Hardwood Hills always does an absolutely great job of hosting the Canada Cup race, and this year was no different. With the bulk of the course similar to last year, there were some small changes in the route to mix it up and keep us on our toes. Learning to ride the fast swooping corners is something different than I'm used to out in Alberta, but really fun none the less once you get the feel of it.
Waking up Sunday morning, honestly, I couldn't have felt better for a race. Staying an hour away in Brampton probably wasn't the best of all ideas, although my traveling buddies parents are amazing people to visit and stay with. With an 11:30 start time, the plan was to get there at the latest 10, and for me to start my warm up at 10:30. We left the house at 8:45, with just a quick Timmy Ho's stop to grab a coffee, leaving us with more than enought time to make the drive. Cruising along we all of a sudden come to complete stop, the 400 North to Barrie is shut down....WHAT!!!!! Three full lanes of traffic are slowly funneling onto the off ramp for a backroad detour. I could just feel my blood pressure start to rise. An hour later, a really full belly of coffee, and a dangerously high stress level, Jeff has the van just about floored coming into Hardwood Hills. With only 40mins to the start, we fly around and somehow I manage to pull off a 30min warm up, not great, but it will have to do.
At the start, I'm still shaking, more than a little jumpy and very jittery, but once the gun goes off, life is perfect again. Not the crazy start I was expecting from the Chinese National team leading out, but a good pace none the less. We soon move into a long train behind them. Before long, I can no longer see the red and yellow suits of the Chinese, but I see Kiara occasionally, and can feel Emily Batty breathing down my neck. Feeling great for the first three laps, I push the pace and try to make up the little time between myself and Kiara. But coming around to the fourth and last lap I can definitely feel that my legs and body aren't going to cooperate as they promised. At the start of the lap I check over my shoulder and see Emily coming at me fast and furiously, and I think to myself, "I'm gonna make her work for this one". I hold her off until the last km and a half, but by then I've got nothing left. Every little push up a hill and my legs are screaming at me, and soon enough that sound is starting to come out of my mouth. I'm almost in tears trying to hold her wheel, and I'm slowly slipping away. Then in one of the final corners, half gooned from exersion, I go down in a soft corner of sand. Sitting there I simply have to smile, I haven't pushed myself that hard for a long time. Finishing in 6th position, not the spot I was looking for, but a great race and effort all the same....and yes, even when it hurts that bad I can honestly say that I had fun riding my bike.
Jeff racing the Master Expert finished a really solid 5th place against some really fast locals (home court advantage definitely).
Now, after a couple lazy days up north, swimming in the lake and biking, we're heading east to Mont St Anne. Nothing like a little 10 hour drive to make the stiff legs feel great. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for another dry Quebec stint...maybe pushing my luck.