Euro Beat w/ Spencer

So, I sit here in my apartment back in Le Creusot after a two week return to Canada for the National Road Championships. The trip began after a difficult Tour Cantons de Mareuil et Verteillac. The espoir race was exceptionally tough not only because of the level of the teams, but the 36 degree heat. Unsatisfied with a DNF on the first stage (along with two teammates), I looked forward to the trip to Quebec where there would be friends, family and a familiar race scene. The excitement of this trip had been building for a long time and it felt relieving to finally see it through. Of course the trip itself was a painful experience, but so long as I got back to Canada I was happy.

Once I had landed, I went to visit family in Montreal and was soon off to Beauce to prepare for Nationals. To deal with the jet lag from a 6 hour time change and a 7 hour flight, I had arrived a week early. This way I could get acclimatized while finishing up my preparation in the region. As the Juniors, Paracyclists and Masters were racing that week, I saw bunch of old friends, which felt great, especially considering I had seen only three Canadians from January until that point. So, as I got acclimatised, I continued my preparation training, the highlight of which was the leg of the Tour de Beauce to Mt. Megantic. The time passed quickly and before I knew it, it was time to race the Individual Time Trial

The preparation for the ITT was covered well. My mom would be able to follow me with a support vehicle and my dad had all the equipment figured out so that I did not have to stress about any of the technical details or problems (which we experienced in abundance that week). So, I warmed up, checked my bike and waited to start, all the while exuding confidence in my abilities. As I started, I watched my power carefully so as to not go too hard and blow up. Up the hill and into the wind and I could see two of my minute men. I know this doesn’t mean too much as they could potentially be the two slowest on course, but it still feels good. My ride got a little more stagnant until the turn-around where I caught three riders in about 5 km. I had also put a large amount of time on the rider following me, so I was feeling good about my ride. I pushed through to the finish, wheezing as I crossed the line and was happy with my effort. My power was 15 watts more than last year over twice the distance. Despite all of this, a good result failed to materialize, and I was disappointed. At first I challenged the result as my SRM showed almost a minute exactly less the official time on the result sheet. The comissaires were helpful in showing me both the electronic and hand-timing numbers and re-doing the calculations which made sense. It was frustrating to have a ride you think is great, only to have the results tell you differently.

The next and my final race in Canada before returning to France was the combined Elite/U23 National Road Race. Using the same course as the St. Georges de Beauce circuit race stage in the Tour de Beauce, Nationals featured a 9.6 km circuit with a tough 1.5 km climb and few sections to really rest. We lined up for 18 laps totalling 172 km with Symmetrics taking control from the gun. The sun was out rather forcefully as felt through the humidity, making it tough without being exceptionally hot. My legs did not feel their best at the start, but as we worked into a few laps, they began to come around. Then on lap two a big surge on the hill as someone tried to get across to the early breakaway left me as one of the riders trying to get back on. It was not too difficult to do that, but that became a recurrence every few laps as the peloton whittled down. I would struggle low on the climb and then surge past people at the top where for some reason I felt much stronger and then rejoin the peloton with a small group. This happened three times in total. Then on lap 10 I began to cramp as well on the climb and this was the one that saw me go. At that point, the peloton could not have been more than 35 riders with a chase group in between us and the breakaway. This time I could not make it across and struggled alone, occasionally catching or being caught by other riders. I pushed hard alone until the 13th lap, when riding up the climb, I began cramping violently. With both legs, my quads, calves and hamstrings contracted forcefully and I was unable to move them. I tried pedalling softly to work it out, but would receive a kick of pain and another forceful contraction. I tried stopping pedalling, but the muscle remained locked and extremely painful. I didn’t know what to do, so I got off my bike to try and stop the cramping. This too proved a bad idea as I collapsed, unable to stand. So I pulled myself onto the curb, and then my bike and tried to de-contract these muscles so I could get back on and continue. As I lay there, the first riders on course came past and I was lapped. Like the other 100 some riders who were lapped or pulled out, I received a DNF. From counting the remaining Espoirs left in the race, I figure I was about 20th if I had been classified. I was fairly pleased with the day, however, as I definitely pushed myself hard. It was good to race with the best in Canada and my DNF doesn’t seem so bad considering the peloton was lapped and the chase group including Dominique Rollin and Charles Dionne just escaped being lapped.

The day after, I set out for another long day/two of travel to Montreal, then Paris and finally Le Creusot. I took a little detour into Paris between my flight and train, but was glad to arrive at the apartment that night.

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