The first race of the year is over, the Paris Ancaster 60K. Chris Werth and I drove up yesterday afternoon to pick up our registration material and check out the last hill at the finish. It is a 300 foot climb on a gravel road in just over a mile. Just the thing you want after riding 37 miles.
The morning of the race we met up with Mike Simonson, last year's winner, Jason Lummis and Joe Brzuchanski, all are from Michigan and they gave us a ride to the start. The also led us on a warm-up ride down the first couple of miles of trail to try and show us where the first bottle neck climb was. We kept riding looking for it as the race time grew closer. Finally we made it back to the start shortly before the gun. Unfortunately there are 400 people in the first wave of all classes so it helped if you could line up early. Imagine 400 riders trying to fit into a 15 foot wide rail trail after the first mile of road.
When the race finally started it was about a minute before those of us in the back were able to move. A lot of the race is rail trail, double track and public roads, both dirt and paved. There were some sections through the woods and fields that were very muddy or just slow. For the rest of the course getting into pacelines was the only way to survive.
I rode my cyclocross bike and it seemed the best choice except for a few of the muddy downhills, or mud slides as they called them. I was able to move up fairly well despite the starting position and felt strong on the hills. The narrow tires on the 'cross bike cut through most of the mud and allowed me to gain traction.
Toward the end of the race a large group of us came out of the nastiest mudslide and turned down the two track road only to find out in a few minutes that we were going the wrong way. Of course we now had to go back up hill to get on course. Looking at where we turned there were no markings at this intersection. The rest of the course had been pretty well marked or manned with someone to tell you which way to go. Overall we lost about 4-5 minutes and it may have cost me a chance for the podium. That's racing though, as it was I finished 4th out of 82. Chris had a good race finishing 7th in SS and the Michigan crew had a great day overall with Mike successfully defending his title.
This race is now the largest single day race in Canada with over 1600 riders. It was well organized, inexpensive, and a good early season tester. They even had the results posted online the same evening of the race. I think I'll be back next year. http://www.parisancaster.com/
Last minute race preparation and Chris getting his magic pills ready.