2017 OCUP #2 Calabogie: Making my point

After the debacle of the Good Friday Road Race
I wasn't sure if it was worth the time, trouble & expense of doing the Calabogie race. It’s a stupidly long drive – more than 700km return – so it's a hotel room, a lot of gas, and in this case, a rental car (wife needed the VW for the cottage that weekend). But it’s a fantastic course and a super fun race, so I figured what the hell, take a shot. I got my best result ever there last year, so at least I would have a pretty good metric for what kind of shape I was really in.

I had a hotel room to myself (Calabogie Motor Inn: shout-outs!) so I was able to concentrate solely on getting my own shit together. Asleep early enough, the right breakfast this time, plenty of time to get set up at the track and get in a proper warm up. Got to the line early enough that I was right at the front. I figured that the farther up I was to start, the longer I was likely to stay with the peloton.
It was a funny mix of resignation & defiance as I waited for the start. I assumed it was not going to be good, but I was also determined to ignore the Garmin, go full-throttle, and not leave anything in the tank. Go down fighting. And various other clichés.

Not a course for the climbers
Calabogie is a big, wide flat course with a few slight dips and climbs; lots of room to manouevre and plenty of bail-out space if things get dicey. 11 laps, so you get a chance to really get familiar with it. And somehow, the short laps make it go by pretty quickly, almost like a crit.

Because it’s so flat and fast, it's really hard to get a break and make it stick, especially in M3; generally it ends in a bunch sprint. If anybody takes a flyer, the conventional wisdom is to just leave him out there and let him get reeled back in. This may have played into the hands of the eventual winner, Trevor Beattie from Pedal Harder, who cleverly took off in lap 7 and basically did a damned impressive bit of time-trialing to ride in uncontested by 20 seconds. Chapeau, sir!

I'm in there somewhere. Really. (Note the wide, smooth roads and soft grass infield.)

Meanwhile, back in the peloton, as the laps went on I felt more & more comfortable; or at least, finding the effort manageable. Staying up, every now and then taking a run up to recover some places and stay somewhere near the front third of the pack. And then around kilometre 30, I realized: Fuck it, I'm still in this thing. Let’s go for it. Coming into the last lap it’s clear that nobody’s getting it together to chase down Trevor; a weird sort of pause happens at the crest of the last hill before the finish and a hole opens up and I pound into it, jumping about 30 places and hopping on the back of the front four riders. Which was looking good until they unaccountably slowed up into the start of the final right-right-left 270° wind-up to the final sprint, and the rest of the pack roared up the left side.

Ha! It's official!
The nice thing about going around the track 11 times is you get a few practice runs to figure out the how to best get to that final straightaway, assuming everybody else cooperates. I got a pretty good line inside on both turns, and coming into the final 300m or so, some space magically opened up and I jumped into it. However, the shock of actually being in a sprint short-circuited my brain, and I failed to properly gear down or stand up and drive it at the end. (Gotta work on that.) I figured I ended up somewhere between 15th and 25th; turns out it was 15th, just high enough to get my one goddamn OCUP point. (Life goal achieved; level unlocked).

So maybe my training wasn’t that bad, and my 2017 season isn’t a washout. More importantly, no matter where I place in races from now on, I know I can retire happy.

Here's a brief video summary, with commentary. And musical accompaniment.

Original footage by Jeffrey Shore of Morning Glory CC (shouts!) who not only outran me at the line and got 12th place, but got his first road race OCUP points in this one as well.


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