Whitemouth Road Race
Among other things, bike racing is proving to be very nutritionally diverse. If Bruxelles supplied a large dose of Vitamin G (gravel), Whitemouth delivered an equally robust helping of Vitamin W (wind), plus slightly more than the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin R (rain). Thankfully, all races also provide a substantial fix of that elusive and more illicit substance, Vitamin A (awesome). I assure you, it is quite addictive.
I was pretty excited about this race for a number of reasons. Firstly, it would be my first race with the New Bike. A friend of mine recently got an almost equally awesome new bike (almost because it is a mountain bike), which someone described as a “no excuses” bike. Meaning with a bike that rad, unless you are bleeding from the ears or eight months pregnant, you have no excuse to not kick ass.
Secondly, I would be carpooling with Jamie Falk and Sarah Kirby, two experienced and terrifyingly fast racers. I had noticed Sarah at the crits last year. She stood out for the same reason she was easy to miss. The Cat 3 racers were lined up at the starting line… big strong guys like Dave, Marion, Marlin, Tim and the like – and Sarah – who is all of 5 foot 3 and maybe 100 pounds. It was impossible not to be impressed. Sarah and I had been told about each other, and were equally (I hope) delighted to finally meet. Sarah raced track out in B.C. (awwwesome) and is starting to come back from a hiatus after having her first child. Much to Jamie’s chagrin, we chatted non-stop for the three hours of driving to and from the race, at one point gleefully comparing the pain of road rash to the pain of childbirth. (They both suck, in case you were wondering).
Jamie’s car somehow fit all three of us, our bikes, spare wheels, plus enough gear to stock your friendly neighbourhood LBS.
Thirdly, I had just picked up my new race kit, which I proudly donned for the first time in the glorious splendour that is the bathroom of the Whitemouth Community Centre.
For me, the only thing worse than the pain of racing is the pre-race anxiety. There is so much to remember – so much gear, so many things to forget, so much potential for disaster.
Mechanical failure seems to be an unfortunate but recurring theme this year, as I suffered a flat at the end of my warm up laps. Although I am quite capable of changing my own flat, and would normally insist on it, I gratefully accepted professional help. Phil kindly offered his spare Zipp wheel (helllooo? who has a SPARE Zipp wheel?), which I refused, perhaps because Rick had the tube change well under way, or maybe because a “No Excuses” bike PLUS a Zipp wheel was just a bit too much pressure. Anything but total annihilation of the field would rest squarely on my own glaringly inadequate shoulders.
Nothing calms the nerves like lining up at a race start and knowing almost everyone you are racing with. I would be accompanied by Nettie, Bob, Sarah, Phil, Nathan, Rick, Shaun, John, and a handful of other folks I know by face if not by name. I also recognized most of the Cat 5 and Cat 1/2/3 racers as well.
The race was oddly slow – but perhaps not, considering the eighty kilometers we had to cover. Everyone’s primary goal was to stay out of the wind, and regular surges to try and tire people out or shake them off were generally short lived. We were heckled by coach Jay and chided at the end for “chatting” throughout the race. Racing is supposed to hurt too much to be this happy.
The race really came down to the last 200 meters or so, when those who were stronger, and who knew better, launched a punishing sprint to the finish… which I watched helplessly from a distance, wondering what the hell had just happened and how on earth I had missed it. I limped across the finish line with cold and cramping legs, my No Excuses bike, and a new appreciation for both youth and experience.
At the turn around before the last lap, I was instructed to ditch and switch my water bottles, something you see the pros do, so it made me feel cool. After the race I went back to retrieve it (since unlike the pros I don’t have adoring fans to do it for me) giving me the opportunity to visit with Phil and Bob who were carefully analyzing the video footage of the final sprint.
We finished cold and dirty, a recurring theme, it seems, carried over from cyclocross season. The warm chili and soup served by the kind people of Whitemouth was heaven on earth. We were filthy, but happy.
I want to thank FOG for putting on a great race, and Gary, Twila, Colin, Arlene and all the volunteers that make these races possible. I understand there have been challenges, but believe me your efforts are SO appreciated, and we NEED these races. The cycling community here is small, but will get bigger. There is talent and enthusiasm here that needs to be fostered to continue to make Manitoba racers contenders on the National and International cycling stage. You guys are the ones that make that happen, and that is totally Vitamin A.
Special thanks as well to the lovely and talented Carolyn Campeau for providing the most excellent photographic documentation of the day’s events. Full gallery can be see here.