Saturday 28th May 2022,

2011 Centurion Play-by-play

the view from behind…..

After a far too eventful drive on the scenic route, we arrived in Collingwood after Jeff and Hamish were already in bed. Set our alarms for 445am and tried to sleep. After what seemed like an eternity and several trips to the bathroom on creaky floors and a squeaky door (5 according to Jeff) it was finally time to get up. Typical Hamish
induced Chaos ensued (i’ll spare the details just sub in one of your favourite Hamish experiences- Scott think of apples). I might be embellishing a bit as I was probably a little worked up that Hamish, after promising, had forgotten to bring my bike food for the day….. Nonetheless we survived the morning and raced off, late for the village. It was a perfect morning, perhaps a little windy but the sunrise as we raced down scenic caves was spectacular.

Once we hit the village we somehow re-convened only to frantically scatter on our bikes to find the registration table. The good thing about being late is there are no line ups. The wonderful volunteers were already pinning and patiently “handling” hamish when I arrived. Once we had our chips and numbers we were off to the staging area
where we took up a good spot near the front of the more than 1000  racers. We had about 20 minutes to spare and find places to pee. Nicole and Lucie were planning how to get me a sandwich for the feed on the climb out of Creemore, I was getting nervous as I scanned the crowd and quickly spotted Ed Veal, Darko Ficko and a few other top
Ontario Racers. I found myself thinking of that first climb, almost 6 km’s long and steep and so early in the race. I felt like crying or just going back to bed. Then I settled and realized that I had nothing to lose by worrying, that I was the incumbent TR Centurion Champion and that as soon as my body took over from my mind I would be fine. How wrong was I?

National anthem, gun goes off and suddenly we are riding along the base of Blue Mtn. Standing at the start in the sun I hadn’t realized how cold it was and now the already nervous peloton is shivering along towards Grey Road 19. Strategically i move right to the front, well the “freddie front”, so third or 4th wheel as we approach the climb. Before I know it we make the turn and start to climb. I am actually feeling OK. The pace is reasonable and after 500m or so I haven’t even lost a position. Could this be my day? Then it happens, I see movement out of the corner of my eye and it is our very own Alan Kriss moving past me on the left to up the pace. Didn’t he get the memo? I can’t climb, let the other teams dictate the pace until at least km 170 or so…. gradually I move backwards and as the km’s tick by I start to
wonder when I will be the last on the road. The leaders including Alan, Hamish and Flemmer are out of sight. I struggle to maintain contact with as many of the non climbers as possible and just as I start to think my day is already over I see the top and even better I see Heath Cockburn just slightly ahead of me as well as a group of familiar slow starters like myself. I bridge up and the first chase of the day begins. I do my best to stay out of the wind and take only the
obligatory pull. After  about 15km’s the gap to the first group is down to only a few hundred metres and guys start to jump across. I grab a wheel and easily bridge up and recover. We start the descent down Petty river and I move up to say hi to my fellow Team Racers.  Hamish is amused that i am back and i learn that a group of 5 have gotten away. The peloton rolls easily toward Creemore and even the attacks up Fairgrounds road are quickly subdued.

As we fly through Creemore I start to think about my feed coming in about 7 km’s, wether or not I will be able to easily grab my bag on the climb and how I will take my sandwich and bottle and banana bread and get it into my shirt. This will be the first time I have ever taken a feed bag on the fly. I am nervous and as we leave Creemore sitting in the middle of the peloton at around 35k/hr I see Lucie and shortly after Nicole holding up my bag. If I try to grab it I will definitely take down a dozen or so guys so I just shake my head and try to smile. I guess my stale Cliff bar and Cliff shots are going to  have to sustain me for the day I think as we head towards the next climb.

I move to the front as we start the climb and all seems fine again. Until, once again I see Mr Kriss take the initiative. I am going to kill him I mutter under my breathe as Hamish and almost all of the rest of the peloton go by me like I am standing still. We reach the top and I look around and see only 10 or 15 guys that, to be honest look even worse than I feel. Flemmer is now with me and we decide that since Hamish and Allan are up ahead we don’t need to work. As the
group starts chasing we see another group of 10 or so just a few hundred metres up the road so we decide to help reach them. Once we catch them we see another group not too far ahead and we continue to drive hard to them. We have been chasing for 15-20 minutes and as we catch the third group i notice that it contains Darko. I ask him how many are still ahead and he says 100 or 150. I can’t believe it, i thought there were only 30 or so and as I look around I am almost certain we won’t see the front again. The Group continues to chase and Jeff and I sit in comfortably knowing Hamish and Alan are representing us up ahead. All of a sudden up the road we notice a big bunch of riders and as we get closer I see Alan off the side having a nature break. Well thats his day i think as we sail by. The pace quickens and as we fight the crosswinds we gradually reel them back in. This time as I move up to say hi to Hamish he hears my voice from behind and
with a surprised look on his face he asks “is that Jamie?” “Hi Hamish did you miss me” i respond as he shakes his head. A few minutes later Alan passes me with a big smile on his face and legs pistoning with way too much power as he once again heads to the front too easily. I  won’t say what i muttered under my breathe this time…

I notice my odometer at 93km’s and think only about 80 k left. I  nibble on my clif bar like a squirrel rationing his winter food cache  and I sip my 1/2 full remaining bottle of water. We are cruising now  and I start hoping my usual late race power will surface on the next climb. as we head through one of the towns before epping there is a feed zone and I manage to grab a bottle of gatorade. I quickly chug half of it, take another of my clif shots counting 4 left and feel better. Off in the distance i can see the climb at Epping. It looks bigger than last year as we start the descent into the valley at over 80k/hr. As we approach the bottom I weave in and out of the draft moving once again towards the front. I love this sport!

Then it happens again, way earlier than on the first two climbs and within 500m’s I am almost at the back. I want to sit up, I am now sure my day is over. I hate this sport! Then out of the corner of my eye I see a VW parked at the side of the road and the license plate “i selwel” and quickly look right to catch a glimpse of Nicole and Lucie with bottles and what looked like a banana. I am already past them but something about knowing they were there to support us pushes me to get over the climb and join the 4 or 5 guys that are just up ahead. I shift up and get out of the saddle and power over the top joining the other stragglers. We re-group, seeing the peloton only 500 or so m’s ahead and put our heads down. A few guys are passengers so I look back and say “guys there is no time to dick around we need to work together” and this seems to get them all going. We are full gas now, 100% as we start to close the gap. We pick up another 5 or 6 guys and before long the gap is down to 100m’s. We hit the hills and slowly regain the peloton. This time when I ride up to Hamish and tell him he doesn’t have to worry about me he just shakes his head.

We are now only 35k to the finish. I am cramping, hungry and tired. This part of the race is animated with a bunch of short steep climbs that are usually my strength. As we hit the first i see Hamish and Alan at the front dictating the pace. A few guy’s try to get away including Darko and these attempts are quickly brought back. All I need to do is stay with this group and I will certainly get a good result. I start to relax and manage to get over the first few hills just clinging to the back. Then without even noticing we climb another hill and a group of us have been separated. I was too busy following
wheels and should have been closer to the front. We frantically chase and manage to get back on just as we hit another climb. This time a bigger gap opens and all of the guys I am with seem to be tiring. We chase again but only 2 of us are working and then another hill hits us. We are suffering and the gap to the peloton is growing. As we crest the hill I realize that we are almost at the top of scenic caves. There is no way we are going to catch now but I am still in a group of 10 or more guys so I attack and only one other follows. We quickly get a break and work together all the way down scenic caves
and to the finish passing a few guys including Darko Ficko. I am so relieved to se the finish and sit up letting my partner who has been with me since the top of Epping take the sprint. My time was 437 and change which was over 20 minutes faster than last year where I placed 22nd. The field was much stronger this year mostly due to Alan and Hamish from what I could tell!

What an amazing day. What a beautiful sport and what a great team. Hamish and Alan were incredibly strong today. Flemmer was there with me almost until the end and Paul on a few weeks of training rounded out the top 5 team R’s giving us 3rd on team Classification. Danielle Torchia was first in her age along with Hamish and Alan (in the most   competitive age came 4th (1st, 2nd and 3rd overall were in his age group i think). Christina rode the 50 after not being on her bike for  a few years, Macguire was marshalling all day and from what I could tell Maz and David were happy to have finished! There were a few others wearing TR so we had a good presence and hopefully more of you will ride next year. This event is truly as close as we will ever get to being in a real “euro style” race.

thanks to our incredible Support of Nicole and Lucie. My almond butter and honey sandwhich last night at 7pm was fantastic! Thanks Jeff For hosting!

Good Job everyone

James Layfield

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