Calabogie Classic!! Memories from last year came surging in my head… Attacks, chasing and nasty wind. Last year I did not have a team and found this race very difficult… and was dropped really early. This year I was mentally prepared!! I had been training hard and as part of the Infinit Nutrition/Cyclepower team we had a plan. My main goals were to take part in team tactics and finish the race strong. There were some great moments and some I would like to forget. I was very proud of our team and the learning experience from this race.
We had a good team lined up for the race including: Ali, Allison, Heather, Courtnay, Nina and Michelle. The race started at a reasonable pace, marked with an early crash that included Ali Wilson, Sarah Byers and Melissa Bunn. Thank God no major injuries!!!
Shortly in the race, our team started attacking! At first I was frozen just following the peloton. I wanted to counter an attack but was afraid. I had never done an attack, not even in team practice. Allison used her amazing leadership power, came to find me in the peloton and tapped my shoulder and said “You will counter this attack” as Heather was up the road being brought back to the peloton. Now I had no choice! I made sure I stayed on the outside of the peloton hidden and in a good gear and waited… When Heather was almost back.. Off I went. I had been repeating the steps in my head since the start of the race: “Vero first: from the back out to the side, Second: Jump and accelerated as fast as you can, Third: Go for 30sec and last: Look back and assess the situation”. To my surprised I had put a good gap and no one had chased me down… As I have good time trial abilities, I thought to myself maybe I can get away but reality hit when the wind started slowing me down… And slowly I was brought back to the group.
Taking turns we did several attacks and counters. At one point, I created a successful break away when Carrie Cartmill from Stevens racing p/b the Cyclery bridged up to me after one of my attacks. We started working together and created a gap on the peloton… What follows was very confusing to me in the moment!!! The peloton of men came by us like a storm, splitting us apart. I had to yell at one point “I’m following that girl” as some guys were cutting in front of me and breaking our pace line. Then we got neutralised by the commissaire and without thinking I slowed down for a second and Carrie kept going with the draft from the guys and pulled away. Enough that I couldn’t bridge back to her. So I TT as hard as I could for a good 3 laps, I could see Carrie ahead but could not close the gap and fatigue took over and eventually the peloton caught up to me. My triumph was short lived but I did put in a good effort.
My teammates were now taking turns and working to chase Carrie to bring her back and they did. What happened after that is a bit blurry to me- I didn’t have much energy left to take part in the end of race event. I saw Catherine Dessureault from Realdealracing/La bicicletta attack on the last lap right under my eyes and that one moment of hesitation was enough for her to get away… I was surprised that everyone else from the peloton did let her go away. Heather gave a good effort to chase her late in the last lap and Courtnay gave her all at making something happen despite lacking teammates to set up a good lead out for the sprint finish. Unfortunately we fell short, and Realdealracing owned the podium but I feel like we worked hard as a team and made some positive things happen. We are looking forward to the next race and to work together at end-of-race tactics.
To sum up, this race was a real confidence builder for me. I feel like I can compete at the Elite Level and I’m looking forward to a great season of racing. Thanks to Infinit Nutrition/Cyclepower for giving me a great opportunity to race with an amazing group of women and to learn the ways in this sport that I’m passionate about.