Once again, a group of mountain bikers made the pilgrimage; making the long haul trip in the chase of an imaginary currency: points.
Lethbridge was the destination, and Jon B's Civic was the spaceship with Mike B and I in tow. High school style gossip followed by making fun of each others taste in music followed by more gossip.
I kept with my past pre-race rituals of eating as much as an offensive lineman the dinner and the breakfast before the race.
Nobody knew what to expect as the course had changed from previous editions due to a snowstorm earlier in the week. We were greeted with a short lap (<15min) with a couple of climbs, but none of the hike-a-bike sections of previous Coulee Cruiser's. Oh yeah, and lots of that type of mud that makes you feel like you are riding on a flat tire. A quick scan of the start list revealed some big guns (Stef Widmer in the elite race) but many unfamiliar names. A lot of fast elites though, so upgrading would be difficult.
I guess my warmup was insufficient because on the first climb at the start, a group of three (including eventual winner Jon B) got away. I rode in a chase group close behind, until the beginning of the 3rd lap (out of 6 for the expert race), when I figured that we needed to be going a little faster if I wanted a podium spot. I dropped off my chase companions, but faded before I could close the gap. Meanwhile, Jon had broken away from the other 2 and would cruise to victory, except that he was struggling on the descents after he dropped a contact lens. Got passed by Ryan C, who was also hunting for a podium spot, but came up short. A really close race as the leaders were in sight at the top of the climbs on most of the laps.
Seeing sport winner John C another expert rider behind me, and Stef almost lapping me was motivating, as I held on for 5th with an easy sprint.
A good showing for the Hardcore Race Team: Mike B. in second behind Stef in the elite race, Jon B. with the win in expert race, me 5th in the expert race, and John C. powered away for the win in the sport race.
Claimed some draw prizes, and we were off: more gossip, insulting each other's taste in music, followed by more gossip!
A tight expert field, and a good reminder of how important getting a good warmup and hammering off the start is.