Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Tour de Waterloo 2012 - The story of my 1st ever Road Race (Part 1)

The Tour de Waterloo took place on Sunday June 24, 2012 starting from Sybase / iAnywhere Building Parking Lot in Waterloo Ontario. It was a Gran Fondo Mass start road race with 3 different distances. 40km / 70km / 130 km.

This was typically the same weekend as the 24 hours of summer solstice at Albion Hills near Bolton Ontario XC mountain bike relay race. For many years I raced this event but not this year.

The original intent was to just have a relaxing weekend and perhaps head out of town for a short road trip. Just 20 days earlier my girlfriend and I returned back from a 14 day vacation touring through Italy. As many who have been or just enjoy food in general, what you do in Italy is indulge in the great food and wine offered by such a beautiful country. I unfortunately was not there with my bike to ride the amazing roads through Toscana. The only excercise I saw was 10+ hours a day on my feet walking and touring around the small towns of Toscana and Cinque Terre.

I learned that I was selected to ride the 130 km road race while I was on vacation via email.

The story begins 3 days before I was leaving for my 2 week vacation. At work I saw a posting on my company's intraweb page looking for seasoned cyclist to form a team for the tour de Waterloo 130 km Gran Fondo road race. Clicking the link offered a boring HTML form to fill out. Similar to the ones you fill out to register for a website to buy something.

The questions I remember asked, can you physically cycle 130 kms? Are you able to maintain an average of 27 km/h throughout the distance. Are you available Sunday June 24th? Describe your previous race experience. What size Jersey do you wear?

I clicked on, Yes, Yes, Yes, and listed my past race experience competing in the Plastigas Ontario XC MTB races for 3 years, Racing at the weekly Tuesday night Albion Hills mountain bike race, current UCI race license holder for 2012, and have been cycling seriously since 2006. Oh and Size Large please.

I vaguely remember pondering, should I do this or not but ended up clicking on submit and thought... hrm... I wonder what will come of this.

About 5 days later I received an email. Congratulations, you have been selected to ride on the team. Please attend the meeting to receive further information... 

CRAP! was my first thought. My 2nd thought was, quick... let's do a gut check. Figuratively and literally as I had just polished off 1/2 a bottle of Brunello and a 4 course meal.

Big gut? Yes. How many kilometers have I ridden since the snow melted? about 320 kms... What have I done for most of the winter...? Not much at all. :(

What am I going to be doing for the next 1.5 weeks? Eating gelato and drinking lots of wine with 4 course meals? Not good at all.

Not all was lost. There was still 20 days between returning back from home and race day. I figured if I could ride 160+ km per week up to the race weekend I should be OK.

Talk about being the definition of "Hack Racer". Not enough riding, thinking you can race with the big boys and not watching your diet.

But this wasn't going to stop me. Game on.

For all the followers who don't know me, I work as a Program Manager for Research in Motion. Blackberry was the title sponsor for the 130km loop for the tour de Waterloo. I felt honored to be selected to race for blackberry and to represent all my coworkers globally at a race we sponsored locally for the community.

There was also something else I had kept on thinking, that this was going to be closest it was going to get to being a professional cyclist. Never had I once imagined someone other than MasterCard would pay for my race entrance fee, pay for a jersey, do all the planning and logistics for me to go riding my bicycle.

Needless to say I continued to eat lots of excercise little on my vacation in Italy. I'm sure there will be posts about the trip at a later date. Many of my friends and relatives are bugging me to summarize the trip so they could follow in our foot steps.

The lead up to the race day and race summary to be posted the next day. To be continued...


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