Larry's Blog Pages

August 30, 2009

Last Du of the Year this Saturday

So I am now back in Ontario after spending the week on a work related trip to beautiful Sonoma Valley in California. Lots of work during the day and social events at night. Even though the boss kept us busy, I still managed to slide in a bunch of great runs along the vineyards and Russian River and several laps in the pool.

I do not think I kept all the pounds off from the amazing food and great wines but I tried my hardest to stay in form with our last Subaru Duathlon coming up this weekend (Sept 5th). The hardest thing to stay away from was the awesome after meal treats.

Watching the stats sites this weekend makes me wonder if Mark's prediction of a total Subaru Series field duathlon is in the works this coming weekend. I noticed that the Cobourg event, today and yesterday, was forced to run all events as duathlons. I am not sure why they could not swim but I can imagine the frustration of several athletes as this was suppose to be the Ontario triathlon championships.

Well, they kept the du and tri seperate from each other on the results page although everyone was forced to race a duathlon. A big shout out to Bruce Bird for finishing second overall in the Olympic distance championships! My former du competitor added this amazing feat to his top spot at this years Ontario Duathlon Championships. Amazing!

I just hope the triathletes can swim in Guelph as the duathlon field is usually big enough at this race and the points are pretty important to finish the season. Mark is only around 70 points back so I need a strong showing to hold on to my age group position.

Getting into Toronto at 7 am on Saturday, I was pretty wiped yesterday from the flight and could not muster anything in the way of training. Today was much better and I was happy to see I did not lose too much on the bike after a week of running and swimming. I headed towards Milton in the absolute horid weather (cold, raining and super windy) and completed several climbs, ending up with 73km on my computer. I followed that up with a great 10k later at night with a solid 6 x 1k session to get the speed back up.

Tomorrow will have an easy run with a bike TT in the evening as the FMCT crew hold their final scheduled solo TT of the season. We have a team TT in a few weeks but this is the last of the single rider races. This should let me know if I have any rust or not. Weather looks to be a factor so it may be hard to tell.

Anyway, just a few notes to let everyone know that I am still out there and also reading up on everyone! I have seen a bunch of really solid results from several friends in the past two weekends so I know I have to be on my game to compete as the year winds down. Keep up the great work everyone!

August 23, 2009

Off to California for the Week - work related...

So I fly out tomorrow AM for Sonoma, California for a week long training session. I usually keep myself on eastern time so that I can get up at my usual time (which is 3 hours ahead of the locals) and get a bunch of training in before the rest of the crew get rolling. Works like a charm!

Anyway, as I have pointed out, I will be swimming in the future so I might as well make use of the pool at the hotel and try to get into a late season race for kicks. If anyone has any pointers for this land lover, that I can practice (real training to start in the fall when I fully get organized about the swim) in a hotel pool, it would be greatly appreciated!

The triathlon I am thinking of is only 600 metres in the water. I have no breathing patterns yet so I need to work on getting in enough O2 during a swim. Also, I swam last month in a lake and 100 metres tired me out in free style mode so I need to improve on that as I do not want to breast stroke this attempt.

My goal for the race is to get through with free style in a calm manner (which should get me out of the water a lot quicker than my breast stroke effort last year) and then I will let my bike and feet get me into a nice finishing position. Last year, I did the Welland Tri on a dare and I was super slow in the water and only able to maintain freestyle for 50 metres. I did not swim before that race once (that is once in the past 20 years) and just wanted to say I finished a tri. Well I finished in a decent position because I rode hard and ran well but I was the 20th last person out of the water and would like to get at least mid pack.

I love to dream and you just never know what you can do unless you strive for more.

I hope to keep you posted on my progress in the water!


August 20, 2009

Thank You Duathlon – it is now time to move on…

2009 has been a huge step forward for me athletically. I coached a marathon running class, competed in two cycling road races, became a member of the Fletcher’s Meadow Cross Trainers, been victorious on the duathlon circuit and currently lead my AG on the Subaru Du Series.

A lot of the goals I worked on over the past few seasons have been finally achieved but one will take a little more time and effort before it can be stroked off the list, becoming an Ironman (and in a competitive fashion!). Yes, triathlon appears to be my future in multisport, after three great years in the duathlon world, so I must now add swimming to the training mix.

During the past few years, I have put in a lot of kilometres to learn how to cycle (before the fall of 2006 I did not even own a road bike and had no previous cycling experience), continued to push down my running times and worked hard to bring respectability to my transition splits. This has taken a great deal of hard work, an unconventional training schedule and a lot of understanding from my wife and very young family.

As I progressed in the sport, I realized just how much effort it takes to being a top player in this game, even on our local scene. I have been very fortunate to meet many athletes who do this for a living and I have seen the amount of time they dedicate to get to the next level. It often knocks me back down to reality and makes me wish I had been directed to the sport when I was younger and also makes me wonder, “what if”. What if I had stayed active through my twenties? So many “wasted” years!

I have always maintained that I will not allow the sport to become bigger than family so I must stay realistic in what I can achieve with the time I can set aside for training. That being said, winning races may not be in my triathlon future (too many amazing pros in the Subaru Triathlon fields) but I am going to set some pretty high standards for next season, eventually leading to that Ironman race when I feel the time is right.

So now that I have made up my mind and “technically” committed (opened my big mouth and told everyone my plans) to learn to swim, it is now time to get organized and set up a calendar so that I reach my next set of goals. I will not totally leave duathlon behind but a majority of my races next year will have an element of water before jumping on the bike.

Thinking about the path I have followed to get to this point, I was reminded of some of the defining moments of my short multisport life. There have been some results and performances that I am truly proud of but I always try to put the lifestyle change ahead of the pb’s or accolades. I really do not know where I would be without this positive influence in my life but I am sure the destructive road I was traveling would not have had the same impact on my family life that this healthy living does!

Here are a few of my duathlon highlights -
-Sept. 2, 2006 – Guelph Lakes 2 Sprint Du – first ever multisport race, purchased my first road bike the week of the race. 32nd of 130 Athletes. I was hooked!

-Met my coach Syd Trefiak in the spring as I prepared for my first “full” season on the Subaru Series.
-Raced in 8 Duathlons (6 Subaru, 1 HSBC, 1 Trysport), finishing 9th in 30-34 AG for yearly title.
-June 3, 2007 – Milton Sprint Du – first race on a Tri-bike (Cannondale Slice Aero) and averaged 36.5 km/h, finished 6th of 159 Duathletes, my first Top 10
-June 17, 2007 – Binbrook Sprint Du – first time I led the field on the run to the bikes, chasers quickly caught me on the ride but still finished 4th of 66 for first Top 5.
-Sept. 15, 2007 – Can. Du Championships in Parry Sound – last minute decision to test my skills and ended up 23rd overall, 6th in my AG behind some very talented athletes from all over Canada.

-Competed in 11 multisport races (9 Subaru, 2 HSBC), finishing 2nd in 30-34 AG Standings.
-June 1, 2008 – Milton Sprint Du – finished 3rd of 142 duathletes for my first Top 3 result.
-June 15, 2008 – Muskoka Long Course Du – first time leading a Subaru Du onto the bikes with a 3k run averaging 3:39/km. Ended up 3rd overall of 66 competitors.
-June 22, 2008 – Guelph Lakes Olympic Du – had best splits for both runs of the race and ended up with my first 2nd place overall finish out of 70 racers.
-June 29, 2008 – Welland Sprint Triathlon – completed my first ever triathlon and finished 15th overall of 190 triathletes, 1st in my AG. Used the breast stroke to get around the 750m swim.
-July 6, 2008 – Peterborough ½ IM Du – finished first Half IM distance race and was 3rd overall of 60 athletes. 90k bike split was 36.9km/h which was much higher than my initial goal time for the bike.
-Aug. 23, 2008 – Ontario Du Championships – had knee injury but raced anyway, 6th fastest bike time, finishing 8th overall of 92 racers, 2nd in AG for Provincial Championship.

2009 (so far…)
-Attended 6 duathlons (5 Subaru, 1 HSBC), currently 1st in 35-39 AG Standings
-Three Duathlon Wins (Muskoka, Guelph Lakes 1, Niagara) in the year.
-May 18, 2009 – Victoria’s Sprint Du – had a very strong showing in a race with many of the triathletes and pros (even after a 2 minute “drafting” penalty), first podium in a race of this class (417 athletes), 2nd of 41 in 35-39 AG.
-June 14, 2009 - Muskoka Long Course Du – first time having the fastest bike split in a race, first ever multisport victory, 1st overall of 59 duathletes.
-June 21, 2009 – Guelph Lakes 1 Olympic Du – best bike slit in the race with 37.4km/h average, second win of the year, 1st overall of 68 athletes.
-July 18, 2008 – Ontario Du Championships – had 4th fastest bike splits at 37.6 km/h in strong field, finished 6th overall, 2nd in AG for Provincial Championship, fastest Olympic distance time of career.
-Aug. 9, 2009 – Niagara Sprint Du – third win of the year, 1st of 136 duathletes.

Motivational Photo - May 2005 (pushing 220lbs and never wanting to return!)

August 17, 2009

FMCT Hilly TT (8km)

I don't usually post the results of our club's weekly TT but, in the past, I have mentioned the great benefit I have received from being able to participate. This is my rookie year with Fletchers Meadow Cross Trainers so my first season of organized time trials as part of my training schedule. With these amazing sessions, my bike splits have been very strong this season and continue to be up in the top percentage of athletes at most Subaru races.

On Sunday, FMCT's held their annual "Hilly TT" as part of the TT race schedule. It is an extra time trial thrown in to test our speed up a pretty tough 8km climb on Mississauga Road, just north of Terra Cotta. After driving up the course and biking back down to the send off line, I could tell the first 2km were going to be the most severe and I knew I had to get spinning right out of the gate to pick up some speed. After that, the course gradually inclines but you can pick up the pace during some of the flatter sections in between the steps.

Thirteen club members hit the starting line on a near perfect summer morning to challenge their legs against the escarpement. Many of the TT regulars were out for this extra ride, many of us coming off solid rides the previous day so the pain was going to be felt early in the ride.

For this TT, we were sent off in 30 second intervals and I was positioned to leave second last, right in front of Rob (our top TT cyclist) so I knew the pressure would be on me to hold him off sooner than our usual Monday night TT. As my countdown hit zero, I quickly clipped in and fired out of the gate. I was feeling much stronger than expected right away and had to grab some tougher gears in the big ring as the excitment got my legs charged up.

Rapidly, I made my way up the hill. I knew I was rolling well and could see the gap closing on Brian and Peter, who were both sent off before me. Just after the reaching the summit of the main 2km climb, I hammered the gears down again and got up to cruising speed. Peter was having issues trying to get back up to the big ring so I flew past him. He was actually sent out 1 minute (2 people) before me so I could see the effects of the mechanical problem he was having.

My legs continued to get stronger as the ride moved along the course and I had picked up some crazy momentum that I was not expecting that I used to make the next climbs seem a lot easier than anticipated. Looking down at my average speed I could tell I was zipping along very quickly as I had seen some previous results from the past few years. This motivated me even more and I was picking my way through a large portion of my fellow Falcons. I didn't want to show off but when I train it is usually my brain thinking about a time not trying to show up the other athletes.

At around the 6k mark I could tell the adrenaline was starting to fade and I couldn't wait to hit the finish line. Thankfully, the short distance to the end of the ride was only a few minutes away, at this rate of speed, so I put my head down and cranked on the pedals trying to get there in the shortest time possible.

This effort resulted in a very fast time as I was able to take first place in the Hilly TT, hitting the line in a new course record. This was a thrill for me as the quality of cycling in our club is very high. It is another indication that my training efforts are working and positive re-enforcement that I can raise the bar even more in the future.

I would also like to mention that during the TT, our group also made our way past several other riders who were not from our club but out to enjoy the great terrain the area offers. Among them were fellow multisport bloggers Tyler Lord and Jen Coombs. After our group hit the finish line we traveled another kilometre down to the tiny village of Belfoutain, to a coffee shop very popolar with cyclists and motocyclist looking for a pitstop during their rides. Tyler, Jen and a friend were out for a very long ride (by my standards) and had taken the opportunity to fuel up at the coffee house. As all the cyclists mingled and relaxed outside, soaking up the beautiful morning, I had a great chance to talk to the two pro athletes and grab some very helpful tips from Tyler to help with my running. I really appreciate the friendly attitude of these two top triathletes and thank them for being so down to earth and supportive!


Here are the results -

Mississauga Road
TIMERS-Nathalie B & Terry

WIND- SW 7km

Laura -- 28.8 -- 1
Val -- 24.8 -- 2

Larry -- 32.3 -- 1
Brian -- 30.1 -- 2
Rob -- 29.5 -- 3
Colin -- 28.1 - 4
Peter H -- 26.7 -- 5
Jim -- 26.4 -- 6
Nick -- 26.1 -- 7
Dave -- 26 -- 8
Bill -- 25.5 -- 9
Peter V -- 22.1 -- 10
Jeff -- DNF(Flat) -- 11

August 14, 2009

Another Drive By

Friday, August 14th proved to be a day full of bad encounters. Thankfully, no injuries to report but one of these days I probably will not be so lucky.

As usual, I left the office for my lunch time workout. Being a Friday in the summer, it is supposed to be a half day but I had been busy at work so I decided to stay a little longer but extend my lunch. I am sure I deserved the extra time so I could enjoy a longer ride.

Having this planned out in advance, I brought my road bike to work instead of the cyclo-cross and remembered to bring all the gear needed for flats, hydration, emergencies, etc.

My route for the 50 to 60 km ride would take me along Britannia Road to Milton. Up Bell School Line hill and down 14th Line (under control!!). I then would head south on Tremaine to get back to Britannia, for the return ride to work.

Everything was going very well. The hill was as challenging as ever (especially with the heat) and I safely made it down the other side without incident. Even with the brakes on most of the decent, I still hit 70km/h after negotiating the bends. The cycling was smooth and I felt strong in my legs so i was really enjoying my lunch time cruise.

After stopping for the lights at Trafalgar, I continued on my way across a rougher section of Britannia. Here, you can not get to close to the edge with a roadie so I tried to stick as close to the white line as possible for a smoother ride. Luckily, I was alert during this portion of the trip as some ignorant driver decided to pull out and pass a dump truck just as I was cycling past in the opposite direction. I saw both vehicles coming my way and the metallic minivan was not too worried about me, that is for sure. I crunched up my shoulders to make me as small as possible and started to curse at the van as it flew by my left side. I held on for all I was worth because of the vacuum they created and fortunately pulled through without a scratch, although I was in a very animated state.

My next encounter was that day was on my late night run. After putting the kids to bed and then pulling up some soggy carpet in the basement, I needed a little stress buster. As late as 11:45pm may seem, I am very use to the night training so I headed out for an easy 15k run. I was clocking along in good fashion, very close to my ideal steady state. I would have been right on pace but I had a few red lights to obey.

As I neared the 7k marker, where the road tightens up, several cars were coming towards me so I got right to the edge and kept my eye closely on them. Training so often at this time of the night, I am aware that the younger yahoos have a tendency to swerve, trying to push me off the road. Well, this time it was something kind of new as the last car zoomed past.

It was fairly dark in the area so I could not see inside the car and the next thing I knew was I had been hit with something just off centre of my lower abdomen. Of course, my first reaction was to start swearing at the car and trying to get some info. It was far too dark and they were going too fast so I could not tell what make or model the vehicle was.

After giving up on this, I looked down to my mid-section to see the damage. No blood, no ripes, no mess. Thank goodness! I then checked out the ground and saw the weapon of choice of many local punks, an egg. It was broken now but did not leave anything on my shirt. Just a mini scare from a couple of idiot teens that I wish I could have reported.

I always worry about this when I run at night. I usually run on the edge of the road as the sidewalk adds several elements that make running less fun. Because of my proximaty to the road, I often fear an empty beer bottle will come out of the passenger window in my direction. Once, while cycling home at night in Etobicoke, I had a full carton of eggs tossed into my gut as I made a turn. Scared the crap out of me but the eggs did not break on that instance either.

I guess I can count my lucky stars that things were not more serious but it reminds me that I need to be a lot more careful and proactive. You just never know what may happen while training but if you stay out of the danger spots to begin with, your chaces of these encounters will be fewer in numbers. It looks like it is time for my to re-evaluate my routes to keep things safer.

Take care,

August 11, 2009

The End of the Multisport Season is Approaching (in Ontario)

Time has blown by and we Subaru Series racers only have two more events left on the schedule. A few other competitions are out there after the finale at Guelph Lakes on September 5th, but they are usually out of the way in terms of location for me.

Thankfully, I have used this interweb thing to connect to others in the community and they have tossed out some great ideas to stay active and motivated right up to the snow flies, and beyond. Here are a few things we can do to pass the long 8 or 9 months between Subaru Triathlon/Duathlon races.

1. Learn to swim!!!!!
2. Run a few X-Country races in the fall and early winter.
3. Cycle in some Cyclo-Cross events in the fall.
4. Travel somewhere warm to race in a destination triathlon.
5. Go on a cycling tour for a week or two.
6. Teach a running class at a local running store.
7. Gear up for a late fall marathon/prepare for Boston.
8. Train to build a better base for next season.
9. Take on a part time job to offset your athletic spending.
10. Learn to SWIM!!!

What do you plan on doing during your break from multisport in Ontario?

August 9, 2009

Niagara (Grimsby) Sprint Du - Race Report

The 2009 Niagara Duathlon was not on my schedule heading into this weekend but I was itching to race a short distance event since we have been racing many international and long distances for the past few months. I was able to trade in a few tasks around the house for an extra racing pass and just hoped the weather would hold up so we could go fast.

As morning rolled in the skies looked a little dark but, thankfully, we were treated to a dry, warm day before the violent storms of the evening screamed through the area. The air may have been a little humid but not much of a factor with all the water stations out on the course. After losing my aero bottle straw in Gravenhurst, I knew I would have to go without water on the bike so I prepared ahead of time and did not let it become a distraction.

The start of the race was much different than the past few years at this location. They increased our first run to 2.5k from 2k with a loop in the wooded trail, which turned out to be damp and muddy. As we had a rather large field (136 athletes) for a duathlon, I jumped out quick to get away from the crowd. Another runner made his way even quicker than I to the front and was looking very speedy. This duathlete was wearing basketball shorts so I assumed his cycling may be a little slower than mine. With this in mind, I let him go as he created a pretty large gap between us.

As we made our way through the loop in the forest, I started to close the distance without picking up my pace. I continued to stay with my game plan and pushed through the mud eventually making a small climb out of the bush and back to the sidewalk for our final kilometre to the bikes. I was still in second place but well within reach of our leader. As we made our way back into the park I was only five seconds behind him and knew my transition would get me out to the bike line in the lead.

As predicted, I had a super quick T1 and was rapidly on my way towards the Niagara Escarpment and our climb up “The Beast” of a hill. As I arrived at the foot of the hill, I slipped down to the small ring to allow me to spin up and save my legs for the rest of the ride. In the past, I have grinded my way up these types of climbs and been super tired by the summit. My ascent seemed efficient and I passed a great deal of the triathletes out on the course before me. As I reach the top my legs were still fresh so I started to hammer it out along the flats up top.

I was now making my way through a lot of the other tri racers feeling very good about my cycling speed. I kept up the pace and didn’t see anyone from the duathlon until close to a minute after the halfway turn. I knew some of the others would become motivated once they saw me so I pushed harder until I returned to the hill for the downhill test. Since this was the first time I was to experience this (in 2007 I flatted out of the race after the climb and in 2008 the hill was not used due to rain) so I did not want to get too aggressive with a lead. I made my way down the hill in a controlled fashion and knew I had very little riding left remaining so was starting to feel confident about my current position.

It was at this point that my race went a little off track, literally. As I approached one of the intersections at the bottom of the hill, a police officer standing in the middle of the road waved to my right. I did not sense anything behind me so I thought he was directing me to turn right. I made the turn but did not recognize this section of the course and did not see any other riders or signs. I started to panic a little and looked back at the intersection looking to see what the police officer was now doing but he was focused on the cars stopped around him. I then saw another cyclist go straight past him and circled around to get back to the race.

Once back to the action, one of the other competitors, that I had passed on the top of the hill, asked me what happened. I told him what had just happened as we rode side by side so he encouraged me to put down the hammer. He seemed willing to give me the spot in great sportsmanship. It was a very nice gesture but I told him I was in the duathlon so he didn’t need to slow his progress as we were in different events.

I promptly got back up to my cruising pace and returned back to the bike zone without further incident. Upon reaching the racks I could see I was still in first place and pretty certain my run would be good enough to hold off anyone today. Shortly out of transition, we had a downward slope to the next side street which helped get my turnover up to the rate I wanted. I was gradually making my way through even more triathletes and felt like I was running one of my finer final legs this season. I didn’t want to look at my watch to see the actual pace and was only focused on finishing strong.

Soon after the turn on this run I could see second place close to 400 metres back. The course took us back through along the side streets for a short distance before a little detour through a lake view park along crushed gravel paths. This was followed by another connection along the side streets before we were directed back into the wooded trails for the 6th kilometre. During this section I didn’t want to wipe out or make any mistakes so I cautiously made my way around the mix of mud, wooden bridges and wood chip paths, giving some time back to my chasers. Emerging from the woods I only had one kilometre left but was not about to let up. I had a goal in mind (based on last year’s time) but did not hit that due to the trails as they were not included in last year’s version.

My time may have been a little short of last year for the final run but it was enough to deliver my third win of the season. With only a few days of preparation, I went in with smaller expectations than the past few events but walked away happy about all three stages of my duathlon. My bike time was second in the duathlon and would have been fast enough for fifth in the triathlon. If you take away my little adventure at the bottom of the hill, I probably would have had the best split in the duathlon and been very close to the top three in the tri. These are the kinds of results that motivate my training efforts and give me hope that I will be able to compete in the triathlons (in my age group) next year, if I work hard on swimming during the off season.

August 8, 2009

Niagara (Grimsby) Sprint Du

Tomorrow morning is the third last duathlon on the Subaru series. I did not plan to race this but my ever growing supportive wife has given me a pass to race. Even though the weather is currently not too promising, I cannot resist.

I admit, I usually go into races a little more prepared and watch my diet a bit more than these last two weeks so I hope the extra pound or two do not mentally trick me into a sub par performance. This race usually is fast and brings out some decent talent. I am not aiming for the win but would like to hit the top three overall and need a solid run to achieve this.

I have been working a lot on my speed of late, especially the 10k distance, so I hope I can use these tough workouts to blast through the last 7k run in a pb for this course. Last year, I had David Moore right beside me the entire race (our bike split was actually identical after a super close first 2k run) so we hit the 7k run neck and neck. I managed a little better on the run thanks to the pressure he appplied and beat him be a very narrow 10 seconds. I hope, if some one is close in the front or back of me, that I can dig deep like last year. I haven't felt that fluid final run since our opening race and I know it is more mental toughness than talent.

Here is hoping for clear weather! By the looks of it right now (midnight), I would bet the hill will be eliminated again this year due to safety of the downhill portion. That makes for a very speedy and flat 25k sprint cycle.

See you all there!

August 5, 2009

Where did all the cyclists go?

I have recently competed in my second cycling road race. As with the first race (Good Friday Road Race in the spring of 2009), I was overwhelmed by the incredible, non-professional talent that showed up to the event but was puzzled by the lack of average to beginner riders?

I guess, coming from the world of triathlon and duathlon, I am use to seeing many athletes in all shapes, sizes, sexes and abilities. In my two adventures in strictly cycling events, I noticed a lack of hobbyists, first timers and a major shortage of women racers. I am not sure why these people do not come out for these races because I am positive that there are plenty of these cyclists in the region from my experiences in club and everyday riding.

What is it about the Ontario Cycling Association races that draw the top riders, usually associated with a competitive team, but not the “weekend warriors”? These participants make up a great deal of the fields in the running and triathlon contests that I frequent and they are the driving force allowing these competitions to strive, giving many of us older athletes a reason to stay active and healthy.

Is the lack of these racers a concern to the governing body in our Province? Will it affect the growth of the sport in the future? Are there plans to increase the numbers of participants at the races approved by the OCA? Are there other races out there that I have not seen that attract the regular cyclist, like myself?

If anyone has some thoughts on this topic it would be very interesting to hear your opinion!

Thank you,
Larry Bradley

August 4, 2009

le Tour de Terra Cotta - race report

To say cycling events are a different type of racing than triathlon or duathlon is a major understatement. This past weekend I joined several members of our Falcons’ club in le Tour de Terra Cotta. We had a great representation of our club in the two distances (27km and 108km) and among the incredible volunteers.

I decided to race the 108km category to test my mid-season fitness although it was a much larger distance than I am used to. I generally do not get over 60km in training due to time constraints so I knew this was going to push my limits. At the start of the race my fellow Falcons (Brian Hastings, Richard Westwood, Colin Moore and Chad Hunt) politely joined the back of the field as many of us have very little experience in these sorts of races and did not want to get run over by the pros.

As the crowd of riders set off, I remained calm thinking the first lap would be pretty tame and I would be in OK shape to hold at least mid pack. This was my big mistake for the day. As we climbed the hill on Heritage Road, the front of the huge pack started their separation attack. Brian and Richard responded well but I stuck thinking the riders around me would eventually string together with the whole line of cyclists. My lack of aggression for that split second was enough to cost me a lot of positions in the race. As I saw the huge number of riders break off the people around me I realized I was getting dropped already so I broke around the slower riders trying to close on the masses. As I hit the corner at Old School Road, the field ahead was drafting together and gradually getting farther away as I fought the killer wind alone.

I was in shock as to how quickly this had happened but remained focused and reminded myself that this was a long race and I would get back eventually. I looked back to see if I was still working alone as I arrived at Winston Churchill and saw a group of several riders, including Colin, catching up so I waited hoping we could work as a team to catch the groups ahead that included Brian and Richard. It took us awhile to get organized but we were soon in formation but still losing ground.

At the next visit to the hill, Colin pulled over half way up the climb as he thought he had a flat. This was tough as he was riding well and someone I was looking forward to working with to make our way back into the race. As I reached the summit, I quickly accelerated through the group and tried to work by myself to reach the larger group a few hundred metres ahead of me. I put my head down and was rolling well but it is so hard to close that big of a gap when they are working efficiently together. I ended up pulling one guy along during this break and he got out in front as we hit the big wind on Old School to give me a break.

For the next few kilometres we worked well and started to pass some other riders falling off the pace. Those that could join did and our numbers grew to five or so riders. As more and more cyclists dropped back from the groups ahead of us we started to feel better about our chances. I was so motivated to catch the rest of my team that I made sure we kept the pace up but this seemed to reduce our numbers.

With the course only 9km in distance we travelled the same roads so many times that I lost track of some of the details. In around the 4th lap I caught up to another rider in a smaller group in front of me and we seemed to click pretty well with our pace. It took a few laps of us working together before I realized it was Hans Porten. He was using the race as a training ride but I am sure his competitive fire got the best of him after a few laps and he seemed just as inspired to reach the larger groups in the distance as I was.

During the next several laps we stuck together and had a very respectable pace going. We were making some progress picking off one or two riders but the bigger groups just never came into view again. On the 7th or 8th lap we had the leaders zoom past us on the back stretch so we ended up losing a lap. The peloton then swallowed us up (they were running 40 seconds back of the lead 5 riders) as we made our descend into Terra Cotta on the downhill portion of the course on Winston Churchill. Those two groups were the only ones to pass us during the race so I am not sure where the next group was on the course (and the stats were not posted at the time of this report) so I am not sure if we managed to get closer to Brian and Richard but they must have been flying out there as I never spotted them once.

On our final lap (lap 11 for us), I unintentionally lost Hans just after our last climb on Heritage Hill. I had kept my pace consistent for the entire race which was a very nice feeling and ended up completing the final lap solo at 35km/h. I actually picked up a few more spots in the final 9km but due to the size of the peloton (there had to been 50 to 60 riders, or so it appeared as they swooped by us), I was quite a ways back in the overall race.

These races are very humbling to many of us multisport athletes. We seem to have very solid bike splits in our races but the true cyclists really teach us a thing or two about the sport when we race with them. This was my second cycling road race and I was hoping to place better. Thinking back on the race I am actually very happy with my effort and my work with the other riders, such as Hans. In my first experience, I ended up limping to the line in a much shorter race because I tried to work solo all of the race and burned out quickly. I definitely walked away from this race with a positive experience and very happy Mark (great race by the way!) talked me into signing up. It was a pleasure to mingle after the event with Colin, Hans and Chad as we caught our wind. To Ian, on the organizing side of the table, and all the Falcons that raced, volunteered and cheered during the course of the event, awesome job!

August 2, 2009

Tour de Terra Cotta

Tomorrow is going to be a big day for this sprint distance athlete. 108km of cycling on the 9km loop course in Terra Cotta. A group of us from the FMCT club will try to have some fun keeping up with the cycling regulars. It should be a neat experience to work as a unit instead of flying solo as per the du and tri efforts we are used to. I checked out some of the registrants and recognize some familiar names. It will be nice to hook up with some former du'ers (John Stewart and Zack Steinman) to see how things are going.

I knew I was racing this a few weeks ago so ramped up the rides a little but have kept to the running program. It is very important that I keep getting quicker on the run so I did not want to just focus on the bike for this race as I still have a few duathlons left this season and then hope to run a few races later to see how I have progressed over the past year.

Well, best go and get some rest for tomorrow. I have yet to ride over 70km this year in any given day so I may end up with some very heavy legs half way through this one. I hope my team is ready to pull!!! HAHA

Best of luck on your weekends!