Posted by Editoress on 06/13/12
What Really Happened at the KW classic: the Whereabouts of Jamie Riggs.
by David Byer
On Sunday, June 10th, 2012, team Octto-Cervélo arrived at the Kitchener-Waterloo classic. The temperature was already 28 degrees Celsius with 97% humidity and light winds. The dew point was on the rise and we knew it was going to be a hot and humid day. With 28 laps of a 4.6km course ahead of us, at least we knew there would be plenty of opportunity to take on fluids and stay safely hydrated. Or so we thought….
As of late, my form has been questionable to a degree. Not to make excuses, but I have been distracted by hours of volunteer work with various lifesaving organizations and battling a debilitating mystery muscular disease and substantially lowered ferritin levels. For the past few weeks I have been living at altitude in a mud hut training endlessly and eating berries, twigs and sun-dried kale chips as preparation for the rest of my season. Although I was not ready yet to return, the recent public demonstrations calling for my now famous race reports moved me to attend this race. I didn’t realize that we had such a large following in Quebec.
Injury and illness had also stricken some of my teammates so we were only three; myself, Yuri ‘the missle’ Hyraczzaxjjajjx [Ed. Yuri Hrycaj], and the Pete ‘Ace of Spades’ Morse. The field was small so we knew it would be the veritable ‘death march’ with nowhere to hide. We also knew that the best place to be was ‘up the road’. When the gun (they actually used a whistle) went off, the temperature had hit 29.98 degrees C.
After riding at parade pace for much of the first lap, we got down to trying to feel out who had the legs of the day. The lone Wheels of Bloor rider Bruce Bird was putting his strategy into play already; chase everything. As such, it took more than 4 laps for the break to go. We are still trying to figure out how, but a gap was left and a small group formed. Unknown rider Darren Matthews had been aggressive early on and found his way into the trio along with Chris ‘what’s-for-lunch’ Freeland and Jet Fuel’s Man-ton Varabei [Ed. Anton Varabei]. The mistake was made.
Once the gap was established, the posturing started in the peloton. After all, it was early in a long hot race. Maybe if we just ride excruciatingly slow, the Man-ton known for drilling holes into the side of cliffs on his bike would just give up. That unknown Darren Matthews looked like a killer but I am sure he would fold. Or maybe the guy, Chris Freeland, who had been riding his bike since he was three years old, would not know what to do in a break. Funny fact; Chris once summered as a fill in animator for the Simpsons. Seriously.
The gap quickly hit one and then two minutes. Knowing that we missed the break, we had to make a few attacks to try and inspire the group to ride. I was truly hoping that a chase group would form so that I wouldn’t have to lend my effort to riding on the front in this heat. Yuri, Peter and I all tried various times. We tried attacking uphill, downhill, on the false flat; everywhere. But the Wheels of Bloor engine always brought the entire group back to us. And then his plan really kicked into action.
As soon as the feedzone opened, Bruce began riding hard through it on the far side of the road. This made getting those precious fluids difficult and added an exciting element of risk and danger to those brave volunteers who dared to stick out their arm in duty offering respite to the riders in the heat of the day. Apparently a go-to strategy of masters racing (the category from which the Bird hailed), it did nothing but make the race decidedly more dangerous in this case. Regardless, as everyone knows, if that plan doesn’t work the first five times, the best thing to do is to try it 20 more times. And nothing brings a break away back faster than riding super hard for 600meters out of a 4600 meter lap and preventing everyone from taking on fluids.
Lap after lap, the pattern continued. Rush the feedzone, sit up, and listen to how much the gap grew as we cruised by the start/finish line. It quickly hit 4 mins, then 6 mins. Those boys in the break soldiered on consistently and vigorously. At this point, I could see the frustration in our team as well as on the face of Ed Veal from Real Deal/ La Bicicletta and his teammates. Jet Fuel’s Evan Mundy rode up to Bruce. While I am not sure I heard the entire discussion, I think it went like this:
Evan: what are you doing?
Bruce: 400 watts.
Evan: no, seriously, what’s the deal?
Bruce: low Zone 4.
Evan: Come on man, why are you riding like that?
Bruce: Grow up.
Stalemate. A ‘locking of strategic horns’. And as the gap grew into another time zone, I had noticed that Evan’s Jet Fuel teammate Jamie Riggs was no longer in the peloton. I hadn’t raced with him yet this year. I missed him. Deeply. Racing with no Jamie is like a bath with no water; a love song with no melody.
I admit my mind began to wander at this point of the race but Yuri and Pete somehow had the attention span to keep attacking. But, as if adjoined by the skill of a trained welder, the attacks were always neutralized. We missed it. The trio was laying the proverbial boots to us.
In many ways, I was lucky. Due to a lack of form, I would have been the one to ride on the front in an attempt to bring back any gaps later in the race. However, as the break was now already into Monday and we had negatively raced our way back to Saturday, it was pretty clearly over. Parched from the feedzone attacks, I felt what could have been cramps creeping into my legs. With five laps to go, I realized that they were not cramps but my overwhelming desire to catch up with Jamie Riggs on the road side.
As I pulled over, Peter Morse finally escaped with Ed Veal and Bruce Bird to form a “chase” group. The irony being that the break actually chased and caught this group before the end. Man-ton surgically removed the legs and lungs of his break away companions in the dying laps of the race. And while Chris Freeland dug deep to stay with him until the final kilometer, the Crusher was able to cross the line alone.
Peter Morse fought valiantly in his group giving his best to salvage the day for the team. And this brings me to the ‘lessons learned’ section of the report. First; you can always count on Peter Morse to go out fighting. Second; if you can’t accelerate, dehydrate.