Another great Paris to Ancaster!
Weather: 18C and sunny... beautiful!
We started near the front of the second wave, maybe 100 riders back. This made a huge difference... as we went from the wide road to the narrow rail trail, there was a lot less traffic up there than there is further back. Most of the really slow people were dropped, so we were with mostly experienced riders, who signal what they're going to do, announce "on your left" or "on your right" when they're passing you, etc. Great!
The off-road sections were muddy as usual, but not as bad as previous years. My skinnier cross tires had no problem bombing through there.
The other benefit of being further up in the pack: experienced riders know how to draft. I worked with a lot of different people throughout the race, and it was fantastic. We had some really good lines going, took some turns at the front but mostly benefited from getting sucked along.
The organizers did a nice job as usual. They responded to some rider feedback and made the 35K start time a little later... in previous years they fed in with the 60K and made a real mess of things, big traffic jams and such with so many riders on the narrow trails. This year they were later so most of the 60K would have been through before they joined the course.
As far as my ride went, the first 58K or so were just awesome. Left the last mud chute and readied myself for the last hill... but by now my quads were starting to cramp up. It had been going on for a few kilometers, but was getting a little worse.
As I started the big final climb, I was overwhelmed with a massive cramp. I mean MASSIVE. My legs were completely locked, I could not get my quad to release, I just fell to the ground. The funny thing was that 2 other riders had the exact same problem, right near me! So in about a 20 foot stretch there were 3 of us lying on the ground trying desperately to stretch out our quads to get them to stop cramping. I'm sure it would have been hilarious to see, if I wasn't in agony.
I got things under control, got about halfway up the hill, and then bam, it cramped up again. So once again I stopped, massaged my legs, stretched, just did everything I could... I knew the finish was so bloody close at this point, I just had to get there!
After about 5 minutes I was able to get back on the bike and suffer through the last 500 feet...
Final time: 2:48:07, for 513th of 1064 riders. I cracked the top 50%!
And I was on pace for a sizzler! :) Too bad I didn't close it out... but it's an early season race, and with the knee problems keeping me from training I can't be too disappointed or surprised. I'm still really happy with my pace throughout the race, I've got a good base now to work with, and I can't wait to build to some great events this year.
And I'll be back in 2009! :)