tactics and strategy by picking the best bike/hike combination for the course and personal strengths. Great racing. Period.

by Jason Carter on March 1, 2014 at 4:57 pm. Reply #

[...] in February, the day before I cheated my way to the Actif Epica podium, a crew of us went to a couple of rural elementary schools to extoll the virtues and [...]

by Random Acts « Winnipeg CycleChick on April 22, 2014 at 4:38 am. Reply #

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