2010 Canal Classic

The Canal Classic is one of this area best road races. It's a 30 mile course with a climb that is 4 miles long. This would seem to make it a "Climbers Course." But if you are a strong overall rider you can play your cards right and get a good result.
Clete has been putting this race on for 19 years. It's done in memory of his friend Michael Cool. Michael was involved in a traffic accident in 1991 and lost his life.
For those of you who have not done this race...NOTE 2011 will be the 20th Anniversary and the last edition of the Canal Classic. Everyone at CNYC thanks Clete and all those involved in promoting this race. It's something we look forward to each year.
CNYC fielded 3 riders this Sunday for the 19th running of the Canal Classic. Not sure if any club or team had a better overall performance? We placed 3rd ( Rich Karaz ) , 17th ( Mike Beggs ) and 28th ( Peter Martin ). The rain held off and we had good racing conditions. Every year we are told that the start through and out of town will be controlled. In my book....controlled means slow. Either the pace cars don't realize that 20 mph on a bike is kinda fast...or the riders are chomping at the bit....but we ride through town at an OK and safe pace...but hit the first little climb out of town and the pace goes ballistic. I look down at my computer and we are climbing at 18 mph. Up the road goes Wayne Bray, Rich Karaz, Doug Carlson and I think Andy Ross. I follow about 5 seconds back wondering if I should close the gap? You gotta make decisions depending on your form....and I knew the guys up the road were in better shape than me....so I played it conservatively and kept my heartrate under 170 bmp. Could I close the gap? I think so....but with Rich up the road...I knew the club was in good shape. Do I regret not trying? Maybe a little....but that's racing.
A few riders bridge up to me and we crest the climb. It's great when you got a guy in the break. That means everyone else has to chase and you can sit in. I happily rotate to the front of the paceline and take a super short pull and go to the back. The riders up front have about 10 seconds on us. They are the elite of this field. My group is about 8 to 10 riders. We can keep them in sight...but remain at about 10 seconds. 6 miles into the race there is a 1/2 mile climb. This is the only part of the race where I really felt under pressure. A couple from my group go up the road....one or two of us....me included lose 15 more seconds and integrate with the next chase pack on the road. I'm now in a pack of about 20 to 25 riders which makes up the "main field" of the race. We cruise to Barto Hill and I start to wonder if my climbing legs are ready to go? Barto is 4 miles long. The first part of the climb seems tough....but for at least 2/3rds of the climb I feel really good. Up and over and I decide to get to the front. Time to do some chasing. We have a big group...and if we get organized we can motor. Earlier in the week I had sent out a email to the CNYC listserve. It emphasized the importance of paceline skills. Granted our group was kinda big. But any and all attempts to get a basic paceline going failed. I don't understand why it's so hard to get a paceline going in a group? We had ample horsepower and believe we could have closed the gap on all but the top few riders.
Go to the front......take a 15 second pull.....keep the pace steady.....pull off....go to the back...recover..and then repeat. Well it didn't happen and for the next 15 miles we sorta raced to the finish. An attack here and there. A steady faster pace for a mile or two. 30 seconds of us all spread out over the road and going slow.
My clubmate Mike Beggs was in this group and looking for a good showing the the 55 + group. About 10 miles from the finish I lost any and all interest in sprinting. The last corner at Canal is dicey. Roughly two miles out I go to the front and get the speed up to 30 mph. I think I pull for close to a half to 3/4 of a mile. ( Maybe not ? ) But pull off the front and no one will go through. My pull had strung things out some and it would have been fun to race all the way to the line. This didn't happen. Going into the last corner a group takes the hard right hand turn with a few guys all over the road and taking different lines. I got a nice view of this as I turned off the gas and let everyone get 50 feet on me. My thought was that there was a 50-50 shot of a crash. Next weekend I'm racing Mengoni. Is it worth it to take a spill and lose out at a chance of racing in NYC? Some would call it a cop out.....I'd call it smart....I didn't sprint. Happily everyone made it through safely. ( Damn it...why didn't I sprint ? ) Mike Beggs took a good line and ended up 3rd in the field sprint.
Overall, a fun day racing and a really nice workout. Wayne Bray continued his impressive 2010 results. He soloed to the win.

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