Tour de Victoria

Pref­ace and Preparations

I got my first road bike as a birth­day present just under two years ago. A month after that, our daugh­ter was born, and my shiny new bike lan­guished in the base­ment until just over a year ago when the fog of sleep depri­va­tion started to lift. I man­aged to get in a ride or two a week last sum­mer, mostly solo but occa­sion­ally with my brother or dad, but I didn’t start really train­ing until I signed up for the Tour de Vic­to­ria in Jan­u­ary of this year.

For me, the Tour de Vic­to­ria became not only a train­ing goal, but also my com­ing out as a lycra-clad road cyclist. After sign­ing up, the Tour de Vic­to­ria was des­tined to become both my first ride over 100 kilo­me­ters, and the first time cross­ing a start and fin­ish line. I did man­age to go on my first two group rides in the two weeks pre­vi­ous, tag­ging along with the Fri­day Tripleshot ride and get­ting my first taste of rid­ing in a pace­line (along with my first and sec­ond taste of get­ting dropped dur­ing a group ride).

I really didn’t know what to expect when I rolled into the crowd in front of the leg­is­la­ture on Sat­ur­day morn­ing, but I felt like I had pre­pared as well as I could have with the time I had carved out of my morn­ings for the last five months.

Con­trolled Start

The start­ing area was divided into self-determined, esti­mated fin­ish­ing times. I fig­ured that, even if I didn’t spend a lot of time in anyone’s draft, I could prob­a­bly come in in just over 5 hours, so I parked myself near to the front of the 5–6 hour group. Once the bell rang and the span­dex parade started down Craigflower, I got the feel­ing that maybe I had been a bit con­ser­v­a­tive, that peo­ple a lit­tle fur­ther up the line were going at pace that was a bet­ter fit. I slowly worked my way through the crowd, mov­ing up a bit from where I started but with many many rid­ers still in front of me. There was a pair, one in full Lay-OH-pard Trek kit, and rid­ing a Spe­cial­ized Tar­mac, and another in the blue orange Garmin Tran­si­tions kit, also rid­ing a Spe­cial­ized Tar­mac, who seemed to be going at about my pace despite their Pro­Tour pre­ten­sions, so I stuck to them for a bit.

Norco Reds

For most of Metchosin, and then again com­ing onto Wal­lace Road, I spent alot

of time in the draft of a group in mostly red and black wear­ing Norco Fac­tory Team jer­seys. It seemed like a few stronger rid­ers were dri­ving the pace of this group, with one or two oca­sion­ally drop­ping back to pick up strays when the pace left them strung out. I felt a bit like an inter­loper in this group, although I cer­tainly wasn’t the only rider to take advan­tage of their group strength.

They fell back to pick up some of their group just before the Munns Road climb. I knew what to expect on Munns road, and after a few prac­tice rides through that part of the route had decided to really take my time and avoid pay­ing later for too much effort on the first half of the ride. As a result, my time for this sec­tion was less the spec­tac­u­lar, but the way my legs felt on the sub­se­quent climbs along Millstream/Durrance reas­sured me that I had held enough back.

Com­ing down Willis Pt. Road the Norco Reds caught up with me again, and I spent a bit more time in their draft before arriv­ing at the sec­ond rest stop, refill­ing, and tak­ing an over­due bath­room break.

Not Over­dressed

I’d hemmed and hawed over what to wear the night before, dri­ving Kaisha a lit­tle crazy with my ongo­ing nar­ra­tive on the ben­e­fits and dis­ad­van­tages of the var­i­ous choices I had to make for my cloth­ing on the ride. In the end, I’d set­tled on two lay­ers, with bib shorts and my sum­mer jer­sey under­neath, and my fit­ted jacket and full tights over top. Look­ing around at the start­ing line, I’d felt a bit over­dressed. Not many oth­ers had full tights or a jacket, and even though I was com­fort­able at 7 AM there was a chance I’d be sweat­ing it out by noon.

Com­ing out of Brent­wood Bay it turned out I was not over­dressed. The rain started com­ing down and before long the streets were soaked. Draft­ing became an exer­cise in find­ing the bal­ance between effec­tive pro­tec­tion from the wind and tol­er­a­ble amounts of water to the face. I spent most of the North­ward ride rid­ing solo, or just out­side of the draft of the occa­sional rider going at a sim­i­lar pace. A few min­utes into the rain I was start­ing to wish I really had over­dressed and worn booties over my now com­pletely soaked shoes, but I was happy that at least the rest of my body was warm if also wet.

The Tan­dem Train

Com­ing up West Saanich, and across the Penin­sula on Wain Rd., I got in line behind two oth­ers to fol­low the wheel of a cou­ple on a tan­dem. They were fast on the flats, even faster on the down­hills, and they dragged four of us all the way from North of Syd­ney through to Cor­dova Bay. With the rain and cold, I spent most of that part of the ride in an intro­verted state, con­tem­plat­ing the vol­ume and the com­po­si­tion of the spray that was show­er­ing my face and drip­ping into my mouth and what effects directly con­sum­ing that much road water might have on my future health.

Despite main­tain­ing my place in the tan­dem train for more than twenty kilo­me­ters, I didn’t really start to feel par­a­sitic until we started up a small hill com­ing out of Hunt Road. The pilot started to feel the weight of the tan­dem on the hill and shot a ques­tion to his part­ner. “Are you ped­al­ing?” The ques­tion wasn’t directed at me, but I sud­denly felt a bit ashamed. It seemed like a bit of an inti­mate moment to be wit­nessed by the four of us lurk­ing behind. On top of that, I wasn’t really ped­al­ing, not much any­way, as the four of us were all wait­ing patiently for the tan­dem to strug­gle up the hill so that we would be in place when the train started really mov­ing again at the top.

So it was a bit of a relief when I decided, after a brief inter­nal strug­gle, to get off the tan­dem train going along Cor­dova Bay. I had promised Kaisha that I would call her or send her a mes­sage when I was about an hour away so that there would be some chance of her meet­ing me at the fin­ish­ing line, and in the end that promise out­weighed the lure of the nice pace I had main­tained in the tandem’s wake. By about halfway through the ride, when­ever I thought imag­ined see­ing Kaisha and Amelia at the fin­ish line, I would feel this wave of emo­tion, a sort of pre­view of the relief and pride that I would feel at the end of the ride. I would just be rid­ing along, my mind would wan­der to the end of the ride, and I would just feel strangely, overwhelmingly…verklempt.

Glot­man Simp­son Overdrive

After a short time going solo through Cor­dova Bay and Mount Doug park, I was swarmed by a group of white and yel­low jer­seys going up Ash. They seemed to drop a few of their own on that hill, but I was feel­ing pretty decent and when they started out at the top of the hill I oppor­tunis­ti­cally fell in line behind them. Just like the Norco Reds, it didn’t seemed like an orga­nized pace­line, instead there were a few strong rid­ers pulling most of the rest of the group along. Rather than inter­fere with their group dynam­ics I once again took a posi­tion near to the rear of the group, will­ing to take a pull if it came down to it, but also happy to stay near the back.

It turned out to be a good group to tag along with. My legs still felt strong, and I was able to keep on despite the occa­sional lit­tle surge and the small hills along the way. Stay­ing with them allowed me to main­tain 35.6 km/h through the timed sec­tion on the coast

, which felt fast to me and really solid­i­fied the impres­sion that my train­ing had gone well, that I’d done the right things to prepare.

The Fin­ish

I crossed the fin­ish line 4 hours and 36 min­utes after the start­ing bell. After months of prepa­ra­tion, and more than four hours on my bike, it was a unreal to just be done, off my bike, and walk­ing down Wharf St. to meet Kaisha and Amelia, feel­ing happy and com­fort­able despite my sweaty span­dex and soak­ing wet feet.

Garmin Con­nect

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