Murchie and Hypothermia

Two years ago at River Road, driving rain and low single digit weather led to a hypothermic Warren. Yesterday at the Murchie Road Spring Series course, driving rain and low single digit weather led to a hypothermic Warren. As of Friday afternoon, the weather reports were calling for temperatures in the 4-6C range, rain and southeast winds upwards of 30km/h. This was going to be awesome.

This particular race was a focus for me as this circuit will be used in the Devo stage race this year. I wanted to get out and race hard on the circuit once so I would know what to expect in early April.

From the finish line, the circuit went into a cross-headwind along a mildly rolling road for a couple of kilometers. A slight rise to a right turn then put you on a flatter stretch with a cross tail wind. Another right and another cross tailwind down the only real hill of the circuit. At the bottom of the hill, another right took us onto Murchie Road and several left and right corners before heading back to uphill drag to the finish line.

Before the race, I had expected a few things. The first, that an attack coming out of the long front stretch onto 0 avenue could be effective. Cross headwind to cross tailwind can stretch things out. Also, with a large part of the course being on some twisting roads, a break could well get out of sight. Finally, if the weather was particularly miserable, that would also bode well for the break.

Basically, I called it.

I had a couple of tactical goals for the race:

  1. Stay on the inside and out of the wind on the the long 240th Street stretch.
  2. Jump across to and start a couple of breaks.
  3. Stay in the top 10 as much as possible.

By the time lap 4 (of 7, for a total of 56km) rolled around I had put in a few hard attacks and bridged up to a couple more. Nothing lasted for more than a couple of minutes. I was also thinking seriously of abandoning. My fingers were numb enough that taking a drink from the bottle wasn't really possible anymore and the feet were numb so standing up and riding wasn't really an option either.

Still short attacks went, guys getting a few seconds on the field and then drifting back. Basically no one was willing to face the long headwind alone and it appeared that the field was tired and miserable enough that the aggressive riders just wouldn't get oraganized.

Three laps to go and I decided two things. One, I would attack on 0 avenue with a lap and a half, about 12km, to go. Two, after I was caught, at the first available opportunity I would head back to the car and call it a day.

Twenty more painfully cold minutes followed as we got to my planned attack point.

I came around the corner in about tenth place and put myself into the fast lane. When I was fifth in line I accelerated hard, about 200m before the right hander onto the downhill. I rounded that corner and took a look behind me to see what had happened, I definitely had a gap and someone was following me. This made me happy. I continued to pull hard, attempting to extend the gap before I rotated around.

Several seconds later, I glanced around again and realized I was alone. Oh. Crap.

The time trial started. I hit the wet, slippery corners at safe speeds and anywhere the road was good enough, I went down into the invisible aerobar position. I didn't expect the break to last terribly long. But it just wouldn't end. At the bell, with about 8km to go, I had a pretty sizable gap. After coming off the headwind stretch, I started trying to count the gap by glancing back every now and then. With half a lap, about 4km left to go including the downhill stretch I guestimated that I had a gap of somewhere north of 20 seconds. At this point I realized I had a very real chance of winning.

I pushed harder and checked my six out of most corners. The gap was coming down, but very slowly. Finally, after hours (20 minutes), I checked behind me one last time and sat up, lifted an arm and crossed the line a few seconds ahead of the sprint.

Solo, off the front for twenty minutes to a win. That's easily my best race by a long shot. I'm over halfway to an upgrade now, that should be coming in the next handful of races I suspect.