Springbank Road Race Report

springbank road race

Springbank Road Race Ontario Cup #3 Report

This morning I made my way to London, Ontario to participate in the Springbank Road Race.  It was an absolutely beautiful morning for a race in a beautiful location, except for the narrow bike paths they had us racing down.

Unlike the Good Friday Road Race, the Springbank Road Race got off to a much better start.  This time it was a combined field of Elite 4s and Master 3s, so I had no chances of getting mixed in with the wrong group.

The Race

I took a spot near the front of the group at the start line knowing that I needed to be near the front of the peloton to negotiate the tight and twisting 2.2km loop around Springbank Park.  Did my best to suppress my nervous and missed clipping in on go.  And just like that I was at the back as we excited the first corner.

The Springbank Road Race was starting to look a lot like the Good Friday Road Race: me chasing the main group in vain.  But it almost seemed like luck was on my side.springbank road raceAs I neared catching the group, a crash occurred in one of the narrow corners and since I was stuck behind it, I could take a free lap with the other guys involved (note: keep track, that’s 1 lap down already).

After waiting in the pits, I failed to catch back on to the group as they came around.  And once again I was off the back chasing.  But this time it was chasing the wheel of another rider off the back.  Eventually I caught him, we chatted a little, I messed up some corners and lost his wheel.  Then the main group caught us and I lost my at the back buddy in the crowd, never to be seen again. (that’s 2 laps down)

springbank road raceOnce again I was on my own at the back, working hard to save face.  I wasn’t going to pull out of this race.  If I was going to DNF, they were going to have to pull me from the course.

Eventually the main group caught me again (3 laps down) and I tried in vain to hop on the wheels of other stragglers, but I had nothing left to accelerate to latch on as they went by.  And eventually the call came from the announcer that my race was done as I crossed the finish line with 7 laps to go (9 for me).

That was all for me at the Springbank Road Race.  After a couple more laps a greatly depleted group contested the sprint for the win (won by some guy from To Wheels).  So it seems I was not the only one who could not handle the high pace of the Springbank Road Race.

What Went Wrong?

I was spit out the back before I could even get going.  The speed of the race was just too much for me.  So like any good racer I will admit that I could not keep up with the speed of the group because of my equipment.

I was too slow because I do not have a set of deep carbon wheels.  All the drag from my current set of wheels was slowing me down.  Obviously, a new set of wheels would give me the aerodynamic edge I need to go from off the back to at the front.

Anyone want to get me a set of these DT Swiss RRC 66s?

Anyone want to get me a set of these DT Swiss RRC 66s?

But honestly, even though I would love a set of those DT Swiss RRC 66s (DT Swiss’s star ratcheting hub is great for big riders like me), the Springbank Road Race was an eyeopener to what needs to be worked on.  Unlike the Good Friday Road Race, my DNF at the Springbank Road Race was not because of some stupid mistake.  So once again here is what I have learned from this experience.

First, I am physically not at the level required to compete at this level.  The speed was just too much for me.  As I had said before the race, my fitness felt good but I had nothing to compare it to.  So clearly it wasn’t good enough.  I could train harder by myself, do some more threshold intervals, but I think the best way for me to reach that level is to ride with people at that level.  I need to do some fast group rides with riders who are going to kick my ass.

Second, I need to work on my cornering skills.  I just don’t have the confidence to corner at high speeds whether by myself, in a pace line or in a large group.  If I can’t corner well I wont be able to hold my spot in the group and will eventually find myself at the back once again.  I could work on my cornering by myself, but once again I think it is something better done with a group.  Riding with better riders is a great way to get better because you can see how they do it and follow their lead.

Conclusion

I left the Springbank Road Race disappointed with not finishing but satisfied with my performance.  I learned my lesson from the Good Friday Road Race that I needed to “HTFU” and that is what I did.  I kept going hard up until they pulled me from the course.  Being 2 for 2 for DNFs is not a great feeling, but at least I know what I need to work on.

So what’s next?  After today’s result I have decided not to do the Niagara Classic on May 17th.  Hills and I do not agree and I really want to work towards finishing a race.  My next race will most likely be the Grey County Time Trial on May 23.  Despite it being basically a hill climb, I fancy myself a time trialist so of course I have to go.  After that is the Barrie Crit, my goal for this season.  I want to put in a good performance at my home race and will be working towards that event on May 30th.

Finally, I have to give a special thank you to the family members who game out to watch me ride around in a circle.