Lou Mannheim: Bud… Bud I like you. Just remember something. Man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.
Bud Fox: I think I understand.
I don’t. I’m clearly carrying some kind of retarded gene, because it’s evident to me that racing in a pack on the road is totally against my physiology, my psychology and furthermore against the laws of good nature, the universe and humanity – not necessarily in that order.
Bud Fox: Did mom give you fish for dinner?
Carl Fox: Spaghetti! Your mother still makes lousy spaghetti.
Bud Fox: It’s called “pasta” now, dad. “Spaghetti” is out of date.
Carl Fox: So am I.
Well, not quite. I heard from so many people that when you hit the 40’s in your life, your energy drops and you are unable to look at new endeavours with quite the same drive. I call BS on that now.
This is my 4th road race this year, and with the exception of the first have been unceremoniously dropped. However, there is a pattern emerging. I like my chances.
Race 1: Flat. Was in the lead group until the end. Something about some stupid riding leading to crashes in the last corner. Whatever.
Race 2: Hills. Dropped within 10 minutes on the first climb. Chased for 60km like an imbecile – albeit leading a groupetto, so some kind of redemption.
Race 3: Hills. Dropped within 10 minutes on the first climb. Note to readers – I actually led the race at the front of the pack for some of those ten minutes – the few leading up to the first climb. Chased like an imbecile for 70km albeit leading every groupetto I was in.
Race 4: Hills. Well, without spoiling the story, I hung with the pack for a solid hour. Yes 60 minutes. Over 1,200 feet climbing before they dropped me. Haha. The only reason I got dropped is because I unclipped after a contact with the tire in front of me on a corner. Fuck. Well, maybe not 100% honest, because I was cooking pretty hard by then. But still 60 minutes with the pack.
Gordon Gekko: Mixed emotions, buddy. Like Larry Wildman going off a cliff in my new Maserati.
I return to the narrative.
It’s a warm day and we arrive at the race venue which happens to be a field of freshly shit-sprayed grass. The air is humid and fetid. Fetmid. I like it. There isn’t time to dilly-dally. Only 40 mins to go-time. I sign-on in the semi-trailer which is doing double duty as the race office. Some large pins affix my numbers.
We bottle up, shammy up, sun-tan cream up etc. We are three amigos from Martin Swiss – Tom, Tristan and myself. It’s fun to ride out with the guys, and Tom does sterling duty in taxi service. Thanks dude. It’s gonna be hot so we hide in the shade such as there is and chat to the other Martin Swiss riders. There is a buzz because some pro guy is there form Europe. I forgot his name I send an email:
How’s the legs J Writing my blog this afternoon, and wondered if you remembered the name of the pro at the race on Saturday, I totally forgot his name, but he did go by me pretty fucking fast on the gravel section.
You racing Lachine tomorrow???
Bud Fox: Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steel.
It’s go time.
We watch the Men’s elite, then Cat 1 and then it’s our turn. It’s a 4 square dance of 5 laps of 24km. We haul off down a long country road. The pack wedged in the lane of traffic. So annoying. I find outside wind, cross the yellow line, blatant foul, but sick of bleeding speed on the downhill. We hit the first corner. Intense braking for no reason. String beans. Hard pant chase. Back in the pack. 55km hr on the flat.
Feels easy, turn to the downwind. Into the wind. Up an endless hill. Not 3 percent. Soon 5% then more. Hot legs over the highway, turn onto the gravel crosswind section. Blazing fast. 2 lanes, not so sketchy. In the front of a group. Then others cross over to my lane, I draft. I can handle this. It’s hard, but body is ok. I like the gravel.
We turn onto the last corner and into steep climb to the finish line. 6-7% for sure. I die, back to the mid-pack and worse. What can I do??? I’m pushing almost 1000 watts and climbing at 25km/hr but the skinny guys crush me.
We crest the start/finish line and head to lap 2. I am in the front again, soon in 2nd wheel, then briefly at the front. Another short hill is a bit harder on lap 2, I drop back. We head to the turn and I make contact with wheel in front and then something happened which has not happened for an age.
In fact, it happened only once. At the moment of impact I unclip my left shoe and actually kick off the ground to avoid falling. I did this in a pace line mountain biking years ago, and it’s such a bizarre experience that I never believed it would happen again.
Better than crashing. But my momentum is shattered. I try hard to catch back on, but the effort and the shock are too much. The peleton is gone.
I limp back to the line at half speed then disgusted with myself, cross the start/finish line and head out for another lap. Then another lap. I see Tristan at the start of the 4th lap at the line and I’m motivated to keep going, but truth be told after that moment it’s all downhill. I pull the pin at 80km and head back to the start/finish line.
We chat, we head for beers and are joined a few minutes later by Tom who is also out – he got caught up in a crash in front of him, suffered a mechanical and had to bail. At least he has a cold beer waiting for him from my cooler.
Ah, so we all got spanked (it was a rather hot day in our defence) but I think we all agree it was a fun morning out, a great workout, and always a pleasure to race with other folks here in Quebec. The organization is solid, even if there’s still no beer and drinks and snacks at the end of the race!
Also, on the upside, I get to check out some of the big boys in action. Hugo Houle is the pro there, he’s an absolute beast. He rode the Vuelta a España in 2017 – great – nothing like seeing a pro blow by while you’re solo lapping lmao!!
Some of the other Martin Swiss riders finished their race strong – way to go Brandon! If I forgot your name other Martin Swiss riders, then please let me know and will add you on.
Oh and by the way if you’re going to the race next year take note – it’s not flat!!!