We make the racing the bikes!
Unlike last year, the roads of the Fraser Valley cleared just in time for the opening weekend of Escape Velocity's 2018 Spring Series. A hardy band of Wheelers answered the call of early season leg shredding, with Taro, Nick, Ian B, TMac, Deb, Sam and myself lining up across a few different categories. After a ferry ride spent drinking coffee and looking at mud-encrusted world champion-level Euro pros literally collapsing on the roads of Tuscany, we were suitably fired up for Saturday's pedantically but descriptively named Thunderbird Long CCW Road Race.
Thunderbird is a gently rolling course save for a short but potentially selective climb about 2km from the finish. I lined up in a small masters A/B field with the intention of sitting in and trying to keep myself in contention. We maintained a friendly pace for the first half as the course dried and the temperature inched up. About midway through the race the first, and as it turned out only, meaningful attack put a guy solo off the front. I was initially confused by the lack of response, and went to the front of the group to contribute. After a solid hero pull to mop up some unsuccessful bridges and string out the group, I finally discovered that the 2 guys on my wheel were kit-less teammates of the guy up the road. Having set my PB 1- and 5-minute power numbers for the year and not liking my individual pursuit chances with a dozen people on my wheel, I sat up. The group continued in strong but unspectacular fashion for most of the rest of the race. With a lap to go, we caught sight of our escapee, and a handful of us tried to bring him back. We got within 10 seconds, but ultimately served only to leave ourselves without matches in the sprint for second.
Saturday's Wheelers ride of the day went to Sam, who pulled a 60km-ish solo move to take nearly a minute out of a large and spirited B field. Upgrade in 3, 2, 1...
After an evening blur of laundry, carbohydrates, and more epic Strade Bianche pictures and video, Sunday dawned grey and lightly snowing at our digs in Langley. We drove out to the Hougen North Road Race course unsure as to whether the event would go ahead, but despite high winds and blowing snow, we got the green light. Hougen North is, to quote Aruss, a 'flat as' 19km box around wide open farm fields in the classic style of Belgian kermesse racing. I lined up alongside Deb and Sam in a huge pretty-much-everyone-who's-not-an-elite-male field, and tried my best to fend off the freezing wind and intermittent flurries. It was never going to be easy. Tailwind sections provided some respite but made closing gaps near impossible, and I was eventually faced with a bridge I was unable to make. I was forced to concede, a pattern that proved to be pretty strong across almost all categories.
Wheelers ride of the day for Sunday goes to Deb, who not only survived the punishing conditions, but managed to nail the W in what proved to be the only category with a 100% finish rate, the elite women.
All in all, a very strong showing for the club and the team in the early season. Looking forward to much more Wheelers success in 2018!
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