The alarm was set, but I didn’t need it. Woke up about 4:10am already racing in my head and my wheels were turning. Got on my wrinkly khaki pants I had on from the night before and loaded my bike and gear in my truck. I was traveling with 3 other team mates and we had to cram gear for all unknown weather, nutrition, bikes, helmets, and more. Crazy and kinda silly the amount of things we take to a race… anyways a few stops and we were off to cross the Blue Water Bridge into Ontario, Canada for a quick 2hr 30min drive to the start of the 19th Annual Paris to Ancaster Race. Paris Ancaster Web
I had only seen some pictures and watched a few videos on the terrain so I was going blind into the race. I’ve done this with other races in the past and I wasn’t nervous of the unknown at all. This was a “C-race” for me and I wanted to just take it all in. The atmosphere of this event is like no other. The rain started about an hour before the gun went off and Mother Nature let her spring wrath of cold pouring rain come out today. I think she wanted everyone to know she was alive and doing well!
I started farther back in Wave 1 and stayed there for about the first 10-12 miles into the race loop. The pace was fast and furious and the course is interesting to say the least. Gravel Roads, Paved Roads, Single Track, Rail Trail, Double Track, Farmers Fields, Ditches, Hills, Run Ups, Pastures, Private Driveways and Front Yards! The Police, Volunteers and Community really come out for this event. They stood at every turn in the rain and cheered everyone on… thank you!
photo credit: Shaun Welch
After about mile 20-21ish, I started to feel the legs get a little squishy. The sticky deep mud zapped the energy at an alarming rate making the hills to follow tough for me to climb. I noticed my average pace dropped 2-3 miles per hour on the flats and I had to chew on the grit in my mouth to maintain. Up until this I was with a solid group of riders at about the same fitness level as me this early in the year. The group of 15 dropped to about 8 or so and I continued to lead this group through all the single track and they pulled on the gravel. A few miles in we dropped to about 5 guys and rode the best we could. One rider in the pack said with a gasping breath “Keep up the good work in the single track, you’re gonna kill the mud shoots”. Again not knowing the course I didn’t fully know what the mud shoots were. Well, a few miles down the road I found out… WOWZERS. The mud shoots are some of the wildest down hills I have ever ridden and the rain and previous race traffic had taken its toll on them. It took everything I had to keep the bike upright and ride them. I saw many; many riders get on foot and trot down. I took the opportunity to ride out slow and controlled and see if I could gain a few on them on the exits. It worked to my advantage! After a few more twisty gravel turns, and some double track I found myself at the bottom of Mineral Springs Road looking up to what appeared to be a MOUNTAIN in my eyes. Considering I had just raced 37 miles and only had a half mile to go I was spent! People line the hill, music is playing and you can hear the finish line roars. I wanted to stay on the bike so bad at this point because I knew the finish was at the top. I started in a decent gear and my legs had a different plan… NO. I had to get off the bike and walk/run for about 100ft and get the knots out of my huge quads ;) People kept chanting ride, ride, ride… and back on the bike I went to dig deeper than I have in a long time and ride it out to the top. A slow 4-6mph climb and what felt like my eyes bleeding was probably a few tears of sweat and joy as I saw the finish line. I let a few last heavy cadence spins rip and called it a day.
All in all I was excited to do the event and ended up sitting 106th out of almost 400 racers in my A.G. My unofficial time was 2:35ish and change.
Very happy to have a few teammates travel with me and I congratulate them on the day. John Osgood, Pat Tomlinson and Jason Schneider…Nice work fellas! Also, a big shout out to all the Michiganders who made the voyage. Some stellar finishes to them!