Saturday, June 18, 2011

Finbar's Racing - 2011 Riverport Road Race

5pm AST Saturday and the rain has started. The question heading into race day tomorrow is whether it will be wet or dry? The lastest forecast is saying a 40% chance of precipitation but some areas may experience thunderstorms. Swell! Not much to do but wait and see what the morning will bring.

Many would argue that the race at Riverport, on the mouth of the Lahave river in Lunenburg County Nova Scotia is not a race if it isn't rainy,foggy and unseasonably cool. I have witnessed both since starting racing in 2004; miserably soggy but also scorching hot days. Regardless of the weather conditions there is always wind.Racing on the coast of this province, adjacent the North Atlantic, wind is omnipresent. It is just a question of where the headwind will be on the 28km loop. Along the river heading towards the appropriately named Grimm's road(and toughest climb) or the last ten kilometres heading towards the start/finish. It really is a mute point because the wind will usually dish out it's full measure of misery.

I have opted to race Cat C for a couple reasons; it is a challenging rolling hills course on the best of days and a far cry from the "flatness" of the Halifax Criterium. More importantly the Cat B's will be doing four laps(112 kilometres) and my longest training ride to date has been just over 70 kilometres.Descretion is the better half of valor so I will compete the 84 kilometre Cat C distance.

Race Day Meal

I awoke today not feeling hungry so thought about skipping any morning food but considering the weather conditions that might not be a good idea. Today may well be a cold, wet day on the bike.I will eat light, a meal comprised of coffee with organic cream, three free range eggs and a cup of sauteed spinach(in butter). Yesterday was a "free" day to rest and recover for the race which included more carbs than I usually eat; sweet potato,spinach, turnip,a smattering of home made pea soup(my son's fav) some honey, red wine and, dare I say it, a couple cookies.

Since it is a Noon start I will eat a small pre race meal. About thirty minutes from the start I will have a little Balkan style yogurt with raspberries, a tablespoon of unpastuerized honey and cinnamon. I eat nothing on the bike(never really understood why folk do this on shorter efforts?) and will carry water for hydration.

Race Update

It was an wet and foggy drive to the venue and once on the course I realized how chewed up sections of the road was......Nova Scotia Roubaix conditions. It was looking like a tough day in the saddle. By Noon the sun had come out and the roads had started to dry so that removed one of the unsavory elements from the race.Rolling out of the start the weather conditions were vastly improved for the 35 riders of the Cat C pack..

 It was just MB and myself representing Finbars in Cat C but that was shortlived when he crashed on the first climb of Grimm's road about 10kms into the race. I was near the front but heard the sound of bikes hitting pavement so knew it was a crash.I did not know the scope until after the race but four riders went down and MB(standing right in photo) has a broken collarbone.That just sucks.When I pulled up to my car and his was gone I had that bad feeling. Heal fast!

The pace was somewhat inconsistent for parts of the race with accelerations and, conversely,some dawdling on certain sections.I wasn't complaining since any recovery time on the bike is good but I was surprised to see the race average was 35.7kph.Guess we were not dawdling as much as I thought? On the second lap heading into the start/finish a Pictou racer went on a flyer about 3kms out and a couple of his teammates went to the front. I figured they were setting him up for a chance at winning the Prime so I accelerated off the front and chased. I was soon followed by a third rider and the three of us then contested the Prime. The sprint was on a  uphill and I just couldn't hang on his wheel and crossed the line second of the three.The winner of the Prime ended up sprinting for the overall Cat C victory so I guess he prefers uphill finishes.

Knowing the Cat C pack wouldn't let us stay out for long on the last lap I sat up and rejoined the group with my two breakaway companions reeled in shortly thereafter.Heading into the final climb of Grimm's road my sole focus was to get up the hill in contact with the group. My legs were feeling the effort of the Prime sprint more so than I had envisaged at the time so getting dropped was suddenly a concern. After some hydration I positioned myself in the left of the lane and moved up to the front of the group knowing that I had to find a solid wheel and latch on to it. Lunenburg Bike Barn racer SE is racing well and he had a vested interest in marking EW, newly minted Provincial champion, so I stayed on his six for most of the Grimm's road passage.

At the tight corner heading back to the start/finish another rider went down but thankfully it involved no one else(and he was OK) so the pack was looking at about 8kms of chewed up pavement and headwinds before the end of the day. Although I was not planning on contesting the final sprint(I learned my lesson on lap two) I still made my way to the front, did a little work but my motives were mostly self presevation. Easier to see the potholes. Despite a female rider in our pack nailing a nasty crater(cudos to her...she kept the bike upright) the run in to the finish was uneventful.

The Final Sprint
At the base of the short climb EW, GW and the eventual winner attacked and commenced the final sprint to the line.It created a gap back to the pack which basically disintegrated at that point. .Being unsure what was left in the legs I held my line and let some of the faster sprinters accelerate pass then joined the sprint late. A chase pack of about eight of us crested the hill for a bunch finish and I managed to hang on for a 11th placed position(I think) out of 35 competitors.B Steinman captured the sprint in pics............

Overall it was a good result for me. Another personal best on a race course that traditionally chews me up on both a mental and physical level. I did my fair share of the work, contested a Prime sprint and finished somewhere in the middle of a final bunch sprint. Most importantly I banished the Grimm's hill demon for yet another race.My hill climbing has definitely improved this season.That in itself is a victory. Next on the schedule is the Provincial time trial championship in July.


Race pictures compliments of B Steinman.


allan scott said...

Well done report. You described the race quite accurately. I was one of the Pictou guys blocking for Matt when he went off for the prime and was chatting with you on the final lap.
Great race you had.


George said...

Matt was strong on the prime sprint and,obviously, for the win.

Good racing with you Allan.