A black and yellow swarm descended on the Nest café on a cold and cloudy Sunday morning as the Wheelers race team gathered for a caffeine boost and some pre-race chitchat in anticipation of the first Caleb Pike VCL race of 2018.
After a brisk warm-up rollout to Caleb, and once we were all signed in and pinned/duct-taped up at the course, a race plan was agreed upon. It was decided that given our numbers (about half the A field) and the mix of young guns and “oldies but goodies” we would steal a page from the old Russ Hays playbook and split up into 2 “teams” for the A race. Rich, ARuss, Stéphane, Brian and Marcel were to represent the Masters racers, and Sam, Isaac, Logan, Taro, Ryley and Cole making up team 2. Dave Trill and Jordan were also there to fly the Wheelers colours in the B group. Deb and lan chose to bow out of the day’s proceedings. No excuses next time, guys!
After a neutral/not neutral start, a few early surges and leg-testers came and went. On lap 4, Sam, Nick Freisen and l (Stéphane) opened up a gap on the pack out of corner 1. Sam was on the front of our trio on the back stretch cranking out some significant wattage and putting the hurt on Nick and me. It proved too much for us 2 hangers-on who watched Sam gradually roll away into the distance. We were reabsorbed by the peloton shortly thereafter. From that point on there was always a Wheeler or 2 on or close to the front, controlling the pace and marking moves while Sam was powering away solo with a steady 30-40 second gap out of sight up the road.
With one lap to go and Sam’s “W” pretty much in the bag, Emile from BSC and I tried our luck and went all-in for the left-over podium spots. I led Emile “contre la montre” De Rosnay up the climb, but once around the corner, my breakaway companion's flat-land power proved too much - once again - for this watts/kilo guy (that’s my excuse and l’m sticking to it) and l couldn’t contribute much to the effort. We were caught and inevitably passed by the pack before corner 2. Having burnt all my matches that was it for me, but go-time for everyone else. Brian took a strong turn on the climb to string things out, with ARuss duly attacking the last stretch of hill full-gas. Raph came around at the last minute to claim the field sprint and 2nd overall with Andrew a close third.
So, the first VCL of the season was a success with great efforts and consistent, non-sketchy riding by everyone, good use of our collective horsepower and, most importantly, the win.
Lastly, a big thank you to the Broad Street and VCL committee volunteers for putting on a smoothly-run and fun event. Looking forward to more in the coming weeks and months!
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