Paris to Ancaster – From the front

So here is my new website, I hope you like it. I am going to do a post later this week to tell you about it, the features and how rad it’s going to be. But, I did my first race of the year yesterday and it was a good one so I want to tell you about that first, while it is fresh.

Yesterday I raced Paris to Anacaster, a 65 k point to point race in Ontario. The terrain was a mix of road, gravel road, rail trail, double track, farmer’s field, and muddy chutes. It was basically anything that could be ridden on a cross bike between Paris and Ancaster.

We had a solid team for the event with Andrew Watson, Evan McNeely and I. Evan and I came in the day before and rode most of the course and studied the final 5 k closely. It was a super fun ride and it certainly got us more excited to race the following day.

This is a race not just for the racer types but for anyone that enjoys riding a bike and likes a challenge. The distance is not too daunting but the terrain certainly dishes out enough to keep things interesting. Two thousand athletes rode this year’s edition, a true testament of the popularity of this long running event. Clearly, this race is not just for ‘racers’ but that is my experience and I’ll tell you about Paris to Ancaster from the front.

The start was interesting, the first bit was a sprint for position up a paved hill and right on to a potholed dirt road. With 1 minute to start there was a school bus and a transport truck coming down the start straight; some added obstacles to keep things interesting. The first key turn was a right hander on to some rail trail, I stayed safe and rolled second wheel behind Garrigan. The next 10 k were steady on a rail trail along a river. It was fairly relaxed on the front, but I’m sure behind, for those in a bad position it was a little less relaxed. A right turn up a steep rocky hill made the first split of the race to 20 riders. Evan got pushed around a little bit by Steve Bauer leading up to the first climb, but let’s be honest he can do whatever he wants, he wore the yellow jersey.

The next split happened with a muddy farm trail preceded by a log and ditch run over. I didn’t know the ditch was there so I hopped the log and just barley stopped before the ditch, crash averted. This section brought the group down to 9. This was the race. We rode a few more sections, with no splits happening in the woods and it was all together. At this point it was Morka, Clark, Garrigan, Lindine, Daigle, Schooler, Glassford, McNeely and I.

Later on, Garrigan put in a dig on the road that was brought back by Morka.  I countered this move, mostly just an instinctual attack (didn’t put much thought in it), but it ended up being pretty good, I road with a 20 or 30 second gap for around 4 k. Garrigan countered with Evan on his wheel; this could have been a good move, but it didn’t work. Then Morka went off the front and rode alone for a while and we worked a pretty organized chase. Hats off to him for that super strong solo ride.  I mostly sat on and Evan did lots of work, he told me to rest up after my time alone off the front.

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Garrigan leading though some muddy corners with myself in tow. Photo Credit: Martin Reid

The next split happened when Garrigan made a mistake in the mud.  With a guy as dangerous as Garrigan hanging off the back everyone was keen to keep him there so the chase for Morka continued, just faster. We eventually caught Morka and it was down to 7, we got rid of Daigle and Garrigan.

The final part of the course include 2 muddy downhill sections, ‘mud chutes’, and some rolling road and trail then a very steep climb to the finish. Through the first mud chute I went in 3rd wheel and came out with a gap and just rolled with it. This was good, and Evan got to sit on and stay fresh, and I had a chance to go solo. I came into the last mud chute alone and was riding it really well, and fast but then crashed a little at the bottom and my chain fell off. I did not do the best job getting it back on quickly. At this point I was back in 8th spot.  Then I chased hard, head down, up to 4th in the 3 K that remained and that’s how it went. The final climb was really hard but I had good legs and was happy I could make up those spots. Up front it was Morka and Clark, and Evan chasing hard. Not sure how all this played out but Anthony Clark crushed the last climb and McNeely got by Morka for second. Congrats to Anthony for a great ride all day and apparently an EPIC kick up the final climb.

That’s how it went down. It was a super fun race and Evan and I played it very well together, keeping our options open and we ended up with 2nd and 4th. Overall a really good performance leading into our mountain bike season.

P2A Podium

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