Posted by Editoress on 04/12/06
2006 Paris to Ancaster
By: Nathan Chown - Fuji Canada
Well I took a year off from this race, but showed up for my 2nd time in 06. It was a great day for the race and the temperature was ideal in that it was cool but not much wind. There were about 250 or more in the first wave start and a total of 1500 or so for the 30 and 60 K races.
With that many in the first wave everybody and their dog wanted to be up front and there was a very diligent man at the start who was ensuring no last minute rollers to the line snuck in the front. Well that plan was a wash as like 10 guys overwhelmed the start dude and he just kind of gave up. It was rather amusing to watch 10 guys whine and complain about why they should be at the front.
The race start was rather relaxed and it was no problem to get to the front. The main problem was the volunteers cheering your efforts instead or pointing you in the proper direction as I took a flyer off the front and made a wrong turn 2 minutes into the race. A wrong turn with nobody watching is not too bad but with the whole pack viewing the result well let's just say I was rather gun shy for the rest of the race. After the detour I weaved my way from the back to the front again too get ready for the first selection area off the race. This is a sharp right turn onto a loose gravel climb that turns to a dirt road climb. I hit the section in 2nd behind Michael Simonson at the midway point of this section 4 of us had a good gap on the field. The group was Michael Simonson, Tristan Galbraith, Peter Morse and I. We all saw we had a good gap and worked well together. However after some sections dirt and trail Andrew Watson and Michael Garrigan had bridged up. The group was now six but the cooperation was good. After 20 minutes this group was established with the chasers somewhat visible. Of the six, 4 of us had cross bikes and the two Mike's had MTB's
The dynamic of the group was good and there were no attacks except for the odd hard effort to get to a technical section first. I was handling my bike with the grace of a three toed sloth and after my earlier detour I was very hesitant try to take off on my own. After the first hour small gaps were forming after some of the harder muddy and technical sections. But no one really wanted to drive it hard to leave any of the stragglers behind and they would eventually rejoin. I knew the race would come down to the two technical muddy and rocky descents my only problem was I had no idea of when they were coming. Well they did come but luckily Mike G got into the first one and had to get off his MTB. I was third in line had decided early to run it and actually made good time. At the end of this section the Mike.G and myself had a small gap with Mike S just behind. The other portions of the group again were also fairly close. Before the next big downhill the group reformed with Mike G again leading into it. I was second wheel and proceeded to endo nicely over a fallen Mike G. This error allowed Mike S to get a good gap. I got up quick and ran again keeping the damage to 10 secs. Mike G and I again were together with only some downhill and flat sections before the last big climb to the finish, the others in the group were now gapped. With about 1.5 K to go I attacked on a corner got a small gap on Mike G and got to around 5 seconds of the leader Mike S, however things took a turn for the worse at his time. I took my eyes of my line and hit a rock or root or something and proceeded to drift to the left. The only problem was that to the left was a 3 foot deep mud hole which I face planted into. See photo.
Mike G had an awesome view of the incident and the 3 other in the group also had a nice view of me trying to get the mud out of my eyes as they rolled past me. Well after a minute or so I got rolling with an extra 10 pounds on board and barely caught Peter and Andrew to roll in for 4th. Mike S held on for first and he was easily the most consistent in the group, made the least mistakes and took a well deserved win. Mike G made a strong effort but had to settle for 2nd and Tristan G took a hard earned 3rd, with Peter and Andrew rolling for 5th and 6th.
This race is probably the closest thing to a real classic that you will find in this region as there are 10 or so places where you need to be close the front or you risk losing contact with the race leaders. You need a good mix of power, technical skill and luck to win as flatting is a big concern. In the end it was a great race and I think the racers had a lot of fun. All the racers who lined up and attempted it deserve recognition as it is a tough haul no matter what place you are going for.
See the 1500 or so of you out there next year.
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