LapDogs @ the Tour de Bronte

Here’s a look at the Tour de Bronte race written by Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs racer, Edmond Mellina

The Tour de Bronte is the “Strade Bianche” of Ontario: held at the Bronte Creek provincial park in Oakville / Burlington, the race is 50% asphalt and 50% dirt on winding, narrow road.

A few days before the race, the organizers announced the normal categories would be combined due to low registration levels. As a result, the last race (S1-2 and M1) became an “open race”. Marshall Eidinger and Giordano Piccolotto (both S3) and myself (M2) decided to join Christopher Bradbury (S1) and race with the “big boys”!!

Before the race, we talked race strategy via e-mail. Christopher led the discussion, sharing his insights and wisdom about racing at this level on this unique course. We had a sound plan and Marshall, Gio and I were committed to help Christopher as much as we could.

Last year in M3 I flatted after 20 kms, while in the lead pack that was chasing the eventual solo winner. I made the mistake of raising my arm too slowly, so the wheel car missed me and I ended up dead last and way behind everyone else.

This year I was better prepared, having bought a brand new pair of Vittoria Pave clinchers especially for Bronte. Well, that’s what I thought: I pinch-flatted 14 kms into the race! Contrary to last year, I put my arm up immediately and moved to the right side. The car saw me and gave me a new back wheel relatively quickly. But I lost a good minute in the process and I was now on my own. The first peloton was going at full speed: they were chasing a breakaway that had taken off after 5 kms, with four guys including the 2 nd from last year. That’s what is great about these top categories: a mere 5 kms into the race and the favorites are already taking risks by getting on the offensive. Kudos! When they took off, I was just beside them in maybe 8 th position of the pack; I hesitated a moment, but the pace was already pretty fast so I chickened out and decided to stay in the peloton.

Up to the time I flatted, I wasn’t doing too bad – able to keep and regain positions without too much effort in all the technical sections. It’s amazing how much cyclocross has helped me with both technical skills and confidence for this kind of courses. However I don’t know how long I would have kept up the good work if I hadn’t flatted. That 2 nd lap was not as easy as the 1 st one for me.

After my flat, I chased solo for a few kms. Just before the end of that lap, I reached Christopher who was cruising along on his own: unfortunately, with all the dust that day he had lung problems which forced him to pull out of the race.

I caught another guy and we worked well together for a couple of laps until a small pack came back from behind (about 10-12 folks). It was a mix of racers who fell, flatted or got caught behind. I was happy to see an orange, green and black jersey in the group: Marshall. Later on, we caught Gio back. The three Lapdogs in the race were together.

As it’s often the case, very few people were working with us at the  front. As usual, I got mad and yelled at the “slackers”. Gio advised me I should take it easy. He was right. So I moved to the back of the group to cool down my “hot head” a little.. and get some gels. Over the next few laps, I made several breakaway attempts with the stronger racer of our bunch. But we got caught back very quickly every single time. The “slackers” were not that “cooked” after all…

Two laps before the end, the same strong rider decided to do what he had to do: since none of us who were willing to attempt a breakaway with him were strong enough to make a clean break with him, he took off on his own. He got 15 seconds on us and kept it to the end. Well done!

In the last lap, because I’m not too keen on sprints, I tried two or three more times to take off. But the group reeled me back very easily / quickly every single time. I didn’t have the legs. My last attempt died a few kms from the finish, while exiting the last dirt section.

I was pretty tired with all my efforts throughout the race, so I thought that I would be drifting to the back and remain there safely. But, having just been caught, I got into the last left corner in 2 nd position (3 kms from the line, near the park’s entrance). Then I saw the “slackers” move to the front for the sprint… and the adrenaline took over! I stayed patiently in the top five-six positions. With about 1.5 km to go, Gio jumped hard, but he got caught back. Then another guy, same thing. At the 600m mark, it was Marshall’s turn to jump hard but he got caught with maybe 250 m to go. I was now in 3 rd spot, on the center-left of the very narrow finish straight…

One of the “slackers” jumped on my left and took a bike length. No way! I pushed as hard as I could on the pedals, put a smaller cog, got back to him with 25 m to go… and I left him behind with 10 m to go, i.e. finishing first of our small pack of “left-behind’s”. I didn’t know I had that in me! Granted, it was a sprint for the 32 nd spot. But most of the folks in that group were M1, i.e. one level above my regular category.

Overall I am happy with the experience, despite the fact I could only play in the first peloton for two laps due to the flat. But flats are part of racing. It was a hell of a workout though. It was also a good confidence booster: technical skills, overall fitness and small-pack sprint surprise at the end!! It was also great to race with fellow Lapdogs from the other categories.

One thing for sure: the big boys make their races everything but dull. It makes you want to progress to their level to play with them!!!

LapDogs Race @ SpringBank

Here’s a look at the Springbank Criterium race written by Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs racer, Giordano Piccolotto.

Whew…so Springbank…What do they call it now? Blood-bank, crash-bank? Whatever, it’s a s#!tshow. An 18 lap criterium format race around a 2.2km loop at Springbank Park in London Ontario. This year’s race lived up to it’s previous monikers.

Our day started with a 5am wake-up (personally I’m not a fan of these. They screw with your sleep pattern and throw you off your groove. Just not my thing) and a two and-a-half hour drive to London (also not big on this). We arrived with a good amount of time to prepare for the coming test so we went to collect our numbers and go about our personal duties.

The day was really turning out quite nice. The sun was out the air was warm and the wind was pretty low. Good conditions especially for a crit. Walking to the start line our director(the illustrious Rick Froner) told us to watch out for the headwind in the finishing straight. I scoffed, there was hardly a breeze. Personally, I didn’t think it was going to affect the race.We went for our pre-ride of the course taking it easy, checking out the pavement conditions, and looking through the turns. Looked good. The sand that had cover sections of the road last year was gone, the asphalt was dry and warm from the sun. You couldn’t really ask for better.

We were called to the starting area and asked to assemble behind the line. Looking around I saw the familiar faces, the guys I knew I’d have to watch out for. But cycling is a weird sport. Some of the guys you race against are friends even though they are on an opposing team you align yourself with them because you know they have the ability to work hard and you can help each other out. Yet a part of your mind knows that you have to watch them because at some point in the race they will inevitably be forced to betray you. Friends and yet enemies. It’s a balance.

The commissaire reads out the rules for the days race cautioning and wishing us to be safe, a good omen right? And said the race would start within the next ten seconds. The whistle went and it was on. Hammering right out of the gate. This is the stuff I love about crit racing, hanging your guts out dry, giving an inch and losing a mile. It’s no quarter, as rough and tumble as road racing gets. The first lap showed that some of the participants were jittery, with some squirrelly riding getting the better of a few, particularly some of the junior racers. These guys are under 19 and apparently have no apprehension about losing their life. By the the third lap some still hadn’t settled down and were yelled at to either hold their line or get to the back.

A good chunk of this race is a blur with a key moments popping out in my memory. Somewhere around the sixth or seventh lap I heard what I could only assume was a gunshot. I next, heard a lone scream of what sounded like terror, then swearing from many voices behind me and the distinctive sound of carbon and aluminum meeting each other. Luckily this was all happening behind me, but it sounded bad. Like hospital bad. I was sure I was going to swallowed up by the crash that was happening behind me. I remember thinking of the fiery Death Star escape by Lando (you’re welcome Steve and Larry). It was still early, was this a mark of things to come?? Hopefully not but probably I thought. We hadn’t picked up the pace yet and there were still the final two laps which are always even faster.

The breakaways were starting somewhere this point, the pace was increasing and the day was getting hotter. I was glad to finally be racing in a bib and jersey only. This years bib shorts are amazing by the way. Sugoi has outdone themselves with the fit and materials, and quality with this year’s iteration. A few guys attempted to to get away but were left out to dry in the hot sun and reeled in without causing too much stress within the peloton.

This was the state of things for the next few laps, my teammate Marshall had moved up as well now and was relaying info and asking how I was. Apparently there has been another crash but it had happened while I was near to the front so I was barely aware of it. I was starting to feel a little fatigued though, my legs didn’t feel like they had the jump I was used to or maybe we were going that fast but it just seemed like holding my position was harder and harder to do. I found myself slipping into the middle of the group, a place I didn’t want to be in this kind of race. Boxed in with nowhere to go if one of my marked “allies” made a move. And that’s exactly what happened. One of the juniors attempted to break and guy I was supposed to be marking had managed to stay on his wheel and the two were off. I was left cursing the situation and hoping that they’d either blow up in the attempt and have nothing left for the finish or that the group would speed up and catch them. I got lucky this time and they we caught. The headwind on the finishing straight, the one that I had scoffed at Rick over, yeah that one, well it’s what I suspect allowed us to catch all the breaks that were attempted that day. I’d talk to Rick about it later.

After being caught with my pants down on the last break I decided I had to make sure I was in a position to react from now on. I knew there’d be more and that some I wouldn’t have to worry about, but I wanted to be there for the ones that I did. I moved up. I waited for the small hill and made my jump. moving up about seven positions within 10 In had to hold. I was in int top 10 leading into the final two laps but I knew I’d have to fight to stay there.

the peloton was together as we crossed the finish-line for the second last time. The bell was ringing letting us know it was the final lap. We rounded the first turn and the pace quickened again. It always the way. The last lap is always a hot lap. it’s exhilarating, scary, fast as all hell. Every one is uncertain, ad jockeying for position. Good thing about it being so fast is that it makes it just as hard for people to pass and come around you. i was able to hold my position into the final straightaway. At 200 meters the sprint started. Everyone was waiting for the sign no one had the guts to go any earlier, myself included. Out of the saddle everyone was mashing on the pedals willing their bikes to go faster. There were what seemed to be a lot of juniors in front of me, they didn’t matter. What did was that two of the men I’d marked at the start-line were. and they we strong sprinter too. To my right a rider in blue lost lost control of his front wheel(or mind, I’m not sure) and swerved very hard to the right. it looked like he was going to take out the entire right side of the sprint. He recovered but over compensated and was now swinging left, into me and the opponent slightly in front that I was beginning to overtake. I thought this was it. I had survived the entire race and was going to be taken out 50 meters from the finish, and hard too, we were going 55km/h at least. I don’t know how but he managed to recover a second time and jerked his bike right again, this time though he did plow right into the right side of the sprint taking them all out. I watched it all happen in an instant the initial wobble the recovery and the over compensation the second recovery and then carnage. All in an instant i felt a little bad but glad. may way forward was totally clear. not a rider to dodge I still was at full speed and I was gaining. Everything was perfect in my little slice of cycling heaven. I caught my marked man and kept pushing, I was gaining on the other but the finish line came just a bit too soon. Just missed him… and the podium. That’s the worst thing about finishing fourth, it’s knowing that the podium was just right there, and you just..just missed it. It’s frustrating deep down. I’d rather finish fifth than fourth, but I shouldn’t complain. Marshall came in just behind myself dodging the crashes and finished seventh in his first ever S3 race. Pretty impressive.

So that was race day, a good day, a 40km/h crapshoot around and around Springbank Park on a warm sunday morning.

PS. Springbank definitely earned its Blood-bank nickname this year. After completing my cool down lap I passed the bodies of racers that had been taken down in the sprint lying in the grass. One was being bandaged and another had his head held in place and was waiting for what I assumed was going to be a stiffboard. There were more, but yeah…

PPS. Rick Froner was 100% right about the finishing straight. I finished 5th and Michael Bandurchin finished 6th right behind him in the M2 category.

A Race Rookie’s… First Impression.

Insight’s into a first O’Cup mountain bike race, by Bevin Reith.

I’ve ridden socially all over Southwestern Ontario. Friendly rides at a spirited pace and rides where the point was to attempt an obstacle again and again until we succeeded or learned we had more to learn. I’ve participated in the organized side of the sport via charity events, endurance races and charity races. But I had never experienced the phenomenon of a cross-country race day until the 2012 Ontario Cup season opener in Mansfield. With the goal of ‘more fun’ in mind I waded in.

Pre-riding the course the day before the race proved that I could in fact make it up the big climb. Even better, it proved the attack and recover techniques learned in LapDogs Cycling Club’s Bootcamp interval training could be applied very directly to the rising and falling terrain. One slow obstacle sighting lap and one fast race line lap seemed like enough but I added a third lap just for fun. I asked for and received lots of good advice from other Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs there at the same time. Picking up my number plate for the season put an official seal on the day and I headed home for a nice big healthy meal – the fourth such monster meal of the week.

Car-pooling to the course gave plenty of time for conversation on what to expect. It was great to arrive in time to see the 10:00 groups start their race. Encouraging other LapDogs and carrying their warm-up clothes and bottles to the feed zone was a great way to see firsthand exactly what I could expect for my own start at 11:45. Knowing that my category would be lapping the 8K course 3 times I would be able to skip my customary hydration pack and rely on a quick bottle snatch from other Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs in the feed zone just past the start finish line.

With a twenty minute warm-up complete I made my way to the start line with approximately 15 minutes to go. My strategy was to start near the front or my corral, push hard to keep my place up the hill, then rely on my training to allow a recovery and attack cadence timed for the climbs. If someone were to prove themselves faster they were welcome to pass but I was determined to make them work for it. I made all the climbs clean, recovered while still maintaining an aggressive pace on the backside of every hill and set a strong time through all of the single-track. Coming to the end of the first lap I ended up behind a slower rider on the downhill and stayed on the brakes for most of the section rather than chance a pass. This left me with plenty of breath to whoop it up for the crowd in the feed zone at the bottom of the hill and I was rewarded with lots of cheering from LapDogs and non-LapDogs alike. I now knew that I needed clean air in front of me for all of the descents since the Mojo loves a good gravity run after earning it on the uphills.

The second trip up the big start climb spaced out the contenders a bit more. I caught and passed several people on the following sections but still had enough breath to engage in some good natured banter with them and also the riders who earned their way past me. Pushing hard still felt good and I managed to set a blistering pace on the final downhill en route to the feed zone and some fresh water.

Lap three started hard up the big climb. Encouragement from a passing rider to “keep the pace” was exactly what I needed and I flowed well through the last lap by focusing on where I was strong, pacing myself to prepare for the technical bits but not allowing myself to slow too much on the flats. I had been chasing a rider who had passed me on the big climb all the way around the course and when he missed a technical feature I jumped past. Opening a gap on the downhill I continued to push on the final section and stayed in front across the line. A satisfying finish to a great 90 minute ride.

In the end the Duke’s Cycle Cannondale LapDogs had a great day and I had a good time chatting with some familiar faces after the race. I was impressed by the wide range of people participating in the event. Folks with kids out to race early in the morning, photographers capturing the excitement, spectators along to support the racers, hardcore and light hearted racers on a broad spectrum of bicycles all mingled together. The LapDog camaraderie was strong as we cheered on the final 1:30 start group and I expect I’ll see many more friendly folks as the racing continues. Looking forward to a fun season!

Cannondale Demo Day!, May 12th

Do you have dreams of a new Cannondale bike?

Here’s your opportunity to test ride a fantastic new bike from our partners @ Cannondale. We’ll have a great assortment of Road and MTB bikes available, including the following:

  • Super Six Evo - w/Red, sizes; 48, 50, 52×2, 54×2, 56×2, 58×2 & 60
  • Synapse Hi Mod - w/Red, sizes; 51, 54,56, 58 & 61
  • CAAD 10 #3 - w/Ultegra, sizes; 50, 52, 54, 56 & 58
  • Jekyll alloy #3 - sizes; small, medium & large
  • Jekyll Carbon #2 - sizes; medium, large & x-large
  • Flash Carbon 29er #2 - sizes; medium, large & x-large
  • Scalpel 29er #1 & #2 - size’s; small, medium x2, large x2 & X-large

Format will be based upon a first come first served basis, with a 30 minute limit on the test ride. All participants will need to provide a credit card, drivers license and sign a waiver.

Bring your helmet [manditory], your shoes and pedals.

Location: Don Valley / Loblaw’s Redway Parking Lot.

This is a great location to test ride both Road and MTB bikes.

Yikes on Bikes

Yikes on Bikes

Duke’s Cycle is very pleased to be one the host galleries for the 2012 Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival .

We will be featuring a unique exhibit from local photographer, Mark Ridout .

Yike on Bikes is a lighthearted series about little kids biking treacherous hills and eating dirt. This series was inspired by his little boy’s misadventures on a local BMX dirt track.

Our opening evening takes place on Thursday, May the 3rd, starting @ 6:00, with the exhibit running for the entire month of May.

The attend the opening evening, please visit our Facebook Event Page to RSVP and let us know you are planning dropping by.