Sunday morning at 7:30, usually the last thing I'd be up early inflating my tires for is suffering for 30 minutes straight up a mountain. In August every year though, local club Glotman Simpson Cycling puts on a fundraising challenge race, The Cypress Hillclimb Challenge, to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer Research. So last week Craig and I found ourselves awake while the air was still cool suiting up to head up the mountain.
Craig and I both felt pretty good. The tail kicking I'd been taking in my first couple weeks back racing were starting to translate into some good fitness, and I finally felt like I'd be able to defend 'winning' the challenge last year. We decided that both of us being 'bigger' riders, that is, over 150lbs, we needed to wait until the upper slopes of the climb to make any attacks. And rely on being able to beat up whoever was left of the peleton by attacking 1-2.
After Sebastian Salas set a pretty relentless pace up most of the climb, Craig put in a searing attack before the last switchback up the climb, a perfect spot to just keep rolling a gap if no one closed it down. As we went on, it was clear only one Glotman Simpson rider Ian Hendry, who went with Craig early, would be able to get up the road to him. I trusted Craig to be able to dispatch him on the final sprint at the latest, and sat on wheels until I was sure I could leave the remaining ten or so riders without any baggage. After Nigel Kinney put an attack on the last run into the powerlines, I made my counterattack to ride away, catching Hendry who left behind by Craig already, latched onto my wheel. In the final kick up to the parking lot I let everything out and distanced Hendry enough to secure a TRT 1-2 on the day.
Good teamwork from Craig and myself and strong riding was a good confidence boost leading into the Whistler Gran Fondo, but on top of a good performance on the bike for us, we were part of an important fundraising event propelled by the Vancouver Cycling community. Watching the crowd drop some huge donations on top of the mountain to bring the total money raised for Pancreatic Cancer Research to $425,000 means Craig and I could feel good about our efforts even if we weren't close to the podium.