In early September the RBC Whistler Grand Fondo took place. MEC was represented by an enthusiastic crew in sharp new Castelli kits. As I am one of the Envoy members as "Ski Mountaineer" I was stoked to be part of the team for the event !
|Ryders Legendary "Giro D'italia" Pink Jersey for Auction !|
After the ride I started looking around for more Fondo’s before hanging up the road bike before I started prepping for winter. I soon found Ryder Hesejdals 3rd annual Victoria ride was happening on Sept 22.
It seemed like the perfect excuse to head over to the island and soak up the legendary sunshine they supposedly get.
WWW.TOUR DE VICTORIA
WWW.TOUR DE VICTORIA
The event has 3 distances of 50km 100km and 140km to match goals of those that want to take part.
The 140km option route follows many of the classic roads in the Victoria area with over 1500m of climbing.
The level of organization at these events is impressive; the enthusiasm of those involved is contagious as is the smiles of the many volunteers.
I connected with my good friend and former Iron man champion “Peter Reid” for some pre-event fueling and I tried to squeeze some local’s knowledge of the course.
Before turning in for the night I did some last minute fine-tuning of the bike, then anticipating precipitation, dropped the tire pressure. Before I knew it my alarm jolted me awake and instantly my ears were alert to rain hitting the patio deck..
|Gear Junkies !|
|Essential for long, cold day's in the saddle- Taint Love and Hot Balm !|
At the start line it was great to see some familiar faces and folks of all shapes and sizes ! Some were there to be competitive, while others were more goal oriented where finishing an event of this nature was on their bucket list.
|Start and finish in front of the Parliment buildings, Victoria !|
After some quick speeches from local celebrities we rolled out to the National Anthem for a 5km neutral start. The 1500 riders in the 140km distance were off for a clockwise circuit around Greater Victoria in an absolute deluge of rain and wind. Even Victoria is not excluded from our coastal mountain monsoons!
Everybody looked dressed for the occasion and it was clear that spirits were not dampened one bit.
The loop took us through some amazing scenic back roads, secondary feeders and bike paths.
The lack of rain throughout the summer created slick roads and being conservative on the corners was key to keeping the rubber side down.
The highpoint of the course was on Munn road with a 6km climb with grades up to 18%. We were rewarded with a fast 8km technical down hill that demanded careful braking and line choices. A rider slid out in front of me and I had to change my line, taking me off the road to what looked like certain carnage. My mountain bike instincts kicked in and I negotiated and weaved through some big rocks before going over the bars at a manageable speed. I quickly ran back to the road, and took off, in a calm but disappointed realization that I might not catch the front group. Riding on my own gave me ideal line choices and little stress from having others around me and after 15 minutes of chasing I reattached to the lead group and started to refuel and put my raincoat back on.
The hill had naturally selected about 20 riders and it seemed this group would roll to the line for a field sprint.
That thought nearly crumbled when we hit a long cross wind section and a few of the local pro’s put their heads down and ramped up the speeds.
Eventually the road turned and we had the wind at our backs, the average speed went up but the effort went down.
As the roads snaked along the coast we still had to have our guard up for slick corners and especially the crosswalk paint ! There were a few crashes, usually at low speed and low consequence but it likely meant losing contact with the front group.
Eventually there was a fairly big crash . Again I nearly hit the deck but was able stay on my feet. I got my chain back on and thought for sure the peloton was gone.
I had one chance of connecting back to the group so I put my head down and ran through my gears and sat at my aerobic threshold in time trial mode until I caught back onto the tail of the dwindling pack.
Just as I arrived Rob Britton a local pro riding for a British team jumped away on a set of small rollers.
I was in no condition to try to join him so I sat back and tried to recover from my effort.
He slowly pulled away while our speeds fluctuated from lack of pack commitment.
About 10km away from the finish I tried a small move at the base of a climb and ended up dangling about 200 ft in front of the peloton so I shut it down.
Our group was rolling along at a moderately fast pace but essentially Rob was going to take the race if we did not commit.
3 km from the finish the group hesitated a little bit and I decided to have another dig, thinking that if I could make it to the final corners I had a shot at 2nd.
I immediately opened up a sizable gap, enough to pull it off; or so I thought.
As I turned into Victoria I was faced with a strong head wind. The Peloton was breathing down my neck and with fading legs, I was caught 100m from the finish for 9th overall.
Roger Lee who was also riding under the MEC Banner was 8th after overcoming some difficulties along the route.
It was awesome to see the continuous stream of riders coming across the line. It didn’t matter if you were a 50 km or 140km participant the achievement of taking part in the Tour and taking on the personal challenge was what brought a great cycling community together !