From the Paris To Ancaster site here is a description of the race: For over a century the roads of northern Europe have been home to the toughest bicycle races in the world. The most famous of these, Paris to Roubaix, takes place each spring over brutal cobblestone roads that have been preserved in their historic condition for over 100 years. Inspired by this classic race, the Paris to Ancaster has taken place for the past twenty four years over the roughest farm lanes, trails and gravel roads we can find. Combined with unpredictable spring weather and the largest field of riders assembled in Canada, it has become a classic race experience for everyone from average riders to Canadian Olympians.
After hearing how great this race was and seeing a roll call from Geno (East Side Riders Cycling Club
) just after New Year's I thought, I have to do this. With no arm twisting at all, Steve Tymczak was in. I had a strong training base going into the ride ~4000 km, but how do you prepare for this race? Think you just get to the line, then grin and bear it.
|Dinner with some of the Windsor-Essex Gang - 30 more behind!
Geno had made everything super easy for the newbies - we dropped the car off at the Ancaster arena, picked up our race plates and then we had a bus back to the hotel. Most of the Windsor Essex crew were all staying at Arlington, then dinner at Stillwaters - great group, few beers and some good stories from past races. Weather for the race was looking quite favourable from previous years - was going to be dry from the skies, cool at the start, and of course there would be muddy sloppy sections, just because that's the nature of the beast at P2A.
Race morning we had a short 3 km spin to the start - one of the best, most chill starts I have ever been involved with. Steve and I were in wave 3 which started at 10:20 am. There was a good energy at the start - not a nervous energy that you sometimes get in larger races. Steve Fleck as always, making things interesting with race announcing () all through the day; counts us down to the guns firing. Quick climb up the road, sharp right and a nice steep climb to get things going, then soon after it was a 6 km rail trail to space things out.
Every surface you can imagine we seemed to ride on, including the thickest, stickiest mud I have ever encountered. The last "mud shoot" was crazy long and deep. I started in wave 3 - so by the time I made it there - I was surrounded by wave 1 and 2 folks - quite busy, so trudging through on foot was the my best option. The mud was so thick, I feared I was going to lose my shoes and by the end I honestly thought my bike was being held down by something, something other than gravity and the extra 20 pounds of mud! After the final mud shoot it was a few trails and then the famed climb, after 70+ km of up and down, windy sections and sloppy terrain it was a challenge, I did manage to pedal all the way up. I was really proud to finish 387th overall, with field of 1452 completing the 70km race.
How did I fuel? Out of convenience when riding my mountain bike I use a camelbak - I find that I am able to drink more and I have grown accustomed to having the pack on my back. I like the convenience for tools and to stuff any layers that I take off during the race. My main custom blend right now is: Darcy's Road Blend - 290 cals, 4 g protein, 68 carbs and 379 mg of sodium. I am a fairly heavy sweater - I took in 3.5 servings (2100 ml 3.5 servings) during the 2:57 race. Took on some Repair as soon as I could - I was feeling pretty good today!
Talked to so many riders this weekend, most have completed this race year over year, and now I understand why. Great to have an early season race to train for. I am certain I will be back for my 2nd next year. For now I need to rest up, this Saturday - I am riding a 375 km (24 hr) Fleche Randonneur ride.