This is stolen from Hugh Trenchard's Blog site


The first BC Masters Association race of the season took place on Sunday April 6, a 70km effort beginning on the outskirts of Cowichan Lake, a quaint little town that oddly reminds me of various places in Switzerland, given its proximity to the mountains, a large lake and the somewhat twisting configuration of the streets.

The course consisted of roughly 20km out along undulating and winding topography, before hanging a right onto a 15km circuit that included a 2km leg-breaking climb completed twice before turning back onto the straightaway to the finish. Masters races are traditionally an “Australian pursuit” format, where the oldest age group starts first, followed by the younger groups at timed intervals . This is essentially a handicapped start, the idea being to stagger the starts sufficiently to compensate for age-related discrepancies in fitness, making it possible for the oldest rider to win the race overall if the younger groups are not able to catch the older riders. In this case the times were staggered by four minutes, I believe, between each group, although the organizers do not always set the time gaps uniformly between groups, so I’m not certain this was the case. There are prizes for those who cross the line first, regardless of their age group, as well as among the age-groups.

I had heard that it is “always raining for that race”. Being early April the odds of that holding true again were good, and sure enough it was cloudy, cool (about 7 degrees), with a light rain accompanying the riders at the start. There were only 22 riders to start, but that was good enough to make a race of it. Although I am currently 39, I turn 40 this year, and so am in the 40-49 category, which group also contained Bob Cameron, Tony Wakelin, Steve Munro, and about 4 others - a group of good strong riders. In the 50 group there was Duane Martindale, Derek Tripp, and others (I didn’t make a mental note of everyone there). Among a couple of others in the 60 group was David Mercer, always fit and strong, and a couple of others. The 30 group was the largest, consisting of about 8 or 9 riders. Among other strong riders, this group contained Emil de Rosnay, who had a stellar ride in the end.

From my perspective I was aware that not only is Bob an unbeatable sprinter (having just won the Caleb Pike race among the crowd of much younger, higher level, cyclists the Wednesday before) but that he has also been climbing well and is as strong as anyone on the flats. Since Bob can dust me and most anyone in a sprint, the only chance I have against him is to get away sometime well before the final sprint. I was also aware that Derek Tripp, in the 50s group, is always strong, as is Duane, although Derek is a stronger climber. Although I usually feel I have a good chance to win these races, both my category and overall, this time I thought it was quite possible that either Bob or Derek would take the overall win. I have won a handful of Masters races in the past in the 30 category, at least two of them as the overall winner after catching all the groups ahead.

On the start, my group worked together well for about the first 10k, when a few of the gradual rises and a bit of pressure from Bob and me at the front, forced the group to disintegrate. A few km before the first climb up, it was Bob, Tony, Steve, and I left. Of these four, Steve was the first to succumb, while Tony dropped off just before the climb. Bob took the first part of the climb at a hard, steady pace, and I was thinking I would have a tough time shaking him at that pace. We passed two riders from the 60s group who had been passed earlier by the 50s. However, about half-way, I was able to hold the same pace anaerobically, while Bob dropped off and I gained distance over him rapidly over the second half of the climb. At that point, and over the top, I decided to keep the pace high in order to maintain my gap over Bob, and then to hunt down the 50s.

I maintained a high pace around the second loop of the circuit, and caught the 50s and David Mercer, about 1km before the ascent. I took a short breather and rode with them to the base of the hill, but was aware that Bob and the others would be closing the gap too. I was told that one rider, Derek, was still up the road, but no one was sure how far. I thought he might be far enough to hold me off, but when I hit the hill for the second time, I maintained a hard steady pace, albeit perhaps a notch in arrears of the pace the first time up and, as I went, I could see the gap shrink between myself and Derek. By the top I was only a few seconds behind, and was rapidly closing the remainder. Turning onto the last 15km straightaway I was just about to catch him, when I could see him encounter some sort of mechanical problem, as it appeared that his chain had locked up.

Unfortunately for Derek, he was unable to finish the race at that point, while I rode past and onto the last 15km for the finish line and the overall win. My time for the 70km was about 1:46ish, quite fast for a hard course and mostly time-trialing on my own. A couple of minutes later, Bob took the group sprint, a group that included Emil de Rosnay from the 30-39 group, who got across to the 40s, who in turn caught the 50s. Depending on how far ahead I was in fact, and the time gap between us and the 30 group, his overall finishing time may have been faster than mine. In any event, it was a fun day all around, and I loved the course and will plan for it again next year. There is some talk of making it later in the season next year.