Race the Ridge kicked off this past Saturday with a double day of grueling 100km hilly road race followed by a hill climb including a 12% section for half a kilometer outside of Maple Ridge. The whole TRT squad showed up ready to race and prepared for a wet and cold day as all the forecasts (we checked them all) showed 100% chance of rain throughout the day. Surprisingly enough the race started off dry which was a blessing because of the one section of the 10km loop having an 80+km/h descent into a 90-degree corner at the bottom notorious for not being friendly to racers trying to win on the descent.
Our race plan focused around who would be the strongest on the hard 3 km of ramping climbs on the course with Al and Clarke being designated as our protected leaders on the road. With Ty and Brendan both feeling the effects of recent colds, the plan was to control the race by making sure any GC threats didn't get away without Al or Clarke while also making sure we had a rider in any major move.
The first three laps of 10 went off with a bang with big attacks coming from each of the teams, but as it always happens an unsuspecting solo rider broke away from the pack with seven laps to go and with everyone being pretty cooked, no teams gave him much thought beyond "he'll come back for sure". Shortly after that the Master's men breakaway caught the men's peloton and had an awkward "we're all riding at the same speed" attempt at passing requiring the elite 1/2 field to eventually neutralize for a short period to give them a bit of a gap.
Shortly after this, the heavens opened up and it got very cold and rainy very fast. The Langlois brown team put one of their riders to the front for three laps and with only Clarke and Al being in the peloton coming into the last three laps the solo breakaway rider was still about a minute up the road. The last lap turned into a bit of a cat and mouse game with another rider from the team of the solo rider up the road attacking half a lap to go on the climb but the peloton (consisting of about 10 riders at this point) caught the late attacker right at the line and Al was able to take the pack sprint for second on the stage.
With over 50km of the 100km of racing being in the pouring rain everybody on the team was frozen and it was only 1.5hrs until we all had to do the 4.4 km hill climb. Everybody huddled inside the team van with our Clif bars and wet socks to try to stay warm, dreading when we'd have to get out and put on our cold heart rate monitor straps. Eventually, the time came and one by one we left the comfort of the van to get changed and do our "it's cold and wet" warm-ups consisting of spinning up the road for 5-10 minutes before the start. Al ended up protecting his GC spot on the stage by finishing 10th on the hill climb and everybody else won in their hearts because they knew we'd be able to go have a shower after we finished.
The crit on Sunday looked to be a great day for a technical course with no rain to make the left-right chicane or 180-degree sweeping corner any more sketchy than they needed to be. The whole team set up on our Tacx trainers under the Red Truck tent to get a proper warm up in and watch the ladies crush their race! The mens crit started off fast with the Smart+Savvy (or Sassy) setting the tempo with all of our team watching for any attacks but saving our matches for the end since we only had four riders in the crit (Brendan, Kurt, Ty Al). Once Smart+Sassy realized they couldn't ride the front for the whole race a constant flurry of attacks came from all the major teams with any of the major GC riders being carefully watched the whole day.
Coming into the last 15 minutes of racing a late attack got away without a TRT rider in it so Ty and Brendan did some big pulls to bring it back together with just one lap to go. Al was able to surf wheels coming into the final sprint out of the 180-degree sweeping corner and rocked the sprint taking the W for the TRT squad.
With Al winning the crit he moved into second overall, missing out on first by only three points. All of this couldn't have been possible without the awesome support the team has had on and off the bike this year and are looking forward to another successful season!