Posted by Editoress on 07/17/12
Lightning vs the Missile - by David Byer
I awoke at 8:37 am on July 15th, 2012, and I could taste it, feel it, smell it lurking. Heat, humidity and a sense of chaotic certainty; today would be the day the oracles of the Dark Lord Kromdar spoke of. The battle of the summer, the provincial Road Race was upon us. It was chaos they wanted and chaos we OCTTO-Cervélo riders live for.
I had been working hastily all week to make sure my meteorological modelling apparatii were functioning perfectly. Throughout the week, wildly different models led to insanely different predictions on what the conditions would be like on race day. Heat, rain, thunder, lightning, brutality... everyone was wondering how to prepare and what to expect. So, Peter “The ace of spades” Morse, Yuri “The Missle” Hyrcaj and I prepared for everything. We had one plan and one plan only; get up the road, dig our heels in and get ready for battle.
On the start line we were outnumbered. Already, we could smell the rain and electricity in the air. The nerves of the riders were pulsing, as the start had been delayed by the tumultuous weather. We kept our heads. Our competitors were sizing each other up. The Real Deal/La Bicicletta team was present in full force. Headlined by the Real Deal (Ed Veal) himself, they had an extra bit of horsepower with the return of the infamous Darko Ficko. Darko had taken some time off to implant a bionic hip as the power of his pedal stroke threatened to turn his natural bone into dust. At six-foot-eleventeen, he would make for an excellent lightning rod if the day called for it.
Elite Men in the break on the major climb with eventual winner, Yuri Hrycaj -centre (Octto-Cervelo) in the rain.
Garneau-Quebecor-Norton Rose also had a large squad with Jeff “The Hitman” Schiller on the line. He seemed markedly pensive as the now famous Zachary Hughes signed autographs for his adoring fans. Mixed among the usual suspects were a few vaguely familiar faces. Jordan Cheyne was back to fly the H&R Block colours outside of the normal tax season and the always aggressive Charlie Bryer from the Ekoi.com - Gaspesien team was sure to make the race interesting.
All of these riders were taking note of one another. Curiously, I could overhear most of the guys talking about some guy named Ryan-something-or-other pointing out this guy in a red and white jersey that featured a maple leaf [ed. Ryan Roth, National Champion]. All of this tension was playing right into our hands. Octto-Cervélo wasn’t fooled; we know that people with a maple leaf on their jersey generally don’t win. [ed. that only applies to Blue Maple Leafs, pluralized singular]
The clouds had amassed when the whistle went off and, as sure as the rain came, so did the attacks. The Stevens team showed their strength early and often being the aggressors, as did the Ride With Rendall boys. What is IN the water up in Ottawa I thought to myself? Most of these guys had raced the day before in Gatineau Park! The hurt doesn’t show, but the pain still grows. It’s no stranger to you and me (as I write this, I feel like there should be a killer drum fill right here). But, it wasn’t until Charles Bryer took the race by the taters that it really got interesting.
People often ask me “are you and Charlie brothers...?” The answer is; no, he is my son. In my land, it is custom to add an extra family consonant to your last name for every new generation. Our family consonant is “R”. He was named for his grandfather Charles BYE. Obviously. And he did our family proud. He attacked and attacked again. Neither rain, nor gravity, nor road rash, nor his complete lack of traction was going to stop my son.
With rain pelting us and no clear selection going away, lightning began to strike in the distance. We learned that our race was to be stopped for thirty minutes while the danger passed us by. Now, I appreciate having such a caring police force ensuring our safety at these races. But, as we passed the aluminum and steel structure at the start/finish line with the commissaries standing on it telling us that we needed to pull over I thought; those are the real heroes of our cycling community; risking their safety for ours.
As the peloton obliged and pulled into the wide open field with the big metal tower and metal fencing for cover, OCTTO-Cervélo rode to the opposite side of the parking lot from Darko “The conductor” Ficko to safely discuss our strategy. It remained the same: stay upright and get up the road.
Upon re-start, the weather went from wet to hot and we got back down to business. Charles Bye II Bryer went right back to his attacking-and-tumbling routine and caused more opportunities for an escape while that Ryan R. guy in the red and white maple leaf jersey showed that he was surprisingly strong. He must have moved up from cat 3 recently, or something...
The ever ready Yuri “The Ukranium-Powered-Missile” launched off the front in pursuit of My Son with Bayden “Works-hard-for-his-money” Pritchard and Derek “I-just-gave-up-running-this-year” Snider in tow. No reaction came as the favorites watched each other. The trio put coal in the furnace leaving us to wonder who in the bunch would burn a match to bring them back.
Peter Morse and I were now in the best seat in the house as the skies once again opened up and began to pour. With the corners slick with rain, the speed was controlled, meaning that we just needed to be vigilant at the front during the uphill sections. At one point, Pete looked over at me with that smile that only knowing veterans of the sport get. As imminent as the approaching thunder, he knew it was coming. He could feel it in the air tonight. He knew Yuri had been waiting for this moment all his life. Oh lord.
Meanwhile, en la tête de la course, the trio of Bayden, Snider and The Missile had passed Bryer who had finally decided that it was just time to stay down; it just wasn’t going to be his day.
Elite men podium: Brayden Pritchard (Speed River CC),, Yuri Hrycaj (Octto-Cervelo), DerekSnider (Independent)
Their gap held through all of the attacks in the peloton. And as the chaotic weather swelled forcing the finish line to creep closer to the start line than we had thought, it became clear that the showdown was set. It was the first time, the last time they ever met. And with true elegance and the fuse lit, The Missile blasted to the finish line a clear winner in the Ontario Provincial Road Race.
[Ed. Congrats to Yuri Hrycaj, the new Ontario Provincial Champion!]
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