The events started with the Hill Climb competition on Friday, September 16th. I arrived on the next day as the 25-mile race was just wrapping up. Parking was chaotic as expected, but I managed to check in to my studio apartment in Mosaic at Blue, one of the newer properties in the village.
I was surprised to find a complete kitchen with stove and microwave, and all pots, pans, plates, cups, and utentils were provided. Next time I stay there, I’m bringing ingredients to cook!
The view from my 3rd floor window is spectacular (though disappointed that my particular room has no balcony). A complete view of the hotel pool and sauna is complemented by mostly unobstructed view of the village lake, with the rest of the village buildings and Blue Mountain itself beyond.
There wasn’t much to buy, but sufficient bike porn was present to keep me busy. Cervelo S5 and Specialized S-Works Venge models were available for test rides. Hello!
The highlight of the Saturday was the free Sam Roberts Band concert. As it turned out, their Collider album was the only purchase I made all weekend.
I was only able to attempt taking pictures and the video after the sun has set behind Blue Mountain. This is the band playing Brother Down.
The rest of the day was spent wandering around the village, and deciding whether to wear short sleeve/long sleeve or shorts/knickers (not the underwear kind!) for the race.
Centurion C50 Race Report
The morning was still dark and cold; my roomate’s stupid sleep cycle app made me wake up 30 minutes before I normally would. (He did give me a muffin, banana, and Nuun tablet, so all is forgiven.)
After checking out, it was still dark and cold. Attempts to warm up were futile. We went to to starting chute just before the national anthem.
Race started, it was not so dark but still cold. Everyone shivered along as the police led the first 5km neutral start.
The first major climb began almost immediately after safely negotiating a 90 degree turn west to Grey Road 19. I steadily made my way to the front of a big peloton, and somehow ended up all by myself at the summit. I couldn’t gain ground on anyone ahead.
Then a group of a dozen riders caught me, and I happily latched on to the back.
At Ravenna, turning west from Grey Road 2 to Grey Road 19, there was finally reprieve from all the climbing.
The front of the peloton might be taking a break at this point, allowing myself and at least 50 others to form a large group, breezing along at close to 40km/h with little effort, faster on descents.
Km 40 – King of the Mountain
A bunch of us jumped on to a nicely paved shoulder, until there was sudden braking when the pavement gave way to loose gravel, and no one was paying attention. Somehow, everyone managed to stay up.
Then came the KOM to the summit at Epping. The peloton slowed and bunched up at the bottom of the climb. Wanting to get a good result, I switched to the outside and steadily spun my way up. I could feel the burn as I finally spot the timing mat at the top; I pushed on for another half a minute, then I was glad that’s over.
I skipped rest stop #1, ate a gel, took a few sips from the bottle, and pressed on.
But while I did that, I let the peloton go by, and I was by myself again.
A number of smaller groups came and went, and I was unable to latch on to any of them. I thought I might have to finish the rest of the race without any help.
I was finally able to stay with a group of half dozen riders, just as rest stop #2 at Clarksburg approached. I cannot afford to lose the group here, so I skipped this one as well, took another quick gel and some electrolytes and stayed with the group.
From here, it was a steady incline punctured by 3 relatively steep rollers until the final descent. I realized I burnt all my matches on the KOM and subsequent lone escapade; I was getting destroyed by those rollers, and so were most people around me. I struggled to keep up my cadence in the lowest gear.
I finally reached the turn to Scenic Caves Road, which goes straight down the Niagara Escarpment, all the way back to the finish.
It started with a short descent, followed by a flat section with a 180 degree turn, followed by a second longer descent with a 180 degree turn back the other way.
My legs were filled with lactic acid at this point, so it was painful trying to keep my momentum in the flat section against a headwind.
For the second descent section, I let it go full speed, leaning into the 180 degree turn. That was one of the few times I actually passed other riders on a descent. (I usually have to work just to keep up because I am light weight.)
Riding past the roundabout outside of the village, I tucked myself behind one other guy, with about 1km to go. He would be my lead-off man, whether he liked it or not!
As I made the final turn towards finish, I came out from his slipstream, cranked it up with whatever was left in my legs, and nipped the guy by half a wheel! Yes, I pulled off a Mark Cavendish! Or so I thought, until I saw another guy came on the outside and beat me by half a wheel. Bastard! Instead of Cavendish, I was relegated to Andre Greipel.
I ended up finishing in under 3 hours, just shy of 30km/h average.
I took some pictures at the finish, changed to regular clothes, and ate the provided lunch while trying to find my results and watch the young kids take all the top prizes on stage.
I stayed a bit to watch the 100-milers race to the finish. They were incredibly fast! 160km distance with over 3000m of elevation gain, completed in less than 5 hours.
The experience was fun, and the organization was top notch. The Centurion Canada sure looks like something I would like to try again next year, along with the new Centurion Niagara, to be held in July 2012.