Sherboucle race report

I woke up today and it was already quite warm outside... Zut! I don't perform well in extreme heat and I have a road race, 105km over asphalt. Well Sherboucle, let's go anyway.

The race started controlled for a few km and when they let the hounds go free, it climbs... I was not a hound today, my legs weren't too powerful so I just couldn't hold on to the front group right there, after only 8-9km. Not the start I wanted. Then a huge crash in the second group almost took me down, if I raced with my tongue out, I might have licked a wheel from a bike flying right in my face but I managed to avoid the mess. The chase group really took a hit though, not that it was too small but it was really disorganized. People tried to set a chase, others would disrupt it. At one point, I went ahead and took a pull, then people sat up... I kept going until one guy joined me. Then another. Eventually, we were about 20 but we weren't making much progress until luck went our way, bad luck for the leading group...

There was a bridge under construction so they built a small, wooden temporary bridge with a dirt road before and after, about 900m in total. We caught the front group there as they slowed down. Then we went again, fast, and after a few km, we turned right and started a longish climb. Ouch, like the first one, legs weren't good... worst, I started to cramp. And we still have around 65km to go! Crap. I climbed at my own pace but quickly found myself alone in no man's land in the wind for a bit too long. I almost threw the towel but I started to see riders in the distance. I tried to push it but not too much to bring back the cramping. I first caught a guy who was suffering, he could hardly pedal straight. Then I caught two others, sat on their wheel for a few seconds then went ahead on a small rise... These were all riders dropped from the front. I eventually reached three guys. I kept going forward but one of them came with me, which was a good thing.

We worked together to reel in another which we managed after a few minutes but we then found ourselves with a very strong headwind... A few riders we had passed caught back on and we eventually stayed together, pretty much until the end. I could feel the cramps being close so I was trying to be economic, even when pulling, I was not going to crazy. To make it worst, the energy drink in one of my two bottles was tasting like death! I think it was prepared a week ago, sat in my car for too long I don't know but I didn't want to take any chance so I didn't use that bottle. I took two small bottles at feed zones toward the end but I went for a bit too long without drinking enough, under the brutal heat.

I managed to stay with the group until the finish climb where I cramped even harder but... it seems almost everyone were hurting, there was some people that were ahead walking or stopped, stretching their crampy legs, I guess it was a hard day for many. I semi-sprinted the last few meters to gain one position on the line but I was more happy that it was over.

With all that, I finished with a time very close to last year. I finished 88th last year and now, I took 40th! I didn't expect that but I guess the heat slowed a lot of people down. Surprisingly, I was 88th last year but out of less than 200 racers while today, I was 40th out of around 300. Last year it was raining and about 10-15°C while it was over 30°C without any clouds today. So I'm semi-happy about the race I would have liked to do better but I expected the heat to kick me hard so I think I managed to limit the damages pretty well.

Now I'm taking a week of recovery, well timed to go watch the Mountain Bike World Championships in Mont Sainte-Anne next weekend. Then, I will start to pedal with the cross season in mind. Haaa the cold, dirty, wet cross season, I thought about that during today's race!

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